June 17, 2012

A short-ball exam that young batsmen are failing

Jonny Bairstow and Suresh Raina are talented players who Test cricket shouldn't lose; they lack a skill that can be easily taught
76

Watching the trials and tribulations of Jonny Bairstow as he faced a short-pitched onslaught from the West Indies pace bowlers took my mind back 12 months to when Suresh Raina faced a similar assault by the England attack.

I was also reminded of what that excellent England paceman and part-time poet John Snow said in the sixties: "The bouncer is a short and emphatic examination paper that you put to the batsman." Both the on-field actions of pace bowlers and Snow's comment are ample reason for coaches of talented young batsmen to think carefully about the way they prepare players for the future. Any coach fortunate enough to have a young batsman who he thinks is skilled enough to reach the international level should automatically have his pupil learn the full repertoire of shots. If that mission is accomplished, the player, on reaching the international level, will have the option of deciding which shots he employs on the day, depending on the opposition bowlers and the prevailing conditions.

If the young batsman isn't fully prepared, he faces the daunting prospect of trying to survive at the highest level while fighting with one hand tied behind his back.

My South Australian captain, Les Favell, a fierce proponent of the horizontal bat shots, often said: "At international level you must be able to hook or cut to succeed and it's better if you can play both." This is wise counsel for the simple reason that Test fast bowlers tend to take a quick look at a young player's technique and if that appears to be in order, they apply Snow's examination paper. This approach is designed to find out if the young batsman is really determined to have a long stay in the middle or if he'd rather be back by the hotel swimming pool, sipping on a piƱa colada.

It's imperative that batsmen not only survive but prosper against the short ball. It's possible for a batsman to take a boxer's approach of bobbing and weaving for a while but against better attacks that method has a limited life span. Raina found this out in the series against England.

Cricketers have a saying: "There are two types of hook. The one played out of fright and the other played by choice." The former is easy to spot because it ends up resembling a "get away from me" shot. After being constantly badgered by the English quick bowlers, Raina eventually lashed out like that at Trent Bridge, only to be caught off a top-edged hook.

Both Bairstow and Raina are talented players with the skill to make big scores in the Test arena. The game needs young players like them to succeed, because they are extremely entertaining cricketers. If they fall short of expectations, it could be the result of inadequate preparation for a future at Test level. This failure could either be because of not being taught the full repertoire of shots at a young age, or some poor advice to shelve the hook or pull at an early stage in their career.

Cricket has made some tremendous advances in the process of becoming fully professional at international level. However, I'm not sure enough thought has been given to the preparation of young players for a possible international future. Putting the best coaches in charge of the most talented young cricketers would be a good start.

Cricket can't afford to have talented individuals fall short of the international level purely because their technique failed. Temperament can be a matter of fortune but skill can be honed.

Hopefully Bairstow and Raina will get their games sorted out and go on to have successful Test careers. If they don't, it will most likely be because they failed the John Snow examination.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on June 20, 2012, 19:45 GMT

    If you are good batsman no matter if you grew up on a bouncy or spinning track you will have the skill to play all types of bowling with reasonable comfort. Poor cricketing upbringing is main reason why most batsmen suffer from inability to handle certain type of bowling. If your basic batting technique (Stance, Grip, footwork, balance etc) are correct then by and large one should be able handle different types bowling with reasonable comfort. On the other hand if your talent is built on pure 'courage' you are bound to be exposed sooner or later (Raina, Shewag etc. great talent but !!). Basic technique correction should be done when kids are starting the game and not try correcting when you have started playing first class and international matches. If likes of Tendulkar ,Dravid , Gavaskar or Mohinder ( I may add Sashtri, Gaikwad and Viswanth to the list) have handled bouncing deliveries with reasonable comfort, it is because they all possessed well structured basic batting technique.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on June 19, 2012, 20:35 GMT

    @Hammond, I guess you didn't understand what xylo said. He said if you are good at spotting it, then the batsman should be fine. Bevan wasn't good at spotting it and so are Raina and little Jonny boy.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on June 19, 2012, 20:18 GMT

    Ducking and swaying away are excellent choices against the bouncer. It all boils down to how good and quick you are in judging the length of the ball. If you are excellent at focusing on that aspect of a delivery, you won't end in an awkward position of fending a bouncer off your face or throat. IMO, there's no need for the hook shot to be employed as Dravid amply displayed. He takes it out only if needed as per the situation. If a batsman is an excellent judge of the length, there should be no problem.

  • Hammond on June 19, 2012, 13:00 GMT

    @xylo- no in test cricket it is patently not good enough. If you can't play the short ball then in test cricket they will keep giving it to you. Hence Michael Bevan averaged 53 in odis and 29 in test cricket.

  • on June 19, 2012, 1:54 GMT

    i hope coaches and selectors visit this site daily and read what they can do to improve their side

  • xylo on June 18, 2012, 19:52 GMT

    I am not a cricketer myself, but given it is Test cricket where the run-rate is not the top thing on the agenda, if a batsman is good at spotting a bouncer and can get out of the way, isn't that good enough?

  • Kaze on June 18, 2012, 19:24 GMT

    Apparently Ian Chappel forget about one Steve Waugh, you don't have to hook the short all just don't play it. And no one has to give Raina respect, respect is earned and he looked like rubbish in England.

  • HyderabadiFlick on June 18, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    @bismoy if Raina will be next Lara then Bismoy will be next Richie Benaud.

