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Today is a great day for it sees a new beginning for this blog. This is the first post after changing hosts. It is probably a fitting – albeit a very humble – tribute to Natarajan Balasubramaniam (Rajan Bala) arguably the greatest cricket writer India has seen. Erudition, a virtue very hard to find these days, was epitomised in this great man. It is a dark day for cricket, cricket literature and sport literature in general. Us cricket aficionados will certainly miss the eloquent and substantial words of the man with his pipe.-BS


Who would have ever imagined a leg spinner who bowled without flight and drift? Who would have ever imagined a leg spinner playing 18 years of test cricket without turning the ball a long way? Nobody, until a certain Anil Kumble came onto the scene. His unorthodox approach to spin bowling seemed ridiculous until the results were seen.

Laborious and relentless are two words that can very easily be associated with the workhorse Anil Kumble. There were only a few who really gave him a chance in his early years, when he was called for chucking in a local match and switched to leg spin from medium pace. The large number who had no faith in Kumble have been proved grossly wrong by the small matter of 619 test wickets.

What will be remembered about Kumble outside all his achievements is the integrity and decency he has maintained throughout his career both on and off the field. Even the most thorough investigation of Kumble will not reveal any incidents of misbehaviour, any controversy or even suspicion of anything such.

His bowling may not have been attractive or aesthetically pleasing in the manner of most leggies but it certainly compensated for that with its effectiveness. Jumbo has done so much over the past few years that his absence in the future will be a void not just for his team mates, but for the millions of cricket enthusiasts around the world. Thanks for the memories mate.-BS

It’s tea on the fourth day of the First Test between India and South Africa at Chepauk as I begin this piece. India has just been dismissed for 627 and Sehwag’s triple ton overshadowed what was a strange Rahul Dravid innings.

He came in to bat at his customary number three position with the score at a more than comfortable 213. Sehwag had been going strong and Jaffer’s supporting knock had just concluded. Thus began an innings which in some aspects is a below par, sub standard and almost abysmal innings. But, in some other aspects, Dravid’s innings was a commendable one.

From the start, it was clear that playing a supportive role to the on fire Sehwag would be the right thing to do. In order to do that, all Dravid needed to do was to ensure that Sehwag got the majority – but not too much – of the strike. He had to ensure that Sehwag had complete control over his innings and could play his natural game. He had to ensure that the team’s run rate was kept in a decent, acceptable position. Unfortunately, Dravid got severely bogged down. He got into such a thick, seemingly impenetrable shell. Occasionally, he would turn the strike to Sehwag, and it was only fortune that ensured that Dravid did not often take that last ball single to retain strike. It was as if Dravid was scared to score. In the majority of his innings, Dravid seemed highly insecure at the crease. He always looked like he didn’t want to play a single attacking shot, over a large part of his innings, he did not even attempt to play attacking strokes. It seemed like Dravid had gotten himself into a situation where the risk taken by playing even the cover drive was as much as one of those upper cuts over the slips. It’s bad enough if one is not able to execute the intended stroke. But to see what I believe is an extremely low level of confidence from one of the modern greats go so low so as to not let him even attempt a few strokes is first scary, then disappointing.

There are many ways to look at this innings. Maybe Dravid just wanted to spend some time at the crease. Maybe he wanted to get the old feel and touch back. One issue that has to be mentioned is that if Sehwag had not been going like that at the other end, it would have put the Indian team in a horrible situation. Then again, maybe everything is always evened out.

It was clearly evident that Dravid was in horrible form. He had crawled along in an innings down under recently. But the one thing that everyone has to acknowledge and appreciate in Dravid’s innings, and his career is his perseverance. Many of us have always associated Dravid with grit, determination, perseverance and related terms. This innings showed how much determination this man actually possesses. To be in such a patch of horrible form that you can’t even play an attacking stroke and bat for a long time, scoring at a petty strike rate and going on to score a hundred takes some amount of focus and concentration.

