Category Archives: Ajanta Mendis

Sri Lanka Tries To Out-India India

Around the 18th over in the 2nd Test between India and Sri Lanka, both Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag disposed of their helmets for some baggy caps, knowing that whatever fearsome trio of Herath-Mendis-Muralitharan would do, they couldn’t hurt their fragile skulls.

But what a thing to behold! Three spinners in an attack, and not an Indian one! Let’s see if they pay enough tribute to the Bedi-Prasana-Chandrashekhar troika. Maybe one of them could don a nice 1970s mustache?

UPDATE: After only six overs of using two spinners at both ends, Sangakarra abandoned Mendis-Muralitharan and brought back a pace bowler. So much for that.

John Gleeson and Ajantha Mendis

During the Sri Lanka-Australia Twenty20 match yesterday, Ian Chappell could not stop comparing mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis to some Australian bowler called John Gleeson. I’d never heard of the guy, though my historical knowledge of cricket before 1996 is extraordinarily inadequate.

Nevertheless, I chalked it up to Chappell’s own annoying know-all attitude than my stupidity, even though the Gleeson comparison showed up in a Cricinfo bulletin as well as around the web. Now, a look at the averages shouldn’t inspire such a coupling; in his 29 Test matches, Gleeson managed an average of only 36.20, while Mendis has a cool 23 from 6 Tests and 13 from 28. (OK, admittedly not a big sample, but still!)

Then again, their bowling styles do seem to provoke some amount of debate. Cricinfo categorizes Gleeson as a “legbreak googly” bowler (whatever the hell that means), which seems just unorthodox enough for Mendis. Here’s one account:

Bowlers like Mendis add a touch of mystique to the game. But then he is not unique in the sense that the game has seen mystery bowlers in the past. In fact watching Mendis bowl my mind goes back almost 40 years to when John Gleeson bowled in India as a member of Bill Lawry’s side in 1969. Much in the manner of Mendis Gleeson propelled the ball off a bent middle finger. He perfected his unusual style by bowling at a Eucalyptus tree and produced a lot of variety by making more use of the leg break though perhaps his staple ball was the off break. Although he was generally tidy there were enough loose balls for experienced players, and even those who could not read him, to feed on.

Here’s the big question with Mendis: once the mystery of his action is solved, will he be just as menacing as he was today against the Australians? I’m not so sure. India seem to have tamed the beast recently, even though they were shockingly inepet during their first encounters with the spinner.

Attacks on Cricketers, Attacks on Civilians

Alex Massie at the Spectator has written a post roughly similar to my last one, but it’s much better. Take a look at it when you can.

Massie amplifies a crucial point that I was trying to make. When I wrote, “What do you do with people who kill cricketers,” I didn’t mean to sound obtuse or silly. Obviously, civilians have been killed before, and by doing so, terrorists proved just how heartless they can be. Cricketers aren’t more exalted than the average civilian; an innocent’s death is an innocent’s death. Continue reading

Does Anyone See The Resemblance Here?

X-Men, Nightcrawler:

Ajantha Mendis, spinner extraordinaire:

The Carrom Ball Hurts

Ajantha Mendis has just claimed a five-wicket haul, and his carrom ball is in the spotlight once more (this time against a hapless Harbhajan Singh). Interestingly, a Sri Lankan commentator — I forget his name — said he talked to Mendis about his early days, when he first figured out the “flicker ball,” and how his fingers took the stress. Apparently, Mendis replied that initially, it caused a huge amount of pain, so much so that his finger would regularly swell up. Now, however, he says he’s just used to it.

This sounds right. Continue reading

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Ajanta Mendis Explained, Part 2

How does he do it? A couple of things:

1. He doesn’t have a stock delivery. Some take that as a weakness; others think its an inherent part of his guile and difficulty. So, he bowls googlies when off-spinners usually don’t (wristy leg-spinners prefer that); he also bowls quicker, which gives batsmen less time to adjust to his various spins. This is a crucial factor of his success: unlike Murali, who often relies on loop and flight, Mendis goes straight in.

2. But there’s also the fact that he bowls differently. There’s the infamous “carrom ball,” which is explained fully here. I’ve included some videos below; watch as the middle finger just flicks the ball, which then does as Mendis pleases, spinning into and away when he wants. Continue reading

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