Aakash Chopra
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Aakash Chopra looks at various aspects of cricket from a player's perspective

Why England's spinners are better

A look at why Panesar and Swann have outbowled Ojha and Ashwin in India

Aakash Chopra

December 13, 2012

Comments: 63 | Text size: A | A

Monty Panesar celebrates his first wicket with Graeme Swann, Pakistan v England, 2nd Test, Abu Dhabi, 1st Day, January, 25, 2012
Swann and Panesar have been more impressive than the Indian spinners, despite theoretically having had to bowl to batsmen more adept at playing spin © Getty Images
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Series/Tournaments: England tour of India
Teams: England | India

There were times in India when the sight of a spinner running in to the crease was intimidating for the batsman. The close-in fielders hovered, standing by to take the catches that would inevitably be produced. Back then Indian spinners sent out strong signals - that they were as lethal as the Caribbean quick bowlers, and no second fiddles. Invariably India's spinners were superior to those from other countries, and the land of Bedi, Chandrashekhar and Prasanna kept producing quality spinners, so much so that some of them didn't even play for India - for these three kept going for years.

Today, though, even on wilting, dusty turners, Indian spinners don't hold the same threat. For the longest time, dishing out a dustbowl guaranteed success, for India's batsmen would score a mountain of runs and the spinners would bowl the opposition out twice, double quick. But since the retirement of Anil Kumble, things have changed.

The signs of the downward spiral have been there for everyone to see. The lowest ebb has been reached in the ongoing series against England - probably the first time in Indian cricket's history that a visiting team from outside the subcontinent has had the services of better spinners, and the decision to dish out a rank turner has been more likely to backfire on India than guarantee success - as happened in Mumbai.

Why is it that Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann are extracting a lot more out of the tracks than their Indian counterparts? (Remember also that they're bowling against a batting line-up that is known for its proficiency against the turning ball.)

Panesar has been the most impressive bowler in the series, operating at a pace ideally suited to the tracks provided thus far. He bowls at least 10kph quicker than is usually recommended for spinners. While that extra pace goes against him on good batting surfaces - because he doesn't keep the ball in the air long enough to create deception - it's working absolutely fine on slow Indian pitches. The extra pace in the air doesn't allow the batsman the luxury of stepping out or of waiting on the back foot. It is this extra pace that made Panesar unplayable at times in Mumbai, because handling a viciously turning ball at high speeds is extremely difficult.

If it was only about the pace, then why didn't India's spinners crack the code and bowl quicker too? After all, how difficult could it be to increase your pace as a spinner?

That's where the basics are important, for speed can work in your favour only if the ball comes out of the hand properly, with enough revolutions on it. That's precisely where Panesar has scored over Pragyan Ojha.

Panesar's action is that of a classical left-arm spinner, with the bowling arm very close to the ear, which enables him to not only get the wrist position slightly tilted (about 45 degrees) at the point of release but also to extract more bounce off the surface with the higher point of release.

He delivers from the middle of the box, which allows him to bowl a lot straighter. Bowling closer to the stumps makes his arm ball a lot more effective, for it is always pitching and finishing in line with the stumps. Also, his follow-through takes him towards the batsman, which means the body momentum is heading in the direction of the ball; that translates into him getting a fair bit of zip off the surface.

In contrast, Ojha releases the ball from the corner of the box, and his bowling arm is further away from the ear than in Panesar's case. Ojha's position on the crease creates an acute angle, which might give a false impression of the ball drifting in. It also means he needs a lot of assistance from the pitch to generate spin off the surface to compensate for that angle. His wrist position is slightly more tilted than Panesar's at the point of release, which negatively affects not just bounce off the surface but also his chances of turning the ball. Finally, there's no follow-through whatsoever: Ojha stops as soon as he delivers the ball, which indicates that his bowling is a lot about wrist and shoulder instead of being about hips and torso as well.

Swann is technically superior to R Ashwin too. His bowling is all about using every limb to impart more revolutions on the ball. Since he plays most of his cricket on unresponsive English pitches, he has learnt the importance of putting revs on the ball every single time, which creates deception in the air by making the ball dip on the batsman, and also produces bite off the surface.

