December 15, 2013

A trial by pace for England and India

One way to deal with bouncy pitches and drive intimidating fast bowlers to distraction is to play controlled pull and cut shots
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England are currently being discomfited by it and India are about to be confronted by a batsman's greatest challenge: the trial by pace. It's a challenge that most dread and very few relish.

When umpire Max O'Connell once warned Australian fast bowler Lennie Pascoe at Adelaide Oval: "That'll be enough bouncers for this over, Len," a voice piped up from the other end: "Don't stop him, Max." That intimidating response put West Indies master blaster Viv Richards in the minority. He relished pace, never wore a helmet or took a serious blow to the noggin, and was, in the words of Pakistan's revered allrounder Imran Khan, "an intimidating batsman".

Unlike Richards, many batsmen can empathise with England's current crop. Having been bounced into submission at the Gabba, they then failed to quell the uprising in Adelaide. Now England face the daunting task of trying to get on top of Mitchell Johnson on the bouncy WACA pitch.

This is no easy task, but it has to be achieved if England hope to save this Ashes series. Their batsmen might take heart from some of Dennis Lillee's experiences on his home patch. I've seen batsmen who shouldn't have made Lillee raise a sweat drive him to distraction, because he got so carried away with the WACA bounce that it seemed he was more interested in physically harming his opponent rather than getting him out. He would usually rectify his mistake, but not before the batsman had cut and top-edged more than his ration against such a skilled and fearsome competitor.

That is what England have to do - drive, or cut and pull Johnson to distraction. They have to push him to the point where he becomes angry and stops thinking rationally. That will take a lot of judicious strokeplay and mental courage rather than becoming involved in slanging matches.

If England need a blueprint for how to dispatch the short-pitched delivery, they only had to watch closely as the ebullient Steven Smith dispensed a timely lesson in playing horizontal bat shots. There's a distinct difference in the England attack's pace and ability to intimidate compared to Johnson in his current form, but Smith dealt their Ashes hopes blow after blow with his confident and controlled pull shots. Most of them went straight to ground, via a technically efficient roll of the wrists, and the bulk finished up skipping over the boundary rope before any England fieldsman could move into top gear.

England's hopes of retaining the Ashes plummeted with each successful Smith pull shot, while Johnson looked on with mounting glee from the other end. Thanks to Smith, Johnson had a total to work with.

India's talented young batsmen face a slightly different challenge in South Africa. They are confronted by the toughest task in cricket: adjusting from low-bouncing pitches to strips that encourage fast bowlers to try their luck by banging a few in their half of the wicket. India will be comforted by the fact that there's no bowler of Johnson's pace, but they'll be facing the highly skilful Dale Steyn, the canny accuracy of Vernon Philander, and the steep bounce of Morne Morkel. This is an extremely difficult challenge, and they won't have Sachin Tendulkar to show the way.

Nevertheless, they do have Virat Kohli, who has experienced success at the WACA, and some young comrades in Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan, who all play the horizontal bat shots.

Trial by pace isn't a lot of fun for batsmen while it's occurring, but when the challenge is met, the afterglow does provide a lot of satisfaction. In the case of England, success would mean staving off the Ashes death throes, and for India it would be an enormous boost to their post-Tendulkar endeavours.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 9-Monkeys on December 19, 2013, 3:40 GMT

    Yes Jay, SA absolutely smashed Australia in 1970 but your comments about Chappell and McKenzie are far from fair. Chappell was one of the all-time great hookers and pullers and Garth had little support in SA and was exhausted after a long campaign on the sub-continent.

  • on December 18, 2013, 22:14 GMT

    @Jay57870, Ian Chappell may have had a bad tou of South Africar in 1970 but he was one of the best hookers and pullers in memory. You need to check your facts before putting such remarks on Cricinfo. It was Chappelli's very strength throughout his career.

  • jay57870 on December 17, 2013, 13:51 GMT

    Ian - Memory lapses? Where were Chappelli's "pull & cut shots" when Bill Lawry's 1970 team got shellacked by SA in 4 Tests by a humiliating 170, 129 (inng), 307 & 323 runs? Ian's contribution: a measly 92 runs @ 11.5 with 3 ducks! Isolated by apartheid, the Test-starved hosts were raring to go. Led by Ali Bacher, SA had the firepower - G Pollock, B Richards, E Barlow & Co - to gain total domination. Oz failed collectively - abject fielding & dropped catches, awful batting & inept pace bowling by Graham McKenzie. In the end they were totally demoralised, fatigued & divided. The players revolted (led by Ian) & opted out of the 5th Test to force a showdown with ACB (for poor pay & shabby treatment). SA wanted to play, offered extra money but to no avail. They waited 21 years - till the great Madiba was freed - to play Tests again. He was there at the Johannesburg Test vs India in 1992. Look, it goes far beyond "a trial by pace for England & India". Bad memories are awfully painful, Ian?