Then again, it is also possible that Dravid recognised the perfect batting conditions and decided to make full use of the conditions to at least get some runs under his belt. Ultimately, runs did not seem to give Dravid all the touch he needed as was evident from his dismissal. There are many more assumptions one can make, but that was one weird innings.-BS

The Squad: V.V.S.Laxman, Herchelle Gibbs, Doddapaneni Kalyankrishna, Dwaraka Ravi Teja, Rohit Sharma, R.P.Singh, Andrew Symonds, Venugopal Rao, Arjun Yadav, Halhadar Das, Adam Gilchrist, Pragyan Ojha, Shahid Afridi, Chamara Silva, Scott Styris, Chaminda Vaas, Nuwan Zoysa, Paidikalva Vijaykumar

Expected Playing XI: Adam Gilchrist, Shahid Afridi, V.V.S.Laxman, Dwaraka Ravi Teja, Andrew Symonds, Rohit Sharma, Venugopal Rao, Chaminda Vaas, Pragyan Ojha, R.P.Singh, Doddapaneni Kalyankrishna

Just read the team list and you know what the others are up against. Two of the most explosive openers one can find, followed by class, catchment inexperience, beef, rising star and catchment experience. Imagine any three of those batsmen firing. It certainly has to be among the best batting line ups in the IPL. Although its bowling is not as formidable, it has the priceless experience, determination and accuracy of Chaminda Vaas. R.P.Singh showed us what he’s worth in the Twenty20 World Cup and subsequently in Australia. Ojha has been performing consistently in the domestic circuit but it remains to be seen whether he as a left arm spinner can adapt to the Twenty20 style, experimenting with flatter trajectory in contrast to his usual hang-in-the-air style. Kalyankrishna has an impressive domestic record. How the captain utilises his bowlers will be interesting. He has two left arm seamers, a left arm spinner and just one right hander in the bowling line up. Will he open first up with a left right combination? Or will it, for a change, be left left?

The Squad: Saurav Ganguly, Siddharth Kaul, Ajit Agarkar, Aakash Chopra, Chris Gayle, David Hussey, Iqbal Abdullah, Murali Karthik, Brendon McCullum, Mohammad Hafeez, Ricky Ponting, Cheteshwar Pujara, Salman Butt, Ishanth Sharma, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul

Expected Playing XI: Chris Gayle, Saurav Ganguly, Cheteshwar Pujara, Aakash Chopra, Ricky Ponting, Brendon McCullum, Shoaib Akhtar, Ishanth Sharma, Iqbal Abdullah Murali Karthik, Ajit Agarkar

After the second round of auctions Kolkata look a much better side. In the hypothetical playing eleven, there is tons of experience, tons of firepower and therefore a great blend of both. Chris Gayle, the only player to have scored a hundred in T20 history is sure to come up the order, providing some valuable powerplay at the top. They have some match winners in Ponting, McCullum and Ganguly in their batting line up as well. The catchment and first class players in the squad are experienced at their levels as well; Aakash Chopra has played a handful of tests. His style really does not seem to suit the Twenty20 format though. Cheteshwar Pujara has played quite a few good knocks for his first class team Saurashtra and has a good Twenty20 average under 37. Nothing needs to be said about McCullum.

The bowling has aggression and fiery pace in Shoaib Akhtar with Ishanth Sharma adding young blood. As the squad stands now, the Kolkatans are left with no choice but to play an all rounder who is a left arm spinner in addition to the specialist Murali Karthik. They also have the man who is known for his performance at the death – which is all T20 is about – in Ajit Agarkar. Overall, they’re no pushovers either.