 
 
In Test cricket there needs to be a stock ball that one should bowl, ball after ball. You need to create deception in the air by varying the lines and speeds ever so slightly
 

Swann doesn't have too many variations; in fact he has got only two deliveries - the one that spins in to the right-hander and the arm ball that goes straight on. Having fewer variations has led him to become more patient, and made him rely on changing the point of release, speed and flight without compromising on length. He has struck a fine balance between being aggressive and being patient.

His lines of operation to right-handed batsmen are slightly outside off, challenging the batsman to play against the spin. Against the left-handers, he bowls a lot closer, cramping them for room. Like with Panesar, Swann's body momentum too takes him towards the batsman.

Ashwin, on the other hand, has a lot of tricks in his bag. He can bowl the traditional offspinner, a doosra and a carrom ball at will, and with a reasonable amount of control. His high-arm action gets him bounce off the surface too. But while having so many options works wonders in the shorter formats, where the batsmen can't line him up, it works against him in Test cricket.

Wickets in Test matches are a result of setting up a dismissal, and for that you need to be patient, almost bordering on being boring and predictable. There needs to be a stock ball that one should bowl, ball after ball. You need to create deception in the air by varying the lines and speeds ever so slightly. The longer you keep the batsman occupied with one kind of delivery, the better your chances of the variation catching him off guard. Ashwin, with all the weapons in his armoury, feels obliged to bring them out at regular intervals. This hampers his consistency with line and length, and results in him offering up boundary balls often.

Technically, while his wrist and arm position are good, like Ojha he too doesn't put his body behind the ball as much as he should; he falls towards the left after delivering the ball, instead of taking the momentum towards the batsman.

The quality of India's spinners was one of the reasons the team became a force to reckon with in Test cricket. The remarkable records at home were all courtesy spin. India may have had a pantheon of quality spinners but the current crop does not seem to have been able to master the craft. There are plenty of former players around who were masters of the skill. Time India got these veterans to guide the youngsters on how to spin a web around teams again.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by   on (December 16, 2012, 0:03 GMT)

After a long time, the Indian batsman are seeing 2 quality spinners bowling in tandem. Swann as we all know is amongst the best 2 spinners around, while Monty had improved greatly since last tour. And the fact that they caught Indian batsman at their toughest time made the life very hard. The great players of spin Laxman & Dravid were no more. No more was the form of other good players of spin like Sachin, Gambhir. As for our spinners, we tend to forget that our spinners are still inexperienced in this format. With experience they would improve. But for sure gone are the days when Rajender Goel & Padmakar Shivalkar had to miss playing for India because of the quartet. We need to make the most of whatever spin talent is available in the country.

Posted by Top-Spinner on (December 15, 2012, 21:10 GMT)

Nice article, I think Akash can be a technical consultant for the Indian team. I always wondered why our spinners can't spin the ball as much as the Warne, Murali, Swann or even Lyon. I think a lot has to do with the bowling action. If you look at at Ashwin, he has a convoluted action that inhibits ball control and accuracy. Same goes with Harbhajan. His bird like fling of hands must prevent him from adding variation and extra revolutions to the ball. Frankly, it is still a mystery how he ended up playing 99 tests for India. But then Indian selectors are a mystery.

Posted by   on (December 15, 2012, 2:38 GMT)

@Maddy20: Couldn't agree more with Samarsingh. Fair enough he is one of the leading wicket takers but what a flat and boring legend he is. It makes me laugh when Kumble is compared to the likes of Murali, Warne. Also, your comment that kumble and bhaji made batsmen tremble was hilarious. Obviously, kumble's delivery had the speed of light and not to mention, Sir Kumble being an amazing turner of the ball (wizard i must say) Warne decided to graduate from his academy. On the second wizard bhaji I would like not to waste my energy. Buddy there is a difference between being successful and being a legend. Use common sense, you would understand.

Posted by   on (December 15, 2012, 2:20 GMT)

@PitchCurator: I don't understand why you became so agitated by Malik's comment. He does have a point. Since the appointment of Mushi, the English spinners have done better than ever. No doubt, he has been instrumental in their growth. I think there is no harm in acknowledging that.

Posted by   on (December 15, 2012, 2:05 GMT)

@Captmeanster: I am sure he was kidding mate. Relax:)

Posted by TRAM on (December 15, 2012, 0:13 GMT)

Contd .. High revs are required only for unresponsive pitches (where you need to deceive in air). Otherwise only accuracy/consistency and strategy would do.

