Friday, January 01, 2016

2015 - the year the doosra died. End of the golden era of mystery spin

The final nail in the coffin was the banning of Sunil Narine in November, who was the last top level doosra bowler. The ICC have had a concerted campaign to eliminate the doosra, on the basis that it is 'illegal' - and they have succeeded with astonishing rapidity and completeness.

The doosra is now as extinct as the dodo. I hope the ICC secret police are happy at their success, because the game of cricket is significantly worse as a result of their activity.

This blog was begun in 2006 to celebrate and explore this exciting new set of deliveries by which an off spinner could bowl a leg-break with minimal change of action.

The delivery was popularized in the mid 1990s by Saqlain Mushtaq and reached its peak with Saeed Ajmal up until 2014 when he was banned (he had been the best spinner in the world for several years, and my personal favourite bowler - but from then his career was destroyed).

For a few glorious years the game of cricket - and especially the fifty over and T20 forms, were enlivened by what seemed like a galaxy of 'mystery spinners' of many types and varying abilities - all of them now neutered or gone altogether except for Ashwin who used the 'carrom', finger flick method; and who has now become the best spinner in the world (especially since the new spinning superstar, Yasir Shah has been suspended after a failed drug test).

Is cricket a better game now that spin has been all but deleted from front line bowling? Of course not - it is a far worse game.

Was it necessary, or 'fair' to destroy the doosra simply because it was 'illegal'? Of course not! The answer was not to destroy it, but to legalize it - as happened in the past with round-arm bowling, then over-arm bowling (indeed, the original bowling delivery of under-arm is the one that is now illegal).

What harm did the doosra do in the recent era of its success? None that I can see - it simply enhanced the game, made it more exciting, mysterious - gave bowlers back some of the ground they have lost to bat technology and (whisper it not!) the batters increasing use of undetectable human hormones (such as testosterone and growth hormone) as performance enhancing drugs.

Why was it banned? Perhaps because: 1. Cricket is a batsman's game; 2. England and Australia (two out of three of the game's ruling elites) could not find any doosra bowlers of their own; 3. The cricket administrators short-termist but insatiable appetite for ever more and more runs (esepcially sixes) in the shorter forms of the game (which is why ridiculously unfair changes in bat technology and the batters ever more Hulk-like drug-induced physiques have been conveniently ignored).

Anyway, it is all finished - the kill-joys have won the day; the batters have got their way.

Reference: my doosra posts: