Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ishant Sharma - my view

Many articles praised Ishant Sharma after the first test against South Africa at the Wanderers that he had turned a corner. He got wickets in the first innings of the first test and after that was off-color.I thought he bowled too many boundary balls in that first innings, but that was masked by the spectacular wickets he got- Amla and Kallis.

 Ishant's action demands that he get his body and wrist behind the ball. When he gets his wrist position right behind the ball, he is unplayable.He will hit the seam hard on the pitch, he will always get sharp bounce and seam movement from a good length. As soon as it falls away, he bowls only two deliveries - short and wide outside off or full on the pads. What is more concerning is in the latter case his deliveries are slower off the pitch and he gets no seam movement. It's clearly visible to the naked eye, when he gets his action right, the ball thuds into Dhoni's gloves, when he doesn't it glides in. By doing that he provides easy runs. The good Ishant and bad Ishant appear in the same over at times. Good bowlers, as they come of age, figure out a way to minimize their bad. Some like Ishant can't. Even after 50 test matches. Bowlers like Shoaib or Mitchell Johnson can blow away sides when they are good and hence their bad is worth it, but Ishant is fast medium strictly at his fastest. At his best, he is a good stock bowler.

But Ishant was never a stock bowler in his formative years, which brings me to his other problem- He does not know how to work batsmen out in a spell, which is crucial on pitches that don't provide much assistance. The reason is - he never had to do that as he was coming trough the age groups. His modus operandi is - keep bowling and one of the deliveries will turn out to be unplayable. Such bowlers are great in nets and bad in matches. Dhoni always employs a deep point and deep midwicket and fine leg to cut down runs and hopes he will bowl a wicket-taking ball sometime. It works against for domestic batsmen, West Indies or Zimbabwe and probably for Dhoni himself as they can't keep his good deliveries out. If Ishant really wants to be a great, and he can - all the ingredients are there, he needs to play a season or two in county cricket or shield cricket in Australia and learn that skill of plotting and planning dismissals and learn to adjust his length based on conditions.

For now, Dhoni is doing a disservice to India and to Ishant by playing him.

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