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:
http://the-doosra.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=doosra


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4 Comments:

Blogger Nathaniel said...

An honest farewell!

10:47 AM  
Blogger Nathaniel said...

or, goodbye

10:47 AM  
Blogger Luqman said...

With one exception, truly devastating pace bowling no longer exists. Now spin has been declawed. Fits perfectly with the T20-league skewed game. The death of the one day will harm cricket I feel.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Bruce Charlton said...

@L - Lacking objective measures, and with the advent of protective clothing for batters - this is a tough comparison. I expect that many of the devastating pace men of the past were not as fast in mph as the fast medium pacers of today (Anderson, Broad etc).

I think exceptional pace will always be exceptional - and it is not always, or usually, the most effective type of bowling - accurate fast medium at about 85 mph with either both-ways swing (Anderson, Asif type) or seam and bounce (Mcgrath, Ambrose type) is usually the best type of bowling.

In terms of devastating pace I doubt whether the history of cricket has seen anything to excel Mitchell Johnson against England in the 2012-13 Ashes - he was a force of nature - consistently at around 95 mph all day for five matches, left arm angle, late swing and/or extreme bounce - he was impossible to play.

(But *that* only happens when *everything* clicks.)

And Dale Steyn has been arguably the best fast bowler ever in some respects, especially in a batsman's era - although perhaps his pace was not extreme.

However, they have both gone/ declined and we await their like to prove themselves.

T20 has, surprisingly, encouraged extreme pace and mystery spin (until it was banned) but the fact that the bowler has only four overs limits his potential impact on the game. As I once wrote in a letter to Wisden, the major tweak t20 needs to make it a poper game is bowlers allowed to bowl five, not four, overs - so a great bowler (or two) is given a reasonable chance to win you the game.

11:18 PM  

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