The Squad: Sachin Tendulkar, Loots Bosman, Dilhara Fernando, Harbhajan Singh, Sanath Jayasurya, Lasith Malinga, Abhishek Nayar, Ashish Nehra, Manish Pandey, Shaun Pollock, Robin Uthappa, Ashwell Prince, Ajinkya Rahane, Pinal Shah, Yogesh Vijay Takawale, Saurabh Tiwary

Expected Playing XI: Sanath Jayasurya, Robin Uthappa, Ajinkya Rahane, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurabh Tiwary, Manish Pandey, Pinal Shah, Shaun Pollock, Harbhajan Singh, Dilhara Fernando, Lasith Malinga

Here is a team which will certainly perform well. Tendulkar is the captain of this team, and judging by his nature, he will probably promote Robin Uthappa to opening the batting instead of going there and doing it himself. But that’s no guarantee. It was a dream for many to watch Jayasurya and Tendulkar firing together, but now if we’re lucky, it may just happen. They also have serious firepower in Uthappa and not just state mate but camp mate young gun Manish Pandey. They also have another powerful under-19 lad Saurabh Tiwary. As if that much batting is insufficient, Shaun Pollock comes in. Oh by the way, Shaun Pollock is also one of the greatest opening bowlers in the world, who will open with Lasith Malinga. His countryman Dilhara Fernando and offie Bhajji complete this very strong line up representing Mumbai. If this team gels properly, which is likely, they will lift the trophy.-BS

This is an analysis as to how the IPL teams line up ahead of the inaugural tournament scheduled to begin at The M.Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore less than a month from now. Firstly, there are some rules to be adhered to while picking and fielding the squad.

Each DLF IPL franchise squad must have a minimum of 16 players per squad. This will include a maximum of 8 currently available foreign players per squad (any foreign players in a Franchise’s squad who are not available for any reason will not count towards the total). Each franchise can have a maximum of 4 foreign players in the playing XI for each match.

The squad will additionally consist of a minimum 4 under 22 players (the catchment players and the Indian national players if so qualified can be counted for the purpose of this rule. Foreign players may not be counted for the purpose of this rule). These players must be under 22 years old on 1 April of the relevant season.

The Bangalore Royal Challengers

The Squad: Rahul Dravid, Balachandra Akhil, Jagadeesh Arunkumar, Nathan Bracken, Bharath Chipli, Wasim Jaffer, Jacques Kallis, Virat Kohli, Anil Kumble, Devraj Patil, Ross Taylor, Cameron White, Abdur Razak, KP Appanna, Mark Boucher, Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, Srivats Goswami, Sunil Joshi, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Misbah-ul-Haq, Dale Steyn and Vinay Kumar

Expected XI: Wasim Jaffer, Ross Taylor, Rahul Dravid, Misbah-ul-Haq, Jagadeesh Arunkumar, Mark Boucher, Virat Kohli, Nathan Bracken, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar and Anil Kumble.

After the first round of auctions, things were not looking good at all for the Bangalore contingent. Since then, there has been some improvement. A key factor is that they now have a Twenty20 expert in Misbah-ul-Haq. Bangalore seems to have taken a lot of the players who were not the names that first popped up in the Twenty20 context. Kallis is a clear example. They were looking to pouch Robin Uthappa. Had that happened; there would have been a better T20 style balance in the side.

The Bangalore batting line up has a little more staying power than necessary in this unbelievably short format of the game, but there are people like the utilitarian Mark Boucher who can play a saviour if there is a top order collapse – which seems unlikely – and also ignite some sparks whenever necessary.

The Bangalore bowling looks powerful, although there is a tendency to believe that opposing batsmen may take a risk and go after the workhorse Kumble. Kumble’s style is extremely useful in forms of cricket when he has long rendezvous with the batsmen, so that he can make the batsman do what he wants and gain control over him. Batsmen fall prey to this when they’re looking to play him out. If you, as a batsman can read Kumble’s subtle variations, in this form of the game, you can take him to the cleaners.

Also, do not underestimate Dravid’s slogging ability. He did so in the latter stages of many an innings in Pakistan in 2004-05 and who can ever forget that aggressive supporting role to Tendulkar’s 186* he played against New Zealand in 1999?