  • HyderabadiFlick on June 18, 2012, 19:01 GMT

    @contrast_swing:I absolutely agree with you. Raina is a one shot player(Swat over mid-wicket) and without a doubt a great team man and fielder.Any intelligent captain like Shane Warne will have a fielder at deep mid-wicket and bowl wide of off-stump to him. In IPL3 Warne got Raina twice bowling that line.Raina probably needs to change his stance and he is talented and of course he has the right temperament.But looking at the reserves in the Indian test line up. He is highly unlikely to be in 14 men team for NZL and ENG test series. Why is he not in India-A team to WI. You cannot take IPL performances into consideration for test team selection.If he is selected into the Indian test team then BCCI may have missed the bus once again of not selecting the right people for test team. My Team: Gautam,V.Sehwag,Che Pujara,SRT, Virat,VVS ,MSD, Harbajan, Ojha,Zaheer, Umesh Yadav, Rohit(12th),Rahul Sharma, Aaron. Reserves Rahane, Ashwin, Mukund, M.Tiwary, S.Dhawan, Rayudu -- Jai Hind

  • on June 18, 2012, 15:08 GMT

    i know raina just dint play well in england .he played superbly in west indies and was the third highest run scorer in the test series . he even plays well in indian soil and scored a lot even in sri lanka. we should respect his talent

  • on June 20, 2012, 19:45 GMT

    If you are good batsman no matter if you grew up on a bouncy or spinning track you will have the skill to play all types of bowling with reasonable comfort. Poor cricketing upbringing is main reason why most batsmen suffer from inability to handle certain type of bowling. If your basic batting technique (Stance, Grip, footwork, balance etc) are correct then by and large one should be able handle different types bowling with reasonable comfort. On the other hand if your talent is built on pure 'courage' you are bound to be exposed sooner or later (Raina, Shewag etc. great talent but !!). Basic technique correction should be done when kids are starting the game and not try correcting when you have started playing first class and international matches. If likes of Tendulkar ,Dravid , Gavaskar or Mohinder ( I may add Sashtri, Gaikwad and Viswanth to the list) have handled bouncing deliveries with reasonable comfort, it is because they all possessed well structured basic batting technique.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on June 19, 2012, 20:35 GMT

    @Hammond, I guess you didn't understand what xylo said. He said if you are good at spotting it, then the batsman should be fine. Bevan wasn't good at spotting it and so are Raina and little Jonny boy.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on June 19, 2012, 20:18 GMT

    Ducking and swaying away are excellent choices against the bouncer. It all boils down to how good and quick you are in judging the length of the ball. If you are excellent at focusing on that aspect of a delivery, you won't end in an awkward position of fending a bouncer off your face or throat. IMO, there's no need for the hook shot to be employed as Dravid amply displayed. He takes it out only if needed as per the situation. If a batsman is an excellent judge of the length, there should be no problem.

  • Hammond on June 19, 2012, 13:00 GMT

    @xylo- no in test cricket it is patently not good enough. If you can't play the short ball then in test cricket they will keep giving it to you. Hence Michael Bevan averaged 53 in odis and 29 in test cricket.

  • on June 19, 2012, 1:54 GMT

    i hope coaches and selectors visit this site daily and read what they can do to improve their side

  • xylo on June 18, 2012, 19:52 GMT

    I am not a cricketer myself, but given it is Test cricket where the run-rate is not the top thing on the agenda, if a batsman is good at spotting a bouncer and can get out of the way, isn't that good enough?

  • Kaze on June 18, 2012, 19:24 GMT

    Apparently Ian Chappel forget about one Steve Waugh, you don't have to hook the short all just don't play it. And no one has to give Raina respect, respect is earned and he looked like rubbish in England.

  • HyderabadiFlick on June 18, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    @bismoy if Raina will be next Lara then Bismoy will be next Richie Benaud.

  • HyderabadiFlick on June 18, 2012, 19:01 GMT

    @contrast_swing:I absolutely agree with you. Raina is a one shot player(Swat over mid-wicket) and without a doubt a great team man and fielder.Any intelligent captain like Shane Warne will have a fielder at deep mid-wicket and bowl wide of off-stump to him. In IPL3 Warne got Raina twice bowling that line.Raina probably needs to change his stance and he is talented and of course he has the right temperament.But looking at the reserves in the Indian test line up. He is highly unlikely to be in 14 men team for NZL and ENG test series. Why is he not in India-A team to WI. You cannot take IPL performances into consideration for test team selection.If he is selected into the Indian test team then BCCI may have missed the bus once again of not selecting the right people for test team. My Team: Gautam,V.Sehwag,Che Pujara,SRT, Virat,VVS ,MSD, Harbajan, Ojha,Zaheer, Umesh Yadav, Rohit(12th),Rahul Sharma, Aaron. Reserves Rahane, Ashwin, Mukund, M.Tiwary, S.Dhawan, Rayudu -- Jai Hind

  • on June 18, 2012, 15:08 GMT

    i know raina just dint play well in england .he played superbly in west indies and was the third highest run scorer in the test series . he even plays well in indian soil and scored a lot even in sri lanka. we should respect his talent

  • ToTellUTheTruth on June 18, 2012, 14:58 GMT

    In the good (or bad...depending on ones' view) old days of 80s, our coaches would make us stand at the other end of a concrete bench (the height coming to above the waist height, but below chest). They would dunk these rubber balls (not tennis balls) and use a paddle to swat the ball on to the bench, so the ball would really come off at a high pace and height - usually above chest and below the head. They would make us do that every day for at least an hour. The target is this. Every ball needs to be played down with soft hands for the first 25 balls you receive including weaving and ducking. Then you play your shots. We would be surrounded by fielders and if any one catches you during your attempts, that would be an automatic punishment of 1 lap around the ground. Not sure how the kids are getting trained now a days. I am talking about pre-helmet days. So, bruises, and black eyes galore. But we got much better at facing short stuff without fear.

