Cricket's finest minds ponder the game's vital questions

What is the most influential innovation in cricket?

Accidental or intentional, departures from the norm often aid the evolution of a sport. Five writers pick their top innovations in cricket

February 25, 2013

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Overarm bowling

Jarrod Kimber


A cricket match at Lord's in London, during which overarm bowling was tested against the accepted underarm method, July 1842
Overarm bowling is trialled in a game at Lord's in 1842 © Getty Images
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No one flighted them like the lobster.

The lobster, or Digby Jephson as his mother named him, got more flight than Ramesh Powar, Nathan Lyon and Holly Colvin combined. His first-class bowling average was 25. He took a hat-trick against Middlesex, once took 77 wickets in a season, and his best figures were 7 for 51 against Gloucestershire.

The lobster did all this while being RUA: right underarm.

While in modern terms underarm bowling is generally associated with Australian arrogance and one family not being welcome in New Zealand, it is actually far more important to cricket.

Underarm bowling was the original bowling. While the lobster might have been one of the last first-class lobbers of underarm deliveries, until cricket came of age, it was just how people bowled. It was perfectly acceptable to lob a ball over a batsman's head to get him out. It was a different kind of sport back then.

Of course underarm bowling was kind of rubbish. Okay to your three-year-old nephew, but not really a demanding athletic endeavour that would captivate millions of people, like Wes Hall in full flight did. So bowlers tried to change it. The story goes (you weren't there, you don't know it's not true) that John Willes started bowling roundarm when he saw his sister Christina do it because her dress wouldn't allow her to bowl underarm.

Either way, bowling roundarm caused Wiles so much trouble that he quit cricket and apparently rode off into the sunset, never to play again, after being repeatedly no-balled. Cricket then did what cricket does - protect batsmen at all costs and generally make the ignorant conservative reaction first. A law banning roundarm bowling was brought in.

It wasn't until 1835 that roundarm bowling became legal in cricket, and overarm bowling was born in 1864, only 13 years before the first-ever Test.

But what if they hadn't allowed roundarm or overarm bowling?

What would cricket be?

It would be treated in much the same way polo, croquet and fox hunting are. As a weird sport of the English elite. The best athletes would have gone to other sports. It would barely be a sport at all, more an eccentric novelty.

There would have been no Ashes, no reason for the ICC to ever exist, and the English language would be poorer. India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh would never have been swept up in leg glances and doosras. Don Bradman would have been a grumpy accountant, not a symbol of Australian pride. The West Indies would never have come together as one.

The world would essentially be cricketless without the invention of overarm bowling.

Sure, occasionally you'd pick up an American sweater catalogue and see men in white cable-knit jumpers lobbing the ball, and yes the illuminati would play it as they plotted a global government. But the cricket we know wouldn't exist without overarm bowling. It wouldn't be exciting, no cricket administracrat would call it a product, and no shady bookmakers would be taking bets on it. This website would not exist without overarm bowling.

It is the single most important thing that has ever happened to cricket, and it is not overly surprising that the cricket officials tried to stop it.

The lobster retired in 1904. Underarm bowling was finished (Trevor Chappell aside) shortly after World War I. By then, overarm bowling had turned a novelty game into one of the greatest sports ever invented. You can thank English dressmakers, frustrated bowlers, and those who believed the game they loved could get better.

We lost the lobster, but we gained an obsession.

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

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Saqlain Mushtaq in action, India v Pakistan, Asia Test Championship, Eden Gardens, Calcutta, 16-20
Saqlain's invention of the doosra revived a long-moribund genre Sajal Mukerjee / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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The doosra

Kamran Abbasi

There was nothing new under the sun - until the doosra came along, that is.

I love the doosra, don't you? For a start, it's such a sweet word in Urdu. Forget the drabness of its English translation, or that Moin Khan, a miniature cricketer with a major's manner, made it famous. The "second one" or the "other one", forget that. Urdu is a poet's language for good reasons. Words have meanings, moods, mystery, and sometimes magic. In the world of cricket, the doosra is all these and more; it is a tipping point, a little thing that made a big difference.

Think on it for moment. Cricket is invented in the 16th century and over the next 400 years is carried to all corners of the world by the sailing ships of the British empire. It is played by Europeans, Asians, Africans, Caribbeans - even Americans. The game develops, styles change, but there is nothing new under the sun - until, that is, a quiet bespectacled fellow from Pakistan's capital of culture produces something utterly original.

Reverse swing, switch hit, leg glance - all variations on a theme. The googly? Not for me; the line of the wrong'un can undo the deceit of the hand. The greatest practitioner of legspin's art, Shane Warne, perhaps the greatest bowler ever, wasn't able to bowl it reliably. How important can it be? Bosanquet's Bosie, you see, never turned cricket's world inside out like the doosra, Saqlain Mushtaq's genius invention.

Offspinners were valuable before wickets were covered, firing in a ball to make it spit and slide on a greasy deck or exploiting decay and footholds on tracks that resembled the lunar surface. Covers and better wicket preparation did for much of that. Offspin became a skill reserved for the final innings of a Test match, or a negative ploy in limited-overs cricket. Once Warne beguiled the world, offspin further resembled a moribund trade, offering little to excite in the way of mystery or surprise. Muttiah Muralitharan, the world champion of offspin's art, was readily dismissed as a freak and a cheat.

Along came the doosra, spinning the other way and changing the course of cricket history. You see, the doosra jumped into the storm blowing around bowling actions, in which another Pakistani, our loose-jointed fastest bowler in the world, Shoaib Akhtar, was a protagonist. Chucking was the scourge of modern international cricket, one that umpires and authorities were unable to quell. Almost every international bowler who attempted a doosra earned a ban and an ICC investigation.

The ICC began a review of bowling actions. A study filmed the world's top bowlers, reassessed past cases, and sought to bring clarity to a complex area. The upshot was that the current bowling laws were unworkable. Some of the world's greatest bowlers, past and present, whose bowling actions had never been questioned, turned out to be chuckers. The problem didn't lie, for the most part, with the bowlers. The problem was the Laws, which had been written for the uniformity of machines not the natural biological variations of humans.

The law changed. One rule for all, 15 degrees of bend in the bowling arm, the level at which the human eye can detect a throw. Fair as you get. The doosra, in large part, did this, revolutionising an ancient law of cricket. It saved Murali, allowing the world to savour his record-breaking career. It saved offspin bowling, now a revived attacking art in all of cricket's forms. It filled the minds of the world's best batsmen with dread from the most innocuous-looking deliveries; what could be more fascinating? It brought great joy to the world's cricket public.

And, perhaps above all for supporters of Pakistan cricket and cricket lovers generally, it brought us the magic of Saeed Ajmal - a little thing that makes a big difference.

Kamran Abbasi is the editor of the British Medical Journal

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Sarfraz Nawaz sends one down, West Indies v Pakistan, World Cup, 2nd semi-final, June 20, 1979
Sarfraz Nawaz brought reverse swing to the world's attention © Getty Images
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Reverse swing

Sidharth Monga

It may not have been the most accurate story ever told, but Fire In Babylon provided a fitting soundtrack for fast bowling: reggae. You can imagine Michael Holding running in as a bass guitar plays; joyously keyboard and drums join in as whispering death sneaks up on the umpire; then as Holding lets go, Bob Marley goes, "Could You Be Loved?" Could you ever?

Reverse swing, though, deserves a soundtrack of its own.

Try this. Thursday evenings in Lahore, at the tomb of Baba Jamal Shah, plays Pappu Saeen. Bearded, long-haired, beating with sticks - one straight, one crooked - the only instrument, the dhol. No slips, gullies or short legs required here, you see. The dervishes around him are all in a trance. In the right mood, it is all a trippy whirl; something not to explain but merely enjoy. A bit like what seems to be a low full toss but changes its mind three-quarters of its journey through and suddenly dips and darts and makes a possessed charge towards batsmen's toes.

Still, in the modern world, where viewers sight the seam better than batsmen, everything must be explained and traced. The explanation is now not as mystical as it once was. When the ball gets old, provided it is kept well, so as to get one half of it shinier and moister than the other, it inverts the traditional mechanics of swing and begins to go with the shine when bowled at the right pace. This swing, though, happens late, thus seems more pronounced, and gives batsmen little time to make adjustments. It is all the more difficult for a new batsman or a tailender to face, which explains the staggering number of dramatic collapses in Tests in the late 1980s and early '90s.

Reverse swing involves so much meticulous devotion it is almost worship. You bounce the wrong side on the grass, and the rough side might lose its roughness. You place a sweaty palm on the ball and you can kiss reverse swing goodbye. Saqlain Mushtaq was made to alter his action because he used to rub the ball in a manner that would soften the rough side. Alastair Cook is given sole rights to look after the ball because he is reptilian when it comes to sweating. Everything, from what might look like innocuous bouncers to throws into the practice pitches, is deliberate.

To trace the evolution of reverse swing is much more difficult. Well before Sarfraz Nawaz made it famous, well before it was given a name, possibly well before it was considered a distinct phenomenon that merited a name, reverse swing was practised in the mohallas and maidans of Pakistan. Sikander Bakht, born in 1957, told Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2004 that he reversed it as a schoolboy.

Even in Australia there have been ancient mentions of reverse swing. Imran Khan, who was legendarily handed the art by Sarfraz, also credits Max Walker, who in turn credits Alan Connolly, a Victorian who played 29 Tests for Australia. Connolly was an old-fashioned quick who wanted to run in as hard and bowl as fast as he could, but he found little assistance from the pebbly MCG pitch of the 1960s. He is believed to have borrowed from baseball's bad-old spitball the idea of loading one side of the ball up with "perspiration and saliva".

Walker says he was taught the art by Connolly in 1973. About a couple of years earlier, a man known even less than Connolly was handing down similar tricks to Sarfraz. Farrukh Ahmed Khan - 20 wickets from nine first-class matches - might not have invented or discovered reverse swing but his association with Sarfraz remains a turning point. "I was in the nets one day," Sarfraz told Wisden Asia Cricket. "And he told me how, if the ball gets rough and old enough on one side while remaining fairly new on the other, bowlers could generate extravagant late swing with it. He didn't know why, he just did it." In about 1974, Sarfraz started sharing the art with Imran.

It was only in the late 1970s and 1980s, though, that reverse swing began to be used consistently - allowance needs to be made here for matches not being so assiduously analysed back then as they are now. Imran tormented India in Karachi in 1982-83, stunning them with bursts of five wickets for three runs and three wickets for none in the same innings, after India had been 102 for 1 at tea. The image of Gundappa Viswanath shouldering arms to what looks like a harmless wide delivery only to see his off stump knocked back is the stuff of legend.

Before that came Sarfraz's show at the MCG - seven wickets for one run in the space of 33 deliveries - to skittle Australia's chase of 382 after they had been 305 for 3, but the Wisden report doesn't mention the word "reverse".