  • on December 16, 2013, 20:06 GMT

    On the Ashes: As I write, England has effectively lost the Ashes. What has let them down so badly has been not just the bowling of Mitchell Johnson, but the woeful captaincy of Alastair Cooke.

    Time and again Cooke's captaincy has been passive when attacking cricket has been needed. Really, the whole contest for the Ashes has been Cooke vs Clarke. Clarke has won by miles! Australia never believes it has the opposing side out until the last batman is gone. Cooke gives all the batsmen a get out of jail card because he never puts the pressure on. No wonder they've lost.

    All opposing teams which play Australia should take a leaf out of their book: play attacking cricket and force mistakes, not wait until the batsmen make them. All this series long I've been looking for a contest. I haven't found one.

  • David_Boon on December 16, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    While it is certainly true that the Indian batsmen will be in for a trial by pace in South Africa, I fancy their chances a great deal more than the Indian bowlers bowling out South Africa even once. They have no hope against Amla and co.

  • on December 16, 2013, 12:55 GMT

    Its my personal feeling that as a game cricket has not evolved upto a level where the outcome of a match is less predictable from the perspective of a visiting team playing against so called odds created by alien conditions which the player's mind perceives to be hostile in a spontaneous manner.For example you visit Australia,you are likely to be genuflected into submission by pace that would otherwise be nondescript altogether in subcontinental conditions.you visit India and you are bound to come a cropper against spin which would be abysmally ineffective in conditions down under.So this is or has been the usual trend with a few honourable exceptions,a few standout individual performances here and there.Now the question is whether skill has a defining impact or the mind games rule the roost.Why Aswin and Anderson fail to deliver away from home?Isn't skill is the preseve of a chosen few like Viv,Sachin and Waugh unable to impede the usual trend when a team's cause abroad is concerned?

  • CricketMaan on December 16, 2013, 11:59 GMT

    With so much of India bashing, just want to add the the positives for Indian batsmen who are new to Tes cricket (yet) is that the attack of Styen, Morkel and Phil on SA soil is the best they could get as a stepping stone. Infact Dhawan, Kholi, Rohit and Pujara are lucky coz they will get a lot of games on such tough hostile conditions in SA, NZ, England and Aus whcih can only make them better cricketers. I guess selectors will persist with these 4 or atleast 3 in all these 13 Tests within 14 months. So can look forward for more India bashing and in end if Indian batsmen benefit from such a tough ardous tour scheudle good for thier cricket.

  • IAS2009 on December 16, 2013, 1:27 GMT

    Indian team will be slaughtered by Steyn and Co. the Test pitch will be very tough to negotiate, Indian batting looks so much out of comfort zone on very easy pitch. I am not sure how they will handle, only men who could survive is Pujara and may be Dhoni. Any one who can play on back foot better will survive. Good luck Pujara.

  • whensdrinks on December 16, 2013, 0:58 GMT

    @ Shailendra - they were great. but I wonder how they would go if they had to bowl 90 overs a day not 75 against batsmen with helmets and protection and were limited to 2 bouncers an over.

    I think they would still be number 1 but not by so much as they couldn't afford to play 4 pacemen every test.

    I think India will struggle if their performance against SA resembles their performance against Aus in Aus 2 summers ago.

  • xylo on December 15, 2013, 22:55 GMT

    They won't have Sachin Tendulkar to show the way? He surely showed the way in Australia and England in his last series, didn't he?

  • 9-Monkeys on December 19, 2013, 3:40 GMT

    Yes Jay, SA absolutely smashed Australia in 1970 but your comments about Chappell and McKenzie are far from fair. Chappell was one of the all-time great hookers and pullers and Garth had little support in SA and was exhausted after a long campaign on the sub-continent.

  • on December 18, 2013, 22:14 GMT

    @Jay57870, Ian Chappell may have had a bad tou of South Africar in 1970 but he was one of the best hookers and pullers in memory. You need to check your facts before putting such remarks on Cricinfo. It was Chappelli's very strength throughout his career.

