Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Weak bowling attacks or poor pitches?

A number of media commentators have been critical of the strength of world cricket in regards to bowlers at the moment. If you are asked to come up with a world side, the batsmen all line up in their droves, but high quality bowlers are harder to pinpoint. However, having watched tests over the last few years from all around the world, I am now wondering whether we are being harsh on the bowlers. Pitches everywhere appearto be significantly biased towards being overly batsmen friendly.

All of the Australian pitches have become exceptionally good batting wickets. There is little difference now in their playing characteristics. No longer do we see pace and bounce at the WACA, or raging turners in Sydney. In the West Indies, the bowlers need a shovel to try and dig out the batsmen once they were established. A few years back we saw Australia use 5 frontline bowlers simply to try and overcome this problem. India's pitches don't appear to be the spinner's delights they used to be, with both quick and spin bowlers struggling to take wickets. Same goes for most places around the world.

I can't remember the last time a curator was sacked for producing a pitch in which both teams scored 500+ and the game ended in a tame draw.
With increases in science and technology, curators are now able to produce perfect batting wickets almost at will, and it is in the authorities financial interests to ensure that tests last at least five days. Are the bowlers in the world weak at the moment, or are they looking worse because the pitches are uniformally belters? How many double hundreds have we seen from around the world in the last few years? How many run-scoring records are broken each year? If we put out a few more tests on less perfect pitches, would we start to praise these bowlers more as they would be able to get some assistance from the pitch?

4 comments:

Rehan said...

Hey Stu! Agree with what you have said. And really, don't the curators feel bad for the bowlers?! I would like to add in one probably reason though. Number of batsmen coming out from domestic structure is far greater than number of bowlers which means that there are higher quality batsmen as well.

ICLfan said...

Hey! i am a little bit on the other side, wickets are still what they use to be (might be a little slow and low) but one more thing is that we donot have that much quality bowlers who can win matches on their bowling performance. Australian are without Warne and McG, Indian are without Kumble, South African are still searching for replacement for Donald and almost same situations. One reason I see here is that in todays world cricket batsmen are the one who get the headlines not the bowlers, i guess thats the reason why young peoples are trying to prefering their batting skills over bowling skills. Here you can take the example of Irfan Pathan from India, he got the dream debut for test cricket and 15 months back he was the most talented bowler on world stage, but not he too have sharpen his skills as a batsmen and forget his swing.

Stuart said...

Good point regarding the headlines for batsmen not bowlers. Who would want to be a bowler these days - the game is made for batsmen. Who would the youngster prefer to be, Ricky Ponting or Herschelle Gibbs score 150+ in an ODI, or an Australian bower (who I'll leave nameless) going 0-113 off ten overs.

Soulberry said...

Absolutely!

The last "era" I remember when world cricket had the best bowlers in each team and wonderful batsmen as well was the mid-seventies to mid-eighties.

Those were the most balanced times.

We had the best of all kinds of bowlers, batsmen, and the pitches were still uncovered!

Protective gear too hadn't really caught on in a big way. I don't remember Gavaskar wearing a helmet ever except for that skull cap towards the end of his career. I don't remember Viv Richards wearing a helmet. And it was not due to the absence of quality bowlers - Lillee, Thommo, Pascoe, Hadlee, Willis, Botham, Imran, Sarfraz, Kapil and the entire West Indian attack alongwith class bowlers like the spin quartet of India, Intikhab Alam and Iqbal Qasim of Pakistan, Derek Underwood, Gibbs...there was variety.

The wickets were all different...it was difficult to say if one was like the other, but today, many look like identical twins/triplets/quadruplets/...and so on.

Then the same pitch wouldn't ever be the same on all five days and could change with sessions too. Today we see pitches almost ready to start another match at the end of a test match on the fifth day.

The batsmen needed to have a superior game...this is a purely personal opinion...there were so many intangibles they had to contend with.