Pitch the &*%#ing thing up!

Posted: January 11, 2021 in Ranting

It is 5:08 pm, AEDST, as I begin to type. And as I type, I am watching the Fifth Test against India. And I am left with one burning question – are the Australian fast bowlers on the take? Are there sub-continental bookies rubbing their hands together in glee?

I realise that making such an allegation is pretty harsh. But how else can we explain the way in which the Australian quickies are simply giving the game away? They did it in the first innings in failing to clean up the Indian tail and have now been doing it for the entire Indian second innings.

I am talking about bowling short. Now anybody from any grade of club cricket can tell you than when you are batting to save the game, the best the thing the bowlers can do for you is bowl short. You duck it, dive around to avoid it, shoulder arms and let the ball go through – the one thing that you don’t have to do is play the ball. And if you are don’t have to play the ball, there is not much chance of getting you out. When bowlers get you in trouble is by making you play, bowling in that famous corridor. When a fielding team is battling time to get the opposition out, the one thing you do NOT do, is let the batters off the hook by bowling short ball after short ball after short ball after short ball.

For crying out loud – does the new kid, Cameron Green, even know what a yorker is? No wonder he hasn’t been getting wickets.

Yes, I am very well aware that bowling short can result in a catch being popped up. But guess what -there are other forms of dismissal like bowled, LBW, caught behind or in slips etc. Yet with short ball after short ball, all those other possibilities are taken out of the game, making life that much easier for the batters.

The Australian quicks have been doing this all day, giving the game away to the batters. And they did it to the Indian tail in the first innings, letting them put on valuable runs and use up time. At any other level of the game, when quicks are bowling to tailenders, they know to start pitching the ball up again. They are tailenders for a reason and making them play is the best way to get them out. But no, our quicks preferred to keep using the short ball attack.

In contrast, of an evening we have been watching the T20 Big Bash League. And one thing you see there is variety. Bowlers rarely seem to bowl two balls the same in a row. All sorts of slow balls, variety balls, even the knuckle ball has made its way over from baseball as a variant. But come the Test bowling, where is that variety gone? Now all we are seeing is bowling on a length that can be defended or short ball after short ball.

All the Australian bowlers should be made to watch every telecast ball of BBL with a bowling coach making sure they can identify the variations. Then take them out to the nets and make sure they all at least have a decent slow ball. Look at the greats – they were greats for a reason – not just because they could ball fast and bowl short. Glen McGrath had a variety of slower balls. Denis Lillee, at his explosive best pace, he still used variations including slow balls. Surely they are good examples to try and emulate?

Despite all the experience in the coaching departments with the Australian team, do we really need to bring in yet another coach to teach the quicks had to do something other than bowl easily defended lengths or short balls? Better rush Dan Christian over as coach and teach the Australian team how to do more just luxuriate in banging the ball in short.

OK, perhaps suggesting they are on the take was a bit too harsh. But instead of players carrying around things like kit bags full of 15 dozen pairs of batting gloves, they would be better served by making sure they pack their brains in alongside their spikes. That way they will have more than just a Paddle Pop stick keeping their ears apart. And then we might actually see some smarter bowling.

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