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June 10, 2012

Narine's inauspicious entry

Jarrod Kimber
Sunil Narine bowled his first deliveries in Test cricket, England v West Indies, 3rd Test, Edgbaston, 4th day, June 10, 2012
There is more to come from Sunil Narine  © Getty Images
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Mysteries get solved in an hour on TV. Law and Order, CSI and Midsomer Murders have all confirmed this for us. But for Sunil Narine, one day with 15 overs, no wickets and 69 runs is not the conclusion to the story.

Narine has had a charmed existence for many reasons since he entered top-level cricket. He wasn’t thrust in as a teenager. The pitches he has played on have been exceptionally sympathetic to spinners. He’s played when people are trying to slog him. And no one can pick him. Today was different.

The pitch was good enough for a No. 11 to make a record score. Graeme Swann didn’t take a wicket. And the England players could wait for the bad balls, rather than attacking him. Also, Narine bowled poorly.

That kills me to say it because I really believe he could be a special talent. But if this was the first time you’d seen him, you could be forgiven for thinking Shane Shillingford should have got another game.

Narine bowled far too many bad balls. There weren’t many absolute howlers. But his length was consistently wrong. It was too short. As I nerdishly obsessed over his pitch map, it was clear that at least a third of his deliveries were just too short.

While Graeme Swann was consistently at the four metre mark, Narine was dropping them at the six metre mark. That’s not good enough for a top class spinner. Good batsmen just milk that for singles and the odd boundary. Then to compensate he floated up half volleys.

In their own ways, KP and Bell have had their own problems with spin. I think both would have been happy to face Narine for the first time with half volleys and half trackers coming at them.

Once KP saw that Narine was struggling, he ripped his chest apart and yanked out each individual organ. Back foot drives, front foot sixes, and scoring at will from a bowler who looked like he had no plans at all.

Even off the pitch England were attacking Narine. In the Sky box Nick Knight showed that for the knuckle carrom ball (still weirdly unnamed), Narine had a potential giveaway. Using his thumb on the ball for that delivery, but not for his normal offspinner. A few quick checks on youtube prove that isn’t always the case. But it’s decoding the mystery.

Not that England needed to decode the mystery. Bad lengths helped them, but so did the lack of turn for his knuckle ball. By design it can never be a ball that turns viciously, but it barely whispered at all. Making it more like a non sizzling arm ball that limps on a pitch like this.

Even against the awkward-looking nightwatchman in fading light with a collection of fielders looking for a chance, Narine still struggled to look capable of bamboozling anyone. It was his easiest chance for his first wicket in Test cricket.

This was an ordinary display from Narine. He would have expected to do better, at least of keeping the scoring rate down, if not taking a wicket or two. His day could have been better had Adrian Barath taken a sharp chance at short leg from Ian Bell. It is a place that if Narine does have a successful career in Test Cricket many catches will go to. Today it was just another disappointment.

There were also good signs. Darren Sammy didn’t hide Narine away, and he even kept attacking fields for as long as possible. Narine might have lost the swagger he had in the IPL, but he didn’t fall apart. And his offspinner, when pitched in the right place, is still a staggeringly good delivery that should test batsmen all over the world.

Even with today, I’m not willing to right off Narine on a pitch that the only wicket for spin to either side went to the smooth straight’uns of Marlon Samuels. That doesn’t mean for lovers of quality spinners, Narinites and mystery spinner buffs (of which I’m all three) today wasn’t a bit like the opening scene of one of those crime shows where two people sharing banal conversation bump into a corpse in a dumpster.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by Faiz on (June 11, 2012, 19:17 GMT)

I’m not willing to write*(not right) off Narine, be a bit careful mate. :)

I am one Narainite and watched the test just to watch himm in absence of Chanders. :(

Posted by romain on (June 11, 2012, 17:39 GMT)

Narine indeed bowled below par, but that is likely when you confront new conditions with immense expectations on you.

If anyone can recall he was benched in India when his bowling appeared innocuous. Yet he returned to prove his merit.

On a pitch that aided no spinner, including Swann, I think it is most naive and ludicrous to conclude that Narine was picked.Give him a few more matches and watch how he will bewitch these English batsmen, so inept against quality spin.

Posted by Noel on (June 11, 2012, 17:08 GMT)

A very poor showing for a promising young off spinner. I am sure he will have better days at this level but I am not sure he is what he's hyped up to be.

I have heard of many spinners coming out of Trinidad ie In shan Ali, Imtiaz Ali, Jumadeen, Nannan, Mystery Spinner Harold Joseph Dhanraj and the list goes on. Lets hope He don't fall by the wayside like his predesessors. Let's encourage Narine for the success of a new face WI future

Posted by Jon Kumar on (June 11, 2012, 16:56 GMT)

You are totally on point Mr. Kimber. He had a bad day. I think he was still in IPL mode where he feels the batsman would advance down the pitch and try to slog him therefore his lengths were short of a good length. He still has much to learn and only experience can help with that, im pretty sure he would bounce back from this. I still believe he will be great in years to come.

Posted by Noel on (June 11, 2012, 16:41 GMT)

A very poor showing for a promising young off spinner. I am sure he will have better days at this level but I am not sure he is what he's hyped up to be.

I have heard of many spinners coming out of Trinidad ie In shan Ali, Imtiaz Ali, Jumadeen, Nannan, Mystery Spinner Harold Joseph Dhanraj and the list goes on. Lets hope He don't fall by the wayside like his predesessors. Let's encourage Narine for the success of a new face WI future

Posted by bid on (June 11, 2012, 15:28 GMT)

It would be foolish to write off Narine. He has traveled long way to England from hot india to cold and breezy England. He was playing twenty twenty and suddenly he have to switch to test match without any practice match.

I think he is a gem of a cricketer. I don't think he was picked by English batsman. I remember due to the slowness and easiness of wicket bell and pietersen were able to adjust to the spin even if they didn't pick him. They had ample time.

I remember during the one day series against Australia they didn't read him at all even while playing defensively. Unlike other mystery spinner Mendis he gets a lot of bounce. He is one bowler who is destined to take loads of test wicket.

Posted by Owen on (June 11, 2012, 15:14 GMT)

For the moment I am not convinced Narine will rule the test arena: his length is too short. He was bowling a short length all the way through the IPL, which was a good plan on those pitches when batsmen are looking to smash him out of the park. In test cricket however, he needs to go looking for wickets which is never going to happen if he keeps up his T20 length, it gives the batsmen too much time to read it off the pitch. So the question is, will Narine still be a handful if he bowls with a fuller length? and for me, the jury is still out!

Posted by Sheik salim on (June 11, 2012, 14:29 GMT)

I think Narine is still not ready for Test cricket yet. T20 is a totally different game from Test matches & he needs mor first class experience before entering the Test arena. Bishoo, Shillingford, Permaul or Miller would be better Test spinners than narine. Keep the 'mystery man' for the shorter format T20 & 50 overs until he matures.

Posted by Sheik salim on (June 11, 2012, 14:29 GMT)

I think Narine is still not ready for Test cricket yet. T20 is a totally different game from Test matches & he needs mor first class experience before entering the Test arena. Bishoo, Shillingford, Permaul or Miller would be better Test spinners than narine. Keep the 'mystery man' for the shorter format T20 & 50 overs until he matures.

Posted by Parkie on (June 11, 2012, 12:55 GMT)

Despite an ordinary showing in this test match, I still believe that Narine is a very special talent. I suspect that he will do much better in the ODIs as he climatizes to the English conditions and pitches.

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