The world at large might have been ignorant of reverse swing for a long time, but the new sultans of swing, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, made sure it couldn't look the other way in the late 1980s and the early '90s. Starting with the series against New Zealand in 1990-91, series after series featured Wasim, Waqar and batting collapses unheard of. Teams would be going swimmingly at about 40 overs for the loss of one or two wickets, and then disintegrate spectacularly. Wasim took two hat-tricks in Sharjah, and once took four wickets in five balls against West Indies.

Reverse swing didn't quite do for fast bowling what Shane Warne, Anil Kumble and Abdul Qadir did for legspin - it didn't need a renaissance - but introduced a whole new branch, which can be regarded as a different art in its own right. Toes became the new throat, opening the batting became easier than being in the middle order, the old ball became the new new ball. Fielders became redundant and umpiring easier, as there was no bounce to judge. Fifty-seven per cent of Waqar's Test victims were either bowled or lbw; Wasim's 53% wasn't much less staggering.

The initial reaction to all this was of suspicion, and perhaps further ignorance. Lawsuits have been filed, dirt has been carried in pockets, a Test has been called off, bottle caps have been credited, lozenges have been thought of as cricketing equipment… Whether the ball used to be tampered with or not, whether Pakistan alone did it or not, we will never know, but it will be pointed out - not without merit - that it all became kosher when Zaheer Khan and James Anderson and Brett Lee began to do it too.

No one will argue against the excitement reverse swing brought into Test cricket in Asia, especially Pakistan. India's response to lifeless pitches had been to create dirt tracks and unleash their four spinners, but Pakistan - somehow their side of Punjab has produced more fast bowlers than the whole of India put together - took the pitch out of the equation. Nine out of 13, and ten out of 14 Tests were drawn in Pakistan in the 1960s and '70s respectively. In the '80s and '90s, the draw rate fell to 24 out of 43 and 13 out of 34. A cure had been found for parched and unhelpful pitches, and obstinate and newly armoured tailenders. It was done swiftly, spectacularly and without violence - unless you count a broken toe here or there.

Apart from this huge impact on Test cricket in Asia, what set reverse swing apart was that it was born not out of adventure or accident but sheer necessity. It was more life support than an accessory, a matter of survival for poor fast bowlers in conditions adverse both underfoot and overhead. Not only have they survived, they have left us in a trance while doing so. Try watching a collection of Waqar's Yorkers to the sound of Pappu Saeen's dhol.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Kevin Pietersen plays the switch-hit, England v India, 4th Test, The Oval, 2nd day, August 19, 2011
The switch hit needs plenty of skill and ambition © AFP
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The switch hit

Ayaz Memon

Having agonised for a few weeks on how to start this piece, I finally decided on an experiential approach: I pulled out a bat stored in the old coffin for a long, long time, stood in front of a full-length mirror and tried the switch hit.

When pushing 58, admittedly the body is not what it used to be when the reflexes were sharper, the muscles and bones could support sudden swivels and turns, the wrists and forearms were strong enough to wield the bat vertically or horizontally to drive, cut, pull and plunder.

What surprised me, however, was that even getting halfway into position for the switch hit was a challenge - even in a mock drill. When the feet moved, the change of grip was sluggish; when the grip switch seemed perfect, the foot movements lagged behind terribly, leaving me in a grotesque tangle.

Age spares none, as all of us learn to our chagrin at some time. But the difficulty of playing this shot - at whatever age - comes through clearly. Try it. To become a left-hander from a right-hander (or vice versa), get into position to play an attacking shot against a ball delivered at speeds ranging from 45 to 130mph in just a fraction of a second is a work of complex biomechanics, skill, strength and, above all, great derring-do.

The switch hit is not only about reflexes, muscular coordination and power, rather more about intent and ambition. This can sometimes be mistaken for showmanship. But every innovation, at its core, is about transcending convention. As in all such endeavours, this can put prevailing legalities under duress.

When Kevin Pietersen exhibited this shot against New Zealand in an ODI in 2008, there was shock and awe: shock that a batsman dared to challenge the canons of cricket, awe that he could execute it so brilliantly.

Those feelings gave rise to consternation and furore as the repercussions of the switch hit were discussed and debated in dressing rooms, drawing rooms, newsrooms, long rooms - not to mention the hallowed committee room of the Marylebone Cricket Club, where matters of law are decided.

Was it right for the game or did it violate its very fabric? The MCC ruled in favour of the shot - and rightly so, I believe.

Those opposed to it argue that the switch hit is grossly unfair to the bowler. This is not without basis, admittedly. A bowler is required by law to inform whether he is bowling over or round the wicket, and which arm he will be using.

Unlike in the reverse sweep, the grip changes in the switch hit and can make field placings superfluous, but the bowler receives no advance notice of this. Moreover, what if a right-hand batsman attempting a switch hit misses a delivery that would have hit the stumps even though it pitched outside leg? Should the benefit of a leg-before decision not accrue to the bowler in this case?

The case, however, is not open and shut, but has stimulating layers of grey. My position, in favour of the switch hit, stems from the belief that improvisations are a necessary part of life - not just sport - and must not be drowned out by dogma. Moreover, Test cricket, more than any other, needs to look agreeably at innovations that will engage fans.

 
 
The switch hit can possibly become the defining characteristic of the bionic batsman of the 21st century
 

The conformist approach overlooks some vital matters germane to the contest between bat and ball. Foremost here is the notion that laws in any case are ranged in favour of batsmen, so allowing the switch hit makes it far worse for the bowler.

From an existential point of view, the batsman is alone in grim battle against 11 predators. True, he has the non-striker at the other end, but when he is facing a delivery, he is isolated in his quest for survival, while the bowler has several allies in getting him out.

And frankly, there are several other factors that have stymied bowlers more than the switch hit. The two-bouncers-per-over rule, for instance, has defanged fast bowlers; short, 60-65 yard boundaries have made spinners rueful, as even mishits sail over the fence; and field restrictions have made the contest even more lopsided.

The switch hit, in contrast, gives bowlers more than an equal chance. It is not a percentage shot. In fact, it is fraught with great risk. Like the hook, the switch hit is an expression of a batsman's ego and relies on daring. It is entirely premeditated, often reckless. From a bowler's point of view, this is how they would like batsmen to be.

There are other aspects, too, that make the switch hit relevant in the modern era. A 7-2 on-side field (for a right-hander) would not only make run-scoring difficult, but also impact the rhythm of play so much as to drive away spectators.

The switch hit is no less radical than the leg glance, though not as highly nuanced, obviously. The glance added an extraordinary dimension to batting technique for the 20th century; the switch hit can possibly become the defining characteristic of the bionic batsman of the 21st.

It is a breathless mixture of courage, free-spiritedness and improvisation. A batsman steps out of his comfort zone to step up the ante, and forces the others on the field to do so as well. It may work spectacularly and it may also fail. This adds immeasurably to the thrill of the sport.

And as long as the spirit of the game is not disturbed, this can only be for the good.

Ayaz Memon has written on cricket for over 20 years, during which time he has covered a number of tours and six World Cups
Next week: Sidharth Monga on reverse swing

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Ranjitsinhji exhibits his famous leg glance, circa 1910
Ranji: gave respectability to leg-side play © Getty Images
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The leg glance

Gideon Haigh

Cricket is played on an oval field in which there are no restricted areas or foul zones. Yet for a long time, it was almost as though there were. Through the 19th century, as cricket converged on modernity, with the advent of first-class competitions and Test matches, it was largely an off-side game.

More reliable pitches and improving techniques made stumps harder to hit; the development of an amateur aesthetic that emphasised the drives as cricket's strokes of distinction led in the 1880s to the détente of "off theory".

In Max Bonnell's new biography, he describes JJ Ferris' match-winning bowling at Lord's in 1888: eight wickets in 44 overs for 45 runs with only two leg-side fielders, at mid-on and long-on. It indicates, as Bonnell observes, "phenomenal control"; what it doesn't suggest is enormous initiative on the part of the batsmen.

Partly this was native English constipation. As a schoolboy at Repton at the time, CB Fry was told that "if one hit the ball in an unexpected direction on the on side, intentionally or otherwise, one apologised to the bowler… The opposing captain never, by any chance, put a fieldsman there; he expected you to drive on the off side like a gentleman."

And while Australians were not quite so hidebound, they had their own inhibitions, as Monty Noble recalled: "When I first wielded a bat it was considered distinctly bad cricket to pull on the on-side, where there were no fieldsmen, a ball pitched outside the off stump or on the wicket. It had, forsooth, to be played in the regular and approved manner either straight or to the off-side where there were nine and often ten obliging fielders waiting to gather it in. The batsman was supposed to wait until the bowler lost his accuracy and direction and at length pitched one outside the leg stump before it was polite to dispatch it for four to where no fieldsman lurked."

Change came at last with cricket's Golden Age - roughly the two decades preceding World War I. Noble ascribed the popularisation of the hook and the pull to his great contemporaries Victor Trumper and Clem Hill: "I can remember how a few bold spirits in Australia defied convention and, caring little whether it was considered good or bad play, provided the score was increased, developed the stroke which proved so prolific from a run-getting point of view. Soon their methods were adopted by others and in a few years the stroke outgrew all prejudice."

But the foremost innovator was a soi-disant Indian prince, Ranjitsinhji, with an uncanny facility for leg-side play. Like many of the best innovations, the leg glance was arrived at by accident. To curb Ranji's tendency to back away from the ball, his coach at Cambridge University, a local professional called Dan Hayward, nailed his back boot to the crease. Ranji still moved his front foot towards the off, but discovered an aptitude for flicking the ball wristily to the on side, which, in games, was largely untenanted. In 1893, Ranji, and the leg glance, debuted in first-class cricket, with immediate effect.

The writer JN Pentelow described watching Ranji with a taciturn farmer from the Fens, who was finally overwhelmed with wonderment: "Whoy, he only tooch it and it go to th' boundary!" Pretty soon the sentiment was widespread.

By 1896, Ranji was a popular choice in the English Test XI, with his signature stroke achieving a kind of individual celebrity, described by one observer as like "a shell from a seven-pounder - Immense! Audacious! Unstoppable!"

 
 
"The pace already imparted to the ball by the bowler is helped on and added to by a flick of the bat, executed either with the wrist or some movement of the arms. Consequently, the faster the bowler the easier it is to make hard cuts and glances" Ranji
 

By 1897, with the assistance of his friend Fry, Ranji was a bestselling author. The Jubilee Book of Cricket was both a hugely successful popular treatise and an outstanding act of imperial fealty, dedicated as it was "by gracious permission to Her Majesty The Queen Empress". Ranji's biographers infer that much of his motivation was self-promotional, to win British patronage for his claim to the throne of his Indian state, which he finally achieved when he became Jam Sahib of Nawanagar in 1906. In the process, though, he turned the batting accident on its head, opening up quadrants of the field never previously explored, changing bowling and captaincy by extension.

The Jubilee Book of Cricket contains diagrams of 15 recommended fields for bowlers of various types: only one, for lob bowlers, contains more than three leg-side fielders and most feature only one or two. In effect it was Ranji who more than any other individual rendered this section of his book obsolete, forcing opponents to distribute their forces more evenly.