  • hyclass on June 18, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    I have to disagree with you Ian. To succeed as a Test batsman, a player needs an attacking plan,a defensive plan and the courage,stamina and physical ability to execute it.Tests have a long history of players whose games eschewed the hook shot. Ducking and weaving has long been an option.It occurs to me that your advice is more a recollection of memories regarding your own game,which was a back foot dominated one with the hook as a weapon. I've long read about your own training and have a high respect for you and the results you accomplished. There is no question that when you were advised to lay down in SA and not play the hook,after getting in trouble with it against a fabulous team,that it was definitely the wrong advice for you.I recollect how Bradman advised you to go back to it,BECAUSE it was an integral part of your success. If one lesson stands out,it is the advice that whatever you choose to do,be decisive and do it with excellence.That is more important than being all things.

  • Selassie-I on June 18, 2012, 11:52 GMT

    from the test series I watched recently between WI and ENG, Bairstow only appeared to get out once to the short ball? true he was troubled on that occasion, in the 3rd test windies immidiatley tried to bounce him out, without effect. I think it's harsh to brand the lad on one innings. he hadn't looked troubled by it in any of his other innings'!? I wouldn't say that yuvraj singh had a weakness to the short ball, but he certainly got worked over by it as well last year by us.

  • Truemans_Ghost on June 18, 2012, 11:34 GMT

    IT Botham had the right idea about hooking.... eye off the ball, swing hard and somehow it often came off. Not sure you could or should coach it that way however.

  • Hammond on June 18, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    It's the obsession with "getting on the front foot" that causes this technical weakness. The greatest players of the past played either all the way forward or all the way back depending on the length of the delivery. This latest trend of these huge forward presses and then trying to sway back onto the back foot to hook or cut, the technique is flawed it leaves you with no time to play the shot or place it correctly. It really is just flat wicket ODI batting and the disease all all through test cricket.

  • eGVishal on June 18, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    Its not good digging at S. Raina, as I can say most Indian batsmen fail with same weakness. ganguly was prime example of it. Raina is young and I am confident he is going to sort out the problem and I say this because I know he can be the best left hander India ever produced. But only if he sorts the issue out.

  • chapathishot on June 18, 2012, 7:00 GMT

    The problem in India is the upbringing in concrete pitches/Indoor pitches in coaching centers where the ball skids on and not bounces and even short balls can (are to) be played in front foot. So the batsmen at a very young age is used to it and struggle when they are bounced.Formal coaching in India is killing many talented players by making them fit in a box rather than working with their talent and flair and correcting mistakes.Even Sourav had a problem with the short one early but could work through it later even though not in full control even at his peak.Raina being a short man should be able to cope it better than any one else.But he has to put in effort and get back.I also have a feeling that he will come back with a bang.

  • contrast_swing on June 18, 2012, 6:06 GMT

    Do not confuse 'entertaining' with 'talented'. Just because they can cross the boundaries in limited over matched does not mean that they can survive the bouncer exam. Extrapolating Snow's metaphor, the success of Raina et al. in Limited Over matches seems like 'cheating in the exam' because the bowlers are not allowed bouncers. I am curious now how these 'entertainers' will entertain us when they can get two bouncers an over and unlimited 'doosara exams'

  • Marcio on June 18, 2012, 4:27 GMT

    Agreed, @Kavindeven. But it's hard to find anyone who bowls it in those countries, as they get no-balled when they bend their arm and snap it back.

  • 9ST9 on June 18, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    @bismoy - It's thinking like that hampers the growth of young players. Sharma has repeatedly squandered opportunities. Don't compare him with Tendulkar. At the same age Tendulkar was miles ahead of Sharma ( I Assuume Rohit means Rohit Sharma) It's people like you calling players the next A.B and C that puts unnecessary burden on their shoulders. Raina will be Raina and Sharma will be himself. And kohli will be Kohli. And not "POINTING" i don't know even if there was a player called "POINTING".LOL

  • 9ST9 on June 18, 2012, 4:15 GMT

    and to think Raina scored a test hundred on debut....

  • Romenevans on June 18, 2012, 3:15 GMT

    What About English, Aussie and SA batsmen failing "The Doosra Examination" shouldn't they pass that too?

  • ruester on June 18, 2012, 2:13 GMT

    I think its a bit unfair on Bairstow to be included in this article after being bounced out only once in his entire test career. He has only had three innings so far, has he got a weakness against fast, full balls as well? Should Ian talk about how young players should be coached to play in the V and the best method of keeping out 90 mph yorkers. Raina, was worked over in an entire test series, give Bairstow a fair go before saying he cant play a short ball.

  • Marcio on June 18, 2012, 0:44 GMT

    Bairstow also made the mistake of LOOKING really fazed vs Roach in particular. He looked like a deer in the headlights. I don't think I have ever seen a young batsman look so scared on a cricket pitch. As for Raina, the Indian doctoring of pitches every time a team with any genuine quicks enters the country basically ruins any chance Indian players have of adapting. Watchig Raina duck head first into short pitched bowling while hooking in the quarter final of the last WC was infuriating. Tait, Johnson and Lee could only watch as their short pitched deliveries died and bobbed up off the pitch. The pitch was blowing dust in the the third over, it was so grassless and dry. In contrast, when IND went to AUS recently they couldn't handle any of the fast bowling - and the pitches were hardly green tops - quite fair to bat and ball, in fact.

  • S.Jagernath on June 17, 2012, 23:46 GMT

    @bismoy...You are allowed to dream but I think your dreams are a little too hopeful.Suresh Raina is a batsman that has been given many oppurtunities to prove that he has some ability,but nothing has ever happened.Despite the fact he gets ducks as often as tailenders,there is never talk of him sitting out for a technically better player to have a go.Suresh Raina is one guy that is guaranteed to never control a pull at Perth,Trent Bridge or The Wanderers like Rahul Dravid.He even gets bounced out in India.The next time India play at the SSC,Raina can get his next century,as it seems thats the only ground with a pitch flat enough that he can perform at.

  • __PK on June 17, 2012, 22:10 GMT

    Steve Waugh?.......................................