Bangalore has a good side, but it is not as well adapted to this format as some others.

The Chennai Super Kings

The Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Srikkanth Anirudha, Subramanyam Badrinath, Stephen Fleming, Michael Hussey, Joginder Sharma, Abhinav Mukund, Makhaya Ntini, Parthiv Patel, Sudeep Tyagi, R.Ashwin, Napoleon Einstein, Matthew Hayden, Shadab Jakati, Albie Morkel, Muttaiah Muralitharan, Jacob Oram and Suresh Raina.

Expected XI: Napoleon Einstein, Matthew Hayden, Subramaniam Badrinath, Suresh Raina, Michael Hussey, M.S.Dhoni, Srikkanth Anirudha, Joginder Sharma, Sudeep Tyagi, Makhaya Ntini and Muttaiah Muralitharan.

The entire Chennai squad seems to have great balance and potential, but due to the limitations of the playing eleven, that potential is lost to some extent. But Chennai certainly know how to use their money and used it well. They have some of the best players in the world in this squad and also some of the most aggressive.

They have firepower at the top of the order with Hayden, in the middle with Dhoni and Hussey, and in the bowling with the off spin wizard and Makhaya. As if to act as a foil to this aggression, they have Badrinath and the multifaceted Hussey in the middle order to provide some stability if necessary. All the players in this hypothetical playing eleven are performers – even those from their catchment area. Anirudha and the unfortunate Badrinath are both very useful.

Chennai field a very strong side. If this team gels well, we are in for some excellent performances.

The Delhi Daredevils

The Sqaud: Virender Sehwag, Abraham de Villiers, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Brett Geeves, Glenn McGrath, Yo Mahesh, Amit Mishra, Pradeep Sangwan, Mayank Tehlan, Daniel Vettori, Rajat Bhatia, Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik, Farveez Maharoof, Mithun Manhas, Mohammad Asif, Shoaib Malik and Manoj Tiwary

Expected XI: Abraham de Villiers, Virender Sehwag, Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik, Manoj Tiwary, Mithun Manhas, Mayank Tehlan, Daniel Vettori, Mohammad Asif, Pradeep Sangwan and Glenn McGrath.

Delhi has two or three big names in their side – McGrath, T20 performer Vettori and Mohammad Asif. Even then, this side may not deliver to the standards expected.

They have a queer hypothetical playing eleven. Delhi has serious fire power at the top. If de Villiers and Sehwag go off together, we may be able to watch a 200+ score being made. After that, they have Shikhar Dhawan who may not make the big score but will certainly go about whatever he does in a quick pace, Dinesh Karthik who is not very consistent, Manoj Tiwary, Mithun Manhas and Mayank Tehlan. There is a lack of experience in the middle order and that could prove costly. Delhi’s batting greatly depends on its openers. Also, it will be interesting to see who goes behind the stumps, with de Villiers and Karthik both most likely making the playing eleven. Karthik behind the stumps would be a better choice.

As far as their bowling is concerned, they don’t have a problem. McGrath, one of the most accurate bowlers ever opening the bowling with Asif is going to be fun to watch. If I were the captain of the Delhi side though, I would open with Asif and Sangwan for two reasons. One – that is a useful variation of angles, Sangwan being left handed. Two – it is better to go for experience than young blood at the death and therefore keep either Asif or McGrath for later. Asif should ideally open the bowling as as we saw in the T20 World cup, he always gave his team the early breakthrough(s). Furthermore, with his chest on action and in-cutters, he is much more lethal with the new ball. But whether Delhi has the courage to keep the new ball away from McGrath is something we should look at. They have the most economical T20 bowler – surprisingly a spinner – in Daniel Vettori. Nothing more can be said about Vettori. They have a very useful bowling attack, but the batting needs to support it.

“Sometimes I need to look at the scoreboard to figure out whether I’m batting hundred-plus or whether I am on zero.” This is what Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar said trying to distinguish between the applause he got when he walked in to bat and when he got to a milestone.