Harry Altham looked back on Ranji in his canonical The History of Cricket (1926) as having "orientated afresh the setting of the cricket field"; by then some bowlers had even reversed the game's old polarities altogether by indulging in "leg theory".

More generally, Ranji's methods suggested a whole new way of making runs, harnessing the pace of the bowler in his own overthrow. "The pace already imparted to the ball by the bowler is helped on and added to by a flick of the bat, executed either with the wrist or some movement of the arms," Ranji explained. "Consequently, the faster the bowler the easier it is to make hard cuts and glances."

A subtle appreciation by the distinguished liberal journalist Alfred George Gardiner of the Daily News put it in succinct perspective: "If the supreme art is to achieve the maximum result with the minimum expenditure of effort, the Jam Sahib, as a batsman, is in a class by himself… The typical batsman performs a series of intricate evolutions in playing the ball; the Jam Sahib flicks his wrist and the ball bounds to the ropes. It is not jugglery, or magic; it is simply the perfect economy of means to an end."

An intriguing sub-theme is how Ranji's exoticism contributed to his success. Ranji courted the embedded racism and conservatism of this period of Victorian and Edwardian England; but as a privileged outsider he also probably enjoyed greater licence to play according to his own lights. In doing so, he moved not just gay amateur blades but tradesman-like professionals such as Hayward's roundhead brother Tom. "We had got into a groove," Hayward wrote in his primer Cricket (1907), "out of which the daring of a revolutionary alone could move us. The Indian Prince has proven himself an innovator. He recognises no teaching which is not progressive, and frankly he has tilted, by his play, at our stereotyped creations." Those sterotyped creations were never the same again.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (March 13, 2013, 7:40 GMT)

ROFL-Cricket then did what cricket does - protect batsmen at all costs

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 14:56 GMT)

Well there are a number of other things which went on be very popular such as T20, colored kits, scoop shots etc etc. But the one most influential move was to play limited overs cricket under lights. It certainly made the game more charming and colorful and attracted more crowds.

Posted by PAKCOP on (March 12, 2013, 14:50 GMT)

Reverse Swing is Pure Physics... only a cricketer from Oxford University can come up with it , Wait a min .... Imran Khan was from Oxford Great stuff.

Posted by Punter_28 on (March 12, 2013, 13:10 GMT)

The best innovation that has happened in Cricket is the advent of helmets followed by Kerry Packers WSC ( though its author was that inimitable A W Greig). But for helmets, many of the so called modern day greats including the likes of SRT, Ponting etc., would not have scored even half of those runs!!!

Posted by Nutcutlet on (March 12, 2013, 8:15 GMT)

Ah, at last! A genuine contender for 'the most influential innovation in cricket'. Overarm bowling does meet the demands of the question in full. It's influential & obviously it was innovative - seminal indeed! Thank you for your informative article, Jarrod. All other references to bowling of all sorts in this set of articles & the clamouring comments coming from those who know little of the genesis of cricket, are merely derivative. Neither do I excuse myself: I thought of the googly the most influential a few weeks back; I wasn't thinking clearly enough. Jarrod's article has sent me back to the books & John Major in 'More than a Game - the Story of Cricket's Early Years' has it that the Ozzies were routinely bowling roundarm & overarm in the early 1860s, before 1864, when overarm was legalised by the MCC. For many years roundarm & overarm co-existed. Until the 1890s they were called 'high arm' & 'low arm'. And we have Lasith Malinga, perhaps the last of the low-armers, with us today!

Posted by oVivek on (March 12, 2013, 7:53 GMT)

First 15 overs hard hitting was initiated by Mark Greatbatch in 1992 WC and not by SL. BTW some of the other inventions that changed the complexion of the game are missing like Helmet, Day/Night cricket etc.

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (March 12, 2013, 7:16 GMT)

Without doubt the most INFLUENTIAL innovation must be the introduction of the ODI and T-20 formats! The launch of these 2 formats did a lot of good things ... encouraged batsmen to innovate their shots, speed up the scoring rate, increase crowd enthusiasm, force the bowlers to think before they bowled, made six hitting look easy and most importantly brought in tons of money to the sport. It is these 2 formats that have accelerated the use of technology in cricket decisions. It is these 2 formats that will expand the popularity of cricket to the other countries of the world.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (March 12, 2013, 6:53 GMT)

I hadn't realised the effect of overarm bowling on the game,I might have said reverse swing was the greatest innovation until reading this article.We could never thank the pioneer of overarm bowling enough!

Posted by typical_late_cut on (March 12, 2013, 2:59 GMT)

hmmmm. what about Dilscoop? when Dilshan played it first time in South Africa, whole world talked about it and lot of cricketers tried to imitate that shot. And now lot of players use that shot to get some runs and momentum on their way too. Dilscoop have brought new dimension for cricketing world.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2013, 2:08 GMT)

Before this series started, I was convinced overarm was so much more significant that the other topics that it was ridiculous to compare them. I still think so, but Gideon Haigh has made a good case for the leg-glance, or, more accurately, leg-side play.

The doosra and reverse swing are fantastic innovations which have added heaps to cricket, but without overarm bowling it would not be a serious sport.

Posted by TamilIndian on (March 12, 2013, 0:43 GMT)

I think the articles should be segregated so that comments are assigned to the articles. Comments are an important part of today's user generated world. The series of articles is great but I think it needs to be organized in a better way for people to comment. Like for example have links to previous articles rather than have everything in one place. Just my two cents ofcourse.

Posted by JJaguar on (March 12, 2013, 0:25 GMT)

Overarm bowling - No question about it. All others are yes, good innovations and/or inventions, but they are NOT the most influential. These innovations/inventions may have some impact, some influence, sure but nothing dramatic. The subject topic is NOT "What is your favorite innovation/invention?" but rather "What is the most influential". So in a sport with 300+ years of rich history, something that has revolutionized the game and changed it forever is what needs to be articulated. And nothing has changed the great game sport of Cricket as dramatically or as drastically as much as overarm bowling. There is no argument about it, end of story.

Posted by whoster on (March 11, 2013, 22:25 GMT)

It's a bit of a no-brainer, though everyone made their case admirably. Overarm bowling was cricket's "invention of the wheel" moment. Of course it's all conjecture, but I reckon the likes of Jeff Thomson, Shaoib Akhtar, Frank Tyson and Michael Holding would've been a touch nullified if they had to bowl underarm. They say 'what goes around, comes around,' and I hear Mickey Arthur is asking the Australian players what their views are on resurrecting this lost art.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 17:38 GMT)

According to Jarrod Kimber cricket's most influential innovation - overarm bowling was inspired by a women, only to chase them away from gentlemens game #irony

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 17:23 GMT)

All the batting innovation are reluctant to ODIs only....as far as test is concerned, its still a best place for conventional shot-making, no improvisations at all! you must play on the merit of ball. And bowler has different 'shastras' in their armory, be it a yorker, inswing-outswing, slower one and most effective one is bouncer and hey, it doesnot matter whether its a test, an ODI or t20. So bowler has the edge over batsman all the time!

Posted by bugsy002 on (March 11, 2013, 8:59 GMT)

hy guys cant u remeber ?????????????????? most influential innovation of ODI cricket was Hard hitting in first fifteen overs "Master Blaster" and "Little Kalu" was introduced this new thing around 1995 Benson and hedges tournament Australia in OLD days oppening batsmens were boaring and tried to keep wickets in hands and they tried hit one or two runs every over but this procedure was change by Santh jayasooruya and romesh kaluwitharana and also this innovation helps srilanka to be the Wills World champions 1996... and also it helps bring new rules "Power play 1,2" in Odi and also helps to introduced T20 to the cricket world sooo this is one of most influential innovation in cricket for sure

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 8:24 GMT)

what about dilscoop - Sri Lankan batsman Dilshan

Posted by Anwaruzz on (March 11, 2013, 7:08 GMT)

As far as I have watched cricket, switch hitting was invented by another crafty Pakistani batsman "Javed Miandad" NOT PIETERSEN.

Posted by   on (March 6, 2013, 17:19 GMT)

Giving the color shirts to the cricket wasn't the greatest innovation in fact it was the need of the time as it could have been done at any time.... but to invent something new like reverse swing and doosra to make cricket the equally balanced game for both batsmen as well bowlers is exceptional. And because of those innovation I believe modern day cricket is enjoying its best era of all time.

Posted by D.V.C. on (March 6, 2013, 0:26 GMT)

The brief was the most influential innovation in Cricket, not just Test cricket, so why do the writers seem to be restricting themselves to the last 130 odd years or so? You want influential for the game? How about first round arm bowling, and then over arm bowling? Further back than that lob bowling was an innovation! Consider the double hit dismissal that stopped players chasing after the ball and getting a run as if on a hockey pitch? The invention of pads, that would eventually lead to the LBW law. Or maybe Fuller Pilch's forward defensive stroke, around which the style of the vast majority of modern batsmen is based. What about the practice of preparing a pitch for a game at all? Before this was common a coin or such would be tossed into the air prior to play to help define where the pitch would be. Boundaries; you used to have to run all your runs - surely that has vastly changed the game for the batsmen...

Posted by OptimusPrimal on (March 5, 2013, 23:05 GMT)

I thought reverse sweep was Miandad's thing. He used to be known as "the sweeper" in Pakistan.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2013, 21:39 GMT)

@ N.Robinson, whilst most bowlers who have a doosra do tend to flex the arm in the process, Saqlain bowled it with a clean arm.

Posted by wc1992 on (March 5, 2013, 21:16 GMT)

reverse sweep was played by Javed miadad frist

Posted by   on (March 5, 2013, 18:35 GMT)

A doosra - no matter from whom - is still thrown. A googly isn't. With respect to Dr Abbasi it is not possible to deliver it 'the other way' without throwing.

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (March 5, 2013, 15:46 GMT)

dosra is great gift by saqlain to cricket. i hope leg spin can revive itself as well

Posted by zesh92 on (March 5, 2013, 15:28 GMT)

karry packer's innovation werent planned it just came along with the passage of time for example when they started playing cricket their first season werent that sucessfull then they decided to attract school students in order they started to paly cricket when students school timing ends like 2 pm but for matches to carry on in the evening they need floodlights so floodlight came to scene and when matches were played under floodlights red ball was hard to see under floodlights so the colour of ball changed initially to yellow & than to white and due to kits which were white they have to change kits as well so all the inovation werent palnned

Posted by getsetgopk on (March 5, 2013, 8:07 GMT)

Nutcutlet: Mind boggling your statement is. So what your saying is that Pakistani media is somehow bigger and more powerful than the English/western media OR the english/western media somehow fell in love with some Pakistani bowler that they overlooked the real inventor and they simply award the title of doosra inventor to Saqlain? Which one is it? When you claim that something has been reported incorrectly there has to be a reason for that, right? Now i know you'll say that it happened way in 1951 and its been too long for anyone to remember but the bossie or googly was invented way earlier than 51 and no miss reporting happened there. Why is it miss reporting when a Pakistani bowler is involved? which brings us to the conclusion that all this talk of someone else other than Saqi invented the doosra are simply bogus claims. No worries mate, its all been said before, wasim and waqar labelled as cheats by the same English who shameless analyze Andersen reverse swinging the ball!