  • whatawicket on June 17, 2012, 18:15 GMT

    i hardly think playing in the back garden with your dad giving u throw downs prepares you for bouncers, randy come on. one of the best odi players in the world Michael Bevan could not play that delivery and finished him as a test batsman. Raina looks a batter with everything till its pitched short to him. JB will have to learn if he wants to progress in test cricket, but what little iv seen of him he looks a very confident young man as boycs is a family friend, perhaps he can give him a few tips. even if he improves its been noted and pace bowlers will be giving him gee up with bouncers. as with Steve Waugh at the begin of his career people thought it. if JB ends up 1/ 2 the player as waugh that will do him at his career ends

  • on June 17, 2012, 17:03 GMT

    has it got to do with to much of lmt over crk where a batsmen is never tested .to be a succesfull batsman one has to have very good tech. if u have one u will suceed in every form of crk basicaly it is all abt tech whether batting bowling or fielding

  • 2.14istherunrate on June 17, 2012, 16:36 GMT

    Bairstow looks too manufactured to me, a bowling machine player. He's also trying ot be too showey, and he is not very compact. Older players used to go back and across as a first movement, which nowadys is not always adhered to, but I reckon if someone is pacey enough then just staying back as a precondition gives one the best opportunity to deal with balls which are coming at one shoulder heigh or into the ribs. Then if he pitches a bit wide he can be cut, if piches furhter up the batsman can then move onto the front foot and drive. I remember Dennis Amiss making 200 off Holding & co using this simple method with quite pronounced movements, and thus not falling like all the rubble around him while Holding collected 16 wickets.Not being scared is another good idea. Bairstow plays on relatively soft piches at home which makes it harder to adjust. Of course in India no-one bowls quick enough at domestic level really.

  • HadleeCrowe on June 17, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    hooking is the most courageous thing i cricket.... It is what elevates cricket above baseball and almost all racket ball sports. That is why punter is a great player.... et soem youtube footage of martin crowe hooking the windies on the way to 188 in 84 in th windies or a couple of his home tons against them...

    Having said this steve waugh didnt hook ... but see how he got worked over ....

  • Micky.Panda on June 17, 2012, 16:04 GMT

    As a young lad, I have vivid (semi-vivid) memories of Ian Chappell being caught out first ball or at least very early at the MCG, when he was bowled a bouncer and could not resist hooking it to the boundary straight down the throat of a waiting fielder at fine leg. My hopes of watching a nice partnership between Ian and Greg Chappell were dashed rapidly. I quickly formed the view that Ian was a swash-buckling rather than a safe batsman. I think brother Greg was able to resist the hook more than Ian could. I think Steve Waugh modified his game after getting out hooking too many times.

  • WickyRoy.paklover on June 17, 2012, 16:03 GMT

    Raina z a traditnl flat track buly n nthng else.he can only dominate average mishra,negi etc nt more than that.

  • on June 17, 2012, 15:43 GMT

    Ian, I agreed to your viewpoint, and it is fair enough to say that you did not wrote this article to list all the players having problem with short-pitched bowling. As I like listening to your comments, similarly I am also a great fan of listening to the comments of Sunil Gavaskar, he always made a point that why to make so much of fuss about short ball...he says he himself had problem with out/in swingers + off/leg spin and everything except for a straight-ball.... ok Raina was found out but whose not? I was always wanted to hear from you a recipe to survive in international cricket for someone who brings a lot to the team but who is not particularly a good player of short ball outside of sub continent... And i believe you have that recipe... may be it wont help the readers/listeners like us but that may give enough confidence/time to Bairstow/Raina so that they can make their way to become a complete batsman. cheers

  • on June 17, 2012, 15:21 GMT

    Make it all fast and bouncy tracks for first class cricket. We've to continue with turners for International Cricket, no risks there.

  • on June 17, 2012, 15:18 GMT

    As default all curators must be instructed to prepare fast & bouncy tracks for Ranji trophy. Ofcourse, we can't take a chance in International Test cricket so it has to be home advantage for India and green pitches for Ranji teams.

  • Smithie on June 17, 2012, 15:00 GMT

    @sweetspot are you not prepared to have ago at the short ones you got seved up over DRS in Bhogle's article?

  • rahulcricket007 on June 17, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    @SAJIL ALAKKALKATH MAHMOOD . WHAT ABOUT VIRAT KOHLI ? HE IS ALSO A GREAT HOOKER & PULLER , HIS PULL SHOT IS ALMOST COPY CAT OF RICKY PONTING 'S PULL SHOT . ALSO SACHIN WAS A GOOD PLAYER OF HOOK & PULL SHOT BUT LATER HE DROPS THIS SHOT BECAUSE OF TENIS ELBOW PROBLEM . WATCH SACHIN 'S BATTING IN 1990 -2003 ( ESPECIALLY TH SIX OF CADDICK BALL IN SA WORLD CUP) .

  • vik56in on June 17, 2012, 14:04 GMT

    It is not just pulling and hooking that is needed to succeed at the Test level.Yuvraj Singh is very good with the pull and the cut shot,but he is a failure at the Test level. A very good defensive technique is a must for Test level.Raina is handicapped with his not having the horizontal bat shots.

  • Bobby_Talyarkhan on June 17, 2012, 14:00 GMT

    Great article as always Ian. Would have been even better if you had discussed some other players who were bounced out of test cricket - one that springs to mind is Michael Bevan who as I recall was terrorised by Darren Gough in England. And of course, as a few people have mentioned, the fact that batsmen wear helmets now - what difference does that make? Dennis Amiss was one classy batsman I remember who had problems with the pace attack you marshalled so superbly in the seventies. And of course it would have been good to get a few more tips about how to play short fast bowling, from one of the greatest players of the short stuff in cricketing history. I will always remember John Arlott's description of you - "a cricketer of effect rather than graces.....militant in attack, dogged in defence". Good to have you discussing cricketing technique again, Ian, rather than getting caught in all that hype about cricketing administration.