If you’ve never watched the game of cricket and wonder who this man is and what he has done to receive this applause, follow this protocol. Find out where India’s playing, go there and wait for India to bat. At some stage, a small man, just under five and a half feet tall will walk in. Everyone will stand up for him, give him a one minute and sometimes longer applause, and you will be amazed at the atmosphere of awe, adulation, praise and excitement and enthusiasm knowing no bounds. Somewhere in there, around that man, you will also find an aura of modesty. That can only be Tendulkar.

Tendulkar is a rare breed. That long applause he has been receiving every time he walks out to bat in Australia is fine. But, the beauty of it all is that when you find out what this man has done and what he is capable of, you tend to believe he deserves every bit of that applause. He does.

Eighteen years ago, he made his debut at the highest level of all. So many people around today, enjoying his classy batting would not have yet come to being. It simply amazing that at the age of sixteen, when most others of his age group will be considered to have risked their lives to face an Imran Khan delivery, he faced that very man, without much ado. He is thirty four now, and thirty five is just around the corner. If he has been playing for this long, he must be worth something.

For a non-Australian sportsperson, the best scale of judgement is the applause, acclaim and recognition he receives from the Australian public, press and sports brains. Not many in the cricketing arena have come close to receiving as big an applause as Mr.Tendulkar every time he walks out into the middle, be at the G, at his favourite Sydney, where he has probably and unfortunately played his last or even at the Adelaide Oval.

One expects the average cricket freak to stand up and scream for Tendulkar – and he does. But he’s not alone; those experienced men at the Lord’s Member’s Pavilion, the respected cricketing brains, his opponents all respect him as much. The fanatic enjoys the way he dances down the track to Warne with sheer contempt and thwacks him simply over mid-wicket, long off, long on – pick your spot.

On the other hand, the connoisseur is simply in awe at the way he creams, nurtures, guides, propels, nudges or caresses the ball through that cover region with the optimum timing and footwork and just the right amount of power in perfect balance with that MRF sticker shown clearly on the face of his bat which by now is facing the direction of the hit. The same ball, pitched in the same area from the same bowler and if Sachin feels like it the same venue as well could on another occasion be simply bludgeoned through the same cover region at a much greater speed, appealing to another section of his huge group of admirers. Oh yeah, that is his cover drive – a treat to watch – but most believe that it is the straight drive that is his best stroke. I’ll give you the thrill of dreaming about that one by yourself.

Tendulkar’s short stature gives him a great advantage as a batsman. It allows him to poise perfectly balanced in his stance. Also on a lighter note, it makes his strokes look a little better. When Tendulkar leans forward on the front foot on the way to one of his unique drives, there is no camera angle as a result of which a trained eye can say “That didn’t look very good.” It always does.

There is not a shot in the book which Tendulkar cannot play. He has shown us that he can play every shot, with a good success rate, if he wants to. He can walk across to an off stump ball and flick it with no power and only timing through anywhere from wide mid on to fine leg slip. He can plant his front leg across – sometimes smartly outside the line of off stump to take the lbw out of the equation – and either sweep hard over anywhere in the leg side in front of square or guide it – slightly like the shot Marillier invented but quite a bit closer to the text book – with just a dab, as fine as you like it. The late cut, the square cut, the upper cut over anywhere between point and the ‘keeper and many other strokes add glitter to his strokeplay.

The sheer determination of Tendulkar is commendable. Not many can forget the Chennai Test of 1999 where Tendulkar batted with purpose for long hours, struggling in the heat of Chepauk in a losing cause. It remains one of the most valiant innings in test history. It is this determination that has brought him where he stands today. One cannot talk about this man’s determination without a reference to the series against Australia in 2003-04.

