The Fabulous Four of India's Test middle-order, barring VVS Laxman to an extent, had little clue of what Ajantha Mendis was tossing up at them. But the mystery spinner's real test lies in how he stands the test of time, according to John Buchanan, coach of the Kolkata IPL team with which Mendis is contracted for two more years.
Buchanan, here on a two-day visit to conduct selection trials for his team at the Goregaon Sports Club, said, "Mendis reminds me of John Gleeson (the Aussie leg-break bowler of the 1960s and 1970s). But this man is much better. He is stronger, taller and releases the ball much quicker."
Asked why the Indian batsmen flopped against Mendis despite tackling Shane Warne successfully, Buchanan said, "I don't know. The type of ball that Shane bowled and the way he set up the game, people have read them over the years. The significant advantage Mendis has is that he has not been seen very much. His real test will be the test of time."
Mendis went almost unnoticed in the IPL, playing one match against Mohali, returning figures of one for 24 in four overs.
On England's Marcus Trescothick's startling revelation of tampering with the ball during the 2005 Ashes series, of which Buchanan was a part of, he said, "I leave it for others to chew over." (The England opener wrote in his autobiography that he illegally used breath mints to help his bowlers gain extra swing)
Buchanan is here to look at 100 players, mainly under-19 and under-22, and select - if he finds anyone - a few for the Kolkata team, which will soon go to Australia to play practice matches.