  • RandyOZ on June 17, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    Bairstow & Raina suffer from not playing on bouncy pitches. In Australia your dad starts giving you the chin music in the backyard when you can barely hold a bat so you are well used to it!

  • sachin_champ on June 17, 2012, 13:48 GMT

    Its a shame for Indian cricket that players like Raina , Rohit , Rahane still unable to make their own show and l with lots of technical faults . They should play more domestic matches instead of playing T-20 . They have bundle of talent but they are not using them properly . Indian pitches need to be fast and bouncy . Otherwise we have seen the consequences in ENG and AUS . India have a potential to be in top three always but need to more belligerent .

  • waspsting on June 17, 2012, 13:04 GMT

    "It's imperative that batsmen not only survive but prosper against the short ball. It's possible for a batsman to take a boxer's approach of bobbing and weaving for a while but against better attacks that method has a limited life span"

    I disagree with this. So many players have been successful while eschewing the hook. From accumalaters like Boycott and Dravid to stroke players like Lara. In this day and age - with all the protection - its easier than ever to not hook and get by (Steve Waugh being an extreme example). I think the key is not to be mentally rattled by the short ball - whether you attack it or not (good point about hook by choice vs hook by fear). leave or hook, as long as you keep moving the way you move if the short ball weren't a factor at all, you'll get enough normal balls to play an innings (at least these days - 80s were a little different)

  • PunchDrunkPunter on June 17, 2012, 12:51 GMT

    Bairstow has yet to be dismissed by a short ball in International cricket. And Kemar Roach made Ricky Ponting look like a 7 year old child trying to play Test cricket when he last bombarded him with short pitch bowling! P.S. Don't get me started on Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja!

  • maddinson on June 17, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    @bismoy your next Lara scored a 42 ball pair in the last test match he has played. Even great Chris Martin will not be proud of that.

  • on June 17, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    Excellent write up! Most of the greatest batsman I have seen after mid 80's have got great skill in cutting, pulling and hooking. A few examples are: Richards, Lara, Ponting, Gilchrist, Inzimam, Desilva, and Gooch. Raina may be talented, but the problem with him is that he did not have the opportunity to practice hook short during his formative years in domestic cricket where the bowl does not raise above the knee. As a matter of fact, apartment from Mohinder Amarnath, Kapil dev, and to some extent Sachin and Azhar, Indians batsman are always weak pullers and hookers.

  • Percy_Fender on June 17, 2012, 12:24 GMT

    Playing on matting wickets in the formative years is a good way of making youngsters fine backfoot players. Once a player's response technique to any particular ball has been grooved, it is very difficult to change too much.Suresh Raina though, has to only see the example of Mohender Amarnath. He made his debut in 1969 as a medium paced allrounder and played at the international level till 1979. Then Rodney Hogg showed up his weakness against the short stuff. He was dropped but went back and practised and practised for hours on end till he mastered the hook. So much so that he took on the likes of Imran, Marshall Holding and Roberts superbly. In fact Imran at one point said that Mohender was the finest player of fast bowling in the world at that point of time.That is 1982 to 87. Saurav ganguly was a good hooker when he started but later lost the plot. The point is that Suresh Raina can easily overcome his shortcoming with some good guidance and practice. Hussey can really help him out.

  • HumungousFungus on June 17, 2012, 11:55 GMT

    Watching Bairstow in the Tests against West Indies, I do not think that the issue is that he has a problem with the short ball per se...it looks to me as thoigh he was having trouble picking the ball up early in his innings and adjusting to the speed that Roach was bowling. Whilst he has struggled against the short ball, he has primarily got out by being massively late on full length quick deliveries and being bowled or LBW. That, to me, suggests a more fundamental issue with high speed bowling generally, which, as an England supporter, would not want me seeing him anywhere near the team to play SA for obvious reasons. For me, the comparison with Raina is unfair, as Raina is very comfortable on the front foot and has repeatedly demonstrated that if the ball is in his half, he is perfectly competent. It is only when the ball is in his face that he shows a complete inability to cope, which is why his Test Match days are likely over (and which I suspect he isn't remotely bothered about).

  • on June 17, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    John snow. My immediate thought went to Game Of Thrones.

    Good article Ian!

  • jr2012 on June 17, 2012, 11:32 GMT

    @uknsaunders, is that you Jonny boy. Go work on your back foot you looked pathetically embarrassing...a life of slogging awaits you.

  • uknsaunders on June 17, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    On the basis of this article does Raina have issues playing off-spin:-

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/england-v-india-2011/engine/match/474475.html

    You sometimes can read too much in a couple of innings Mr Chappell!

    Some big differences here:-

    Raina is an experienced international cricketer

    Bairstow had problems with 1 very quick bowler, Rampul was hardly causing him any problems

    Bearing in mind it was only a handful of deliveries before he adapted to the bowler. Could he just be a poor starter? .Bairstow was a bit unlucky playing too early on another delivery to get out

    England will fix the problem unlike India, who's stock response seems to be "wait to you play in India" - I hope Raina adapts to test cricket but he might not get the support to fix his issues

    I've met Bairstow several times and he is a very talented cricketer who works hard at his game. I'm sure him and Raina will come again.

    Navjot2000 - you sound like an expert, have you played test cricket lol

  • on June 17, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    Ian Chappell is right, and a classic example is Australia's own Phillip Hughes.

  • Chris_P on June 17, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    @ gimme-a-greentop . Did you read the article? In it, Chappell said "Any coach fortunate enough to have a young batsman who he thinks is skilled enough to reach the international level should automatically have his pupil learn the full repertoire of shots. If that mission is accomplished, the player, on reaching the international level, will have the option of deciding which shots he employs " This is exactly what Waugh did so the article did take that into consideration.

