July 15, 2008

Freak streak

Sri Lanka has produced some of the most effective unorthodox cricketers over the last 20 years
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Conventionally unconventional: Ajantha Mendis © AFP
 

Over the last few years Sri Lanka have had quite a few self-styled unorthodox cricketers coming through - Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralitharan, Romesh Kaluwitharana, and now Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis. It's wonderful to have this newness, this difference, because it opens up everyone's eyes, including fellow cricketers who might get something new from these guys to improve their game overall.

One of the reasons for so many unorthodox cricketers coming through in Sri Lanka could be, as in other parts of the subcontinent, the way kids learn to play cricket: they learn by watching, and then start playing in backyards or streets or wherever they can find space. It's possibly there that they develop these individual styles. Unless they have access to formal coaching, they tend to develop along their own lines, especially if they come late to proper leather-ball cricket.

Malinga, for example, naturally developed his action playing softball cricket. In that form of the game, the one way to bowl really fast is with a slingy action, which also gives a low trajectory to the ball, making it hard for the batsman to hit it. Malinga has applied that technique beautifully and effectively in international cricket.

When these unusual talents do arrive at club level or first-class level, it can be seen that they have developed in unique ways. And then it's just a case of tightening the few loose ends up, and seeing how they do.

In some instances, if they are discovered at a very young age, there arises a problem when coaches start trying to make them conform to orthodoxy. All the above mentioned cricketers, with the exception of Murali, were discovered quite late. Murali had the luxury of having an open-minded, liberal, forward-thinking coach in Sunil Fernando, who let him develop along his own lines and just tidied up what needed to be tidied up without changing what made him unique.

The fortunate ones among these players, once they are discovered, are brought into academies, where you have some of the most progressive coaches in the Sri Lankan coaching structure. They know that to get the best out of a bowler you have to try and maximise what the player already has. Still, it would be interesting to look at how many other bowlers might have been made to change to conform to conventional methods. Sometimes it can just be the luck of the draw.

A lot also depends on the national coaches, whose job it is to try and have the coaches at the lower levels thinking along the lines of getting people ready for the international stage. The national coach has an eye on who is coming through and what needs to be done to get him ready. The combined approach of these coaches is an important part of the mix that sometimes result in these freakish, unorthodox bowlers or batsmen. If you have grown in an environment that promotes unorthodoxy, as long as it is good for the individual or the team, the supply line can continue. There are a couple of other such unorthodox cricketers in the pipeline in Sri Lanka, but we need to just wait and see how it pans out for them.


'Some bowlers have actions that look complicated, but biomechnically they're all right' © Getty Images
 

Among the bigger challenges for these cricketers is not getting discovered but staying ahead of the game and staying among the best bowlers or batsmen in cricket, be it domestic cricket or international.

In terms of technique, what might look unorthodox to others might just be the way to go for certain players. Some bowlers, like Jeff Thomson, who Malinga has been compared to, have actions that look complicated, but biomechnically they are all right. If his body can withstand it and if he is willing to do the physical strengthening work needed to sustain his action and bowling, it doesn't become a problem. Malinga has had an injury, so do conventional fast bowlers; it's a hazard of the job.

Similarly Mendis may look a completely unconventional bowler, but it's only at the delivery point that he is unique. He has a great base of confidence, control, and accuracy. His bowling mechanics are as conventional as they come. He doesn't run in in a different way, he doesn't place his feet in a different way, his bowling action until the point of delivery is conventional. He probably has one of the most conventional bowling techniques. And he knows how to use his unique delivery style; he knows that no matter how unorthodox he is, no matter how many variations he has, he still has to keep pitching the ball consistently on a good line and length. It's no use having the variations if you are not accurate and if you don't stick to the basics of bowling.

It is interesting to see how these bowlers have come through despite the increasing role of technology, which makes sure that more and more fine-tuned cricketers come out of the system. This is partly because, though we see a lot of technology applied at first-class level or national age-group levels, at school level and in the more remote parts of the country, the advancement in technology is limited.

Still, you can't really pinpoint any one reason for unorthodox talent coming through. It just happens. Mendis and Malinga are two such who slipped through.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricketencyclopedia on July 17, 2008, 19:34 GMT

    Of all the cricketing countries in the world, Sri Lanka has produced the most unorthodox cricketers I have seen. They are very deceptive in their game, especially the bowlers. The latest one being Ajantha Mendis, I remembered when Sri Lanka played against the West Indies at Port of Spain Trinidad in the 1st ODI, he completely bamboozled some of the West Indian batsmen. And from what I saw, he holds the ball very different from other bowlers. He's a unique cricketer in his own right nevertheless. In future if Sri Lanka plays against any team, especially Australia I would like to see how these batsmen will cope with him.