Prior to this game, the Australians had noted that Tendulkar had developed a tendency to play slightly in the air in the direction of short extra when attempting a cover drive. Obviously, Tendulkar did not have time to work on the flaw and correct it. He developed a simpler solution but one which was a little hard to implement – he decided to simply stop playing the cover drive. That certainly did greatly reduce the beauty of Tendulkar’s play but it made him more effective than he could have been with the cover drive when in that situation. This was a solution most players would have simply written off such an option as once the ball leaves the bowler’s arm, it is simply reflex action which takes over. A trained sub-conscious mind gets into the picture. But somehow, Tendulkar successfully did not play that stroke! He compiled a 241* at Sydney in the Fourth Test without playing a single cover drive. Tendulkar, in this exhibition, displayed the great amount of self control he possesses to all those who observe and analyse him.

Tendulkar does have a technical anomaly; not a flaw, but an anomaly. The position of his hands on the bat handle is abnormal and outside the text book. . When he initially came into the scene, cricket connoisseurs wrote him off saying that his grip – low on the bat handle – would prevent him from performing. Eighteen years, 11782 test runs and 16270 ODI runs later that does not seem to have caused much of a problem.

One other point on Tendulkar’s career was put very simply by Mark Waugh when he said, “Sachin, like God, must never fail. The crowd always expects him to succeed and it is too much pressure on him” It is humungous amount of pressure, but Sachin has not wilted.

For eighteen years, he has been a international idol and he is still looking good – albeit not as good as earlier – for more. Sensational and charming at the same time, Sachin Tendulkar the batsman will always remain one of the greatest to have ever played the game. Tony Greig said “First there is Tendulkar, then daylight, then everything else!”-BS

The Adelaide Oval – 26th January 2008. Those of us who followed the action were fortunate to witness a Don-overtaking century from one of Australia’s great opening batsmen – Matthew Hayden. But the highlight of the day was another very sad, unfortunate and sudden high profile retirement, this time Australia’s stand out performer and for many years fixture behind the stumps, Adam Craig Gilchrist.

Gilly was a crowd puller. When he came into bat or was already at the crease, people from all around the world, regardless of their nationalities and preferred teams, tuned in to watch him. More often than not, Gilly satisfied the viewers.

There were two Gilchrists – Gilly the ‘keeper and Gilly the batsman. Both these avatars were sensational rather than charming. Gilchrist the batsman had a good technique, but don’t expect an exhibition of the copybook cover drive, timed to perfection, all along the ground, reaching the ropes. Gilly knew that the bat was meant to be used to hit the ball, and he did so with a great amount of force. When Gilchrist bats, there’s fireworks. He will not give you an innings of such class and technical proficiency which the common man cannot appreciate – although I tend to believe that this was more by choice than inability. Gilchrist will come to the crease and will entertain. On Gilchrist’s good day, any price for a ticket is value for money.

The reason Gilchrist is said to have revolutionised test match batting, is that he brought an aggressive, attacking style into it. Now, as a result of the Gilchrist phenomenon, even the purest of the purists are able to enjoy a little bit of slam-bang-wallop in Test Match Cricket. He batted in Test cricket with a strike rate of just under 82! There have been many aggressive batsmen – a certain Sir I.V.A.Richards and Krishnamachari Srikkanth to name a few, but Gilchrist was something different.

Gilly was also a wicket keeper. Gilly’s greatness lies in the fact that one can say it either way, Gilly was a ‘keeper who batted, or Gilly was a batsman who kept. His wicket keeping was sensational as well. There were stunning and athletic dives, and pictures of Gilly behind the wicket bare a stark resemblance to Rhodes at backward point. Gilly was amongst the best in the world, and picked up some blinders, but he was never indisputably the best ‘keeper in his time. There was always South Africa’s Mark Boucher to give him competition. Also, some believe that Gilly’s most probable successor, Bradley Haddin is better behind the stumps than Gilchrist. But, even behind the stumps, as irrelevant as it may seem, Gilly was more fun to watch than most others. He was always flying (rather than diving) about behind the stumps to the pacers and picking up stunning catches where he had very limited sight of the ball. So often one hears the commentator saying, “How did he get that far?” Well, that’s Gilchrist.