Posted by TRAM on (December 15, 2012, 0:09 GMT)

Mr. Akash Chopra, You contradict yourself. You praise Kumble as great spinner and you also say high revolutions are required! No. Even Kumble failed in unresponsive pitches (remember Saeed Anwar's 190+ ODI score in Chennai?). At the end of the match, Saeed said he treated Kumble as medium pace bowler. Kumble spun the ball less, and so do Ashwin/Ohja etc. but Kumble can bowl at the same spot for hours together - which these guys are not able to do. Also intelligence is required to out-scheme batsman's technique/approach. My point, Ashwin/Ohja are missing Kumble's intelligence and consistency. The reason: they are from T20/ODIs that DONT REQUIRE high revolutions. And they need only short-term (few overs) accuracy. ONLY LONG FORMAT games can train you for both consistency and high revs. It is the mistake of the selection policy in India, not using different set of players for the different formats. More over people learn only what gives them reward (=money).

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (December 14, 2012, 22:00 GMT)

Ojha has been nothing short of phenomenal this series. One hand cannot clap very well... A batsman's mistake is a bowlers reward, and you could argue that England's batsmen (particularly juggernaut Cook) have simply made fewer this series, or at least got away with more. Swann and Panesar have done extremely well, but I think you'll find that most of the more level-headed England fans are not getting so complacent and realise that the Indian batsmen have just not always got away with their mistakes...

Posted by Harlequin. on (December 14, 2012, 19:31 GMT)

Three letters: I. P. & L.

Posted by SDHM on (December 14, 2012, 15:55 GMT)

@Mrmaddy20 - not sure what stats you're looking at mate. Kumble averaged over 40 with the ball in England.

Posted by RaviNarla on (December 14, 2012, 3:25 GMT)

The author seems to forget about the facts. Panesar was an ordinary bowler until he truned out in Mumbai and produced that spell. The pitches suited them well. Indian spinner were pedestrian in this series. Agreed. That does not make them mediocre bowlers. Ojha is 17 tests old and Ashwin is 9. They will learn. A bowler is judged by his consistency. Does not matter how Ojha or Ashwin bowls. Their stats are better. Anil Kumble after 38 innings had taken 97 wickets. Ojha has 94 wickets after 38 innings. I am not saying Ojha will become Kumble but he is a decent test bowler.Rahul Sharma would have been a better bet because of his height and wrist spin. For now it seems his demenaour has outweighed his talent.

Posted by Nampally on (December 14, 2012, 2:18 GMT)

Askash, there are 2 Indian spinners that are often forgotten by the modern day journalists inlduding yourselves. The 2 guys are Vinoo Mankad (left hand orthodox) & Subash Gupte, the greatest All time leg spinner in the world(Even Gary Sobers rated him so!). Both were immaculately accurate & Gupte turned the ball like a top. Today neither India nor the World Cricket have spinners of their Class. Gupte's googly had huge turn as did his leg spinners.Very few batsmen could spot his googly. Both Mankad & Gupte bowled accurately to their field all day. Whilst Swann & Panesar are more accurate than Ashwin & Ojha, but not compared to Mankad & Gupte. Any good spinner will vary his flight, Spin & location to controlled length & bowl to his field.The old timers had it because they had great work ethics. Hence they took wkts. by making batsmen impatient. None of the 4 spinners that you have compared here, have these characteristics. Good spinners succeed on any pitch because they outfox batsmen!

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 0:46 GMT)

Mushtaq Ahmad (Coach) another point :)

Posted by Cric2 on (December 14, 2012, 0:21 GMT)

@inswing: In case you did not notice, Ashwin is in the team because he plays for SuperKings. The spinners are bowling horribly flat. But a thing to note: the grounds used to be much bigger giving a chance to spinners. Now a days the bats are far better and grounds are far smaller, hence the need to bowl quicker and hence flatter.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (December 13, 2012, 19:22 GMT)

@getsetgopk: Typical Pakistani mentality. What a JOKE when you say Indians need to hire two Pakistanis to help us out when we have much better options in our own country !!! We have a Gavaskar, a Vengsarkar, a Dravid, a Ganguly, a Kapil Dev, a Vishwanath and the list goes on for batsmen. We have Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Venkat, Sivaramakrishnan, Maninder Singh, Anil Kumble etc and the list goes on for quality spinners from the past. Why would the BCCI hire your folks ? Does that even make any sense ?