  • jay57870 on December 17, 2013, 13:51 GMT

    Ian - Memory lapses? Where were Chappelli's "pull & cut shots" when Bill Lawry's 1970 team got shellacked by SA in 4 Tests by a humiliating 170, 129 (inng), 307 & 323 runs? Ian's contribution: a measly 92 runs @ 11.5 with 3 ducks! Isolated by apartheid, the Test-starved hosts were raring to go. Led by Ali Bacher, SA had the firepower - G Pollock, B Richards, E Barlow & Co - to gain total domination. Oz failed collectively - abject fielding & dropped catches, awful batting & inept pace bowling by Graham McKenzie. In the end they were totally demoralised, fatigued & divided. The players revolted (led by Ian) & opted out of the 5th Test to force a showdown with ACB (for poor pay & shabby treatment). SA wanted to play, offered extra money but to no avail. They waited 21 years - till the great Madiba was freed - to play Tests again. He was there at the Johannesburg Test vs India in 1992. Look, it goes far beyond "a trial by pace for England & India". Bad memories are awfully painful, Ian?

  • on December 16, 2013, 20:06 GMT

    On the Ashes: As I write, England has effectively lost the Ashes. What has let them down so badly has been not just the bowling of Mitchell Johnson, but the woeful captaincy of Alastair Cooke.

    Time and again Cooke's captaincy has been passive when attacking cricket has been needed. Really, the whole contest for the Ashes has been Cooke vs Clarke. Clarke has won by miles! Australia never believes it has the opposing side out until the last batman is gone. Cooke gives all the batsmen a get out of jail card because he never puts the pressure on. No wonder they've lost.

    All opposing teams which play Australia should take a leaf out of their book: play attacking cricket and force mistakes, not wait until the batsmen make them. All this series long I've been looking for a contest. I haven't found one.

  • David_Boon on December 16, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    While it is certainly true that the Indian batsmen will be in for a trial by pace in South Africa, I fancy their chances a great deal more than the Indian bowlers bowling out South Africa even once. They have no hope against Amla and co.

  • on December 16, 2013, 12:55 GMT

    Its my personal feeling that as a game cricket has not evolved upto a level where the outcome of a match is less predictable from the perspective of a visiting team playing against so called odds created by alien conditions which the player's mind perceives to be hostile in a spontaneous manner.For example you visit Australia,you are likely to be genuflected into submission by pace that would otherwise be nondescript altogether in subcontinental conditions.you visit India and you are bound to come a cropper against spin which would be abysmally ineffective in conditions down under.So this is or has been the usual trend with a few honourable exceptions,a few standout individual performances here and there.Now the question is whether skill has a defining impact or the mind games rule the roost.Why Aswin and Anderson fail to deliver away from home?Isn't skill is the preseve of a chosen few like Viv,Sachin and Waugh unable to impede the usual trend when a team's cause abroad is concerned?

  • CricketMaan on December 16, 2013, 11:59 GMT

    With so much of India bashing, just want to add the the positives for Indian batsmen who are new to Tes cricket (yet) is that the attack of Styen, Morkel and Phil on SA soil is the best they could get as a stepping stone. Infact Dhawan, Kholi, Rohit and Pujara are lucky coz they will get a lot of games on such tough hostile conditions in SA, NZ, England and Aus whcih can only make them better cricketers. I guess selectors will persist with these 4 or atleast 3 in all these 13 Tests within 14 months. So can look forward for more India bashing and in end if Indian batsmen benefit from such a tough ardous tour scheudle good for thier cricket.

  • IAS2009 on December 16, 2013, 1:27 GMT

    Indian team will be slaughtered by Steyn and Co. the Test pitch will be very tough to negotiate, Indian batting looks so much out of comfort zone on very easy pitch. I am not sure how they will handle, only men who could survive is Pujara and may be Dhoni. Any one who can play on back foot better will survive. Good luck Pujara.

  • whensdrinks on December 16, 2013, 0:58 GMT

    @ Shailendra - they were great. but I wonder how they would go if they had to bowl 90 overs a day not 75 against batsmen with helmets and protection and were limited to 2 bouncers an over.

    I think they would still be number 1 but not by so much as they couldn't afford to play 4 pacemen every test.

    I think India will struggle if their performance against SA resembles their performance against Aus in Aus 2 summers ago.