  • Jose on July 17, 2008, 13:03 GMT

    I think Mendis' action will be read and replied strongly in the coming test series. However, the question to be answered is how long he can survive? Its too early to compare him with Murali, who has been outstanding and remained distinct all along. I am not sure about Malinga, who was threat in his early days, but not anymore. He was thrashed recently in many tournaments and people know about his action and read very well.

  • PottedLambShanks on July 17, 2008, 7:30 GMT

    Just a thought, was William Webb-Ellis being "unorthodox" when he picked up that football and ran with it to the opposition goal, or was he just cheating? You catch my drift, Kumar?

  • NixonSKR on July 17, 2008, 6:53 GMT

    Yes sanga. I srongly agree with u. If we give the opportunities to show their talents to players all part of the country we can be No1 cricket team in this world. Unfortunately our fate still war is continuing in our country. I hope if we stopped the war we can find more unorthodox cricketers. You are my favourite sri lankan cricketer forever.

  • redneck on July 17, 2008, 2:36 GMT

    interesting article i believe the more unorthadox any particular player is the shorter the career of that player will be!!! jeff thompson stuggled to stay fit after he got injured and shaun tait before his break had repetative injury troubles and malinga is just coming back from injury so it will be interesting if he can play out the india series??? cricket_fanatic umpires wear red or black in ODI due to that very reason!

  • zainulabideen on July 16, 2008, 23:20 GMT

    Remember even Narendra Hirwani in his very first test match took 16 wickets against the west indies. He was mysterious to them. Later they read him and he took just 6 wickets from 3 test matches against them. Hirwani disappeared. So it is really too early to compare mendis with Muthiah Murali or any other toppers. Iam sure that India, Pakistan and Australia are going to handle him easily. His action may be mysterious but only with action a bowler cannot prosper for a very long time. No doubt his performance so far is impressive. But he had not undergone pressure situation and during pressure situation such as when he goes for more runs how is he going to handle we have to wait and see. He has so far taken those who are not good against spin such as Yuvraj. Batsmen like Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid who threatened bowling legends like Shane Warne or Muttiah Murali will surely handle him with ease. Lets wait and watch the forth coming series which will answer all our questions.

  • allblue on July 16, 2008, 19:02 GMT

    Another excellent article by Sanga, superbly written with clarity and perception. It's nice that it is on the same Cricinfo front page as John Inverdale's reminiscence of Mike Proctor. Look at the photo accompanying that article - chest-on and off the wrong foot but he still bowled like the wind!

  • Sriyan on July 16, 2008, 17:13 GMT

    Great article Sanga, Coming to the point where some of the commentators here they are just worried about their own country's cricket. If their batsmen cant pick our bowlers They will loose matches. Like India did in the Asia cup final. I'm 100% sure that Murali is not chucking. i don't no in what world can you describe Maliga's action as chucking. but BUDHi thinks so. r.Budhi i think you should learn about cricket before u write about it. Murali is a legend. Malinga and Mendis are new kids on the block. So just don't try to make fun of great careers like murali's by writing comments.

  • Just_Love_Cricket on July 16, 2008, 11:25 GMT

    One question i have about Malingas action. how come no batsman has ever objected to his action as the ball is released right in front of the umpire. doesn't the white ball become difficult to watch in front of the umpires white shirt... that is why there are issues with sight screens right? His action is no ugly or questionable; it is only different. uniquely different. But Mendis is definitely the new sensation.

  • ladycricfan on July 16, 2008, 10:16 GMT

    Yes, Murali has a bent elbow. But it is still bent when the ball leaves his hand. It doesn't straighten up. That is not chucking. Why do you think Chucking is disallowed? Because it will increase the speed of the ball which will be unplayable or might cause injury to the batsman. It is relevant for a fast bowler. Does the speed matter for a spinner for these reasons? Sanga you're a very intelligent cricketer. Keep on writing.

  • Cricketencyclopedia on July 17, 2008, 19:34 GMT

    Of all the cricketing countries in the world, Sri Lanka has produced the most unorthodox cricketers I have seen. They are very deceptive in their game, especially the bowlers. The latest one being Ajantha Mendis, I remembered when Sri Lanka played against the West Indies at Port of Spain Trinidad in the 1st ODI, he completely bamboozled some of the West Indian batsmen. And from what I saw, he holds the ball very different from other bowlers. He's a unique cricketer in his own right nevertheless. In future if Sri Lanka plays against any team, especially Australia I would like to see how these batsmen will cope with him.

  • Jose on July 17, 2008, 13:03 GMT

    I think Mendis' action will be read and replied strongly in the coming test series. However, the question to be answered is how long he can survive? Its too early to compare him with Murali, who has been outstanding and remained distinct all along. I am not sure about Malinga, who was threat in his early days, but not anymore. He was thrashed recently in many tournaments and people know about his action and read very well.