Posted by   on (March 5, 2013, 3:20 GMT)

I second Soban Khan here. I believe Doosra and Reverse Swing are the two most important inventions in Modern day cricket. Leg glance is one of the best inventions from batting perspective. While scoop, reverse sweep, switch hit are innovative improvisations for the limited overs format, they are, to quite an extent premeditated shots and hence not as effective as the conventional shots. Paddle sweep, although not used by many batsmen after Azhar and Sachin, is a very useful shot.

One of the most important and most recent inventions in batting is Upper Cut by Sachin Tendulkar and implemented by many. This is not a premeditated shot and negates fierce bouncers that are off target. A batsman with uppercut in his armour gives very little margin of error to fast bowlers. It's a very productive shot if mastered, though not easy to master.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2013, 3:18 GMT)

If bowling alone was considered cricket, pakistan would be the undisputed champions.

Posted by Engee on (March 4, 2013, 23:51 GMT)

How about a slow ball or slow bouncer (bowled of course by a quickie)? Malinga is a great exponent of this.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 23:15 GMT)

Saqlain Mushtaq is a legend. I never picked anything wrong with his delivery stride or action. He's that one rare bowler with accurate precision and variations with normal looking action. Personally it looks Saeed Ajmal and Muralitharan's arm flex exceed 15 degrees to me (apparent if you just google image search for it yourself). Anyway you flex or not, you still have to take wickets and they did. So they are legends nevertheless.

Greatest innovation of cricket would be the invention of One Day Cricket and to top it off, addition of World Cup that streamlined the players career and is the reason for survival of cricket altogether in my opinion.

Posted by foursandsixes on (March 4, 2013, 21:25 GMT)

It has to be the reverse swinging yorker! Brought pace back into the equation in the sub-continent, and it was a mystery for much longer than the doosra ever was. Also does not depend on chucking the ball as the doosra does.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (March 4, 2013, 21:12 GMT)

@Dubious: you needn't be, because you are absolutely right! Jack Iverson bowled the ball that turned both ways with an off-break action. Saqlain merely gave it publicity that this media age specialises in & a lovely sounding name. Iverson's 21 wickets in the only series he played in (The Ashes of 1951) 5 matches at an average of 15.23 suggest that he was rather good at it. An acknowledgement of the true inventor would have been appropriate, I think.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 20:29 GMT)

I completely disagree about the doosra over reliance has been a major factor in the regression of Hashanah. It just looks wrong. The reason offies stopped taking wickets has more to do with how they where used rather than lack of abilty. For me it is no more innovative than the googly.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 18:14 GMT)

My Top 10 list of innovations would have 1) One Day Cricket 2) Twenty Twenty Cricket 3) Run Out Referral to Third Umpire 4) Reverse Swing 5) Doosra 6) DRS 7) Googly 8) Fielding Restrictions 9) Bouncer Restrictions 10) D/L

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 17:42 GMT)

Helmets- this allows batsmen the freedom to play a wider array of extravagant shots like the "Dil-scoop" with less potential for serious injury. The same applies for fielders staying in "suicidal" postions for extended periods.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 17:09 GMT)

I like all what has been written - Kamran Abbasi's poetic and biological description is fascinating and charming. I did not realise the potential that became part of 'Doosra'!

Posted by Munkeymomo on (March 4, 2013, 15:38 GMT)

Light up bails and stumps in the BBL. Most influential innovation in sports history, not just cricket.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 15:28 GMT)

What about the Douglas Marilier aka dil-scoop?

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 14:34 GMT)

Helicopter shot is not a new shot. Just because his followthrough is different, doesnt make it a new shot.

Now doosra and reverse swing are equally important and important innovations, just because there are less spinners on the field than fast bowlers, the impact of doosra will be less visible than fast bowlers. So we cannt really say that which one is more influential. So I would say its a tie. In either case, the batsmen are forced to change their game.

Switch hit has not affected the bowling and did not cause an additional fielder to block the score.

Leg glance is a trickier problem. Though it has caused increased score but again it has not increased pressure on fielding side nor it can affect the game in such a way that it will change the outcome.

In the end, reverse swing and doosra are the only two things that have affected the outcome of the match in modern time and there should be a tie in between the two.

Posted by realfan on (March 4, 2013, 13:36 GMT)

everybody missed one thing for sure...... its OPENING THE TEST BOWLING WITH A SPINNER....:P ha ha ha.......

Posted by ObjectiveCricketism on (March 4, 2013, 13:28 GMT)

@KiwiRocker You are mistaken about Javed Miandad being the original inventor of reverse sweep. It was regularly played several years earlier by Mushtaq Mohammad. Bob Woolmer also adopted it after seeing Mushtaq. Some say that it was actually invented by Hanif Mohammad but it was definitely Mushtaq who regularly played it first.

Posted by armchairjohnny on (March 4, 2013, 12:43 GMT)

@ABRAR-JANJUA

the so-called 'Dil-scoop' was actually invented by Douglas Marillier.

Posted by armchairjohnny on (March 4, 2013, 12:41 GMT)

Can't believe the Marillier shot wasn't included. I will never forget the first time I saw that shot played, nor the name of Douglas Marillier.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 12:18 GMT)

Dhoni's Helicopter shot is missing as well.....

Posted by Dubious on (March 4, 2013, 12:00 GMT)

Jack Iverson was the first 'doosra' bowler--at least at international level--he just didn't have a pretty name for it.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 11:39 GMT)

most ov ppl think murli z the best bu to b honest there is no match ov saqlain cz he gives a new magic delivery to the game n thts doosra n after doosra game tottlay changed for off spinners thanx saqi for tht....

Posted by ABRAR-JANJUA on (March 4, 2013, 11:36 GMT)

Dilscoop is missing in the list

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 11:04 GMT)

worth to read .... great innovation

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 9:29 GMT)

Saqlain was truly a genious

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (March 4, 2013, 9:14 GMT)

I do not agree that Pakistan's contribution is only limited to reverse swing and Doosra. I actually fully agree with UltraSnow that ICC should make a formal aplogy to Pakistan as when Pakistani bowlers did reverse the bowl, it was cheating and when Murali and Saqlain did bowl doosra, their actions were suspicious! When English learnt reverse swing all was forgiven! ICC is full of biased over paid incompetent administrators! Dave Richards was recently saying sorry to J Kallis who was correctly given out...same like Younis Khan! More to te point, Javed Miandad was the actual inventor of so calle Dil Scoop! You do not believe..please watch Pakistan Vs West Indies match from WC 1992! Javed was playing the scoop against Marshal and co!..Javed also was the orignal inventor of reverse sweep!

Posted by Paracha420 on (March 4, 2013, 8:13 GMT)

Pakistan has given 2 invincible weapons to the world of bowling... Reverse Swing and Doosra!!!!

Posted by mtalhas on (March 4, 2013, 7:37 GMT)

Ohhh Rally_Windies..where were you??? we missed a gem..

Posted by ultrasnow on (March 4, 2013, 7:26 GMT)

Indian fan here, I've not yet had time to read the article and the comments. I think the cricketing world owes an apology to Pakistan over the 'doosra' and 'reverse' swing innovations. For the simple reason that their bowlers were viewed with suspicion when they first used these innovations. In a corporate world, modern day bowlers who unhesitatingly use these innovations would have been made to pay royalty to the original innovators.

Posted by the_way_you_play_it on (March 4, 2013, 7:26 GMT)

No surprises that the bowling innovations have come from a place that had produced best bowlers in the history of cricket, time and again.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 7:21 GMT)

Why has the Dil Scoop not been considered? This is the most difficult stroke to be played.The Dil Scoop should be the best innovation in cricket.

Posted by MrKricket on (March 4, 2013, 4:26 GMT)

It would be nice to see a few more exponents of the doosra so we can all see what the fuss is about. I don't think I've seen more than one or two attempted in Australia.

What's next - the switch-pitch? A bowler comes in over the wicket right handed and then switches the ball to his left hand and bowls it around the wicket! I'd like to see that. Would bet it's a no-ball though. If the batsman can switch hit then why not the switch-pitch? Would take incredible skill though.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 4:25 GMT)

I would add Sachin's paddle sweep, Warne's zooter (though no one else has been able to bowl it since), AB DeVillers and Dilshan's scoop over the wicketkeeper

Posted by Tahir_Anjum on (March 4, 2013, 4:03 GMT)

Yes. it is an absolute joy to watch a doosra being bowled by Ajmal.. When batsman don't know that which way its gonna turn.. A reverse swing yorker from Waqar Younis were great to watch..to me Re3verse swing and doosra are the most influential innovations in cricket.

Posted by Rally_Windies on (March 4, 2013, 3:39 GMT)

Saqlain did not invent the Doorsa!

West Indian offspinners who have been snubbed from the game , have been bowling it for 30 years now ....

I learned to bowl it when i was 15.... that was 17 years ago ........

Posted by   on (February 27, 2013, 11:17 GMT)

One of the most daring, audacious and controversial innovations in cricket must have been that of Kerry Packers Channel 9 and introduction of colored clothing's and cricket under lights during the mid 70's championed by none other than the late Tony Greig. What was later on acknowledged as a brilliant innovation began as nothing but an outrageous attempt to drag cricket away from the traditional form to a most dazzling and financially viable concept. The late Kerry Packer, a visionary par excellence had taken the traditionalists by the scruff of the neck and introduced the toughest, brightest and financially the most rewarding that the cricketers had ever known till then. An Australian side led by the indomitable Ian Chappell along with a host of cricketers who had reigned supreme locked horns with Clive LLoyd's world beating side. A world eleven side comprising of some of the best players also got involved in the most intensely fought battles under lights and colored clothing's.

Posted by Blal on (February 27, 2013, 3:08 GMT)

@ getsetgopk : Alongl with reverse swing and doosra, the other most influential innovation also goes to the credit of Pakistan and that is the introduction of Neutral Umpires. Many may not agree as Neutral Umpiring in other sports were norms, it took Pakistan to go on its own to intoduce or 'innovate', so to speak, this at the highest level (test cricket) and the rest is history and the 'present' as well!

Posted by   on (February 27, 2013, 0:09 GMT)

Overarm bowling is I think clearly the most influential, underarm bowling is now extinct. Conventional swing is not, conventional batting is not, offside play is not. The third stump hasn't changed the fact that there are stumps.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2013, 19:52 GMT)

Re getsetgopk's mail, I agree. I'm English, and as an ex-off-spinner no doubt I was among many, many people who TRIED to learn the "doosra". [I COULD, fairly easily, bowl one with a gollf ball, and occasionally pitch a respectable effort using a boy's cricket ball in the nets. But, with a full-sized ball it was beyond me and I never even tried to bowl one in a match]. I always reckoned that someone strong, and with long fingers, could bowl perfectly legitimate doosras. It's a shame that Panesar and Swann don't try: I prefer to watch Ajmal bowl. .