Posted by analyseabhishek on (December 13, 2012, 19:01 GMT)

@Apoorv Shaligram- You are spot on. None of the top 3 test spinners of the world right now, Saeed Ajmal, Swann and Panesar, play IPL. Harbhajan did...and he became the first bowler in the 400 wicket club to be dropped!

Posted by jb633 on (December 13, 2012, 18:26 GMT)

@SamarSingh- absolutley brilliant that mate completely flumoxed the argument that Kumble was anything but a dust bowl bully. I agree that Kumble was a decent bowler in India, but he was always bowling at scores of 500. People that write Bhaji off do him a disservice. He is the classic case of a classy bowler being ruined by T20 cricket. He has attempted to adapt his game to become successful in that format and now he has nothing left. He is poor in all three formats. It is a shame because watching India over the years I always had a grudging respect for him as he took on the Ozzies in their pomp. A lot of Indian fans label bowlers like Anderson as a green top bully but if they are honest what does this make Kumble? I think English spinners put more action on the ball, like Bhaji did a few years ago, which gives them more zip off the pitch. The Indian spinners are not too bad at all but I think they seem to go flat if the batsmen get any sort of partnership going.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 18:14 GMT)

Interesting. Points noted for observation, the next time they come on to bowl :)

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 17:41 GMT)

As far as I know, In cricket you learn by playing, Indian players who are selected for test matches are not properly nourished. Be it Sachin, who rarely plays one day these days, has no time for Ranji, how come?? Neither most of other batsmen, fast bowlers are ready to go to NCA rather than go to England/Australia/South Africa when they are free. Spinners are seen playing in the shorter format and the time between series they are also seen at NCA, basically they missed the trick by picking up T20 spinners like Ojha and Ashwin, I still believe Murali Kartik can be solution when it comes to spin bowling, he is accurate and given his experience at India and abroad, better than his contemporaries, but this double standard of BCCI doesn't nurture talent, there are many players, even better than Aakash Chopra(the writer above), who could have played for India, but the bias in team selection where performance is not the sole criteria has drubbed India's performance and will continue to do so.

Posted by Afkham on (December 13, 2012, 17:38 GMT)

Mr maddy20 sorry you are wrong , the stats provided by Mr Samar_singh are correct why are you misleading people in a way that can easily be detected , anyway Kumble has taken wickets at an average of 35.85 away from home and if we exclude Bangladesh and Zimbabwe then he took 240 away wickets at a shameful average of 37.45 , is he a great bowler?

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 17:10 GMT)

I think one of the most important different between the Ojha/Ashwin and Panesar/Swan is experience. Surprisingly not many people have talked about that at all. Swan has 200 some test wickets, Panesar 150 some. Ojha and Ashwin are relatively new to test cricket as well. They are young spinners with only a handful of test matches. It took Panesar 30 test matches to improve himself. Swan was also a late starter. Give it some time.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 17:06 GMT)

I think whoever suggested to Ashwin to work on his bowling more so than batting didn't know what he was talking about. Ashwin is a batsman who can bowl a bit. The sooner he and India realizes this, they will be better off. Ashwin is your ready made replacement for Laxman. He bats just like him. Not only in batting style but mentally as well. Let him concentrate on his batting and he can be a future man for the crisis.

Posted by big_al_81 on (December 13, 2012, 16:43 GMT)

@ LSmith. Unless you back up your opinion with an argument it's not a lot of good. Aakash points out that England's spinners are not merely doing better in terms of stats but also that they are ding it against players who are brought up on these pitches against spin. Therefore, they are better. Very interesting piece by Mr Chopra. Well-argued, and nice for Swann and panesar to get credit they deserve for being, along with Saeed Ajmal, the world's best spinners by some distance at present.

Posted by sixnout on (December 13, 2012, 15:39 GMT)

While counting the lack of spin is true, we are also missing the batsmen. It was the mountain of runs the batsmen scored that led to a lot of pressure on the opposition. Kumble and Bhajji were better than Ashwin and Ojha though.