  • xylo on December 15, 2013, 22:55 GMT

    They won't have Sachin Tendulkar to show the way? He surely showed the way in Australia and England in his last series, didn't he?

  • Broken_F-ing_Arm on December 15, 2013, 22:37 GMT

    Just thinking about it, looking ahead to this aus vs SA series, if you were to name the top 5 pace bowlers in the world most people would probably say Steyn, Johnson, Philander, Harris and Siddle, maybe broad stealing siddles spot, if you ad that to the fact that most people would name their world xi top 5 as Warner, G Smith, Amla, Clarke, De villiers. Plus the fact that the 2 keepers are probably the 2 form keepers in the world bar MS. This might be the best series in a long time

  • on December 15, 2013, 22:09 GMT

    i will tell The Trick for India , once the ball get older then 25 over than the threat becomes less than 50 % and become lesser once the game goes on. Good Luck.

  • vakkaraju on December 15, 2013, 17:44 GMT

    There is no question about the abilities of Steyn & Co. The big question is if the new crop of Indian batsmen can adjust to the conditions. They have ability and talent and the drive to be successful. They are capable of playing the cuts the pulls. They have to trust themselves. Any preconceived ideas and doubts will cause their downfall. The pace does not give them time to think about technique. Their success will depend 90% on confidence and 10% on "technique."

  • pretoria on December 15, 2013, 17:06 GMT

    Graeme and J.Kallis hold the key to the SA/India series. The have not played a lot of cricket over the past few months. If these two make decent scores in the first innings of the Wanderers test, I think SA will win. The team that starts well in JHB will win this very short series. There is simply no time for a recovery, also given the current very unstable weather conditions in Durban. On the Indian side, Pujara and Kohli are danger men.

  • on December 15, 2013, 16:05 GMT

    @Mitty2 if your arrogance is owing to the just concluded one day series, wait fr the test series to commence. Just cannot rule India out yet! Its not my patriotic passion speaking.its just that india, for the first time in 10 years, has atleast 4 batsmen who can play the pull short well.

  • vik56in on December 15, 2013, 15:33 GMT

    @Shailendra .Steyn has been effective on the docile Indian wickets more than the Indian fast bowlers have been in their home turf.Get your facts right !

  • tickcric on December 15, 2013, 15:14 GMT

    I am really looking forward to see how the Indian batsmen cope with SA attack. It's just a two test series and faliure in this series should not mean that they are incapable of adjusting to fast bouncy pitches but if they can handle this SA bowling attack in SA they will grow as international batsmen. For me Pujara is the key batsman for India in this series. Through his temperament and technique he has to build the foundation for the likes of Kohli or Sharma to make the most of it.

  • sando31 on December 15, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    I can't wait to see Steyn, Philander and Morkel take on Johnson, Harris and Siddle! That could get dangerous!

  • Mitty2 on December 15, 2013, 14:49 GMT

    @Annath Rao, if in the unlikely situation Zaheer and Shami do strike, it won't matter because SA will bowl you out for under 150 every innings. Playing every game on the doctored dustbowls and featherbeds of India has its limits. People like to say that SA are so deservedly number one because of their away feats, but it's easy to forget how dominant they are at home. Predictions: SA dominate as usual with Morkel averaging 20 runs per wicket; Philander 15 per wicket and Steyn under 10 per wicket :)

  • Mitty2 on December 15, 2013, 14:44 GMT

    @murli786, the last few years actually Steyn has been more so operating around 140 - even less. He's more than capable at bowling at 150km/h but you'll find that he often doesn't because he's just so damn skilful and accurate with his swinging, zipping deliveries. He's the best bowler of this era because of a) his cocked wrist position which causes the skiddy bounce and swinging deliveries (much the same of Ryan Harris) and b) his cheetah like rhythm and fluidity in his bowling action and his durability. When watching him destroy Pakistan in SA and when watching him in Aus recently (in Perth) it was his swing which confounded the batsmen, but in the Ashes, it's purely been MJ's pace that has done the job. Ian's not comparing the two on who's better - we all know Steyn's better by a country mile - he's just stating the simple fact that currently one bowls faster than the other.

  • Leggie on December 15, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    It's heartening to see at least one person from SA, NZ, Aus or Eng to stand up and acknowledge the "young talent" of this Indian team. I hope Ian is not let down. Honestly, it's been sickening to see many from these countries stereo-typically rubbish this Indian team based on a certain prejudice.