Posted by   on (February 26, 2013, 19:05 GMT)

Surely the introduction of the 3rd stump is the most important of all changes.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2013, 17:14 GMT)

In case of umpiring I think the best innovation was reference to third umpire for run outs and stumping decision

Posted by   on (February 26, 2013, 7:27 GMT)

Remember Fred Truman confessing at times to being unaware as to which way the old ball would swing so the phenomenon of reverse swing is dissected threadbare recently but reverse swing always happened,and also that not many are adept at it

Posted by   on (February 26, 2013, 5:47 GMT)

I think after Reverse swing it Doosra invented by Saqlain Mushtaq. spinners have single handedly won many matches with the weapon of Doosra.

Posted by riz309 on (February 26, 2013, 2:57 GMT)

Fielding inside 30 yard i remember once guss logi became man of the match just because his fielding (not sure against which team)his sharp fielding just turned the whole match around.I have never heard anyone else getting the man of the match award because of exceptional fielding

Posted by getsetgopk on (February 26, 2013, 2:43 GMT)

And the shame of it all is that they were labelled as cheats for introducing the most influential innovation in the game of cricket. The appreciation has come although some 30 odd years latter but it has come no doubt and thank you Sid Monga for that. The appreciation for Doosra will come too and that day isn't too far when the Aussies and the English and the Indians have mastered the art, we the Pakistan supporters will just need to be a bit more patient, people learn but you have to be patient with them and give them time to understand and then copy the art you introduced! Its all for the good of the great game.

Posted by Cricket_theBestGame on (February 26, 2013, 2:05 GMT)

i hope CA and aust coach is reading this line in particular. for now doosra is deemed illegal, not worthy of teaching etc in australian cricket. but mark my words, the day a bowler comes through who can bowl doosra, it will all become "Kosher" !

"The initial reaction to all this was of suspicion, and perhaps further ignorance. Lawsuits have been filed, dirt has been carried in pockets, a Test has been called off, bottle caps have been credited, lozenges have been thought of as cricketing equipment… Whether the ball used to be tampered with or not, whether Pakistan alone did it or not, we will never know, but it will be pointed out - not without merit - that it all became kosher when Zaheer Khan and James Anderson and Brett Lee began to do it too. "

Posted by balajik1968 on (February 26, 2013, 0:52 GMT)

Nutcutlet, I should have been precise. I agree that hitting over the top has been there for a long time. What I was trying to say was Haynes invented this kind of tactical hitting after limitations in field setting were introduced in LOI's. This still brings me back to my point was that the single biggest innovation in cricket was overarm bowling. Everything else flows from that. I played some underarm cricket as a kid(too many windows nearby). I know how tough it is to get the ball off the pitch. All the concentration was in not getting bowled. Proves how good I was!!

Posted by MrKricket on (February 26, 2013, 0:05 GMT)

Despite all the talk I still don't quite understand what reverse swing actually is. I haven't read a good description yet.

Would love it if some Aus bowlers could master it. Would take a couple of good spinners any day though or one really good one.

Posted by Mr.Lock on (February 26, 2013, 0:05 GMT)

Great article Sid. I fully agree that reverse swing is the best innovation as of late. And as someone pointed out, it is all good now since the West can do it not just the Pakistanis.

Posted by crikkfan on (February 25, 2013, 20:08 GMT)

Meant for whoever that said Jaya/Kalu invented pinch hitting - Pinch hitting was made into an art form inthe 1992 WC (not 1996 when Jaya/Kalu showed their prowess). Greatbatch was one of the first to do that while other countries followed like Botham, Kapil and others who came in at one down. However with that Srikanth was one of the earliest to actually exploit the power play overs even before that term came into existence - predating Jaya by several years - and later perfected by Sachin.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 17:02 GMT)

I quite like those sightscreens which change automatically, so that there isn't a 5 minute delay while a couple of oaps attempt to push something on rusty wheels to move it 2 inches to the left. Apart from that DRS backed by neutral umpires & selection of proven quality officials is huge as it menas out is out and not out is not out.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 15:53 GMT)

"Doosra" was the second biggest invention after "Reverse Swing". After that there is a long list of bowling techniques like Leg Cutter, In Dipper, Slow Bouncer, Toe Breaker etc etc.

As for batting techniques. None is a breakthru invention, just a show of skill. The mother of "Switch Hit" was Mushtaq's "Reverse Sweep". Then there is a long list of Azhar's Paddle, Dilshan's Dilscoop, Dhoni's Helicopter

Posted by Archerthom on (February 25, 2013, 13:26 GMT)

Great article on the reverse swing, I was very interested to learn both the origins and methods. I am always amused by the insistence (very common a few years ago) that it was simply a matter of ball-tampering; certainly some tampering methods (I don't know whether they were used) might speed up the ball's ageing process but it doesn't explain how, for example, Wasim and Waqar were able to generate it in County matches but their team-mates were not. It just goes to show: preparation might be important but it's not worth a lot without a genius to make it go.

I think an article on the most-stifled innovations in cricket could also be illuminating.

Posted by Hammond on (February 25, 2013, 12:41 GMT)

Actually, I've read that Fazal Mahmood was the first Pakistani to utilise reverse swing on the matting wickets they used in the 50's. Just a thought.

Posted by japdb on (February 25, 2013, 12:40 GMT)

If my memory serves me correctly (not that I was there - what I have read) - Dr Grace was the man who revolutionized batting in that he introduced the pull and hook shots as a regular feature of his play. In fact if I am 100% correct it was his elder brother who did this. Only that Dr Grace was a better more committed batsman and achieved better results. Up to then batmen blocked or drove and defended or cut the short ball. Then perhaps the 'googly'. Then maybe the 'iverson flipped finger bowling'. Then 'reverse swing'. Then the legalizing the 'doosra'. This had been bowled before but generally ran the risk of the bowler being labelled a chucker. Carroom ball is a bit like the iverson ball. So that brings us to the relaxing of throwing. Then maybe the introduction of TV - it has definitely lead to more LBW's as the umpires have a post match method of control.

Posted by cricketkhan on (February 25, 2013, 12:28 GMT)

Nothing can beat the glory of a fast bowler's sight, who is in his full flow, aremed with red cheery to destroy the intentions and technique of the batsmen. And nothing could be more magical and enthrilling to wacth a fast bowler with that art, called reverse swing. If at all, Pakistan's greatest contribution to thwe world cricket is that art. Innovators or inventors might have been some others, but its's Pakistan fast bowlers who mastered it to perfection, and what better then Wasim and Waqar.these two bowlers togather are the most beautiful, golorius and magnificent sight a cricket lover migh imagine.interestingly till today no one has come even close to them as far as reverse swing is concerend, numurous tried thier hands though, and have been successful too, but what these two bowlers did with the ball in not only hisotic but shear poetry and art ,which no one has so far touched.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 12:06 GMT)

Helmets ? Also googly, doosra and reverse swing are greatest bowling innovations.

Reverse sweep has had more impact than switch hit.

Slower ball in ODIs shud also be mentioned...

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 11:28 GMT)

Try watching a collection of Waqar's Yorkers to the sound of Pappu Saeen's dhol.... ow that one of the epic line i have ever read

Posted by STRAIGHT_TALK on (February 25, 2013, 11:21 GMT)

Surely, more than all the 'innovations' above, I believe the change in rules - mainly the 15% bending of the arm, fielders within the 30yard circle - have caused far more affect on the game. The match referee concept and DRS have steadily reduced the umpire's authority. It is another matter that players adapted well. But the administrators have certainly caused damage to the level playing field in the contest between bat and ball. Am waiting for the day, when (may be another 10 years from now) one 'chucker' will be officially allowed to play in the XI.

Posted by caromball on (February 25, 2013, 11:19 GMT)

How about the Dilshan,s Dil Scoop,Ajnatha Mendis's Carrom Ball,Saqlain Mushtaq's Doosra ball....I think they are more innovative as same as the Revese Swing.Dils Scoop is the most risky,bravest and the gutsiest shot ever to make in the games history.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 11:03 GMT)

Limited overs cricket in the form presented by Kerry Pecker. No doubt.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 11:03 GMT)

The doosra??? i think its an innovation which gave a boost to dying art of conventional offspin

Posted by SpeedCricketThrills on (February 25, 2013, 10:14 GMT)

Most of the innovations mentioned above are actually 'improvisations' in the techniques adopted by players rather than 'innovations to the game itself'. In my view, some of the influential innovations which has impacted the game are: 1) T20 along with the leagues, which makes cricket on par with other fast sports such as soccer, basketball. Most significantly IPL which is designed to ensure all teams are 'equally strong', with global representation and the IPL auctions which are transparent and 1 of a kind 2) The DRS, which reduces human errors that can have a major impact on the result. I may have missed a few more.

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (February 25, 2013, 8:48 GMT)

Reverse swing, Googli and Doosra are surely the most influential innovations but what about the white ball and colored clothes? Didn't Kerry Packer change it all?

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (February 25, 2013, 8:32 GMT)

Reverse swing and the doosra are probably the most influential innovations in world cricket. Switch hit and glance could not be taken as influential innovations as these shots didn't have a real influence on the outcome of a game. Switch hit was never something new for kids as even we in our childhood, some 40 years ago, used to do it in our school games.

Posted by Chirs-Cry on (February 25, 2013, 5:49 GMT)

In my opinion, Reverse Swing is by far the greatest invention in cricket to date. Imagine playing test match on highways of Hyderabad in India with no assistance to fast bowling (assuming there was no Reverse swing). Test cricket would have been long gone, done and dusted. It was really reverse swing that made test cricket watchable. Reverse swing allowed bowlers to take wickets without waiting for the new ball. There are other inventions as well but ones got to put Reverse Swing up there as the very best invention made in cricket (aside from DRS, pun intended). The Invention that saved test cricket (and the bowlers).

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 5:16 GMT)

Fantastic article about the origins of reverse swing. Its an art which has not even made the game more interesting but also restored the balance of bat and ball much more evenly

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (February 25, 2013, 5:16 GMT)

If Khan Mohammed wasn't reversing with control in this game (1956), http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62816.html

I need to re-read a scoreboard (let alone stop believing anything from the other players in a match.)

There are many stories of "Irish" before then, but it wasn't a team goal in getting wickets (although got some)

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 5:12 GMT)

Saqlain inventing the doosra was extremely pivotal in the success of other bowlers such as Murali and Bhajji , but the way Saqlain executed them in the initial stages of invention was just perfect. All offspinners who bowl Doosra or Teesra (like Ajmal) owe a lot to this man.

Posted by nandwani88 on (February 25, 2013, 4:53 GMT)

Hey Sidharth Monga. What u talkin about, mon? They don't play Could You Be Loved for Michael Holding in that documentary! They play it for Gordon Greenidge during his awesome double century against England! Too bad though. I can see u wished it was for Mikey. So that ur reverse swing article could have that beginning and flow. Tsk Tsk. Writers. Lol.

