Would like you to do a feature on how legspinners have made a place for themselves in T20, defying predictions at the start that it is a format where they will be hammered out of the reckoning. Even Imran Tahir, who bowls two bad balls every over in Tests, is a T20 force.
This is an email I got from my boss. A few days later, cricket writer Peter Miller said a similar thing on Twitter. As part of that conversation there was a link to a Harsha Bhogle piece about the same thing:
When T20 first arrived, it was thought there would be no space there for spinners. But just as the beauty of words has withstood the Twitter era, the charm of spin bowling has stayed alive, even flowered, in T20 cricket. And that is so nice to see.
I have probably said the same thing, as I watched a T20 match where a spinner had changed the game. Almost every commentator has; most writers have, and a huge number of fans.
But is it true? Are people pushing back against a well thought out belief, or just something they vaguely remember. I found one article talking about how Harbhajan Singh had said it, but no actual articles that contained Harbhajan Singh saying it. Terry Jenner had said it would ruin or change spinners, turning them from turners to slow medium-pacers, in 2008. He said that after Shane Warne's Rajasthan Royals won the first IPL.
I wish cricket had moved on from the archaic 19th-century talk of averages. I wish that I could tell with a new metric how important a player was in a match. I wish that there would even be more of what cricket calls analysis
There is little else out there other than vague worries for young spinners and concerns that T20 will ruin techniques for Test cricket.
So if this thought was so prevalent at the time, why isn't it heavily documented? Deep analysis pieces, press conferences with coaches, or just casual stuff spewed out of former players' mouths at media days. The stuff that fuels most of cricket reporting. Or even better, from more current-day spinners. Players who were sick and tired of craning their neck back to see which grandstand they were just hit over.
There is even a history to these kinds of articles. Fast bowling between the wars was going to ruin spin. Covered pitches were going to ruin spin. West Indies were going to ruin spin. ODI cricket was going to ruin spin.
Spinners often do well because spin bowling is an ever-evolving, naturally different form of bowling that has always survived. Modern spinners bowl as fast as spinners have ever bowled, they spin the ball as much as it has ever been spun, they use the crease more, they bowl more deliveries than ever before. Why wouldn't they be successful?
Not to mention what they do for the game. Slow the pace of the ball and quicken the speed of the game at the same time. It brings in stumpings. They change the direction of the match. Spinners still seem to surprise certain players when they come on. And there are still hundreds of players in the world who can't dominate them. Until batsmen learn how to play them, how could they ever die? And if they started to disappear from cricket, batsmen would get less used to them, and they'd suddenly come back again.
There is also no proof that spinners, from the beginning of T20 to now, don't do well. The first season of T20, in 2003, Collins Obuya, the Kenyan legspinner, was seventh on the wickets table. One wicket back was Gareth Batty. One wicket further back was Robert Croft. Brad Hogg was third on the list the year after. The next two years Nayan Doshi was the leading wicket-taker with his left-arm spin. Spinners have also played key roles in World T20 wins - the 2012 final was almost a shootout between Sunil Narine and Ajantha Mendis. Shahid Afridi tops the list of all-time T20I wicket-takers. There are three more spinners in the top ten. Too many fingerspinners to count in the top 50.
So from the start spinners have done well, spinners are still doing well. There will be times they will do less well, there will be times when they will do less well in Tests and T20 will be blamed, but in general, if you pick a good spinner for a T20 match, expect him to do well.
The real problem isn't the spinners, or what people may have thought about them or what people think about them now. It is that T20 is still hardly written about. And when it is, don't expect something analytical or penetrating or more than a short, forgettable match report. Don't go looking for people deep-diving into trends. Or using cricket data to show where the game is going. There is little at all written about the evolution of the sport, outside of the big bats and front-leg-out-the-way style of modern batsmen.
Has there even been a bigger sport that has less written about the actual game than T20? Not match reports telling us the result, not press releases telling us who has been signed where, but in game analysis.
There are still T20 commentators, writers and fans who talk about the yorker being this magical cure-all ball. Almost oblivious to modern cricket's evolution. Scooping the ball over your head, moving back and forth in the crease, lower middles on bats, bigger middles on bats, lighter bats that swing faster, and bigger batsmen who swing them.
So much of what passes as cricket reporting is: an ex-player said this. And because of that, proper discussions about the evolution of cricket are rare. And in T20, that is even more the case, as people often with little interest and no playing experience, talk us through the sport. Often we're listening to dinosaurs try and explain smartphones.
I wish we knew more about T20 cricket. I wish articles like Mike Selvey's recent one and Kartikeya Date's one were the norm, not the exception. I wish Opta and CricViz were in a crowded marketplace of sports-data companies flooding us with new ways of looking at the sport. I wish cricket had moved on from the archaic 19th-century talk of averages. I wish I could tell with a new metric how important a player was in a match. I wish that there would even be more of what cricket calls analysis, even when they really mean opinion. Because mostly there is just nothing.
From the start spinners have done well, spinners are still doing well. There will be times they will do less well, there will be times when they will do less well in Tests and T20 will be blamed
The media, and fans, do not take it seriously enough. T20 has already started shaping how teams think about and play cricket, but for most who don't play, it is, as Jenner called it in 2008, "popcorn cricket". Lalit Modi called it cricketainment.
But it isn't cricketainment, it is cricket. Despite what many of the tea-and-crumpet set believe, cricket isn't one thing. It started as a street game. Test cricket is but one version. And the reason T20 is great is because it is cricket. It's not because of the motocross jumping, the cheerleaders, the celebrity hangers-on, the after-match concerts or even mascot races. People come to see the cricket.
And that bit is what people don't talk about enough. The administrators are partly to blame. A T20 game, especially the franchise variety, seems to live in the moment so much that you aren't allowed to remember the ball before.
But we as fans are also to blame. Because we watch it, often even when we say we don't, and then we dismiss it. T20 is changing cricket - Test cricket, ODI cricket, beach cricket, gully cricket, indoor cricket, all of it.
And we are lazy, stubborn, and increasingly out of touch, with the sport we love. It's time more of us took notice of the cricket, and not just mocked the tainment.
Jarrod Kimber is a writer for ESPNcricinfo. @ajarrodkimber