Posted by Maq003 on (December 13, 2012, 15:29 GMT)

England spinners are performing well because they have Mushtaq as a coach.

Posted by crindex on (December 13, 2012, 15:18 GMT)

I totally agree with Akash Chopra in his analysis. The England spinners - Monty and Swann - were able to better exploit foreign condition in India much much better than out own spinners in their own backyard ! This is a revelation and shows how spoiled our players are - spinners , quickies and batsmen all alike. This must be a wake up call for BCCI. May be bring back good old orthodox spinners such as Amit Mishra into test squad.

Posted by saintsinister on (December 13, 2012, 15:09 GMT)

@getsogopk.. come on dude.. i am also from pakistan.. whatever be the case atleast speak with enough justification.. bowlers or spinners yeah pakistan is better but batting ... really?? even at this stage, indian batting is far better than pakistan atleast for the past 4-5 year till date.. we dont have a single batsman to look forward to apart from maybe nasir jamshed. The only reason we won in UAE was due to far superior spin bowling to the same Panesar and Swann. We actually made below 200 runs in 2 innings and only reached around 400 in one but still won those tests.. India just needs better spinners who aren't trying to bowl T20 style.

Posted by inswing on (December 13, 2012, 13:53 GMT)

Ojha is mediocre and Ashwin is completely worthless. But the worst thing that can happen to a team is to have a bowler who can't take wickets at all, and starts to contribute with the bat. He makes an occasional fifty and keeps his place in the side while giving away 50 runs per wicket. This is exactly what has happened with Ashwin. He needs to be dropped pronto, but won't be because he contributed with the bat. The team continues to suffer as a result.

Posted by jibman on (December 13, 2012, 12:21 GMT)

In my opinion in order to prepare better quality spinner India should hire better spinning coach. What about hiring Anil Kumble or Bedi. India is having the best spinners in the world. But in my opinion too much 20/20 is hurting their cricket. Like Nasir Hussain said too much money and god like status should be discouraged. Ageing cricketer should be asked to put up or send them home. Tendulkar is a great son of India. But he should also realize that age is not on his side.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 11:59 GMT)

One point Aakash missed: England spinners (or for that matter australian and pakistani spinners) do not play IPL as their primary mode of cricket!!! Or even T20 for that matter. Once a spinner starts bowling flatter and starts to look to prevent big shots, he loses what it takes to buy wickets in Test cricket.

Posted by Samar_Singh on (December 13, 2012, 11:55 GMT)

@maddy20 : Are you talking about the same Anil Kumle I am talking about if so then pls check this link for Kumble's record outside India and have your stats get corrected . "http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/30176.html?class=1;template=results;type=bowling" Also For your kind info, Kumble averages 37.7 in Aus, 41.41 in Eng, 40.27 in NZ, 42.41 in Pak, 44.63 in LS and 32 in SA.. And pls do not compare Murali and Warne with Kumble ..Kumble is no match to them .. Yes we all accept that Both Murali and Warne were outplayed by the Indians in India ..Credit Dravid, VVS,SRT etc. And Murali averages just 24.7 against Indian in SL ... Pls have some information b4 making comments.

Posted by getsetgopk on (December 13, 2012, 11:38 GMT)

This is funny. If you want spin lessons, gather all your ordinary indian spinners in a room and call SAEED AJMAL, pay him a handsome amount, and he'll be glad to teach you how to do spin bowling. Saqi and Qadir are other options. Learn from the best, people who have done it actually. But India seriously needs to acquire the services of Javed Miandad as their batting coach as recently thats where they have failed consistently over the past couple of years.

Posted by Tigg on (December 13, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

Swann actually has three deliveries, although admitetdly 2 go straight. He has his hard spun off-break, an orthodox arm ball and a slider-like delivery that skids on quickly.

Posted by Thamara on (December 13, 2012, 10:06 GMT)

What sets apart England spinners from Indian spinners is their tactics and the way they read certain situations. I don't think Indian spinners are lacking any skill apart from some mental skills. What did Shane Warne separate from other spin bowlers at that time? It was the tactics and reading the bastman's mind correctly that made Warne special. I know Warne had more skills than others had. But there was a meaning for every ball he bowled in his test career(perhaps I am exaggerating his skill). I feel Indian bowlers don't know how to get a batsman to make a mistake. neither do Dhoni. They just bowl and bowl like in a Ranji Match, but England batsmen are too good to make a mistake. Dhoni Doesn't know how to set fields according to situations and ask bowlers to set a batsman up. We often ask ourselves "Why the hell we are not as good as them". Actually, we are just as good as them in terms of physical skills. But we are simply not intelligent enough to understand what requires to win.

