> With 2 bouncy wickets in the offing,
Frankly, I have *no* idea where this "bouncy wicket" idea comes from :-)
I think people are going on their memories of 20 years ago, the
tradition by which Bridgetown would be a quick bouncy track. That hasnt
been the case for donkey's years IMHO - it is possible that they will
want to try and change it and induce life in it this year, but that is
pretty hard to do. And at least over the past few years, it has been
a pretty damn lifeless track - good for batting mostly, no real help
for pacemen at all, not much different from the normal Caribbean
tracks these past few years.
Three of the last 4 years, tests at this ground have been drawn. The
only result was 3 years ago, Australia/WI - and that was the Lara
game. Even in that one result match, Australia batted first on a first-day
track, and scored 490 on first innings! WI got 329 in response, and then
Australia just collapsed for 146 on 2nd innings. WI got 311/9 with
Lara 153* - it was a fine batting track all the way to the last day,
Two years ago I saw Pakistan on this track - they made only 253 batting
first, the only under-300 first-innings score in the past 4 years on
this pitch! But even that was not a problem at all - WI got 398 in
reply, and then Pakistan came in. With Mohammad Wasim and Imran Nazir
opening the batting, Nazir with his strokeplay but with *zero foot
movement, and they were facing Ambrose, Walsh and King. And yet the
pitch was so dead that they didnt have the slightest problem - they
put on 219 for the first wicket without any issues at all! The match
proceeded to a draw, as Pakistan made 419/9 on their 2nd innings.
Last year on this track I saw RSA get 454 batting first, and WI reply
with 387 - the match was another draw. A very hard slog for the bowlers
it was - RSA batted 173 overs on first innings, WI 151 overs (ie the
first innings wrapped up at tea on the 4th day :-) Yes RSA half
blew it in their 2nd innings early on, and then WI suddenly collapsed on
their 2nd innings (they only had to play out 38 overs, chasing 265, and
they managed to lose 7 wickets in awful batting). But still, the RSA
innings had Ramnarine getting a 5-fer, and the WI collapse had Boje
getting 4/17! Certainly not a fast track.
This pitch has, in the past few years, been a fine batting track - I
dont even think it has deteriorated much at all as the game progressed
(it wasnt a minefield last year, despite what the final day score indicates
IMHO). And it has never been fast - not even on Day One!
It would be nice if there was some life to it this year, just so we
could have a good result game. But I doubt it, myself - it isnt that
easy to get pitches to change character overnight.
> and then some tours to follow,
> here's a quick look at the Indian middle order, and my take on its future
> both short and long-term. And a bit of Nikhil-like analysis as well:-)
> Dravid has been in superb form this series. Still his flourishy
> back-lift -- his
> bat comes in a wide sweeping arc from 4th slip to straighten as he plays --
> looks very good. IMO, there is some concern about Dravid's ability on
> quicker wickets -- already he struggles to keep out yorkers. I'd suspect he
> may struggle on a quicker wicket to get in, and in a couple of years, would
> either need to rework his back lift to a pendulum-like swing
> of course, Gafoor would aver, this would be around the time he'd face RSA
> and Aus again, so its expected. Also, he needs to only flick when the ball
> is on his pad, not going by his leg side:-)
He has had this flick down leg-side thing for a while now, actually - I
remember RSA getting him twice that way at home, way back in like 1996!
But it isnt that much of a problem - it is sort of rare to get out that
way, and much likelier to run away for a four. Valuable runs, to him
its probably worth the risk I think.
I think Dravid is not quite a top-level guy yet, mostly because he hasnt
gotten good runs against good attacks in a while (ie after 1996). Against
slightly worse than top-class attacks he is awesome - he is The Wall, he
can basically not be moved easily, and is not likely to give his wicket
away easily (like SRT sometimes does). I dont think he is much worse
against top class attacks - but because he is only likely to try and
hit the really loose ball, he runs into problems. Because the slightly
less than top class attack gives him more loose balls, he hits them for
fours, he is fine. Against the *best* attacks, there are far fewer of
those loose balls - so he ends up staying there for very long stretches
and not scoring much. And then that starts adding pressure - the bowlers
feel freer, they attack more, lots of close-in fielders, and eventually
(because they are good bowlers), he falls. And he hasnt scored all that
many when he does fall.
