Fast bowling and the art of winning Test matches in Australia, England and South Africa | Cricket News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: “Respect the conditions”. Whatever type of player a batsman might be, he is always asked by his coach to give the first few minutes of his stay at the crease in Test cricket to the bowler, to curb his natural instincts, to get his eye in and get used to the swing and bounce of the ball.
Swing and bounce, the factors pacers depend on the most to trouble and dismiss batsmen. More than pace, or speed of a delivery, batsmen around the world are troubled by swing and bounce in Test cricket.
A good batsman is one who is successful in all conditions and has the technique and temperament to score in all conditions against all the three types of balls used in all Test playing nations – SG, Dukes and Kookaburra.
Different weather and pitch conditions and the balls that are used
Weather conditions and the nature of the pitches play a big role in fast bowlers getting good purchase off the pitch and also in the air in countries like England, Australia and South Africa.
The conditions in England are more suited to swing bowling. The mostly overcast conditions, the ground conditions, the green top pitches, all help the Dukes ball to retain the seam and shape and hence (depending also on the skill levels of different bowlers), it tends to swing more. The pitches in England compliment the Dukes ball very nicely.
On the bouncy pitches of Australia and South Africa, it’s the Kookaburra ball that’s the most suitable. There is swing initially, but as the seam is lost, the pacers can rely on the bounce off the tracks for breakthroughs. The Kookaburra though does tend to lose shape after a period of time.
In a country like South Africa, sometimes a pitch becomes spicier on Days 2 and 3. This is something that we saw in the Centurion Boxing Day Test between India and South Africa. Batting first, India went to stumps on Day 1 at 272-3 in 90 overs. Day 2 was washed out and on Day 3, India were bowled out for 327, losing their last 7 wickets for just 55 runs.
The Dukes ball gives bowlers a lot to play with, since it does more in the air and also off the pitch. This is predominantly due to it’s hand stitched pronounced seam. Since the ball stays harder for longer you will also see slip fielders in England being in the game through the day, because the ball carries to the slip cordon easily.
The conditions in England are most conducive to swing bowling and the Dukes cricket ball used there helps in maintaining the ‘balance between bat and ball’. The Dukes cricket ball is also used in Test matches in the West Indies.
The Kookaburra cricket ball is used in maximum Test playing nations – Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
Current series
Two highly intriguing Test series are currently on – both in the southern hemisphere. India are touring South Africa aiming to register their maiden Test series win there, while Australia and England are engaged in their traditional Ashes duel – this edition being played in Australia.
Both the series are being played with the Kookaburra cricket ball and the pitches in Australia and South Africa are quite similar in nature – favouring bounce and pace, something that brings a smile on the faces of genuinely quick bowlers.
Australia have already retained the Ashes by beating England inside three days in the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australia had won the first Test at the Gabba inside four days and had it not been for a marathon and gritty 207-ball 26-run knock by Jos Buttler, the day/night Test at Adelaide wouldn’t have lasted five days either.

(L-R) Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazelwood. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)
None of England’s openers have shown themselves capable of handling Australia’s pace with the new ball, which has placed huge pressure on captain Joe Root and the England middle order.
India meanwhile registered a famous win against South Africa in their Boxing Day Test. This is India’s first ever Test win in Centurion and just their fourth on South African soil.
India’s fast bowlers, led brilliantly by Mohammed Shami, made outstanding use of the new ball in the first innings on a Day 3 Centurion pitch which had quickened up and which had numerous indentations, caused by balls hitting a relatively soft and slow pitch on the first day. The indentations made the bounce unpredictable, a frequent phenomenon at the SuperSport Park.

7

Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
On the bouncy pitches of Australia and South Africa, it’s the Kookaburra ball that’s the most suitable. There is swing initially, but as the seam is lost, the pacers can rely on the bounce off the tracks for breakthroughs. The Kookaburra though does tend to lose shape after a period of time.
One of the most interesting things that has also happened in recent times is the emergence of quality fast bowlers across Test playing teams, while batting standards have fallen. Most batting line ups these days have their frailties, while the fast bowlers have begun to dominate again. The major teams like India, Australia, South Africa, England, New Zealand and Pakistan have quality fast bowlers in their ranks. A Test match is won when 20 wickets are taken and the quality and form of fast bowlers has ensured that there have been more results of late.
The different balls used in Test cricket and how they help in different conditions
Kookaburra is predominantly a machine-stitched ball. The two inside rows are hand-stitched, while the two outer rows on each side are machine stitched. The seam of the Kookaburra ball is mostly embedded in the surface and hence it doesn’t swing quite as much as the Dukes cricket ball.
The two halves of the Kookaburra ball are held together by the two middle rows which are hand stitched, which do not provide the same strength as six full rows in keeping the cover on. The outer rows which are machine stitched are to provide grip for the bowlers. For this reason, the Kookaburra doesn’t have a pronounced seam, since machine stitching needs the ball shape to be flatter.
The Dukes is a hand-stitched ball. The thread of the hand-stitched ball is more prominent and stays longer on the ball.
All six rows of stitching on the Dukes ball go backwards and forwards across the joint of the two cups forming the ball, so it holds the ball together much better and thereby the ball retains the shape and hardness longer. In the Dukes ball the seam remains pronounced for a long time if properly preserved by the fielding team.

Ball

The pacers (overall and current) from the major Test playing nations who have taken the most wickets in Australia, England and South Africa combined:
For England, new ball bowlers James Anderson (503) and Stuart Broad (422) head the list of maximum wicket-takers in Australia, England and South Africa.
For Australia, it’s their retired pace legend Glenn McGrath (405) who heads the list. Among active Aussie pacers, it is Mitchell Starc (220) who heads the list.
For South Africa, Dale Steyn (315) heads the overall list and among active Protea pacers it is Kagiso Rabada (179) who is at the top of the list.
For India, both Kapil Dev and Ishant Sharma are tied at 102 wickets each in these three countries.
For Pakistan, the great Wasim Akram (96) heads the list while Mohammad Abbas (20) has taken the most wickets among the current pacers in Australia, England and South Africa combined.

9

Stuart Broad (L) and James Anderson. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images for ECB)
Former great Courtney Walsh (181) heads the overall list for the West Indies and amongst current pacers it is Kemar Roach (36) who heads the list.
Sir Richard Hadlee (147) heads the all-time list for New Zealand, while Tim Southee (65) is at the top among current pacers.
For Sri Lanka, former left-arm seamer Chaminda Vaas (37) heads the overall list and left-arm pacer Vishwa Fernando (24) is at the top for current fast bowlers.
Gone are the days when teams would rack up 500 plus runs on the board and Tests would meander to dull draws. With the ICC Test Championship in place, teams are looking for results and hence batsmen are playing their shots and the more they play their shots, more chances they give to the bowlers to pick up wickets.





Source link