  • PottedLambShanks on July 17, 2008, 7:30 GMT

    Just a thought, was William Webb-Ellis being "unorthodox" when he picked up that football and ran with it to the opposition goal, or was he just cheating? You catch my drift, Kumar?

  • NixonSKR on July 17, 2008, 6:53 GMT

    Yes sanga. I srongly agree with u. If we give the opportunities to show their talents to players all part of the country we can be No1 cricket team in this world. Unfortunately our fate still war is continuing in our country. I hope if we stopped the war we can find more unorthodox cricketers. You are my favourite sri lankan cricketer forever.

  • redneck on July 17, 2008, 2:36 GMT

    interesting article i believe the more unorthadox any particular player is the shorter the career of that player will be!!! jeff thompson stuggled to stay fit after he got injured and shaun tait before his break had repetative injury troubles and malinga is just coming back from injury so it will be interesting if he can play out the india series??? cricket_fanatic umpires wear red or black in ODI due to that very reason!

  • zainulabideen on July 16, 2008, 23:20 GMT

    Remember even Narendra Hirwani in his very first test match took 16 wickets against the west indies. He was mysterious to them. Later they read him and he took just 6 wickets from 3 test matches against them. Hirwani disappeared. So it is really too early to compare mendis with Muthiah Murali or any other toppers. Iam sure that India, Pakistan and Australia are going to handle him easily. His action may be mysterious but only with action a bowler cannot prosper for a very long time. No doubt his performance so far is impressive. But he had not undergone pressure situation and during pressure situation such as when he goes for more runs how is he going to handle we have to wait and see. He has so far taken those who are not good against spin such as Yuvraj. Batsmen like Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid who threatened bowling legends like Shane Warne or Muttiah Murali will surely handle him with ease. Lets wait and watch the forth coming series which will answer all our questions.

  • allblue on July 16, 2008, 19:02 GMT

    Another excellent article by Sanga, superbly written with clarity and perception. It's nice that it is on the same Cricinfo front page as John Inverdale's reminiscence of Mike Proctor. Look at the photo accompanying that article - chest-on and off the wrong foot but he still bowled like the wind!

  • Sriyan on July 16, 2008, 17:13 GMT

    Great article Sanga, Coming to the point where some of the commentators here they are just worried about their own country's cricket. If their batsmen cant pick our bowlers They will loose matches. Like India did in the Asia cup final. I'm 100% sure that Murali is not chucking. i don't no in what world can you describe Maliga's action as chucking. but BUDHi thinks so. r.Budhi i think you should learn about cricket before u write about it. Murali is a legend. Malinga and Mendis are new kids on the block. So just don't try to make fun of great careers like murali's by writing comments.

  • Just_Love_Cricket on July 16, 2008, 11:25 GMT

    One question i have about Malingas action. how come no batsman has ever objected to his action as the ball is released right in front of the umpire. doesn't the white ball become difficult to watch in front of the umpires white shirt... that is why there are issues with sight screens right? His action is no ugly or questionable; it is only different. uniquely different. But Mendis is definitely the new sensation.

  • ladycricfan on July 16, 2008, 10:16 GMT

    Yes, Murali has a bent elbow. But it is still bent when the ball leaves his hand. It doesn't straighten up. That is not chucking. Why do you think Chucking is disallowed? Because it will increase the speed of the ball which will be unplayable or might cause injury to the batsman. It is relevant for a fast bowler. Does the speed matter for a spinner for these reasons? Sanga you're a very intelligent cricketer. Keep on writing.

  • Cuddles on July 16, 2008, 8:56 GMT

    very interesting comments by SeenuSubbu!!! I think what you should know about Murali is that at no point his arm bend from the elbow. It is a known fact that he's got a bent arm, but the point is all he does is he flicks the ball from his wrist when he releases the ball. This was explained very well by Ian Chappell and Tony Greg on the morning of the 2nd test match between Australia and Sri Lanka at Horbart. I remember Murali bowling at Lords with a cast on his arm which proved he was never able to straighten the elbow at any point. How in the world someone who has a bent arm by birth straighten it at any point. I think you should do your research before accusing people who are considered as legends. Malinga's action is a round arm action and if it is ugly for you to watch it don't watch it mate....Simple as that. I feel really sad for people like you because you clearly don't know what you are talking about. Wonderful work sanga...keep it up...