  • Alexk400 on June 17, 2012, 10:43 GMT

    For me any attacking batsman struggle against Short ball. It is simple concept really. if you really want to whack every ball , you already committed to a shot , bouncer become surprise. i do believe it is learning to duck bouncer is a skill. if you have cool head and relaxed , you duck. Gavaskar was good because he ducked and defended everything. Only viv richards and javed mianded come to mind who can play aggressivley and even hook for being shortman. Sehwag is another batsman struggle. Not very different reason.he probably should play short ball but because he wants to hit everything off side he already committed and he has less space and time to hit short ball comes to him at his body. I think hitting short ball is more of decision making first than technique. if your feet is not stuck in concrete and can move then you can rotate your legs and get the angle on short ball to smash leg side. More energy required to execute the short ball is another issue. Not strong physically.

  • Keepa-batsman on June 17, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    Bring back unlimited bouncers per over...that'll teach em

  • on June 17, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    Aravinda de Silva - Best Sri Lankan batsman to play both cut and hook shots...

  • gimme-a-greentop on June 17, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    This article doesn't take into account batsmen like Steve Waugh who decided to put away the hook almost entirely because it was too high risk. Waugh is one of the top scorers in Test cricket, so I guess batsmen just have to find what works for them.

  • swan_is_ordinary on June 17, 2012, 8:22 GMT

    Well I also agree.......Bairstrow is still in his younger days......but a player like raina who has played well over 100 ODI'S......its unfair to put them in the same category anyway,,,..... but sometimes I wonder that in India where they prepare Batsmen friendly pitches which gives very less or no support to bouncers or beamers, its OK to find 2 or 3 batmen who can't face short balls very well......but in a country like England......this is just not acceptable...... i accept that Bairstrow is in his early days but he still has got to improvise....early as well as strongly

  • smalishah84 on June 17, 2012, 8:16 GMT

    great article Ian. With so much protection for the batsmen nowadays I am not sure why they are not better players of the hook or pull?

  • Chris_P on June 17, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    A timely article reminding us of the changing techniques. There is no doubt in my mind that the playing of short balls has deteriorated greatly over the years. Even without helmets, seldom was a batsmen hit on the head, simply due to the fact that you either ducked, swayed or hooked. The first 2 were relatively easy if you kept an eye on the ball and judged the length. The last option you have to use your feet to step across to maintain your left shoulder inside the line so you can hook safely. Even now, while currently still playing, I am stunned at the number of young batsmen who play the shot all wrong, feet glued to the ground and swing across their face. And I see this up the ranks to international level where the "safety" of the helmet have contributed to poor techniques in hooking. Hooking, to me anyway, was natural instinct, you either hooked or waited until you were set before hooking.

  • SachinIsTheGreatest on June 17, 2012, 7:55 GMT

    How much of this is because young players just don't have the gap between seasons where they can iron out flaws? It would worse if England players cannot because they don't even play the IPL so they certainly have a larger window in their calendar where "back to the nets" can happen. But players from all other countries unless dropped from the national teams cannot afford the time to improve their bowling or batting as they seem to be jumping from series to series with leagues squeezed in in-between.

    Interestingly with close to 6000 test runs Bell is no nearer to solving the spinning conundrum but he seems to get away on English wickets where the ball hardly turns so maybe learning to play all types is bowling is not too essential either as long as you can fill your boots in in helpful conditions.

  • Emancipator007 on June 17, 2012, 7:25 GMT

    Absolute world-class players from Asia who tackled bouncers with finesse:Sunny,Aravinda (he OWNED OZ in ODIs while barely getting few Tests in OZ,NZ where he still excelled).Very competent players:Tendukar(extremely world class in '90s),Vishwanath, Dravid (though suspect records on pacy OZ,SA decks),I.Ahmed,Imran (the late-career superb batter),Patil,Sangakarra, Laxman(struggled against extreme pace of Akthar though).Sheer gutsy players:Amarnath (revamped skills to tackle bounce in '80s),Ganguly,Vengsarkar,Shastri,Miandad,Gaekwad (Windies specialist who played 22 of 40 Tests against WI!). Don't have much recollection of Zaheer Abbas -Pak fans can help. Contrary to perceptions & biasedness of media, Indian bats tackled fearsome WI pacers best during '70s & '80s. Pak held their own against WI teams in 80s(drew 3 series) only cos of superb, varied attack led ferociously by Imran,.Most competent non-Asians were Gooch,Border,Lamb,R. Smith, G.Chappell, Wood,M.Crowe.Deano,Wood did OK.

  • jr2012 on June 17, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    Bairstow is T20 slogger, Raina is an accomplished one day player.

    Bairtow's struggle against a mediocre West Indies bowling attack was pathetic, Bairstow is another Bopara, not good enough for Tests and international cricket.

    Time to explore the South African market for Andy Flower for a new number 6.

  • Emancipator007 on June 17, 2012, 7:19 GMT

    Just keep Raina away from Tests till "obvious" long-format players Rahane,Tiwary,Pujara,Rohit get enuf chances to fail at Test level.Oh what would world-class Sandeep Patil have given in '80s to get repeated chances to play more Tests/ODis with his superb approach to attacking short balls in OZ,Eng,NZ. Even Badani was unfairly dumped after showing lot of gumption in ODI tri-series in OZ 2003. Amol Mujumdar would have given a LIMB to play just 1 TEST for India. There have been others like S.Waugh,Ganguly (who gutsed it out with sheer willpower despite barrage of bouncers on comeback in'06 in Saf),Miandad who had issues but had courage and fortitude to stay at crease unlike Raina.In fact, Gang mentioned in an interview that he was ready to die at the crease to succeed on fast pitches of SA on his comeback.Mohinder,Gaekwad,G.Wood,Gooch proved (what exemplar Gavaskar achieved with sheer technical brilliance) that you could face bouncers from lethal WI pacers with courage.

