Thinking of taking up bowling? - Why it's not a good
Over the last several decades and with increasing
intensity, life has become more difficult for bowlers.
1. Most of you will not remember the use of
uncovered wickets. In fact it would, today, seem like a pretty daft
idea. The authorities, quite rightly in my view, decided that covered
wickets allowed for more play and that’s what, rather obviously, both
spectators and the players themselves would want. But how did that
affect the balance in the game between bat and ball? It’s a question I
really don’t have to answer. When did you last hear the term “sticky
dog” – indeed have you ever heard it? A very famous England batsman who
made a few double centuries for his country once replied (so it's said)
that his best innings was 13 at Melbourne following some rain. I doubt
that was true, or even if the story is accurate, but it makes my point.
2. More recently the Laws of the game
allowed batsmen to walk to the wicket carrying a huge hunk of wood
unrecognisable to those of a previous generation. We have all seen what
these bats can do. Miss-hit 6s are now a common place in the men's game and while we all
like to see 6s scored, should batsmen really be able to get away with
claiming runs from a major error? Crowds want to see 6s we are told, and
I am sure they do, at least as long as they are being scored by ‘their’
side. I have yet to meet a supporter who relishes the thought of one of
‘their’ bowlers watching the ball sail over the third man boundary off a
top edge which the batsman had intended to dispatch over mid-wicket. The
bowlers stats will not distinguish between the perfectly middled shot and
the top edge, now worth potentially two more runs than it used to be even
when no third man was set.
Emma Lamb - notice the
thickness of that bat!
3. Recently boundaries have started to
shrink. As a lad I watched county cricket often sitting by the boundary
rope which would be only a few feet on from the edge of the grass. Now
we have boundary boards covered with advertising and probably a row of
other boards or electronic gismos inside that with the rope (or its
modern equivalent) a few feet further in again in order to give fielders
a ‘run off’ – one of the more sensible ‘Health & Safety’ measures at
grounds today. Boundaries have shrunk almost without anyone
noticing. But, hang on, boundary markers are still on the move!
Now large areas of grass are visible between the ‘rope’ and the
spectator to accommodate the rows of speakers and flame machines (or
whatever the correct name for them may be). Enough is enough you
might think at this point but it seems it isn’t. At Worcester
recently summer 2016) the boundary had been moved in to the point that eyebrows were
immediately raised. I heard a number of comments among watchers not
familiar with the women’s game along the lines of “well, women obviously
can’t hit a ball”. Fortunately the game itself showed them otherwise but
many regular spectators felt uncomfortable at the spectacle. Quite a
number of 6s were hit in this match – not surprisingly you might say
with boundaries around the 50 yard mark* – but did that add to the
match? Many would suggest it did I guess – “watchers want to see 6s” -
but perhaps not the poor bowlers who suddenly found someone had moved
the goal posts if you’ll forgive an expression from the less beautiful
game. Was this new Kia Super League played on tiny pitches? Sadly
occasionally 'yes' but many with more sensible dimensions. Surely the scores in excess of 300 by England in the recent series
against Pakistan, not always made within very small boundaries, have
shown it’s not necessary to reveal acres of grass been the crowd and the
boundary rope to get ‘exciting’ scores.
Boundary sizes of all sorts have been claimed recently and
photographs I have taken at these venues suggest it wiser to make
your own judgement
than rely on official numbers.*
No that's not the
12th. One Player fielding
at Worcester - note the position of the boundary!
4. And then there’s the wickets themselves.
Groundsmen aim at producing pitches to produce plenty of runs
because that’s what the public wants to see. Nothing wrong in that in
itself. Indeed, cricket being a business like any other, giving the
paying pundit what s/he wants is vital. But this isn’t going to make the
of the bowler any easier. There have been comments for some time now
among the commentators on this sport – just tune in to Sky’s team or the TMS
bunch – that wickets need to be cared for to produce a better balance between bat and ball. I
cannot argue with that - I would favour bowlers getting a better
crack of the whip.
5. You have no doubt heard of a "Mankad".
If not, then this involves the bowler running out a batsman who is
trying to cheat by starting out on a run before the bowler has let go of
the ball. Under the current Laws the bowler is not allowed to whip off
the bails once they have entered their delivery stride. While it's true
there are rumours a change is being considered by the Laws' Committee,
there's no guarantee anything will happen, giving the backing-up batsman
a huge advantage. Once again it's the bowler who is penalised. My advice
(and that of a former Indian player in an article recently) is run them
out. I see no reason in fact to give them a warning. They know the Laws
(or they should). You don't give a batsman at the other end a warning
you might stump them if they drag their foot out again so why should you
at the bowler's end?