  • Sriram_Krishnamurthy on July 16, 2008, 8:54 GMT

    What an article just before the India SL series. Looking at the comments, it looks like the Indian/SL Fans have already started the battle. Anyways, I don't have a problem with Malinga/Mendis because their actions are not questionable. Its just unconventional. I am not too sure about Murali's action. I think its still questionable. The way the elbow bends at the time of delivering the ball is what matters and when he was first tested, it was about 18 degrees while the ICC tolerance limit was much lesser than that. It was ultimately argued that it was Murali's handicap which makes him bowl like that. I don't think any handicap should be used to a person's advantage. But when we speak about all these things, there will be one set of people who will term it as racial etc. But facts are facts. In an interesting 'sledging' event, Sangakkara once asked Harbhajan "why is it that u always wear a full sleeves when u r bowling, while u wear a half sleeves while batting". Murali can answer that.

  • Nippy on July 16, 2008, 8:27 GMT

    Chucking is not defined by the "bending of the elbow" for those of you who don't know. In actuality so called "chucking" is the "flexing of the elbow". As long as the elbow does not work like our knees, that is it contracts and then straightens, a bowler does not chuck! get it right people!

  • Shiw on July 16, 2008, 4:51 GMT

    I don't understand the sentiments of people calling Murali, the chucker, Malinga's action ugly and so on. Just to verify that it is how it is, Murali has given the test for umpteenth of time and had the action of Malinga been beyond the rulebooks, there would definitely had been a complaint made against him, which is a real mystery that no has ever done. Just because these bowlers have tormented the "favorite batsmen" of these distinguished commenter's doesn't mean that someone chucks and while other bowls with ugly action. The fact is yours batsman has always failed and will fail time and again in the days to come.

  • SeenuSubbu on July 16, 2008, 1:17 GMT

    Correction:

    We played cricket with regular tennis ball, the softer one, back in India. Of course, nobody tried for "Malinga" pace in the 70s I am talking about.

    I haven't watched Ajith Mendis when he destroyed India in the Asia cup finals, but I think Malinga's bowling is ugly to watch, and does not qualify to be called "bowling". And yes, Murali chucks because his arm does bend at the elbow, just like Shoaib Akhtar's.

    The classy bowler I did admire was Chaminda Vaas, just to clarify this is not a tirade against Sri Lanka.

  • bsak on July 16, 2008, 1:14 GMT

    It may be too early to trumpup Mendis. My take is he will be sorted like so many cricketers before, just like Malinga.

  • ReactionRx on July 16, 2008, 1:12 GMT

    I thank Sangakara for writing good articles which are always a pleasure to read. I apologize for my fellow Indian Buddhi's comments and am really excited to see Mendis come through and perform so well. People need to realize that this is a sport and the team that performs better wins. Now moving on to the topic of "unique" players, I feel that unlike Srilanka, India has failed to encourage unique players and are bent on conforming players to the traditional technique. Players like Dhoni, for example, who are unorthodox are discouraged from the grassroots level and loose their natural ability to perform better because they are uncomfortable with the technique forced upon them. I feel that improving the grassroots level should solve a lot of problems for Indian cricket.

  • mustufa on July 15, 2008, 17:48 GMT

    Since we are talking about unorthodox and bending arms, just want to ask a question to Sangakarra, does it matter to you as a batsman whether the bowler is chucking or not, or more say I am making a statement, does it really matter, at the end of the day, its something different, and as a batsman you have to play it. So who cares if the bowler is chucking or not, the batsman has to have the skill to play it. And in this batsman dominated days, should things like ball tampering or chucking really matter specially in forms other then test cricket, I say let them tamper and see how much they can reverse it.

  • Dnxv5 on July 15, 2008, 16:25 GMT

    Also if someone want to see sri lankan kids playing softball cricket go to a boy's school during the interval. You will see about 50 cricket matches in one cricket gound. It's crazy.

  • Dnxv5 on July 15, 2008, 16:23 GMT

    First of all I would like to give an answer to Buddhi..seriously you have no clue about cricket or it's laws.. tell me first how Malinga is chucking ? Do you even know what chucking means ? does he bend his hand when bowling ? slinging action is a allowed action.. let me guess you are one of those indian fans who feels infrerior cos even sri lanka being a smaller country always tend to out perform india WHEN IT MATTERS..

    talking about the article.. I have to agree that playing softball (tennis) has to do a lot with these unusual actions.. playing softball in SL is not the same as in India or Paki, where they tend to play with a hard tennis ball or a taped ball, where bowling doesnt need much of a special assistance because it's heavy. In sri lanka we use the same tennis ball that they would use in tennis..soft and light. That's why bowlers need special tactics to move the bowl faster and so on.

