Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Having a look at Tremlett and Shahzad

Today, when England met Australia A at Hobart, there was action packed cricket with wickets going down at regular intervals, counter attack by Steve Smith and of course, the day's play would be remembered for Monty taking a fine catch. I would just like to share my views on the day's play.

Pitch conditions

The pitch at Hobart is usually slow and as the game progresses, it can help the spinners to get a bit of turn, but today I was shell shocked, when I saw exaggerated sideways movement. From the few matches I have seen at Hobart, I do understand that there would be times when the conditions can get overcast, but I was surprised by the amount of grass on the wicket and there seemed to be too much moisture underneath the surface.


1) Shahzad- Every-time I see the young seamer from the White Rose county bowl, I feel that he has improved. Today, he bowled a great spell with the new ball and should have ended with a five wicket haul. Unfortunately, I didn't watch the entire first session, but from whatever I saw of his bowling, I was really impressed, as he used the helpful conditions well and bowled some jaffas which were too good for the batsmen. His ability to regularly hit the top of off-stump and make the batsmen play was a refreshing change from what most modern day bowlers do. Shahzad also has a fine bouncer and a decent leg-cutter in his armour. Yes, he lost his way a bit in his second spell, but he was no doubt the stand-out bowler of the day.

What impresses me most is that he is a quick learner. In the very first test he played against Bangladesh, just like any other debutant, he looked nervous at the start of his spell, but with the older ball, I was impressed by the fact that he was bowling it very full to utilise the abrasive nature of the pitch at Old Trafford to his advantage and get reverse swing.

2)Tremlett-The tall seamer has made a comeback into the team on the back of some consistent performances for his new county Surrey. Tremlett has been criticised for not being tough and his fitness record is poor, but he seems to have worked hard on his fitness as he did play most of the county matches for Surrey. Tremlett's  record of 48 wickets at just about 20 on those belters at Brit Oval also proves the fact that he is perhaps mentally tougher now. Any pace bowler needs a big heart as it isn't easy to run up-to the bowling crease and watch being smashed all over the park by a batsman.

Anyway, coming back to today's match, Tremlett started the day well and used the helpful conditions to his advantage. Tremlett's ability to get awkward bounce helped him to induce Hughes into edging the delivery to slips. He also bowled a fine delivery to White as it was fuller in length which in turn helped him to get a bit of swing and find the gap between bat and pad to uproot White's stumps.

In the second session though, I wasn't impressed by what I saw of Tremlett, as he banged it short and the batsmen made merry. I can't fathom why would a tall bowler like Tremlett who gets a nice shape into the righthander bowls short. It isn't rocket science that if a tall bowler consistently hits the good length spot, he won't need to bowl either quick, or bang it into pitch as the bounce he would get will be enough to catch the edge of a batsman's bat. A few may argue that by bowling short, he got rid of both Paine and the tailender Cameroon, but the delivery he bowled to Paine was down the leg-side and the tailender Cameroon played a typical agricultural slog and got out.

Tremlett is not Fred to bang it short as unlike Fred, he doesn't bowl a heavy ball. Whenever he bowls short, Tremlett rarely ever makes the batsman play. I think someone needs to remind him about what happened in the last test he played against India as Tremlett bowled short and got zero wickets for about million runs. It seems to be a sort of virus as every tall bowler, who has played for England in the recent past has got into the habit of bowling short. It includes the likes of Caddick, Harmison, Tremlett, Broad and even Freddie, though Freddie could bowl the heavy ball.

The third seamer in the attack Bresnan bowled a few good deliveries in his first spell including a peach to dismiss Ferguson, but other than that he wasn't very impressive. In the second session, when the moisture dried out a bit, he tended to bowl short and bowled at the pads of batsmen. If Bresnan  wants to become the stock bowler or more so, the all-rounder that England are looking for, he should stay away from a batsman's pads. The lone spinner in the attack, Panesar didn't had much to do on a pitch which was offering sideways movement, but he used the breeze to good effect by getting a bit of drift. He would be more remembered for the fine catch he took to dismiss Cowan. I don't know what Sussex have done with Monty, but he seems to be enjoying his fielding!

Smith's knock- The one player, who was able to show a bit of fight, though the conditions were against the batsmen and even played a few shots was Steve Smith. Smith certainly seems to have a good temperament as he played late and made a fine half century. He has a unusual stance and has a relatively high back-lift, but it seems to work for him, especially when he plays the pull shot. The bowlers though, helped him a bit by bowling short to him. It was crystal clear that with his bottom handed grip, he may struggle to play through the covers. The old trick of leaving the gap at cover open and tempting Smith to drive could have come in handy. Finally, Shahzad bowled a full delivery and got him out.

After an entertaining first day's play on a surprisingly green top, (at least going by modern standards) I am looking forward to watch how the batsmen would play on that wicket. Actually, I won't mind more such wickets being prepared as cricket fans can see a good contest between bat and ball!

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