During Day 1 against Australia, Mohammad Asif proved to the world, yet again, why even if you stack drug charges, discipline issues and woeful fielding on one side against him, he still weighs more. In one over, he took Simon Katich and Marcus North — the first fell to a ball that seamed away, the second to one that came in.
But how did he do it? The replays showed both balls delivered with the same wrist and seam positions (and it wasn’t clear on which side the shiny surface lay). Michael Holding, looking at the evidence, recounted how a batsman once told him that bowlers usually have no clue how they get wickets (implying that luck and chance happeneth to us all). Holding’s theory made sense coming from a bowler; he responded that as long as you put the ball in the right length and the right line, the little magical elves that lie on a pitch or hang in the air will do their path to deliver cosmic justice.
I like that idea a lot, since it goes to the heart of this blog’s thesis (cricket is about fate and chance; a long parable about the limits of human agency and modernity). But it’s also a huge bummer, right? At one point, Holding even insisted that the great Shane Warne would confess he didn’t know why certain balls he bowled did what they did. Right, fair enough, but I like to think Asif does know why he can bowl balls that always come back off the pitch, and bowl others that do nothing at all.
Either way, I’ll say this: Asif — better than marijuana.