  • whitelightning on July 15, 2008, 15:45 GMT

    People should not condemn these unorthodox bowlers but thank them for making the game of cricket more interesting. Cricket in today's world is a batsmen's game and bowlers have no choice but to bowl on flat surfaces. In such cases the unorthodoxy that these bowlers such as Murali, Malinga, Mendis and Sohail Thanvir bring to the game makes it more interesting to watch for the viewer. Also what Kumar says about mental confidence and line is very important. No matter how freaky a bowler is if he cannot put the ball in the right spots 9 times out of 10 the batsmen will hit him to the boundaries. The unorthodox bowlers mentioned above are special due to that reason. They are able to maintain line and lenght despite them being unorthodox bowlers, and the best part is they do a better job than their counterpart.

  • CJC1 on July 15, 2008, 15:19 GMT

    I agree that just because a cricketer isn't orthodox, they shouldn't be judged on their performances the same as every other cricketer. Isn't sport more exciting when you don't know what's coming next??? But I do see it being a problem particularly with bowlers when their actions 'bend' or cross the boundaries of being legal (and we all know the issues some SL cricketers have had). These issues could easily have been properly rectified at an earlier age without taking away from their individuality. And just for the record to be open about it, I am in the camp that believes Murali throws, but that's not my point.

  • tanveers on July 15, 2008, 15:12 GMT

    Well written, Sanga. Mendis needs to work hard to prove that he is the next Murli. But I must say that, Sri Lanka has great Cricket talent. I'm from Pakistan and I admire Sri Lankan Cricket team. Pakistan team is very ordinary these days. And Indian team while at its best is still so vulnerable. Compare the size of India with Sri Lanka and you wonder, how can't India not find genuine talent -- specially in the bowling department? India-SL series will be the series to watch. Like always there is a hype about Indian batting line-up (always has). We'll see how it goes. Keep up your good form. Regards!

  • danish_tahir87 on July 15, 2008, 15:10 GMT

    I think Sanga has not been dat patriotic as compared to some of the comment givers.... I like unorthodox cricketers bcz dey try to be different. Cricket has been made so tough for the bowlers that the bowlers have to think different tricks, We in Pakistan have soft ball cricket and here too bowlers try to be deceptive in their actions. The thing about Menids is he has such great control and i think if he keeps bowling like this, i dont think many people can get runs from his bowling in ODIs. However im not too sure about his wicket taking ration in test cricket....

  • BUDHI on July 15, 2008, 15:04 GMT

    Many of these un-orthodox bowlers are chuckers including Murali and Malinga. Surprise thing is that why ICC allows every throw bowler from SriLanka. And why this is the only country to enjoy this privilege from governing body.

    There is no proud factor in this.

  • NoobasaurausRex on July 15, 2008, 14:10 GMT

    What I think is rather remarkable are the pro-Aussie comments here, not that I have anything against Australia, but here we are talking about batsmen 'sorting' out the bowlers, whereas it was Australia that lost to India in the recent series in Australia itself. To sam:

    Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Rick Ponting are brilliant cricketers, and nothing can take that away, however your lack of comparative skills leaves your opinions in a rather precarious position, you are comparing established and mainly RETIRED cricketers and talking about their 'techniques' vs upcoming players.

    Sure after a while, the batsmen WILL be able to read the bowlers, most of you haven't even read the article fully but simply ranting. He is talking more along the lines of taking the game to a new level. Rick Ponting never did that. Jayasuriya did that. Tendulkar did that, Lara did that. Try not to miss the point halfway through the article.

  • -Hilal- on July 15, 2008, 14:04 GMT

    It is evident from the few comments here that some people think orthodoxy is bad and brings undue advantage. Common sense will tell you if orthodoxy equals success there will be plenty of blokes trying these actions out. You can't be taught to be unorthodox this is rare natural unaltered talent and skill. If anything "the perfect bowling action" was created in order to be accurate and effective. If Mcgrath didn't bowl closer to his ears he would not be as accurate, Technically correct bowling actions make the mere mortals bowl well & raw talent comes from birth.

    It is a bore for a non Australian to watch Ponting bat but it is a treat for Cricket fans all over to watch unorthodox batsman like Gilchrist and Jayasuriya entertain!

  • KingOwl on July 15, 2008, 13:51 GMT

    It is great to see bowlers like Mendis and Malinga. I have never seen another bowler as impressive in his delivery stride as Malinga. Glen McGrath - give me a break. Muscle_bound: McGrath is as boring as they come. If Sony created a robot who bowls, he would look like McGrath. Of course he is very efficient, but cricket will be an utter bore if everybody bowled like McGrath. Warne, sure. He has something special. Ponting: Again, very very boring. Effective and efficient, but boring and totally lacks elegence.