To me, more than anything else, it is a mindset that needs changing. That
is, a little more willingness to attack, especially against the really
good bowlers (almost paradoxical, and hard to do, but there it is).
I expect him to do very well this series - the pitches are quite slow and
he should be in his immovable frame of mind all thru the series IMHO. Much
less likely to be impatient than SRT, and so should outscore him. I also
expect him to do quite well in England, actually.
> Tendulkar's technique is perfection -- except his habit of working
> to leg. Hopefully, that was a conscious decision, and he won't do it for T3
> and T5:-) Regardless, I expect him to keep going for another 6 years or so
> (interest willing), and he's proven time and again, capable of adjusting his
> technique. No worries there...
I think the working to leg *is* a conscious decision - slow pitch, not quite
as easy to drive on the up like he loves to do etc. Not *that* much of a risk
to him working to leg in his mind, I think - and likely to get him runs,
and disrupt the bowlers a little :-)
Unusually for Indians (unusual in many decades, really), he is actually
happiest when the ball is bouncing a bit - it comes to the bat quickly,
and he can play on the up like he really prefers. It might look worrying
to us watching because he will not do the traditional Indian thing and
keep every ball on the ground in those conditions - but he can score
quite quickly and fairly big scores sometimes. Almost no other Indian
can (in a sense, maybe our "traditional" way of thinking is wrong for
those kinds of bouncy tracks, the "keep it on the ground" idea - maybe
that is why we havent had great success historically on bouncy tracks.
After all, on Aussie tracks for one, our previous biggest success was
Sandeep Patil - and he was the other "on the up, willing to go over the
fielder" batsman we had. Or even Srikkant, who had a great 86 tour of
> Ganguly -- enough questions here in the short term. No need to elaborate.
> Laxman is the enigma. Talent overflowing, but poor technique when he
> tries to play square on either side. The frustrating part, as he showed in
> T2I2, is that when he plays straight (I think 6 of his first 7 4's were
> the covers) he can score runs. Its impossible to tell with him - he could
> be gone in a year, or play 4-5 more... Its all up to him to harness his
> physical skills, before they degrade...
I think VVSL has the same technical issues he has always had, right from
the start. It isnt much use hoping he will play straight IMHO - he has
rarely done it since his career began, and why should he, when he keeps
getting decent runs not doing it? :-) I mean, once you score at so many
different levels (Ranjis, even tests) batting that way, its hard to even
try and change your set ways.
These technical issues are precisely why it was silly to ever have him open -
he can get away with his technique far more often in the middle order. He
is the prototypical Indian later-middle-order bat, really - often plays
away from his body, sometimes the feet dont seem to move at all against
the pacemen (but move brilliantly well against spinners), amazing wristy
ability against spinners etc. When the ball isnt moving a lot, I think
he can be very good even with his technical issues - he has tons of strokes
and will score no matter what. England would have been a problem in the
early summer IMHO - the ball would have moved a lot, and then the gap
might have been a much bigger issue than it will now. Late summer, the
ball should turn more than swing or seam - and few handle turn better
than VVSL, really.
I think he'll be around for a while, and he will be fine. But in some ways
I think VVSL is the greatest example of whats wrong with Indian pitches :-)
Because, if we had fast bouncy pitches with movement in a few places in
India, VVSL would have faced it a lot more. I think his technique would
have developed differently - his wristwork might still have been there,
but the technique would have been more solid overall, with less of a
gap etc. He could have been really something then - truly combining the
best of both. As it is, the talent is huge, but the technique is not
quite absolutely top-class (another reason why Sachin is so different -
similar talent, but better technique).
It is hard to ask VVSL to change now, really. He might look iffy playing
square sometimes - but he gets *tons* of runs there. Sort of like Gower,
really - you cant cut out your most productive shots (which happen to
be your most dangerous), or you'll be left with nothing.
The game has changed since the old days, so nobody plays like they did
then - with draws far more acceptable etc. Else the perfect way for
VVSL to play would be like Vijay Merchant used to :-) I have spoken to
old-timers who watched him - everyone who Ive ever spoken to has been
vehement in the fact that nobody in the
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