Posted by passionateindocricfan on (February 21, 2013, 8:34 GMT)

With due respect to Ayaz Sir, I do not consider the switch hit to be an influential innovation. It is a brilliant innovation no doubt but in my opinion an influential innovation ought to fulfill any one or both of the following criteria: a) It should be used consistently enough and by a sizeable no. of players and should force the opponents to change their tactics. The leg glance falls into this category. b) It should drastically influence the outcome of games. Reverse swing falls into this category. In all fairness the switch hit has not been played frequently enough to force fielding captains to rethink their field placings. Even if the batter switch hits once, the shot is so tough that the probability of the batter pulling it off again is low. Hence the fielding captain is not likely to be too worried by it. So, as of now the switch hit is an outstanding innovation but only time will tell if it is an influential one or not.

Posted by FRRR on (February 20, 2013, 1:39 GMT)

where is reverse swing ? ... where is dosra ??? ....

Posted by GrindAR on (February 19, 2013, 22:07 GMT)

switch hit is a BS. I myself tried switching from left to right and vice-versa, on both batting and bowling like 15 years ago.... Probably it did not happen in international scene.

Posted by SevereCritic on (February 19, 2013, 20:53 GMT)

Bodyline bowling - look up Douglas Jardine in wikipedia. Introduced by a very maverick English captain to counter the great Don and re-capture the Ashes. It was by far the most influential albeit the most controversial innovation in cricket. It was important enough to force a change in cricketing laws.

Posted by Temuzin on (February 19, 2013, 18:02 GMT)

Very nice to read the part about Jam Sahib of Nawanagar. He was a genius.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2013, 11:29 GMT)

Dhoni's helicopter should be one of the most important innovation in cricket. He countered Malinga's toe crushing yorkers with that.

Posted by here2rock on (February 19, 2013, 2:16 GMT)

I still prefer an orthodox cover drive or a straight drive by a batsman like Sachin Tendulkar or Ricky Ponting, no innovation required.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2013, 2:11 GMT)

what about Jayasuriya hitting sixes over cover point area.

Posted by TATTUs on (February 19, 2013, 2:02 GMT)

I think Sachins arch back hit over the slips is as stylish as it gets. But not sure about that being a big change to the game. May be those weak on the pull have a new shot to play.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2013, 1:47 GMT)

Overarmed bowling-Biggest innovation in the game. Imagine lob bolwers and grubber bowlers into todays game.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (February 18, 2013, 22:14 GMT)

@balajik1968: the first batsman to hit over the top with some regularity (and out of the ground too, as that was the way in which 6s were originally scored) was Gilbert Jessop, more than 100 years ago. Jack Hobbs reckoned that he was more of a crowd puller than the great Don himself. Please look him up. Then remember what 'technology' was used in bat manufacture in those days!

Posted by ejsiddiqui on (February 18, 2013, 21:56 GMT)

Reverse swing was a great innovation until ICC made laws to remove it (i.e. two new balls).

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 21:18 GMT)

@Rally_Windies - not exactly an innovation, every team did that up to 1920!

Posted by Chris_P on (February 18, 2013, 20:44 GMT)

@Sach_Vir. Mate, a tap, steer, prod, stroke, call it what you want, the shot has been playedwellr before Sachin did it. I didn't see the South Africans play it, just read about it, & described in detail (Eddie Barlow from recollection) mastered this shot in that he was able to play it from almost anywhere it was pitched in line of his body to far outside the off stump. Knott played it as a response to the lightning short balls the English were receiving from Thomson & Lillee ranging from calculated prods to desperate fends but all intentional in playing the balls over slips, forcing Ian Chappell to use a rarely used fly-slip to counter it. The shot may have been innovative, but used well before Sachin, no doubts there.

Posted by Rally_Windies on (February 18, 2013, 20:34 GMT)

innovation ?

opening the bowling with a spinner (with a new ball) in a limited overs match ...

which teams such as T&T, employ 99%of the time, as opposed to the 1% once in a while that you would expect the tactic .........

I cannot remember T&T ever opening with two pacers, in a 20/20 ever !

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 18:16 GMT)

@agarkrano1 Dhoni's helicopter shot? Hitting a lofted on-drive with more of a follow-through than anyone else advances the game - how?

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 18:10 GMT)

Beautifully written article. However, the switch-hit is an innovation that only a minority of batsmen have, or will ever have, the reflexes, wrists and mental alertness to play effectively, and even they will never do it more than half a dozen times in a an innings spanning, say, 150 balls at a minimum. In terms of influence, how can it possibly compare with overarm bowling?

Posted by jb633 on (February 18, 2013, 17:28 GMT)

Personally in the last 30 years I think that the use of helmets has changed the face of cricket more than any other. I can't really envisage any player wanting to go down on one knee if he knew that a miss and it is night night for his teeth. Hemlets have limited the role of the genuine fast bowler IMO.

Posted by cricketeria on (February 18, 2013, 17:05 GMT)

I think Cricinfo is building up to THE greatest innovation in cricket, which has to be reverse swing. The switch hit changes the outcome of a few balls, but reverse swing has changed the entire complexion of cricket. One could also argue for the introduction of neutral umpiring, as suggested and promoted by Imran Khan.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 17:04 GMT)

-> First would be " Dilscoop" for one which has turned even the low full tosses into scoring deliveries . -> Second and closely following on its heels would be the " Slow Bouncer " which is not a easy delivery to bowl and not easy to be scored off at all . -> Third would be the "Switch hit and the Reverse sweep" though highly risky but effective enough as well.

Posted by balajik1968 on (February 18, 2013, 16:33 GMT)

Hitting over the top was not invented by Kalu and Jayasuriya. The first one I remember doing this was Desmond Haynes. Srikkanth also used to do it. Then Gavaskar used to play a clever little chip shot just past midoff and midon. Of course who can forget Greatbatch in the 1992 World Cup. I also remember Imran using Qadir and Akram as pinch hitters, and this was long before Kalu. As for the late cut, Ranatunga did not invent it. There were at least 2 fine exponents before him in Alvin Kallicharan and GR Viswanath. I am pretty sure there were others, maybe people who know more than I do. For me, the greatest innovation in cricket was overarm bowling. It totally changed the face of the game.

Posted by voice_of_reason on (February 18, 2013, 16:31 GMT)

I'm not sure where the switch hit stands as an influential innovation, which after all is the title of this piece. One cannot argue it is innovative but has it been influential? Another argument could be that the innovation that influenced the switch hit was the reverse sweep and therefore that is the shot that should be on this list. Without the thought that one could play a sweep in the "wrong" direction, it was only a matter of time before the best way of playing it became turning yourself around completely from right hander to left hander or vice versa.

Posted by ChandraPrince on (February 18, 2013, 16:06 GMT)

Oh, well...how about the Dilscoop?

Posted by ankursilverstone on (February 18, 2013, 15:40 GMT)

upper cut is been one of the best innovation of this era

Posted by shrey123 on (February 18, 2013, 15:34 GMT)

Some wonderful innovations of cricket up there. Well, in my view my rankings would be 1. Dilscoop (Dilshan deserves credit. 2. Helicopter (WOOOW) 3. Switch Hit (of course.) 4. Doosra ( Never got the hang of this one though I can pull off a googly. 5.Upper Cut ( Used quite often now. Actually very difficult.)

Posted by Akhter786 on (February 18, 2013, 13:41 GMT)

i think the most influential innovation today is the one which is used increasingly and inall three formats of cricket,

well then switch hit is definitely NOT even inthe list!!!

i think Doosra is the most influential innovation alongwith Slower ball,,

for all those who cry Dil Scoop scoop!!!! that shot is merely a modification of MARILIER CUT/GLANCE,,, probably That name is not widely used because Douglas Marilier was from Zimbabwe, definitely not a cricketing powerhouse anymore,,

Posted by PAKCOP on (February 18, 2013, 13:36 GMT)

My Favourite Invention of cricket is T20s ... Hands Down

Posted by PAKCOP on (February 18, 2013, 13:34 GMT)

"Doosra" Invented by Saqlain Mushtaq. I will also have to correct people here, Switch Hit was Invented by Javaid Miandad and Reverse swing was invented by Sarfraz Nawaz. Thanks

Posted by Pablo123 on (February 18, 2013, 13:30 GMT)

For me...... the intensity of fielding changed the game so much. I think Bob Woolmer was the mastermind of changing the game along with Hansie Cronje.

Think of a few things I believe the South African's initiated. Running to the fence with two players to swoop an the ball and the other flings in, possibly saving a run. Taking the return ball with the gloves in front of the stumps to narrow the time to take off the bails. It took a while for other teams to catch up to SA in that regard and that is why they were so awesome in the 90's.

People like Jonty Rhodes, Michael Bevan, Herchelle Gibbs, Rick Ponting & later Paul Collingwood changed the face of cricket with their fielding innovation.

Posted by agarkarno1 on (February 18, 2013, 13:08 GMT)

Dhoni's helicopter shot..!

Posted by Faridoon on (February 18, 2013, 12:13 GMT)

@amilag: a slight respectful correction, the doosra was invented by Saqlain Mushtaq, Murali was a great exponent of it of course.

The switch-hit can be considered the 'doosra' or 'googly' of batsmanship, totally fair and very much needed in cricket.

Posted by Prabhash1985 on (February 18, 2013, 12:08 GMT)

Front foot pulling and hooking...

Posted by Captain_Crick on (February 18, 2013, 11:32 GMT)

What is the most influential innovation in cricket? Playing a switch hit of a 130 mph delivery as suggested by Mr. Ayaz Memon. You must be kidding me! Playing a switch hit to a ball at that speed (perhaps bowled by a bowling machine) could well be his last ball in life.

Posted by amilag on (February 18, 2013, 11:05 GMT)

My ranking 1.Dilscoop, 2.Muarli's invention-Doosra, 3. Wqar's and Wasim's reverse swing 4.Malinga's yokers 5.Switch hit

Posted by bonaku on (February 18, 2013, 10:54 GMT)

Doosra and reverse swing are two biggest innovation during my generation (in last 20 years). I guess there should not be any questions about these two.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 10:27 GMT)

the evolution of the 'Doosra' .......................

Posted by Nutcutlet on (February 18, 2013, 7:46 GMT)

Naw! Can't buy this one, I'm afraid! The switch hit the MOST inflential... I always taught my students to read the question -- v carefully! Using the superlative (most) must exclude the switch hit/reverse sweep, its variations & adaptations. If Gideon Haigh's choice of Ranji's leg-glance rates 9/10 on the Most Influential Scale & the deceptive delivery, beginning with the googly/ bosie / 'chinaman', rates another 9/10, then the switch barely scrapes a 3/10, IMO, of course! The trouble with the batting order for this buffet-queue topic is that those who come later are left with the scraps as the meaty stuff has gone (pls take that as metaphor if you're vegetarian: this is not the place to offend). The switch hit is a minor diversion, makes a monkey of the batsman who attempts it half the time & is probably reponsible for under 0.5% of runs scored in any given match at fc level. And what scores 10/10 on the MIS? The early stuff: the middle stick; restrictions on bat dimensions, etc.

