Thanks to George Dobell’s latest blog on the bible that is Cricinfo , I recently discovered that there is not one bowler in the English county game who is capable of bowling a ‘doosra’. Maurice Holmes, who is the last player to do so, is now studying a law degree having left the game at the end of the 2011 season after the ECB warned him not to use the delivery – the weapon which made him stand out. Apparently, the standards used by the ECB to uphold the ‘15%’ law is more stringent than the internationally applied standard used by the rest of the ICC membership.
Dobell goes on to describe how this orthodoxy in domestic spin might point towards the reasons England have recently had so many issues with ‘mystery’ spin. I would go further: England are terrible against top quality spin, and always have been. It didn’t matter how many different type of deliveries Shane Warne claimed to have in his repertoire, from the zooter to the slider to the googly, the type of ball which inevitably got Englishmen in a quiver was the legspinner. The legspinner which didn’t turn was also a weapon. That’s right, just a straight ball = panicked England batsman playing all around it, either bowled, LBW or an inside edge onto pad.
Such tactics are also successfully used by Graeme Swann. So successful against left-handers – to the point where he became the second best bowler in the world at one point, his main weapons are the big off-spinner, and the flatter ball which hasn’t turned. His doosra, googly and slider are conspicuous by their absence. Another example; the best Indian bowler ever – Anil Kumble. This guy didn’t turn the ball either way yet picked up 92 English Test scalps by subtlely varying his pace and watching the English batsman implode. He also had a fine broom-head moustache at the start of his career, and didn’t have DRS to aid him on contentious LBW decisions.
From Anil Kumble, to India’s current pair: Ashwin and Ojha have not half the pedigree of the aforementioned (bar Swann), but if they are good spin bowlers there is no doubt they will mercilessly scythe through the helpless/hopeless English batting order. There is very little we can do about this, but here is the timetable that I recommend:
Bemoan the lack of Graham Thorpe.
Half-heartedly point fingers at the ECB, blaming them for applying stricter standards on English doosra bowlers than the rest of the world does.
Forget about it until the next time we play on the sub-continent.
Enjoy the Ashes.