6. Should you reach a high level in the
game, your own support staff will then do their best to add another
hindrance. They will stick a box between your shoulder blades which is
guaranteed to irritate. It is said this box will provide them with
information to aid your recovery for the following day or match. Now in the
women's game it is unlikely you'll be playing on the following day (how
many Tests are there these days?). If anyone wants to know how much
effort you have made in any match can I suggest they watch the game and
look at the scorecard? It's not exactly "rocket salad" as a favourite
comedy act of mine would say. One of the finest bowlers in the game
recently treated this 'box' idea with derision, saying a pineapple pizza
and a couple of drinks always got him through the following day. If you
ever manage figures anywhere near his you'll be a Wisden Cricketer of
the Year and probably in the ICC Hall of Fame as well eventually.
Note the offending item
- check Heather Knight's name
7. Also at this point it's quite possible
you will be ushered off the pitch into a container, possibly a wheelie
bin, containing ice. This is supposed to aid the recovery of your
muscles, removing waste products such as lactic acid from your system.
Recent research has shown you may as well have a warm bath to serve
exactly the same purpose but this news hasn't reached all support staff
yet. I did once see Claire Taylor revelling in some ice but she had just
made a century in temperatures of 100°F (in the shade) but you won't be doing that
every day, making a hundred that is let alone in those temperatures.
So, if you take my advice, put
that ball down, pick up a bat, and cash in on the changes to this game
that seem to be only moving in one direction.
Once in a while, and only once in a while, comes an
article on the 'Net that says exactly what it needs to say, and says it
clearly, succinctly and to the point. It also argues a case that's hard
to dispute in any of its detail.
While there may be some that will think differently, I
cannot see how any one of her points or her conclusion can be disputed.
Email me if you feel otherwise.
Raf argues that a number of features of this set-up don't
help its cause, including, to take just one instance, the huge gap
between the women's game (sometimes 10:45 in the morning) and the guy's
perhaps two hours after the women have concluded theirs. This is an
example of the lack of thought sometimes associated with these events.
It says a number of things which could be summed up by saying this is a
"B movie - don't worry if you can't make it - the main fixture is on at
<insert your own time here but leave much more than adequate time
between games>". I once argued with someone (an official of the club) at
a ground that has a nursery ground literally 50 yards away from the main
boundary, that there was no reason why the men couldn't walk on to the
pitch as the women were leaving it. He told me, rightly, that they need
to warm up. I pointed to the nursery ground only to be told, "No - they
must warm up on the actual pitch". I asked why but the only answer I got
was "they had to". Now I know that's crazy, you know it's crazy, and I
suspect he did too, but it is symptomatic of the attitude that the
women's game doesn't really matter. We have to humour them but there's
no need to make any real effort. Certain concessions must be made to the
TV company it's true, but do they really need two hours before a men's
game. There are times in their commentary when you get the impression
they are struggling to fill more than 30 minutes.
In the end though the real killer of this arrangement is
that the public, those that care enough about cricket to pay for a seat
to come and watch, actually don't like double-headers any more than Raf
or I do. How do I know? They simply don't come - in any numbers anyway.
The WBBL in Australia has shown there's a TV audience for women's stand
alone games and maybe Sky will have the confidence to do so for women's
domestic fixtures in the future. They already have for international
cricket and have had for quite a number of years. Far better for the
visibility of the sport and its future to fill Chelmsford or Hove. These
are the spectators who'll spread the word, sign up to the TV broadcasts
of matches too far away to attend, and, hopefully, encourage their
daughters to pick up a bat or a ball.
By continuing with an idea past its sell-by date the
organisers show a lack of confidence in the women's game that is
From a Correspondent
Put the women’s match before the men’s
(a) It’s just a curiosity for those
turning up early for the men’s
(b) It’s a ticketing pain for those
who are only interested in the women’s
Put the men’s before the women’s and...
(a) It’s a parking nightmare for those
who are only interested in the women’s
(b) 90% of the crowd will stay for the
1st innings and then half of them will drift away
I can understand why they are tried and
there are some points in favour but these diminish to about zero with
some of the KSL proposed double headers. If they want growth they
should have followed the lead of Cricket Australia and ensured every
team played each other team home and away. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain on
Loughborough’s one home match !
I’ve always thought it would be
interesting to see a mixed match, played by the men’s and women’s team
of two sides, for example England v Australia.
Match part 1 : England Women bat
against Australia Women (20 overs)
Match part 2 : England Men bat against
Australia Men (20 overs)
Match part 3 : Australia Women bat
against England Women (20 overs)
Match part 4 : Australia Men bat
against England Men (20 overs)
The result is based on the combined
scores so in the 4th part Australia men are chasing a score that is
based on England Women plus England Man minus Australia Women.
To mix things up a bit you could allow,
say, 3 women fielders in the men’s match and 3 men fielders in the
women’s match (not least because you might actually end up the best
fielders on the park without having to hide the worst of them). Lydia
Greenway wouldn’t have disgraced any male match with her fielding.
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