  • sweetspot on June 17, 2012, 6:18 GMT

    Raina has too much talent and too much determination to not overcome what is a technical problem. If anyone noticed, he went after every short ball in all the opportunities he got after those tours of England and Australia. He has started pulling and hitting even off the front foot, and he's now waiting for the short ball because there is too much talk out there about his supposed weakness against it. Like all determined players he is aggressive to get on top of a problem, and hasn't sacrificed anything to do so. Indeed he is a dangerous limited overs player, and might get branded like that, but who is to say what of Yuvraj Singh either? These youngsters can all learn there is, if they just want it enough. Raina certainly looks hungry to me.

  • bismoy on June 17, 2012, 6:13 GMT

    @Cummins_Pattinson who is Bairstow?? Raina has played 145 matches.We will be talk about leagues if he played for 50 odi for england, forget 145.

    Raina is special talent sad that chappel put him with baristow.

    Raina plays spin best in this worlds,He was the first batman who sucessfully trashed mendis and narine.

    When everyone was struggling against narine, raina hit him for 3 sixes,talk about special talents.

    Infact Raina is next" lara " and Rohit is next " sachin" and kholi is next" pointing".

  • on June 17, 2012, 6:09 GMT

    In India, there is a fundamental problem. Not just the unresponsive pitches, but the bowlers are reprimanded if they bowl short! This is especially true at a younger age, where more caution (care?) is given to the player passing through an easy examination paper. If the examination paper is tough, coaches and parents will start complaining :o As much as one should praise say Dravid or Sachin for playing hook shot well, the other batsmen including Raina were not put through such tests, for no fault of theirs!

  • Emancipator007 on June 17, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    Just keep Raina away from Tests till "obvious" long-format players Rahane,Tiwary,Pujara,Rohit get enuf chances to fail at Test level.Oh what would world-class Sandeep Patil have given in '80s to get repeated chances to play more Tests/ODis with his superb approach to attacking short balls in OZ,Eng,NZ. Even Badani was unfairly dumped after showing lot of gumption in ODI tri-series in OZ 2003. Amol Mujumdar would have given a LIMB to play just 1 TEST for India. There have been others like S.Waugh,Ganguly (who gutsed it out with sheer willpower despite barrage of bouncers on comeback in'06 in Saf),Miandad who had issues but had courage & fortitude to stay at crease unlike Raina.In fact, Gang mentioned in an interview that he was ready to die at the crease to succeed on fast pitches of SA on his comeback.Mohinder,Gaekwad,G.Wood,Gooch proved (what exemplar Gavaskar achieved with sheer technical brilliance) that you could face bouncers from lethal WI pacers with courage.

  • kh1902 on June 17, 2012, 5:57 GMT

    Ian assumes that young players actually want or try to improve. Alot of younger Indian players have a poor attitude and are happy just picking up their IPL cheque. The much-criticised old guard, like Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman, never had their hand held - they had the drive and ambition to improve their technique, while guys like Suresh Raina expect to fast-track their way into the national Test team without putting in the hard yards.

  • maddinson on June 17, 2012, 5:22 GMT

    It is too early to put Bairstow in the league of Raina. Raina can't even play properly in limited overs if has to play up in the batting order.

  • on June 17, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    Good Article Ian Sir,Do remember your article last year about Raina.Its a pain to see him struggle against the short ball and quality spin given his talent.In my opinion its not that he can't play the pull shot well or tackle spinners.More or less it would be a question of belief and self-confidence plus unwanted tampering by coaches.Most young batsmen these days seem to face this problem.If you would remember Phil Hughes was a fierce cutter and puller who made 2 tons in his second test on a lightning fast Durban Track vs Steyn and Morkel.But suddenly a change of technique by the coach made him suffer in future games.Bairstow too faces such issues I guess despite a grounding in county cricket.All said and done young batsmen,particularly from Asia need more A tours and a season of county to sort out these defects on proper pitches.

  • Leggie on June 17, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    Since early 90s, fast bowling in general has taken a hit - thanks to some ridiculous rule changes that had commercialization in mind. This has resulted in number of centuries and runs go up quite unrealistically. When a batsman knows that he will not get more than one bouncer in an over, he is ready to take a chance and "avoid" the bouncer rather than taking it on. Raina and Baristow are only by products of this system. If Test cricket is to see some high quality batting, it requires some high quality bowling for which, ICC must make changes to the bouncer rules and also make changes to the number of overs per day. The one bouncer per over should be scrapped or restricted to only batsman at 9, 10 and 11. With batsman equipped with so much of armoury these days, I don't see a reason why a fast bowler cannot bowl 3 or 4 bouncers in an over. The bowler should be penalised only if the bouncer is used as a defensive ploy where the ball sails over the batsman's head.

  • Percy_Fender on June 17, 2012, 4:43 GMT

    Suresh Raina like Jon Bairstow are not scared of the short ball. I think both of them are weak against such bowling because they do not read the length of the ball early as is necessary to play either the hook or pull. It is also likely that their initial movement is to go onto the backfoot and their not determining the length of the ball early causes them not be behind the line of the ball.Thus the top edge lobbing to a fielder. Ricky Ponting is probably one of the best and compulsive hookers in the game even if his skill in this regard has come down in recent times. His initial movement is to move to the front foot and then gradually move onto the backfoot and hook the ball. Hussey another excellent hooker does almost the same. Considering that these two players have been brought up on Australian wickets, I think the way the play seems the right way. Suresh has benefitted from Hussey and I think he will overcome this shortcoming soon because he is otherwise brilliant as is Bairstow.

  • johnathonjosephs on June 17, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    Its because the older generation grew up playing cricket without helmets. They know what it is like and enjoy the benefits of having a helmet. Younger players these days are protected from the tip of their toes up to their head. Short Ball bowling is uncomfortable for them because they now know that even with helmets, you can still get hurt. But again, there is a difference between a steep bouncer and a friendly bouncer. Hope Intimidation Bowling rises up again (hopefully with the likes of Malinga, Roach, and Steyn it can rise back up). Cricket was much more fun when the batsman actually wasn't in complete control of the game

  • Pinarsh255 on June 17, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    i think the indian selectors have decided that raina is a limited over specialist and most likely he will find his chances in test cricket(if any) after the failures of kohli, pujara, rohit and rahane.and raina is going to have a tough time in ODIs also, after the 2 bouncers in an over rule.