Posted by sailorsupreme on (February 18, 2013, 6:07 GMT)

Most influential? Or the ugliest, least effective, fraught with danger of getting out or looking ridiculous or both? Ayaz, your title is misleading.We can discuss the best innovations of cricket from among the following: i. The slower ball ii. The slow bouncer iii. the upper cut iv. the dilscoop v. the doosra vi. the paddle sweep vii. the reverse sweep vii.the slog sweep The list may not be exhaustive but the switch hit can never be called an innovation. If this hit had been played first by a batsman from the sub continent, it would have been banned, for sure. And, how many batmen have adopted this ugly shot, may I ask? As for the 7 innovations mentioned above, almost all are being increasingly used and played by any cricketer at any level of the game.

Posted by Cricket_Fan_And_Analyst on (February 18, 2013, 5:54 GMT)

@Chris_P - I think I didn't describe it correctly. Tendulkar plays it like a "tap" on the ball rather than steering it. Also , he plays these shots on bouncers bowled on off stump and not outside off stump. When you see this shot vs. a steer that he himself and others have played before him you will be able to tell the difference.

Posted by swam1231 on (February 18, 2013, 5:40 GMT)

130mph?? Ayaz sir, I'd definitely like to know who bowls at that speed. :)

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 5:39 GMT)

over arm bowling, googly, doosra, dil scoop

Posted by MrKricket on (February 18, 2013, 5:38 GMT)

The switch hit is a gimmick for T20 and perhaps ODIs and not something a batsman is likely to pull off more than once in an innings. David Warner is the best I've seen at this shot but it's not a game changer.

I agree it's a grey area - if the bowler puts the ball down legside in his new position then is it a wide? It shouldn't be as when the bowler started it would have been outside off stump.

Posted by Chris_P on (February 18, 2013, 4:10 GMT)

@Sach_Vir "Tendulkar's steering bouncers over the slips fielders was the first time it was used?". Years ago I read about Australia;s 1966/67 tour of South Africa & there were plenty of references of the South Africans using it against McKenzie much to the annoyance of the Aussie fielders. I also saw Alan Knott using it against Thomson & Lillee in the 74/75 series on many occasions, well before Sachin "first used it"

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 4:10 GMT)

the 'Doosra' .......................

Posted by ultrasnow on (February 18, 2013, 3:57 GMT)

Cheerleaders at cricket matches...

Posted by EverybodylovesSachin on (February 13, 2013, 18:59 GMT)

Tumbarumbar - Bradman would have averaged less than his final average. It is not easy to bat with helmet on. It is habit of a player with the use of euipments. Fear for not using the helmet generated long after Bradman got retired else he would have used it also.

Posted by   on (February 13, 2013, 14:30 GMT)

limited overs cricket. did a lot good to the game.

Posted by Tumbarumbar on (February 13, 2013, 13:24 GMT)

Surely cricket's biggest innovation was the introduction of helmets which have seen averages rise, tail Enders skills improve and fast bowlers become less menacing than in the past. What would Bradman have averaged if he'd had a helmet?

Posted by   on (February 13, 2013, 0:31 GMT)

I think modern criket owes a lot for SL cricketers for bringing innovation. Dilscoop is named after Dilshan, so I am not sure why we are mentioning others into it. Dilshan owns that shot and haven't seen anyone plays that shot perfectly other than him. Sanath and Kalu's hitting over the infield in the first 15 overs changed the way everyone play ODI's. Malinga's yorker barrages, slow balls, low full tosses, slow bouncers kept many best players at bay during the slog overs many times. Ajantha Mendis's carrom ball. Angelo Mathew's jump over the boundry line to tap the ball to an infielder for a catch. Murali's perfectly bowled doosras (although saqlain bowled it first), Someone mentioned the upper cut Sehwag plays to hit the ball for 6, I think Sanath started doing it in late 90's, Even Mahela's scoops are kind of different than others, Arjuna played the late cut pass the keeper when keeper is up to the stumps, Arjuna started the protest against umpires for calling Murali noball

Posted by DeliberateFlameBait on (February 12, 2013, 23:43 GMT)

Given that we're allowed to include innovations from the 19th Century, I'd have a different set of changes to most here. (Warnng: I can't find my reference books, so I may have details wrong). In no particular order, I'd list:

- the introduction of covered pitches - the introduction of time limits to test matches - the relaxation on underarm/round-arm/overarm bowling - the relaxation of bowling change rules. If I remember correctly, early on a bowler could only bowl two spells per innings. - the leg glance (as above) & leg-side play - the googly/wrong'un/bosie/....(as above) - one-day internationals - swing bowling (courtesy JB King, Philadelphia)

Collectively these have (mostly) increased scoring pressure on batsmen and increased the options available to bowlers. The exception to this is the introduction of covered pitches, which made the game less of a meteorological raffle, and thereby favoured the batsman.

Posted by harmske on (February 12, 2013, 22:57 GMT)

the single biggest and most successful invention was the super sub.....

Posted by Harmony111 on (February 12, 2013, 21:32 GMT)

@Nutcutlet: Yes I do agree with your point that this question has a very wide scope and so diff ppl will say diff things half of which may not even be comparable Someone here said ODI is the most influential innovation and I am sure you will say how is an entire format comparable to a single piece of trick such as Googly but that is the way this question has been worded. Thus, my take on this question is that they wanted to know what is the best example of improvisation in cricket. You see, some things come up cos the game changes - those cant be counted here. Some things come up cos while the game remains the same yet the demands rise for eg more agile fielding, thus sliding & relay throw can be counted here. Google too.

Not strictly saying, Invention is making a 4SIC engine while using twin/tetra spark plugs over 1 is Innovation. Starting a cranky car using push or external battery is Improvisation. Thats how I see the order. But nowhere do I say only I am right. You are free too.

Posted by   on (February 12, 2013, 13:01 GMT)

Dhoni's helicopter shot, Sehwag & Sehwag's propensity to upper-cut a short ball outside the off over thirdman for 6 among the recent innovations, Kerry Packer's night cricket....and above all, IPL's tamasha. IPL might not give the purist good cricket, but it definitely gives cricket & cricketers good money, encouraging more professionals to play cricket. Chandra & murli's ability to give the ball a rip, KP's switch-hit.......

Posted by   on (February 12, 2013, 12:22 GMT)

@voice_of_reason: In actual fact, Bodyline was NOT the first instance of fast bowlers taking the new ball from both ends. You will find the Big Ship, Warwick Armstrong opened with Gregory and McDonald in 1920-21 with a packed slips cordon - the birth of the umbrella field. It was revolutionary at the time. The other advancement that helped the game to evolve to how we see it today was the development of the "check drive" in the 1950's in English county cricket. To watch one of Tendulkar's glorious straight drives is a tribute to those English county batsmen that helped batting technique advance into the modern form we enjoy today.

Posted by landl47 on (February 12, 2013, 4:58 GMT)

Nobody has mentioned (maybe you are all too young?) the most influential innovation: the introduction of one-day cricket. In the 1960s international cricket was only test matches. The first ODI was between Australia and England in 1971. It proved so popular that teams began playing regularly and the first world cup was organized in 1975.

The most dramatic effect of one-day cricket has been the increase in the scoring rate in first-class cricket. Before 1970 it was extremely rare to see scores of over 500 and matches which featured such scores were almost invariably draws. Now 500+ scores are routine and matches are won and lost by teams making big scores- such as England's defeat at Adelaide in 2006.

Other effects have been the development of different shots and different balls to counter them- many of the innovations discussed here were as a result of one-day cricket. It has changed the game beyond recognition from when I was young.

Posted by   on (February 12, 2013, 4:38 GMT)

The single biggest innovation in cricket is over arm bowling.

End of story.

Posted by getsetgopk on (February 12, 2013, 2:09 GMT)

Death end bowling by a spinner in ODI's. Saqlain was definately the trendsetter. So that is the second innovation the other being doosra that Saqi has introduced and we shall all be thankful to him. And mind you he was very successful at death bowling in his prime. Just imagine with bowlers like WASIM AKRAM, WAQAR YOUNUS AND SHOAIB AKHTAR and its Saqi who gets the ball to bowl the last over, goes to show how effective he was with his own innovation. That is some achievement I would say. The other thing that comes to mind is a spinner bowling with the new ball in tests. I honestly dont know about any spinner other Hafeez who has done it for so many times now. The most recent one being SA first innings and the second new ball. Hafeez bowled extremely well and thanks to his bowling SA's last six wickets got bundled out for just 21 runs. Maybe there is a spinner who has done it consistently over a period of time that I dont know of?

Posted by Rowayton on (February 12, 2013, 0:43 GMT)

Actually Voice of Reason, I think Bodyline was a development of a previous innovation. English bowler Fred Root was famous for bowling leg theory well before Bodyline - Bodyline was just short pitched leg theory (in fact, Jardine called it 'leg theory'). I think a significant innovation in my memory has been extending the LBW rule so that a batsman who does not play a shot can be out to a ball that has hit him outside off stump (which happened in the 60s/70s?). Leading with the pads was killing spin bowling (and cricket).

Posted by   on (February 12, 2013, 0:00 GMT)

@Krishan Douggie Marallier played the paddle scoop. Not the dil sccop. The closest to the dil scoop was played by Ryan Campbell an Australian state wicket keeper. Still the way Dilshan plays it has never been done by someone else. He plays it over the slips to balls pitching on off stump line. Every other scoop shot goes over fine leg.

Posted by passionatecricbug on (February 11, 2013, 18:42 GMT)

Douglas Marilier for the dilscoop. He won the match out of nowhere. The required rate had jumped to over 14, and it was considered impossible in those days. He started scoring off Zaheer and Kumble, with dilscoop and lo behold India lost the match. It was unbelievable. Not to mention the relevance of this shot now a days. He did it even before the era of T20.

Posted by SasiGladi on (February 11, 2013, 18:01 GMT)

Other than invention if we talk about unique bowling action I remember Paul Adams all the time.....now slinging Malinga.....terrfying / rhythmic action I would say Lee, Akthar, Waquar, Steyn sorry I have witnessed cricket from early 90's....

Posted by DesPlatt on (February 11, 2013, 16:20 GMT)

Dinosaurus , hadn't read your point about Bradman earlier but yes, that method was mentioned in the wonderful biography of Harold Larwood I read recently.

Posted by DesPlatt on (February 11, 2013, 16:10 GMT)

Otter6 Eddie Barlow may well have been first but I also remember the late Tony Greig scoring a large percentage of his Melbourne century using the fast bowlers pace over slips also well before Sachin.

Posted by Kush58 on (February 11, 2013, 14:22 GMT)

Fielding in the 30 yard circle by Rhodes?

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 13:55 GMT)

Douglas Marillier of Zimbabwe should be credited for the Dilscoop.. He won a game out of nowhere and that shot was invented...

