Spin bowlers need nurturing
MS Dhoni has hoped for a bigger pool of pacers to choose from. Most skippers, selectors and critics have craved for the same for a long time in order to improve India's performances overseas.Updated: Aug 02, 2010, 01:21 IST
MS Dhoni has hoped for a bigger pool of pacers to choose from. Most skippers, selectors and critics have craved for the same for a long time in order to improve India's performances overseas. They believed that one of the main reasons for India's dismal showing abroad was the paucity of good quick bowlers, for our spinners weren't half as effective on seamer friendly surfaces. Ergo, anyone who could bowl quick was fast-tracked to first-class level and eventually to international cricket. Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Sudeep Tyagi to name a few. Jaydev Unadkat and Jaskaran Singh are the new names in that ever growing list.
In course of time, we got so obsessed with the fast bowlers that we completely ignored the spinners. We asked our curators to prepare sporting tracks (green-tops) at first-class level to encourage the quicks. On such surfaces, the role of spinners changed radically from being aggressive to defensive.
In spite of such obvious attempts, some might argue that we still don't have the expected pool of fast bowlers. It isn't because of a dearth of fast bowlers but a bungled logic that believes in fast-tracking and not nurturing.
As unobvious as it may appear, what's hurting India right now is the paucity of good spinners. A closer look at our resources might tell you the true picture. Three spinners picked for this Test series, literally picked themselves in the squad, for they are the best we have at this moment.
In the first two Tests, Harbhajan and Ojha looked quite listless, which in turn made the Indian attack, look rather pedestrian. A good spinner is not one who runs through a side on a crumbling surface but the one who makes his presence felt even on the flattest of tracks. For them, length becomes non-negotiable while they vary the line, angle and speed. If you can't breach his technique, challenge his ego. What we saw in the first two Tests was everything but this.
The situation at the top may not be as alarming, but the scenario a step below is quite disappointing. In first-class cricket 8 out of top 10 wicket-takers are fast bowlers. Most spinners at the first class level prefer to bowl quicker and flatter instead of adding revolutions to get the dip, drift and spin.
It has a lot to do with the advent of T20 cricket. The longer version has given way to the shortest format even at school- and age-group levels, which means kids are encouraged to bowl quicker in the air and shorter spells.
My suggestion, though radical, would be to keep T20 cricket out of bounds for young spinners. Once spotted, the talent to flight, drift and more importantly spin, bowlers must be nurtured till they mature. Once they mature, they will develop the know-how to succeed in all conditions and formats without forfeiting their basic craft.