  • drneilmukherjee on July 15, 2008, 13:16 GMT

    While unorthodox bowlers will keep popping up on occasion, even SA had one in Paul Adams, unorthodox batsmen are much rarer and their fate at the international level is sealed for mediocrity. Now theres a difference between technically incorrect and unorthodox and Jayasuriya is the latter, which is what makes him a unique case. However, one like him will never be destined to greatness in tests (outside SL) unlike an Amla or Lara who are not 100% technically correct. Infact, it is the technically incorrect but not totally unorthodox ones that do the best as test batsmen. Sehwag is a case in point. Even Bradman's bat came from the 2nd slip! Contrast that to Sachin's and Dravid's straight bats and their immense test success, but neither come close to the Don.

  • Sri7 on July 15, 2008, 13:13 GMT

    Its exciting to watch Mendis bowl. I am a Indian but I enjoyed Mendi's 6/13 against India. Its always fun when something comes along which shows how much individual your cricket can be. As you say, I do feel Mendis will need his accuracy to stick with him. Hez nt a big spinner so will need all the guile he can have. I like to see good bowlers come though, especially in current batsmen helping world. I do hope for the sake of cricket, Mendis does keep up his game. Best of Luck Mendis.

  • RickyD on July 15, 2008, 12:55 GMT

    A bottoms up, refreshing, honest and straight forward recognition of the talent and unique capabilities of cricketers from an unorthodox league born of a special breed. Let there be more encouragement and a bigger stage for believers, followers and devotees of this pure and free style brand of cricket, only dared to be loved by zany players with big hearts and unadulterated techno savvy cricketing souls. For their very existance, is just to please, excite and unsettle its hungry and consuming fans with feelings of sublime joy and ecstasy! - KS thanks for this very nice article about this ancient but not so nascent cricketing art.

  • muscle_bound18 on July 15, 2008, 12:47 GMT

    Sri Lanka are a decent team yes, but i dont see unorthodox cricket can be helping the game, all it does is tear down the walls of proper cricket! Murali, Lasith and Mendis are cricketers i have little time for because of this. give me Glenn Mcgrath, Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting anyday, why, the beauty of their techniques!

  • Sam23 on July 15, 2008, 12:18 GMT

    I dont think so Malinga and Mendis are unorthodox cricketers. Malinga has been sorted out by the batsmen and he isnt a force he was made out to be by the ever vocal captain - vice captain duo of SL. Same lies with Mendis. The batsmen who were flummoxed by Mendis in Asia cup final are not the specialist batsmen known to play good spin. They are at best rookies and the achievement of Mendis dismissing the likes of Yuvraj, Uthappa, Raina, Sharma doesnt mean much. Yuvraj has a traditional weakness against spin and the others are relatively new in the international cricket....

    The sad reality is Sri Lanka failed miserably in the CB series in Australia where they tested the potential replacements for Vaas and Murali, but nobody came up to the front with confidence. And we should not forget the Indian batting lineup in the TESTS -- Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman. It says it all and now the pressure is on Lanka to hold its strong fort which could well be crumbled.

  • CricketPissek on July 15, 2008, 10:55 GMT

    It seems like a simple point Sanga's making, but it's quite pertinent. Mendis' surprise element will disappear soon, but his accuracy and temperament is what the Sri Lankan team will be banking on. What most people don't seem to understand is, the point to be taken is not Sri Lanka selecting players because of their unorthodoxy, but in-spite of it! In my (humble?) opinion, an orthodox technique should still be encouraged but not made compulsory. Find the cream of the crop of players without worrying about their technique too much, but it's human nature to be unsettled by something different :)

  • heruramba on July 15, 2008, 10:38 GMT

    i agree with u sanga .for a period of time they might not able to read,but within 6 months clear cut idea will come to all the players. they can easily played them.

  • jagath on July 15, 2008, 9:10 GMT

    Sanga you miss Jayananda Warnaweera. He had a unorthodox action.

  • manikolbe on July 15, 2008, 8:47 GMT

    Mendis has three main variations. A googly, a dhoosra and off spin.

    It is a pity that Indian team didn't watch it before the Asia cup finals!! When he bowls dhoosra he has his two little fingers straight up with palm facing the batsman When he bowls googly he has his two little fingers straight up with palm facing long on And his offspin are orthodox with all fingers holding the ball. So his two little fingers thats all u need to look out for!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Same like Kumble who has his little finger up when he bowl a googly!

  • Anjo on July 15, 2008, 8:26 GMT

    I think you're right, and all of these players are quite lucky that when they got their lucky break, their original self-taught skills were preserved and perhaps encouraged rather than corrected and restrained. What I am really fascinated about is how they developed such fantastic variations, having an unorthodox action isn't much use if you are unable to add anything to it, take Paul Adams for example. There could be several reasons for this, but given that these bowlers may not have the best technological aid at first class level, I'm inclined to believe they were forced to adapt to circumstances. This could be because, and I might be completely off here, the pitches in Sri Lanka are generally quite batsmen-friendly and so you have to come up with deliveries that bamboozle batsmen, and masking this behind a unique action could have a telling effect.

