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Jason spins into unique club

Bishan Singh Bedi spent time chatting with Krejza ahead of the third Test in Delhi and when he talked up the offspinner few took him seriously. He must be having a hearty laugh at the moment.

cricket Updated: Nov 08, 2008 00:15 IST
Anand Vasu

How does a bowler return figures of 31-2-199-0 in a warm-up match, sit out three Tests and then come into the fourth with the chartbusting innings analysis of 43.5-1-215-8? Jason Krejza is nicknamed Crazy, and the world might seem an insane place for him at the moment.

Krejza was disadvantaged in having to bowl first, was against a line-up in form and got an instant pounding when he started against Virender Sehwag. Yet the offie showed that prime characteristic for a spinner - the ability to take a beating bravely - and bounced back strongly.

Bishan Singh Bedi spent time chatting with Krejza ahead of the third Test in Delhi and when he talked up the offspinner few took him seriously. He must be having a hearty laugh at the moment.

Taking no credit away from Krejza, though, it would be premature to declare him a world beater, or even a long-term replacement for Shane Warne. The man who leads the honour roll for bowling debutants, Albert Trott, played only 5 Tests and was frequently ignored by Australia's selectors. Bob Massie, second on the list, only managed 6 Tests in his career. Narendra Hirwani, currently a national selector, fared better, playing 17 Tests albeit over 8 years, and did not come close to replicating his initial glory. Lance Klusener played 49 Tests for 80 wickets, his bowling used less and less as time wore on. Only West Indian Alf Valentine fulfilled the early promise, becoming one half of a highly successful partnership with Sonny Ramadhin.

Not long ago India gave wickets by the bucketful to another spinner, one infinitely more dangerous, Ajantha Mendis. Even there, it seemed as though India's batting pillars were fighting so hard to protect their well-earned reputations that they could not approach batting normally. Counter-intuitively, lesser players of spin, the ODI youth brigade, stepped off the plane and played out Mendis. They were far from pretty, but poking, prodding, pushing and slashing brought runs that had dried up in the Tests.

Did India's brightest suffer similarly against Krejza? In the practice match men who had nothing to lose and everything to prove took Krejza apart. When it came to the match that mattered, when Krejza finally got a bowl, he made it count, but you can't help thinking the Indians played into his hands.