Gilchrist’s retirement is very sad. We will all miss one of the most captivating cricketers of all time, without whom the cricketing arena just will not be the same. Cricket – or all sport – is meant to provide entertainment. And few have entertained more than Adam Gilchrist. Thank you Churchie. Thank you very very much.-BS

This article was meant to be a little longer, but it was unfortunately curtailed due to the editor’s reluctant display of favour towards his academic pursuits. Cricket Opinions apologises.

Yet another high profile retirement….its Adam Gilchrist this time. It’ll be sad to see him go. Coming soon – a look back at the Gilchrist phenomenon.

Once again, Cricket Opinions wishes to apologise for the delay in updation……..the regulars all know why.
– Editor

The past few months have seen quite a few high profile retirements, primarily from the Aussie camp – McGrath, Warne, Langer, etc – but also otherwise – Lara, Inzy. And now its Pollock.

Miserly, as he hates giving away any runs and has more than impressive economy rates in both forms of the game. The fiery, red-head and nippy youngster became the veteran work horse of the South African team and more specifically, the Protean pace attack.

He is known to have clicked in partnership with other bowlers – earlier Donald and more recently Ntini – and also support the other bowler and act as a heavy barrier in order to lock runflow from one end while things aren’t going well at the other.

He has been seen in contrasting roles, the wicket taker and the economical and enduring machine which just would not give away runs. He has performed equally and very well in both these roles. A point which has to be noted here is that towards the end of his career, he seemed a little less likely of picking up a wicket, and in the shorter form of the game, his tight, nagging, consistent and economical style seemed like a fall back option; a style he resorted to when he was unable to pick up wickets. But this is useless in the longer version. This is what may have resulted in his being dropped from the test side and then being brought back as a first change bowler for some matches.

Many of us, and most importantly and thankfully him were aware that he was into the final stages of his career and that soon, he would have to hang up his boots. It is in this context that one must commend him for the timing of his retirement. It could not have been better timed. He said that he wanted to be picked after being dropped for the first two tests against the West Indies and then announce his retirement as he did not want to be picked for emotional reasons but for the ability we all know he possesses. And when the situation came, he called time.

Even in the latter stages of his career, he was capable of bowling quick. He bowled a couple of really quick bouncers to batsmen as variations which clocked over 140kph on the speed gun. This probably means that although he was capable of bowling quick, Pollock understood that he had to tone down his pace so as to give more room for sustenance over a period of time. This is typical of Pollock.

He played mind games with the batsmen, certainly not as much as someone of the likes of Shane Warne, but Pollock had his own style. He would keep the ball pitching on the six pence most of the time. But, you could count on there being that odd ball, which would be just a couple of centimetres hither or thither that spot. That ball almost unfailingly, would have the batsman in trouble. Many batsmen of the world were probably fooled by the simplicity of the strategy itself.

He is a classic example of the theory that as a pace bowler, one does not necessarily require genuine pace to get past batsmen.

When I switch on the Television and see Shaun Pollock bowling, I’d like to continue watching not just because of his immaculate and tight areas, but because of his capability to produce some peaches. To get the outside edge of the bat when the batsman is playing correctly for the line and bounce of the ball with the pitch playing truly, is an art of which Pollock was a master. He did not move the ball four feet laterally. After all, that would only beat the batsmen, for the bat is only 5 inches wide. He only moved it two and a half inches, and that’s all he needed to move it, for that much movement would ensure that the ball would clip the outside edge of the bats in the hands of even the best.

Everyone is content and pleased with Shaun Pollock’s performances – with batting being the exception – and realise that his time has come. However, the simplicity of Pollock’s game is one thing you are left wanting more of. Shaun Maclean Pollock’s game had a simplicity which – ironically – is complex to achieve; a simplicity, which not many others are exhibits of; a simplicity which will be missed for long years to come.-BS