Category Archives: murali

Murali and Swann, Together At Last

This has been making the web rounds lately. Great video: Murali and Swann try to knock a coin off a glass perched on an off-stump. Enjoy.


Ross Emerson Is Such A Mean Old Man

Kudos to those who catch the Beatles reference in the headline.

There are a couple of things wrong with what Ross Emerson did, when he blathered to media outlets this week that Murali “didn’t deserve” the all-time wicket taker record. First, apart from the technicalities of Murali’s action, insulting the guy after he announces his retirement from Test cricket hardly seems fair, or all that polite. It’s not as if there was a huge stain on Emerson’s career that needed to be washed (and if there were, spouting off about Murali now wouldn’t change a thing).

Secondly, and more importantly, Emerson — like a lot of Australians — does not understand what the rules are or why they were changed. Here’s what he says:

“I haven’t changed my view in 15 years – he doesn’t deserve the record,” Emerson told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. “You couldn’t compare his record to Shane Warne’s – no one ever doubted the legality of Warne’s action. Murali was a great competitor and a great bowler but a lot of the time he just didn’t bowl within the limits of the law.”

Right, except people did doubt the legality of Warne’s action. Experts — scientists, for God’s sake! — found that nearly all bowlers (except, I think, for R. Sarwan) broke the same rule that Murali was accused of breaking. That’s just hard, empirical fact, seconded by an authority no less prestigious than Michael Holding.

Then there’s this second doozy:

“Once they changed the rules and made it legal for bowlers to bend their arm to 15 per cent they gave an advantage to a couple of bowlers who could get something extra from that rule. I would rather see the rule as it was where you couldn’t bend your arm at all. That would mean everyone was the same.”

OK; this is just absolute, utter nonsense: first, if you allow every bowler to bend arms to 15 degrees (as opposed to “per cent”), you are applying the same rule to everyone. That may sound tautological, but Emerson doesn’t seem to understand that — it’s not as if some bowlers get to bend to 15, and others don’t.

Secondly, the reason the rule was enforced was that nothing under 15 degrees could be detected by the naked eye. It’s all well and good to say 0 degrees, but if a trees falls in a forest and no one’s around to see it — well, it’s pointless to argue about it.

And thirdly, and most importantly, and once again, Ross: everyone bends arms when bowling. Yes, we’d all like a rule that says “no one can bend arms.” But that would reduce every fucking bowler — except, of course, R. Sarwan — to cheating.

So, great, enjoy your 15 minutes in the fame. But keep in mind that no one cares about you, or your career, except for your connection to Muralitharan. Ah, irony.

P.S. Read a report on Murali’s action here.


Was India’s Test Success Just A Mirage?

There’s an argument developing online, contra my and Eye On Cricket’s take, that the Steyn battering proved that India’s recent success is just a mirage, built on results against middling teams like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and England. Here’s Prem Panicker, for instance:

It may not seem like it at the time, but this series is already proving to be a blessing – we can finally put our sense of notional superiority aside and find out exactly where we stand in terms of being a high quality Test side, and start work on building the sort of team that doesn’t require a buffet of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to climb ranking ladders.

This isn’t exactly fair. First, Sri Lanka isn’t that bad a team; we lost to them in Sri Lanka not too long ago. And neither is England — they just beat the Australians at home, and they nearly did the same to South Africa in South Africa. Second, India have also done well against South Africa and Australia (the only two other ‘quality’ teams, apparently). We drew with South Africa when they last visited, and we comprehensively beat Australia when their turn arose. Third, India has also done well outside of India, including in New Zealand, once a very serious no-go zone for Indian batsmen. (In fact, take a look at the Napier scorecard for hope in this Test — the Kiwis scored 600+ runs in the first innings; India followed-on, only to bat through to a draw.)

During this time, India faced Mitchell Johnson, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini, Stuart Broad and Dale Steyn, all currently among the top 10 best Test bowlers. It’s ludicrous to think the Indians had not played ‘real’ pace before Steyn’s burst yesterday. (Besides, keep in mind that Steyn is ranked no. 1 — it’s one thing to play good bowlers, it’s another thing to play against the best in his prime form.)