    @jimbond: Yes, Steyn & co were indeed successful in the first test, but were not so effective in the next - where India went on to win the test. This is where the mighty W.Indies of 70s and early 80s were different. There was no question of adjusting to these fast men. They would simply crush opponents 4-0, 5-0 etc. Ask the English team and they would recollect the Black Wash, White Wash etc. etc in that period. Having said that though, the team that stopped the W.Indies juggernaut was the Indian team that toured West Indies in 1983. They lost the series 2-0, the first one a freak defeat with W.Indies chasing 170 odd in a 30+ overs in a match seemingly heading for a draw.

  • on December 15, 2013, 14:41 GMT

    @Shailendra, was that 75/76 series the one in which the "so-called great" Australians beat the Windies 5-1 by any chance?

  • stormy16 on December 15, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    I dont get the way the SA attack is dismissed or compared to at the first sign another fast bowler does well. Not too long ago the English were on about how there was an apparent fight for the best bowler between Steyn and Jimmy. Not Chappel seems to bring Johnson in to the same debate on the basis of two games from a guy who couldnt hold his place in the side a few months ago. In all this time and for the last 4 years Steyn has been the undisputed #1 bowler in the world only remotely challenged by his fellow opening bowler Philander. Steyn hardly bouces or gets ugly, he simply delivers high class outswingers with the odd inswinger. He is so good that he doesnt need to get ugly and bounce guys out. Please get over it, no matter how good one may be, Steyn is in a world all is own on par with the greats such Mcgrath and Ambrose. You cant just get a few wickets and sit next to Steyn.

  • jimbond on December 15, 2013, 14:06 GMT

    @shailendra khot: I thought Steyn was pretty devastating on Indian pitches the last time they visited India. Despite their initial failures, I guess the four Indian batsmen- Pujara, Sharma, Kohli and Dhawan can adapt in the context of a test. Indian bowlers have a tougher time adapting- lot will depend on the fitness of Zaheer Khan. The difference between the two teams is primarily in their bowling. In batting, SA is too dependent on Amla and ABD. Kallis is on a slow downward slide.

  • rizwan1981 on December 15, 2013, 13:06 GMT

    Mr.Chappell , loved the story about Richards - can we have more of those please ? For instance , who are the players who played Lillee and Thommo the best and who were the bowlers the aussies feared the most in the 70s ?one more thing , can you elaborate whether the WACA pitch is always a flyer or does the curator slow it for some visiting teams(India) to ensure that there will be play for 5 full days to satisfy the sponsors ?

  • on December 15, 2013, 13:03 GMT

    This is where difference lies in one of the greatest ever side of West Indies ever. They were good anywhere & everywhere. Steyn, Johnson , Morkel not so effective on sub continent wickets but famous quartet of WI were good even on our surfaces, least forgetting their dominance on slow pitches in England and thrashings on WACA . Even in75-76 series they thrashed so called great Aussies in 3 days. Greatest test side will always be Clive Lloyd's side be it pre world war or post world war cricket.

  • nareshgb1 on December 15, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    Thiis Ahes series is not JUST about Johnson and the other aussie bowlers - it is about England going into Brisbane with a 4 man attack that had 1. Jimmy Andersen absolutrely past the hill 2. Swann possibly also past it 3. A fourth bowler that nobody knows who it will be next time.

    Only Stuart Broad is anywhere near decent. With that kind of an attack you are playing half a team at best. Yeah they did get Stokes to be a fifth bowler - but thats not much.

    If Johnson did not have a "total to work with" (as Ian pointed out), it would have been a hugely different game. Everyone is talking about Johnson and he has done very well - but not to forget what impact the relative team strength has.

  • on December 15, 2013, 12:37 GMT

    India has a reason to suffer but why is England in problem...england is all about full length bowling unlike australia or south africa where pitch should be used more efficiently...saffas in those conditions would be the best.

  • Vilander on December 15, 2013, 11:32 GMT

    Ian.. NO. Steyn > Mitchl. There is nothing more to it sorry.

  • on December 15, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    England are struggling again as Australia have the upper hand. The Australians should declare before lunch tomorrow. I am pretty sure that England will not be able to survive almost two days and thus, the hosts will regain the Ashes.

    As for India's tour of South Africa, I feel the visitors will suffer defeats in both matches unless SA make a fool of themselves in one of the tests like they did against the Lankans in 2011/12. The Indian batsmen are very likely to struggle against the pace and bounce of the best attack in the world.