  • tpjpower on July 15, 2008, 8:04 GMT

    Great article Kumar. I can't wait to see Mendis next time the Lankans come to Australia (hopefully in tests). By the way, Kumar forgot that he himself is an unconventional cricketer: as a very learned and intelligent man who doesn't rely on the clinched commentary on the game that we hear from so many players (not to mention the world's no. 1 batsman). Nice work, Sanga.

  • 1958 on July 15, 2008, 8:02 GMT

    Mr KS , if your theory of evolution of these cricketers is true, India would have produced thousands of unorthodox cricketers more than what SL has done. However, I am not arguing against the talented Srilankan cricketers. Furthermore, during the series between Ind and SL all secrets will be revealed and entire cricketing nations can learn how to play A Mendis from Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly Trio.

  • Big_Chikka on July 15, 2008, 7:41 GMT

    What is unorthodox? Just something different! Something "other" people haven't seen or understood yet, a bit like reverse swing perhaps, or the bowling action of Jeff Thomson/Lasith Malinga?

    Its great to see the natural inclinations of players overcome the boring and monotonous technically correct garbage we are forced to endure. Amla just scored a 100 at Lords with his bat coming in from Gully. Hooray! Lets see more different techniques and more great performances from the East and West. Maybe in time the "technically minded" will realise all they do is try an measure/judge/imitate successful techniques.

    PS. I haven't forgotten Bells knock against South Africa, it too was pleasing.

  • dadvoc on July 15, 2008, 7:28 GMT

    To me, the unorthodoxy in subcontinental cricketers is due to lack of opportunities of being coached at the earlier stages of their playing life. But if this unorthodoxy equates to 'uniqueness' and the player yields good for its team, then I think the overall phenomenon is ok and nothing needs to be done.

  • r1m2 on July 15, 2008, 6:37 GMT

    I think there's a simple equation here. 'M' for M*story, which is Mastery over Mystery. The really good unorthodox bowlers thus far are all named M-something. They create mystery in the minds of batsmen, coaches and watchers. They are also pretty good at what they do, i.e. masters of their unorthodoxy. As KS mentions, to sum it up, mystery without mastery is not going to make the bowler all that great. However, let's not start burning the cricket books, all over Sri Lanka yet. For those who are not as talented, and are unable to master their unorthodoxy, they are better off following the rule books, so they can earn a decent living. Nice Article KS!

  • rajaneesh on July 15, 2008, 6:19 GMT

    Great. I was wondering how Sri Lanka keeps coming up with such unorthodox cricketers again and again. Perhaps outside Lanka, only South Africa's Paul Adams comes to my mind on that list. Peterson -- though for different reasons-- can be unorthodox. The more raw it is, the better it will be. Like Shane Warne, the best Australian captain Australia never had, said, cricket can be taught the way it is. More than laptops and rule books, it is the natural game that always matters.

  • Kunal-Talgeri on July 15, 2008, 6:18 GMT

    Kumara, you are a wonderfully observant writer. The game is richer with you as a cricketer -- and observer. Keep scoring!

  • Saleque on July 15, 2008, 5:54 GMT

    Srli Lankans in recent years have consistently produced freak cricketers unorthodox in styles but genius in performance.These are champions. Sanath , Murali have tormented the world.Now Lasith and Ajanta are coming at a time when the two champions are still hunting with venom.

  • PottedLambShanks on July 15, 2008, 5:31 GMT

    Of course, the real reason is that SL cricketers know they are protected by an ICC keen to pander to the Asian nations and to ensure that as many teams are competitive as possible, regardless of the legality of various bowling actions or captains' on-field behavior.

  • Sujan Rao on July 15, 2008, 4:43 GMT

    Its great to see Srilanka such a small island producing Great un-orthodox cricket talents. Sanath Jayasuriya will be my pick out of all of them. He has been a tremendous cricketer who single handedly changed the way cricket was played, I feel I don't have to say he is the one who can be called responsible for changes in cricket like Twenty 20. I salute him for it.. Srilankan cricketers have contributed a lot to world cricket, great to see them play cricket with such professionalism and passion.

  • ITRathnasekara on July 15, 2008, 4:16 GMT

    You hit the nail on the head Sanga.These unorthodoxy comes naturally to them.If you are a batter you just pick the bat and hit the ball on your own way and you become a unique batter.Same apply for a bowler too, you pick the ball and deliver and thats it , you become a unique one. Some times countries like ours ( I am a Sri Lankan ) should thank our systems, simply because we don't have such well established academies where you pick youngsters and developed them like robots.Robots are robots and no natural flair on them. If one of those players you mentioned in this article had been picked to an academy in England or somewhere else non of them would have come to the success they achieved so far. So it is vital to understand the uniqueness of them and nurture them to become successful players.Food for thought for selectors and administrators.

