When it comes to technology, Graeme’s graceful as a swan

“Such a lucky fellow,” observed Erapalli Prasanna, as Chris Rogers was given out leg before off Swann on Thursday. The Test was on at Old Trafford but Prassanna, India’s craftiest off-spinner, was hurting seated in his Bengaluru home. Sai Mohan reports.
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Updated on Aug 03, 2013 10:03 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | BySai Mohan, New Delhi

“Such a lucky fellow,” observed Erapalli Prasanna, as Chris Rogers was given out leg before off Graeme Swann on Thursday. The Test was on at Old Trafford but Prassanna, arguably India’s craftiest off-spinner, was hurting seated in the confines of his Bengaluru home.

The DRS turned five recently. And there’s little doubt Swann has been its prodigal son. A survey reveals that nearly 40 per cent of Swann’s lbw dismissals (68 in all) have come through referrals. That amounts to approximately 30 wickets. And Prasanna hasn’t refrained from terming Swann “lucky”.

Remember those days when batsmen, even erstwhile aggressive ones, prodded bat and pad to a spinner for the better half of a day’s play? That was frustrating. When DRS was introduced, those batsmen were marked men. Jamaican Jimmy Adams would have been a goner. Ditto with India’s Sadagoppan Ramesh.

“DRS was meant to make batsmen positive. But while technology tries to define the line of impact, and whether the ball will travel to the stumps, bowlers like Swann are benefitting big time,” Prasanna told HT.

Rolling on the floor

Since Prasanna’s retirement in 1978, Law 36 of the MCC’s laws of cricket have undergone changes. There is emphasis laid on the height of the ball’s bounce (varies from surface), and where the ball hit the pad. Those days, a batsman was a sitting duck if the ball pitched under the knee roll, and that’s not the case anymore. Also, most lbw decisions were given when batsmen didn’t attempt a stroke. “The only time I ever got a front-foot lbw was if the ball literally rolled on the floor until the ankle. Obviously, Swann is a lucky man.

Rogers had a good front foot stride. Sure, if Australia would have referred it, technology would have shown that the ball would have hit the stumps. And that’s where the problem lies. I would have taken many more wickets if I had DRS by my side,” felt the 73-year-old.

Slow death

Prasanna felt that DRS would eventually kill the art of spin bowling. “What is happening is that DRS is inducing a bowler to try and hit the pad, rather than get the edges or draw a batsman forward. As he keeps doing that, he always has a 50-50 chance for lbw. But they are killing the art of spin bowling.

“If you observe Swann’s bowling, he never tries to get a batsman out. Nobody steps out to try and hit him. He’s always trying to hit the pads, he’s sacrificing the art of taking wickets as an off-spinner. And that hurts me as a former off-spinner,” said Prasanna, who took 189 wickets from 49 Tests.

“We were more skillful spinners back then because we never got wickets off the front foot. We had push batsmen to the backfoot, deceive them the air and so on. Today’s spinners just keep bowling wicket-to-wicket. I hope to see more flavor in the future,” he concluded.

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