  • pull_shot on December 15, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    At present all Australians r not masters of pull. After seeing Clarke dismissal in 1st innings brisbane he don't play short ball at 135km/hr leave alone 145-150 km/hr, i didn't see Rogers playing it and watson,haddin r bounced out by broad

  • on December 15, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    The Aus Eng series is a disappointment due to the lack of fight put by England. India will get hammered 2-0 in the ensuing test series. The coming Aus SA series promises to be a cracker if Aus can keep their current bowling line up fit. SA batting can be put under pump by this superb Aussie bowling unit. Cannot wait for Feb to see these two great rivals battle it out.

  • on December 15, 2013, 8:18 GMT

    whilst I did enjoy the article, I disagree with the point made that India won't face someone of Johnson's pace...Steyn can -when he chooses to - crank it up to 150+ when he's not going for swing. Morkel in fact bowls consistently 145+. Johnson although gets it up to 153 you could say on average it's about 146...which is exactly what India can expect

  • bowledwarnie on December 15, 2013, 7:22 GMT

    Agree with much of the above article. Few points from batting and bowling perspective: England batsmen have little to complain about given they have had enough preparation time; India have not given themselves the same prep time and it has - and will - cost them. Regarding bowlers, Johnson until this series has never been a consistent threat. 2007 he bowled well at the WACA taking 6 odd for not much. But in between then? Bowling well now but England not playing him particularly. Steyn after slow start to his test career has been consistently brilliant for 6 years now in all formats

  • on December 15, 2013, 7:14 GMT

    If Zaheer and Shami Strike then it will be a different ball game alltogether.

    Pujara can play a waiting game and we all know what happens even if 1% pressure is put on SA:)

    Best of Luck Dhoni and co. Also best of luck to Smith and Co.

    Let us a have wonderful series

  • on December 15, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    great article Ian but I have only one Question. Steyn fastest ball in the IPL was 154km p/h. He can do that speeds on a consistent basis if he wants. But he works hard on his swing and that is why he is more in the 144-148km ph speed. So why people now suddenly mention Johnson as the fastest bowler is just a lack of knowledge of what Steyn has been doing on a consistent basis over the last couple of years. He is the best bowler for a reason. Just look at his statistics, no one gets close to his stats.

  • srikanths on December 15, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    Steyn is more dangerous as he bowls at 140+ ,may be slightly lesser than Johnson but gets the ball to swing at that pace making it extremely difficult for the batsmen. Morkel gets a steep bounce fron good length balls also and Philander hits the spot all thge time and gets the ball to move juts a wee bit to get the outside edge

    In my view SA attack is even more dangerous than Australian attack. The damage that Johnson casuses is more indirect than direct , he softens up the batsmen facilatating bowlers from the other end to get wickets. Another big plus with Johnson is he is consitently in the mid 140 s

  • murli786 on December 15, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    Ian,

    I admire your forthright comments and suggestions and also your unbiased views on the players. However, i disagree on one point you raised in your article.

    To quote your lines -''India will be comforted by the fact that there's no bowler of Johnson's pace''.... I reckon Dale Steyn has been consistently bowling at speeds in and around the 150's since the time he debuted. If you do read this, please do elaborate. Alternatively, you could write a piece on the fast bowlers of yore and present and maybe giving snippets like the one you mention on Viv. Its great fun reading and to me a lot better than just numbers alone.

  • madhugaire on December 15, 2013, 4:13 GMT

    preety nice article in deed. Yes, India might have the number one batsmen in the world, the thing that can not remain hidden is their unskilled way to tackle the short picth deliveries. Be it Yuvraj, Raina or somebody else. when they play the short ball as if they are trying to protect their head and not caring about the top edge that could carry to mid wicket or at times to keeper. seeing Kohli, who is known to middle the every ball, caught at slip is disappointing. Had this been in india, the same delivery would be dispatched through covers.After the , never imagined , loss of one day series, they mus have worked hard. But, I think, this is not the skill the yccan develop overnight or even in a week. They have been dealt with short delivereis whenever they go to England, Aus , Africa. They are just unwilling to wake from the sleep up . It tactics remain the same , I would not be surprised if india loses both of the matches with innings margin.