  • Ralp on July 15, 2008, 3:47 GMT

    This is probably the only positive aspect of having a hopeless cricket administration in SL. Few unorthodox players slip through the system and reach highest level. But we didn't see any new talent coming through mainstream since you, way back in 2000.

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  • Ralp on July 15, 2008, 3:47 GMT

    This is probably the only positive aspect of having a hopeless cricket administration in SL. Few unorthodox players slip through the system and reach highest level. But we didn't see any new talent coming through mainstream since you, way back in 2000.

  • ITRathnasekara on July 15, 2008, 4:16 GMT

    You hit the nail on the head Sanga.These unorthodoxy comes naturally to them.If you are a batter you just pick the bat and hit the ball on your own way and you become a unique batter.Same apply for a bowler too, you pick the ball and deliver and thats it , you become a unique one. Some times countries like ours ( I am a Sri Lankan ) should thank our systems, simply because we don't have such well established academies where you pick youngsters and developed them like robots.Robots are robots and no natural flair on them. If one of those players you mentioned in this article had been picked to an academy in England or somewhere else non of them would have come to the success they achieved so far. So it is vital to understand the uniqueness of them and nurture them to become successful players.Food for thought for selectors and administrators.

  • Sujan Rao on July 15, 2008, 4:43 GMT

    Its great to see Srilanka such a small island producing Great un-orthodox cricket talents. Sanath Jayasuriya will be my pick out of all of them. He has been a tremendous cricketer who single handedly changed the way cricket was played, I feel I don't have to say he is the one who can be called responsible for changes in cricket like Twenty 20. I salute him for it.. Srilankan cricketers have contributed a lot to world cricket, great to see them play cricket with such professionalism and passion.

  • PottedLambShanks on July 15, 2008, 5:31 GMT

    Of course, the real reason is that SL cricketers know they are protected by an ICC keen to pander to the Asian nations and to ensure that as many teams are competitive as possible, regardless of the legality of various bowling actions or captains' on-field behavior.

  • Saleque on July 15, 2008, 5:54 GMT

    Srli Lankans in recent years have consistently produced freak cricketers unorthodox in styles but genius in performance.These are champions. Sanath , Murali have tormented the world.Now Lasith and Ajanta are coming at a time when the two champions are still hunting with venom.

  • Kunal-Talgeri on July 15, 2008, 6:18 GMT

    Kumara, you are a wonderfully observant writer. The game is richer with you as a cricketer -- and observer. Keep scoring!

  • rajaneesh on July 15, 2008, 6:19 GMT

    Great. I was wondering how Sri Lanka keeps coming up with such unorthodox cricketers again and again. Perhaps outside Lanka, only South Africa's Paul Adams comes to my mind on that list. Peterson -- though for different reasons-- can be unorthodox. The more raw it is, the better it will be. Like Shane Warne, the best Australian captain Australia never had, said, cricket can be taught the way it is. More than laptops and rule books, it is the natural game that always matters.

  • r1m2 on July 15, 2008, 6:37 GMT

    I think there's a simple equation here. 'M' for M*story, which is Mastery over Mystery. The really good unorthodox bowlers thus far are all named M-something. They create mystery in the minds of batsmen, coaches and watchers. They are also pretty good at what they do, i.e. masters of their unorthodoxy. As KS mentions, to sum it up, mystery without mastery is not going to make the bowler all that great. However, let's not start burning the cricket books, all over Sri Lanka yet. For those who are not as talented, and are unable to master their unorthodoxy, they are better off following the rule books, so they can earn a decent living. Nice Article KS!

  • dadvoc on July 15, 2008, 7:28 GMT

    To me, the unorthodoxy in subcontinental cricketers is due to lack of opportunities of being coached at the earlier stages of their playing life. But if this unorthodoxy equates to 'uniqueness' and the player yields good for its team, then I think the overall phenomenon is ok and nothing needs to be done.

  • Big_Chikka on July 15, 2008, 7:41 GMT

    What is unorthodox? Just something different! Something "other" people haven't seen or understood yet, a bit like reverse swing perhaps, or the bowling action of Jeff Thomson/Lasith Malinga?

    Its great to see the natural inclinations of players overcome the boring and monotonous technically correct garbage we are forced to endure. Amla just scored a 100 at Lords with his bat coming in from Gully. Hooray! Lets see more different techniques and more great performances from the East and West. Maybe in time the "technically minded" will realise all they do is try an measure/judge/imitate successful techniques.

    PS. I haven't forgotten Bells knock against South Africa, it too was pleasing.