Cricketers pick their favourites

'Back then, only he knew how to play reverse swing'

Part three: Martin Crowe frustrated Wasim Akram plenty after figuring out how to play him (00:00)

Producer: Ranjit Shinde

May 8, 2012


Martin Crowe

'Back then, only he knew how to play reverse swing'

May 8, 2012

Martin Crowe plays behind the wicket, Zimbabwe v New Zealand, 1st Test, Bulawayo, 5th day, November 5, 1992
Martin Crowe "never gave you a chance as a batsman" © Getty Images

Perfect technique, Martin Crowe. All the great batsmen I played against played late and on the front foot. I remember, he got a hundred in Lahore. At the other end, no one from New Zealand was getting runs. In that series the ball was reverse-swinging miles after 15-20 overs, and I think they were Pakistan balls, those rock-hard Grays [Gray-Nicolls]. They used to swing miles and used to stay rock-hard till the 80th over.

I asked him once, "How come you played me and Waqar so well?" He said, "I used to just wait for your inswing delivery. I used to play every delivery [for] inswing. If you play [for] inswing and if the ball is going away from you, you are not going to follow the ball. If you are playing inswing with the straight bat, the outswing will automatically will beat you. You won't nick it unless you are chasing it." So that was his technique.

He was always on the front foot to us. He never went on the back foot. He said, "Against you guys, if I had gone on the back foot, I would have had no chance whatsoever." He was like Sunny Gavaskar, he never gave you a chance as a batsman. When he was in, he made sure he got a hundred. He used to just rotate the strike. Any yorker down leg side or slightly off-line, he used to hit us for four, and that used to annoy me as a bowler. That's why he was so successful and so difficult a batsman to bowl to.

I loved the wickets in New Zealand. I got so many wickets there because of the conditions. The ball always swings there, always seams, and I enjoyed bowling there. I got so many wickets against New Zealand, but Martin Crowe every time got runs. It shows the quality of his technique and his temperament.

He was very quiet as a batsman. He was not a sort of batsman who would hit a four and then stare at you or come back at you. He was very calm, his concentration was 100% every delivery, he was always aware about his field. He always knew what was happening around him, whether the ball had actually started reversing. They eventually realised what reverse swing was. In 1991-92, nobody knew how to play reverse swing; only Martin Crowe, I reckon.

He just played for inswing. He didn't look at the shine, he didn't look at the wrist, he only went at every ball as an inswinger, and when the ball is reverse-swinging, that is the technique.

He realised it early on that if the ball is swinging, or late reverse-swinging, he has to play the inswing, guard his pads and guard his stumps. And he realised if the bowlers bowl the away-swinger then he will get beaten but won't nick it because he won't go for the drive. That's when we bowlers used to get frustrated, bowl slightly fuller, and that's where he used to get runs.

Posted by Pathiyal on (May 9, 2012, 10:07 GMT)

hey, wasim also likes martin crowe. i remember some of his innings in sub continents. he has spoilt the averages of every bowler with his swift paced innings. one batsman who always kept the scorers busy and the opposition. as a cricket enthusiast, it was a pleasure to see martin crowe batting. his stance, his technique, his concentration everything was out of the world.

Posted by   on (May 8, 2012, 14:54 GMT)

Legends of the games.... They played cricket at a different level... Wasim & Martin ... Respect to both of you...

Posted by wongwright on (May 8, 2012, 5:05 GMT)

I am REALLY enjoying this series featuring Wasim. I always loved watching him and Waqar bowl. Thanks Wasim and Cricinfo!

John Australia

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