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  • madhugaire on December 15, 2013, 4:13 GMT

    preety nice article in deed. Yes, India might have the number one batsmen in the world, the thing that can not remain hidden is their unskilled way to tackle the short picth deliveries. Be it Yuvraj, Raina or somebody else. when they play the short ball as if they are trying to protect their head and not caring about the top edge that could carry to mid wicket or at times to keeper. seeing Kohli, who is known to middle the every ball, caught at slip is disappointing. Had this been in india, the same delivery would be dispatched through covers.After the , never imagined , loss of one day series, they mus have worked hard. But, I think, this is not the skill the yccan develop overnight or even in a week. They have been dealt with short delivereis whenever they go to England, Aus , Africa. They are just unwilling to wake from the sleep up . It tactics remain the same , I would not be surprised if india loses both of the matches with innings margin.

  • murli786 on December 15, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    Ian,

    I admire your forthright comments and suggestions and also your unbiased views on the players. However, i disagree on one point you raised in your article.

    To quote your lines -''India will be comforted by the fact that there's no bowler of Johnson's pace''.... I reckon Dale Steyn has been consistently bowling at speeds in and around the 150's since the time he debuted. If you do read this, please do elaborate. Alternatively, you could write a piece on the fast bowlers of yore and present and maybe giving snippets like the one you mention on Viv. Its great fun reading and to me a lot better than just numbers alone.

  • srikanths on December 15, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    Steyn is more dangerous as he bowls at 140+ ,may be slightly lesser than Johnson but gets the ball to swing at that pace making it extremely difficult for the batsmen. Morkel gets a steep bounce fron good length balls also and Philander hits the spot all thge time and gets the ball to move juts a wee bit to get the outside edge

    In my view SA attack is even more dangerous than Australian attack. The damage that Johnson casuses is more indirect than direct , he softens up the batsmen facilatating bowlers from the other end to get wickets. Another big plus with Johnson is he is consitently in the mid 140 s

  • on December 15, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    great article Ian but I have only one Question. Steyn fastest ball in the IPL was 154km p/h. He can do that speeds on a consistent basis if he wants. But he works hard on his swing and that is why he is more in the 144-148km ph speed. So why people now suddenly mention Johnson as the fastest bowler is just a lack of knowledge of what Steyn has been doing on a consistent basis over the last couple of years. He is the best bowler for a reason. Just look at his statistics, no one gets close to his stats.

  • on December 15, 2013, 7:14 GMT

    If Zaheer and Shami Strike then it will be a different ball game alltogether.

    Pujara can play a waiting game and we all know what happens even if 1% pressure is put on SA:)

    Best of Luck Dhoni and co. Also best of luck to Smith and Co.

    Let us a have wonderful series

  • bowledwarnie on December 15, 2013, 7:22 GMT

    Agree with much of the above article. Few points from batting and bowling perspective: England batsmen have little to complain about given they have had enough preparation time; India have not given themselves the same prep time and it has - and will - cost them. Regarding bowlers, Johnson until this series has never been a consistent threat. 2007 he bowled well at the WACA taking 6 odd for not much. But in between then? Bowling well now but England not playing him particularly. Steyn after slow start to his test career has been consistently brilliant for 6 years now in all formats

  • on December 15, 2013, 8:18 GMT

    whilst I did enjoy the article, I disagree with the point made that India won't face someone of Johnson's pace...Steyn can -when he chooses to - crank it up to 150+ when he's not going for swing. Morkel in fact bowls consistently 145+. Johnson although gets it up to 153 you could say on average it's about 146...which is exactly what India can expect

  • on December 15, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    The Aus Eng series is a disappointment due to the lack of fight put by England. India will get hammered 2-0 in the ensuing test series. The coming Aus SA series promises to be a cracker if Aus can keep their current bowling line up fit. SA batting can be put under pump by this superb Aussie bowling unit. Cannot wait for Feb to see these two great rivals battle it out.

  • pull_shot on December 15, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    At present all Australians r not masters of pull. After seeing Clarke dismissal in 1st innings brisbane he don't play short ball at 135km/hr leave alone 145-150 km/hr, i didn't see Rogers playing it and watson,haddin r bounced out by broad

  • on December 15, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    England are struggling again as Australia have the upper hand. The Australians should declare before lunch tomorrow. I am pretty sure that England will not be able to survive almost two days and thus, the hosts will regain the Ashes.

    As for India's tour of South Africa, I feel the visitors will suffer defeats in both matches unless SA make a fool of themselves in one of the tests like they did against the Lankans in 2011/12. The Indian batsmen are very likely to struggle against the pace and bounce of the best attack in the world.