Posted by maddy20 on (December 13, 2012, 8:56 GMT)

@Samar_Singh Then why is it that the visiting spinners had their head handed to them? Murali averages over 50 in India. Shane Warne averages in the mid 30's. Kumble and Harbhajan made batsmen tremble when they came on to bowl(at the top of their game)Also For your kind info, Kumble averages 28 in Aus, 29 in Eng and just over 30 in SA. Even Murali does not have such good stats outside SA. Shane Warne does have a good record in other countries though. For me Shane Warne and Kumble were the best bowlers in recent times and it is reflected in their stats.

Posted by krishsarkar on (December 13, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

i agree with Akash, over the years in our zeal to generate pacers, we have stifled the growth of quality spinners. what we get now a days are half backed T20 guys like jadeja as bowlers. on the other hand England test team is really good, their batting line up with cook KP ans Co are by far the best players of spin bowling I have seen from UK

Posted by LSmith on (December 13, 2012, 8:24 GMT)

I think England's spinners are not better but Indian batsmen are not good.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 8:19 GMT)

i think the reason is Mushtaq ahmad is behind the england spinners success. he is good coach.

Posted by siddhartha87 on (December 13, 2012, 7:36 GMT)

Ashwinn is not a bowler of test level.He is same as Pakistan's Md. Hafeez,nothing more than that.The funny thing about Indian spinner selecting policy is that when bhajji fails chawla comes in ,when chawla fails bhajji comes in.

Posted by Samar_Singh on (December 13, 2012, 7:25 GMT)

Indian spinners(fast bowlers too) were never the best , not even the so called legendary Kumble or bla bla .. The opponent were not the best player of spin balling so the bowlers looked good than they were and not to forget the Indian conditions which was one dimensional favoring them too . Good players of spin bowling has always played these spinners very well . Just check the stats ..Just check those so called legendary's record outside the subcontinent... Major problem with India is every one wants to be a batter and India lack the quality tradition of cricket like of the Ozs.

Posted by PointFielder on (December 13, 2012, 7:23 GMT)

We have to give credit to Cook (England's best batsman by performance in Asia) and KP (second best Englands batsman against spin). Also, we are not considering the catches dropped in slips, as well as catches and stampings missed by Dhoni off spinners. In fact our spinners have been doing well. Ashwin was impressive even in Australia. Ojha is picking wickets too. It is our batting which has failed, not the bowling. I won't blame our spinners.

Posted by raj_n on (December 13, 2012, 7:19 GMT)

Good article. Suggest cricinfo to come out with an article on the changes in Indian test cricket since the exit of Kumble. We have not been able to replace Sourav, Kumble and more recently Dravid and Laxman. Where exactly does the problem lie ? Relpacing technique with flamboyance (Yuvi, Raina etc.) has not helped us. As far as bowlers go only Yadav has looked near test material. There are no spinners worth their money. Ojha gets wickets because others dont and not because he is good. Even David Warner shows more intent when he is bowling. Whats going on ?

Posted by sshailesh on (December 13, 2012, 7:15 GMT)

good one Aakash Chopra..!!!

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 7:02 GMT)

Bang on, Akash Chopra. You were one of those technicians who were sacrificed for lack of flamboyance. Ashwin and Ojha worked well against NZ, but now they have been sorted out by batsmen. I suspect they will be as ineffective against NZ if they were to play them again.

Posted by cricketnepal74 on (December 13, 2012, 6:53 GMT)

Aakash Chopra is implying that a spinner with less variations will be more successful than one with more variations in Test cricket but the reverse will hold true in one-day cricket & T-20..........Now how do you like this for a technical analysis of spin bowling???? And the tone of his articles generally gives you the impression that 'his work' is based on some lab research spanning over decades in the search of the 'god particle'!!!!!!!!