The point here isn’t that India’s the best. No, they’re not, and Panicker rightly points out the flaws — a pace attack short of one good fast bowler, and a weakness against raw pace and swing. But, as E.O.C. noted, every Test cricket team has some weakness or the other, and they’ve all been exposed: South Africa couldn’t beat back England at home (at home!); Australia lost to South Africa in Australia, and South Africa lost to Australia in South Africa. Things are in flux, and no one dominating team has emerged.

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.

Geoff Boycott Can Be Annoying Sometimes (No, Really)

Geoff Boycott’s commenting for the South Africa-England series. He’s full of great gems, and he didn’t disappoint during the 2nd ODI’s broadcast. He noted at some point in the match that while England weren’t favorites to win the series, it wasn’t advisable to count them because “when South Africa are the favorites, they never win.” Snap!

But Boycott also comes off like an inappropriate uncle these days. I think he thinks his advanced age allows him to speak his mind, consequences be damned (the man, after all, has faced cancer). During discussion about Johan Botha’s action — the bowler’s doosra was recently disqualified — Boycott kept going on (and on) about a perceived double standard that allows Murali to bowl, but not Botha.

Why is this annoying? Well, first, it’s not just that these are two separate subjects (does Murali have to be brought up when any bowler is put through the ringer?). It’s also that Boycott’s tone was just so imperious and naughty; he knew what he was saying was inappropriate (because, again, Murali’s action has been cleared before) but he just said it to the point it became clear he just wanted to put down Murali than say anything constructive about Johan Fucking Botha.

Daniel Vettori Should Switch To A Different Team

Was just watching the Sri Lanka-New Zealand series (because someone should). My heart feels for Daniel Vettori, who may not be as brilliant as Shane Warne or Muralitharan, but deserves at least a better team to captain than the lot he currently has.

Take a look at the series stats: Vettori took the second highest number of wickets (after Murali and before latest spin sensation Herath), and he scored the fourth most runs (the only Kiwi in the top 5).

In fact, watching him score 140 runs in the 2nd innings put me in mind of his counterpart, Kumar Sangakarra, who valiantly tried to stave off defeat against the Australia in 2007 with a brilliant 192, most of them made with tail-enders. You had the sense that this man was bigger than all of his colleagues put together.

(Interestingly, the Australians won that game with the same margin as the Sri Lankans did in this one.)

At that point, Sri Lanka was at the start of its transition, with a weak batting line-up and a retiring bowling one. Now, they’re the second in the world. The hope is that Vettori, the suffering martyr of New Zealand cricket, will be able to cobble together Taylor, Oram and Guptill into a competitive team at some point, but I’m not holding my breath.

Johan Botha’s Action Has Nothing To Do With Spin

I generally like Kridaya, the self-proclaimed “best cricket lounge on the Internet,” but its recent post on the Johan Botha fracas made a number of absurd, unsubstantiated claims. Let’s deal with them one by one:

But it does seem that every offspinner invites attention especially with the advent of the doosra. Unlike leg spin, the offspin ball is not a natural outcome of the normal overarm bowling by a right-arm bowler. And then to use the offspin action to bowl a leg break is even more convoluted and tricky. No wonder that people look askance at the action.

Actually, it’s more a wonder what this sentence means. Continue reading

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

M.I.A. and Cricket

The New York Times had an article about rapper M.I.A., a Brit with Sri Lankan — and, more pertinently, Tamil — origins. Her generally supportive statements of the Tamil Tigers have ruffled more than a few feathers on the island, especially given her outsized profile in the West (say what you want about Muralitharan, but no American knows him). Continue reading

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Johan Botha, Recovering Chucker

In a previous post, I asked who this man was, and why he was the South African captain, given his short career. A little digging, and a much more controversial picture cameto the fore: Botha was under the spotlight twice for his illegal delivery action, after he had moved from seam to spin. He was eventually cleared, but I wonder why the Australian public was so forgiving during the ODI series. I didn’t hear any cheerful cries of “No ball!” when he ran to the crease, even though those are regular occurrences when a certain Muttiah Muralitharan shows up at an Australian pitch.

Let’s get one thing clear though: Continue reading