Posted by SamRoy on (February 11, 2013, 13:52 GMT)

Reverse Swing for me. Googly is a very close second.

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 12:24 GMT)

I think few .... 1. Reverse Swing (Imran and Sarfaraz) 2. Doosra (saqlain) 3. Reverse Switch / Switch Hitting 4. Pinch Hitting in first 15 overs

Posted by No1fan on (February 11, 2013, 12:21 GMT)

The Bosie (Googly) and Doosra has transformed spin bowling

Posted by otters6 on (February 11, 2013, 12:17 GMT)

In no particular order.... cricket helmets, covered pitches, television umpires, limited overs cricket, and my favourite the cricket bats of the 21st century are simply superb. As for the tap over slips - I believe Eddid Barlow was playing that before Sachin was born...

Posted by legsidewide on (February 11, 2013, 10:28 GMT)

Playing 4 fast bowlers in a test side must be up there, changed the dynamics of test cricket, and preceded the need for developing tricks like reverse swing.

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 10:18 GMT)

@ IndiaChampspakchumps. For your kind info, the credit for pinch hitting goes to Kaluwaidharna / Jayasurya of Sri Lanka not Srikanth. Also reverse sweep was practiced by Jawaid Miiandad much before Azhar ud din and paddled sweep was more of Inzimam's speciality then Sachin. having said that, I still recongise Sachin as the best batsmen that has graced the cricket field at least in our life time but that does not mean to credit him for something other's have done

Posted by Nutcutlet on (February 11, 2013, 10:13 GMT)

@Harmony111: Quite. I read the title, paused for thought, & realised how it could be interpreted. Both of my dictionaries (OED & Chambers) offer overlapping definitions for innovation & invention. I chose to interpret innovation (lit. the introduction of something new) absolutely strictly, largely to point out the wriggle room that this topic affords. So be it. We are allowed your interpretation & mine because there's no way of disentangling the semantics, which, incidentally, means that there isn't the difference/distinction that you claim for them. On reflection, I hope you'll agree with me. Adopting your understanding, (again, after careful consideration), I would go for the first acknowledged bowling of the googly, by BJT Bosanquet in 1898. Indeed, the ball he bowled (an offie with a LB action, of course) termed a' bosie', was a word used by Ozzies like R Benaud. Now, that makes all other variants on the offie & the leggie, mere improvements, certainly not innovations/inventions.

Posted by srikanths on (February 11, 2013, 9:53 GMT)

Tap over the slip cordon of a bouncer by SRT is also a good innovation. Wild slash over slips , point and gully was there earlier but a delayed tap over the keeer and slips was an innovation by Sachin developed for the Australian and SA wickets. No one executes it as well as does

Posted by MrKricket on (February 11, 2013, 9:29 GMT)

I wonder if the leg bye came in about the same time? Certainly a lot of leg glance attempts make no bat contact and the ball goes off the pad. Now there's a move to get rid of the leg bye.

Best innovation? Lights, white balls (fail for longevity) and helmets?

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 8:58 GMT)

Really fascinating and well-argued. Loved that Monty Noble quote! As for the most influential innovations, surely bowling over-arm must come top...?

Posted by Harmony111 on (February 11, 2013, 8:29 GMT)

@Nutcutlet: No doubt that each and every thing you mention is unique, hilarious and made the game better or more interesting but I think there is a diff in improvement and innovation. I would rather re-phrase the question as what is the best improvisation of them all i.e making do with what was available. Stuff like rule for middle stump, pads, fixing the bat dimensions are not exactly innovations. They introduced new artefacts in the game. If we tighten the question that way then a no of things fall out. There must have been some first man who came down the track to hit the bowler for a 6 and made us all aware that you needn't play the ball from the crease. There must have been someone who thought he could bowl in the opposite direction to a off break. Someone who thought sliding was a better way to stop the ball. But then again, innovation/improvisation come in when the game has sufficiently evolved. Just think of Invention vs Innovation.

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 8:09 GMT)

Since we are talking innovations it would have to be the reverse swing developed by the fast bowlers of the 80's (possibly even earlier). The Pakistanis get the credit for this but there are talks of how it may have been developed earlier. Irrespective of who developed it, I believe it was argubly the most influential innovation for it changed the whole dynamics of test cricket. No more was just the opening fast spell lethal. A fast bowler could come in after 40 or 50 overs and be just as lethal (maybe even more).

Posted by Nutcutlet on (February 11, 2013, 7:48 GMT)

I can see that the perameters set for 'the most influential innovation in cricket' are so vague & therefore so vast that almost anything can be tossed into the stew. So, after resorting to a random Wisden when our bible dealt with such arcane background details as Dates in Cricket History, here's my bouquet garni, plucked from Wisden 1954: the introduction of the middle stump (c 1775); width of bat limited to 4.5 inches (1774); introduction of pads by a player named Robinson who strapped boards to his legs was "laughed out of his invention" (c1800); the modern dimensions of the wicket:28 inches x 9 inches (1931). Yes, I could go on & on. No serious student of the game shd ignore these' influential innovations' as they inform our modern game more than we can realise! Our game has a richer history than any other that I've heard of & most certainly a greater literature than any sport that involves a ball, in both quality & quantity.We are lucky people, luckier than we realise sometimes.

Posted by IndiaChampspakchumps on (February 11, 2013, 7:29 GMT)

The greatest and the most influential invention in cricket is pinch hitting in the first 15 overs of a limited overs game, invented by Indians (specifically Srikanth). The other influential inventions are the reverse sweep (another Indian invention) and paddle sweep (Azhar and Tendulkar).

Posted by Stup1d on (February 11, 2013, 6:55 GMT)

It must have been pretty lame playing back then when you could only hit one half of the ground. I wonder why it was called the "off" side then?

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 6:22 GMT)

Very interesting article by Gideon Haigh. Any departure from what is regular point of view is an INNOVATION. So I thing this does qualify as a very important innovation, especially in that era. It is similar to the reverse hits, switch hits in our era. Reverse swing and doosra were inventions or discoveries rather than innovation. They developed as a different skill, a different form of art.

Posted by ajaym55 on (February 11, 2013, 6:14 GMT)

Most comments here are missing the authors point that the leg glance doubled up the choices batter had. It also reduced off side fielders from nine to six thus providing even more opportunities there as well. This obviously had a more profound impact on the game than any incremental improvement in bowling, pitches or head gear.

Posted by Cricket_Fan_And_Analyst on (February 11, 2013, 5:20 GMT)

My picks for best innovation (relatively modern) :

1. Chucking enough and chucking strategically, so that you won't be no-balled. 2. Reverse Swing (Pakistanis - Imran/Sarfarz Nawaz ?)

3 a. Googly 3 b. Doosra (Shaqlain)

4. Yorkers 5. Disguised slower balls (De Villiers was the first bowler who bowled it consistently well) 6 a. Sweep 6 b. Reverse Sweep (Hutton from Zimbabwe ?) 7. Steer bouncers over the head of slip fielders (Tendulkar played it first time against S.A.) 8. Full length dive and throw at stumps to run out batsmen ( Johnty Rhodes ? ) 9. Wicketkeeper standing next to stump instead of behind the stumps for quicker runouts ( Hansie Cronje / Bob Woolmer ) 10. One bounce throw from boundary to stumps (Aussies / South Africans ? ) 11. Carrom ball ( Ajantha Mendis ) 12. Catch with fingers facing the skies 13. Switch hit 14. Mankading ?

Posted by dinosaurus on (February 11, 2013, 5:11 GMT)

@ Uday Prakash

To much criticism, as much from his own side as from his opponents, stepping back and flicking over the slips was one of Bradman's approaches to batting against Voce and Larwood in the "Bodyline" series.

Posted by Harmony111 on (February 11, 2013, 5:00 GMT)

@getsetgopk: For a change I agree with you though only partially. Reverse Swing indeed is a great innovation. In fact, more than just a simple innovation it is a whole new kind of art. The Googly/Doosra are basically two sides of the same coin so one can count them as one only and even then, a sufficiently skilled batsman can handle Google/Doosra by being quick on feet or by reading the ball early. In fact RW too can be negated by a batsman who is adept enough. The art of RW reaches its zenith when a bowler combines RW with a yorker. A good bowler can bowl 6 of those in an over and even the greatest of batsman can't do much (if the ball is accurate enough). Even mishit runs can be minimized by having fielder at 3rd man & fine leg.

Rare that you and I agree but here it is. Must be some miracle today. May be we should wish something today. :-p

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 4:46 GMT)

the one shot which captured my imagination in last 35 years of cricket viewing is the shot sachin plays to the bouncer.Lean back and guide over the first slip to the boundary.

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 4:43 GMT)

Its definitely the Spin Bowling. Its an art and thats why you see cricketers spending more time in understanding the spin bowling rather than the fast bowling. It's still being considered a mystery with its variations.

Posted by getsetgopk on (February 11, 2013, 4:37 GMT)

So according to this author the most influential thing in CRICKET is a leg glance. Im not sure what to make of that. Had he said the most influential thing in batting is a leg glance then that would have been another story but CRICKET??? I like to think the most influential thing in cricket is reverse swing followed by googly and then the doosra. Two of those innovations were mastered by the Pakistanis, reverse swing and googly where as the third one is the sole creation of saqlain, which he mastered at the same time. The number of wickets these three different types of bowling fetched the bowling side (Pakistan) is unmatched, no innovation comes close, period.

Posted by Ravendark on (February 11, 2013, 4:22 GMT)

I feel slightly for the juror's to follow.

I don't feel I can select just one, a top (in no particular order) may be:

-Over-arm bowling -Covered pitches -Helmets

As with the nominated innovation in the article, all three fundamentally changed the way attitude of players towards the game; changed how the game was approached, thought about. As opposed to a new type of delivery or a tweaked playing condition.

Posted by InsideHedge on (February 11, 2013, 3:50 GMT)

Wow, terrific writing. Haigh intersperses his thoughts with quotes from the main characters, the writing flows.

Posted by Harmony111 on (February 11, 2013, 3:37 GMT)

The leg glance is not exactly an innovation. It was the obstinate & needlessly virtuous nature of the early days players not to think of the leg side as a valid place to score runs as the author says here. Today any young kid will tell you that as a rule it is much much easier to steer the ball than to drive or cut it. I use steer as a generic here. Of all the parameters that a good cricketing shot has, the glance/steer is the least demanding on most/all of them. Be it degree of arm movement, power needed, footwork, shoulder strength, follow-through, direction of shot, bat quality, risk of getting out etc. Thus one can say that glance was a shot suppressed sort of artificially and in fact ought to have been the earliest ones. Just like the most common kind of bowling is off break cos it comes most naturally to us.

My vote would be for "Inswinging Yorker in the Blockhole". It needs Grt skill + the batsman can't do much with it + Its a grt sight whether a wicket falls or not.

Posted by vinjoy on (February 11, 2013, 3:33 GMT)

One the most insightful article on cricinfo for a long time. The whole history behind the gentleman's game, how it evolved and why it evolved so, and how it was accepted. Cheers to Gideon!

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