Posted by prasanna on (December 13, 2012, 6:40 GMT)

Then how come Ashwin and Ojha emerged as superstars against Newzealand not so long ago? The simple answer is the quality of batting.

While I agree with Chopra on the patience game which has been lacking with our spinners, let's give credit to the English batsmen who never really allowed spinners to settle by getting bogged down and our spinners didn't consistently push the batsmen in the front foot as English spinners did, plus the pace was either little slow or fast at times and in short didn't do much to allow the pitch to take care of itself like Panesar did brilliantly.

Posted by Thyagu5432 on (December 13, 2012, 6:19 GMT)

Today, Indian spinners are as good or as bad as any spinner in the world. In my view, Kumble was the one who made the big difference. After the Bedi-Chandra-Prasanna-Venkat combo, we never had any spinner worth talking about except Kumble. Bajji prospered in Kumble's company and he is nothing on his own. When Kumble opens the bowling for India, you can almost be certain that the score would soon read 10 for 3. The need of the hour is somebody as unorthodox as Kumble and things will change. I thought Ashwin would be a little unorthodox but it is more in plan than execution.

Posted by pitch_curator on (December 13, 2012, 5:46 GMT)

@ Tmalik -- The reason why English spinners are so good is because they have a zimbabwe coach and Zimbabweans are better players than Indians. Happy?

Posted by kamran.afzal on (December 13, 2012, 5:44 GMT)

Chopra may not always be right, but his articles are a delight to read almost every single time.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 5:41 GMT)

On a purely technical level, this is the best article I've ever read on Cricinfo: Aakash clearly has a cricket brain tuned to a pitch very few observers of the game are capable of matching. If he can rein in his occasional syntactical clumsiness & add a little descriptive fizz to his articles, he'll become one of the finest cricket writers of his generation.

Posted by Edassery on (December 13, 2012, 5:35 GMT)

I tend to agree with @Tmalik. Mushtaq Ahmed has done wonders to their spin unit. Panesar was not as effective a few seasons back. The technicalities that Aakash is talking about might have come from the bowling coach with specific mentoring for the sub-cont pitches.

Posted by Fijisuva on (December 13, 2012, 5:32 GMT)

It is very easy to "explain" stuff in hindsight -- but how do we know Mr Chopra's hypotheses are correct? For example, Mr. Chopra, a couple of months ago wrote about why Vernon Philander is not "suited" to English pitches, only for him to pick up a fifer the next day.

Coming back to this piece, I have the following questions:

(a) How do you know Swann imparts more revolutions than Ashwin -- do you have the numbers? In the recent Australian series, "experts" were talking about how Nathan Lyon had a stronger body action which made him impart more revolutions than Ashwin etc. etc. But, the spinmeter (or whatever that is) showed that Ashwin imparted more revolutions than Lyon.

(a) How do you explain Anil Kumble's success in Indian pitches -- sure he was fast, but technique?? Revolutions??

To summarize, it is extremely easy to explain things in hindsight Mr. Chopra -- if you want to stand out as an analyst better think about how you can back your claims.

Posted by mlkt on (December 13, 2012, 5:27 GMT)

ur analysis looks technically right....but the basic fact is that ENGLISH SPINNERS ARE LOOKING GOOD BECAUSE THEIR BATSMAN ARE PERFORMING BETTER THAN INDIANS and putting good runs on board.....our batsman made 300 odd runs playing in first innings both at mumbai and kolkata....and they got out mainly because of their own mistakes and silly shots...example being the shot which virat kohle(future of ind cricket??) played at mumbai...sehwag gifted away his wicket as always....sachin and gambhir got out beacuse of tentative batting....when u take first use of pitch and then give ur spinners only 300 runs to defend, u r asking them too much.....at ahmedabad when they had runs behind them....they were able to put pressure on opposition.....same ojha got peiterson out around his legs......main problem lies at our batsman...agreed our spinners are not of the league of kumble, murli, etc....but they cant be faulted for the defeats....

