Did anyone else catch the IPL4 moment when a bowler — I think it was Manpreet Gony — used Lasith Malinga’s ‘slinga’ action instead of his own? As I remember it, the experiment didn’t work so well, with the balls landing wide off the off-stump. But I recall a certain amount of shock: a bowler’s action is his signature, almost his DNA. It’s exceedingly rare to see one bowler’s action look like another (Munaf Patel currently tops my list for Glenn McGrath impersonations).
So, for example, you will notice, as I wrote earlier, that every bowler has a personal habit — Malinga kisses the ball; Sreesanth has to put his hands out and calm himself; M. Morkel has to do a semi-circle before he begins his run-up; H. Singh has to cast his arms back (which Vettori kindly mocked at one point during the Ind-N.Z. series). Bowlers are creatures of habit — they have to do the same thing over and over again, and it helps if they can focus on the tiny things they need to change (a hint of swing, a change in line), rather than what needs to stay constant (their action). It’s always shocking, then, to see bowlers do strange things and abandon routine, as Gony did.
Anyway: I recall imitating a bowler’s action to be one of the chief delights of alley cricket. I remember pompously telling a friend — I was in 5th grade, mind you — that my decision to bowl like Allan Donald had clearly delivered measurable improvements. Imitating Kumble and Srinath was also a particular favorite — Srinath’s action was incredibly complicated but also beautiful in its flow. Which action did you guys pick?