  • deepak_sholapurkar on June 17, 2012, 3:52 GMT

    Its cricketers them self need to be prepared for the bouncers. They can practice with tennis ball on concrete pitches. But are they have the time now...!

  • ddc....... on June 17, 2012, 3:45 GMT

    playing bouncers cant be easily taught if u lack the technique....aussies can handle it easily but not indians

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • ddc....... on June 17, 2012, 3:45 GMT

    playing bouncers cant be easily taught if u lack the technique....aussies can handle it easily but not indians

  • deepak_sholapurkar on June 17, 2012, 3:52 GMT

    Its cricketers them self need to be prepared for the bouncers. They can practice with tennis ball on concrete pitches. But are they have the time now...!

  • Pinarsh255 on June 17, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    i think the indian selectors have decided that raina is a limited over specialist and most likely he will find his chances in test cricket(if any) after the failures of kohli, pujara, rohit and rahane.and raina is going to have a tough time in ODIs also, after the 2 bouncers in an over rule.

  • johnathonjosephs on June 17, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    Its because the older generation grew up playing cricket without helmets. They know what it is like and enjoy the benefits of having a helmet. Younger players these days are protected from the tip of their toes up to their head. Short Ball bowling is uncomfortable for them because they now know that even with helmets, you can still get hurt. But again, there is a difference between a steep bouncer and a friendly bouncer. Hope Intimidation Bowling rises up again (hopefully with the likes of Malinga, Roach, and Steyn it can rise back up). Cricket was much more fun when the batsman actually wasn't in complete control of the game

  • Percy_Fender on June 17, 2012, 4:43 GMT

    Suresh Raina like Jon Bairstow are not scared of the short ball. I think both of them are weak against such bowling because they do not read the length of the ball early as is necessary to play either the hook or pull. It is also likely that their initial movement is to go onto the backfoot and their not determining the length of the ball early causes them not be behind the line of the ball.Thus the top edge lobbing to a fielder. Ricky Ponting is probably one of the best and compulsive hookers in the game even if his skill in this regard has come down in recent times. His initial movement is to move to the front foot and then gradually move onto the backfoot and hook the ball. Hussey another excellent hooker does almost the same. Considering that these two players have been brought up on Australian wickets, I think the way the play seems the right way. Suresh has benefitted from Hussey and I think he will overcome this shortcoming soon because he is otherwise brilliant as is Bairstow.

  • Leggie on June 17, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    Since early 90s, fast bowling in general has taken a hit - thanks to some ridiculous rule changes that had commercialization in mind. This has resulted in number of centuries and runs go up quite unrealistically. When a batsman knows that he will not get more than one bouncer in an over, he is ready to take a chance and "avoid" the bouncer rather than taking it on. Raina and Baristow are only by products of this system. If Test cricket is to see some high quality batting, it requires some high quality bowling for which, ICC must make changes to the bouncer rules and also make changes to the number of overs per day. The one bouncer per over should be scrapped or restricted to only batsman at 9, 10 and 11. With batsman equipped with so much of armoury these days, I don't see a reason why a fast bowler cannot bowl 3 or 4 bouncers in an over. The bowler should be penalised only if the bouncer is used as a defensive ploy where the ball sails over the batsman's head.

  • on June 17, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    Good Article Ian Sir,Do remember your article last year about Raina.Its a pain to see him struggle against the short ball and quality spin given his talent.In my opinion its not that he can't play the pull shot well or tackle spinners.More or less it would be a question of belief and self-confidence plus unwanted tampering by coaches.Most young batsmen these days seem to face this problem.If you would remember Phil Hughes was a fierce cutter and puller who made 2 tons in his second test on a lightning fast Durban Track vs Steyn and Morkel.But suddenly a change of technique by the coach made him suffer in future games.Bairstow too faces such issues I guess despite a grounding in county cricket.All said and done young batsmen,particularly from Asia need more A tours and a season of county to sort out these defects on proper pitches.

  • maddinson on June 17, 2012, 5:22 GMT

    It is too early to put Bairstow in the league of Raina. Raina can't even play properly in limited overs if has to play up in the batting order.

  • kh1902 on June 17, 2012, 5:57 GMT

    Ian assumes that young players actually want or try to improve. Alot of younger Indian players have a poor attitude and are happy just picking up their IPL cheque. The much-criticised old guard, like Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman, never had their hand held - they had the drive and ambition to improve their technique, while guys like Suresh Raina expect to fast-track their way into the national Test team without putting in the hard yards.

  • Emancipator007 on June 17, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    Just keep Raina away from Tests till "obvious" long-format players Rahane,Tiwary,Pujara,Rohit get enuf chances to fail at Test level.Oh what would world-class Sandeep Patil have given in '80s to get repeated chances to play more Tests/ODis with his superb approach to attacking short balls in OZ,Eng,NZ. Even Badani was unfairly dumped after showing lot of gumption in ODI tri-series in OZ 2003. Amol Mujumdar would have given a LIMB to play just 1 TEST for India. There have been others like S.Waugh,Ganguly (who gutsed it out with sheer willpower despite barrage of bouncers on comeback in'06 in Saf),Miandad who had issues but had courage & fortitude to stay at crease unlike Raina.In fact, Gang mentioned in an interview that he was ready to die at the crease to succeed on fast pitches of SA on his comeback.Mohinder,Gaekwad,G.Wood,Gooch proved (what exemplar Gavaskar achieved with sheer technical brilliance) that you could face bouncers from lethal WI pacers with courage.