Monday, August 9, 2010
Swann and the revival of off spin bowling
Since the time I have started watching cricket, I have frequently heard most experts saying that finger spin is dead and only those spinners, who can bowl the doosra can succeed in modern times against batsman, who have better bats and are more aggressive when it comes to batting. So, it has been a pleasant surprise to see the development of Swann as a spinner. He doesn't have a doosra, but subtle variations in pace and spin makes him a very good bowler. His bowling is also a treat to watch as he always looks for wickets.
To be frank, I still can't believe that Swann is playing test cricket as he was in the wilderness for more than eight years. I do remember watching a young Swann on the tour of South Africa showing some promise, but Fletcher didn't seem to like his attitude and dropped him from the side. Oh! didn't Fletch like Giles as he kept playing for a long time, but thankfully, Swann didn't give up and developed his game in county cricket and now, he is no doubt England's strike bowler.
As far as his bowing is concerned, just like any other good spinner, Swann flights the ball and it dips on the batsmen, but what makes him a good spinner is, he keeps the batsmen guessing. He can give it a bit of flight and impart more turn to tempt the batsmen to drive and occasionally, he would bowl the one that goes straight on. Yesterday, Swann even tried what seemed like a leg break! The ball he bowled to Farhat was a jaffa as it turned from leg to off stump and sent his stumps for a walk. Azhar Ali has shown that he struggles to drive and as expected, Swann tempted him to drive and found the gap between bat and pad to get his wicket. Swann is no doubt more of a threat against left-handers as out of the 97 wickets he has got, 53 have been lefthanders. Nowadays, umpires are also willing to give a left-hander out lbw to a off spinner bowling from around the wicket which helps.
The only worry for me is, when he doesn't get wickets, he tends to bowl quicker through the air and as a result the batsmen tend to play him easily, but that is the aggressive nature of the man. Actually, sometimes I feel that he is a quick bowler and not a spinner as he is always looking for wickets. In simple words, England are lucky to have a spinner like Swann as without him, Pakistan could have been in a very strong position at Edgbaston.
I would also take this opportunity to congratulate the Pakistan's lower order for showing more gumption to fight than their so called batsmen. In future, they perhaps can look at a batting line-up made up of Haider, Gul, Ajmal, Ameer and even Asif!