Posted by Tmalik on (December 13, 2012, 5:13 GMT)

mate the advantage England spinner have is they have Pakistani legent Spinner as their coach, just admit that... Monty acknowledged that already... be courageous enough to admit the fact, even though Indian had good spinners but they were never only ones who were the best......Mr. Chopra

Posted by US_Indian on (December 13, 2012, 5:11 GMT)

Ofcourse you are right- our board, media and even the public is so much obsessed with batsman specially SRT , we failed to recognise the contribution of Harbhajan and Kumble specially Kumble who has been master of so many vicitories along with Dravid, Laxman and occasionally Sehwag. I am pretty sure there is no dearth of talent but provided the board and the selectors take some extra effort to unearth them, groom them, polish them and back them in the same way they are pampering some of the so called batsmen. I beleive there are few pacers and spinners who could be groomed and rotated so that we can have people competing for places in the national team, my guess is guys like Rahul sharma, Iqbal abdulla, jakati, shahbas nadeem and may be there are others on the horizon who could be picked and polished like diamonds same case goes with pacers, we can go to some genuine pacers like Kamran , Shami, abu Nechim and others, groom, polish and rotate to keep them fresh fit and ready.need to act

Posted by SouthPaw on (December 13, 2012, 4:28 GMT)

Absolutely! The last 2 pitches (in Mumbai & Kolkata), while ideal for spin, have been too slow for bowlers like Ojha and Ashwin who bowl in the 80kph range. Kumble and Bhajji (until the last season) were successful because they bowl in the 90s. What India should have been provided was fast and spin friendly pitches.

Posted by DaisonGarvasis on (December 13, 2012, 4:21 GMT)

I really wonder if India took it for granted that when England come on tour it is only matter of turning up to play and they were gonna thrash England. England came more prepared and the results shows.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 4:12 GMT)

Its funny how writer is trying to compare the spinners of the two sides so technically. In actual all of them are of totally different style. Bottom line is England bowlers are more hungry than Indian bowlers. Talent is there but Indian side is mentally blocked & there is lack of sporting aggression.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 3:51 GMT)

Wow! Great Analysis & intricacies explained so well. Hats off to your writing skill.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 3:26 GMT)

Absolutely beautiful analysis really. He is my favorite and best writer/technical analyst when it comes to cricket in INDIA.

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 13, 2012, 3:21 GMT)

Anybody gets sehwag wicket is good. Both england spinners are better in different ways. Panesar is tall. It is not his speed , he is tall ball comes from top. if batsman can guess where ball lands he can kill it. It is who always makes batsman guessing is great bowler. Indian spinners are ODI Control spinners. India always got wicket in india by posting mammoth scores. Indian average bowlers could earn wickets when opponents under pressure. When indian batting fails , it opens up whole new problem of exposing weakness of indian bowlers. It is not not Engalnd spinners are better it is that indian spinners are suited for ODI not for Test. That is bottom line answer. Everyone one knows this. Its nothing new. Indians hoping new kids in indian team can bat like dravid and VVS. Kholi's failure along with sachin is main reason for india's loss. I see single digit scored from indian middle order like a vacuum in middle. Thanks for not critiquing sehwag in every article you write. :)

Posted by BrilliantEleven on (December 13, 2012, 3:16 GMT)

Akash, you had almost said it but stopped short of actually saying it. The main reason the bowlers are unable to set the batsman for wicket is loss of patience, you said but the loss of patience is a by-product of to much emphasis on 20-20 games, mainly ipl due to money. Same is the reason why batsmen have no patience to build a long innings, play out starts of the sessions when the bowlers are fresh and then score when the bowlers are tired. All this needs immense concentration for long periods of time. This will come and stay only from practice which is ruined by IPL and such. My own contribution to India test cricket is I have stopped following IPL completely so atleast I do not contribute to the money that is generated. If we can not give up watching it, how can we expect players who stand to make millions from it to give it up for the test cricket? All test cricket lovers should make a concerted efforts to drive this menace out of cricket.

Posted by TJAPUKAI on (December 13, 2012, 3:15 GMT)

Hi Akash, Very good assessment.I agree with your comments. I strongly believe our players are more prone to playing shorter version of the game and that's why they lost the craft.I think it is now only a history that Indian cricket produced so many spinners. Now I can see only other three nations ( Pakistan,Srilanka and even Bangladesh to some extent) produces quiality spinners. Our spinners don't have the craft.No patience at all. Gone are the days of Anil Kumble's and Bhajji's. Kumble,please be our spin bowling coach. We need to win matches in India again.

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Aakash ChopraClose
Aakash Chopra Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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