Saturday, December 10, 2005

The fast bowler's ideal delivery

Twelve summers ago I had a fairly animated discussion on a fast bowler’s ideal delivery with Gogol, the kid brother of a friend and a perennial favourite of mine. ‘The magic ball’ had to be defined.

We went on to answer the call of cricket fanaticism and did the job ourselves. Me-cricket-expert caps firmly in place, we chose a few of the best prototypes, deliberated on them and finally passed a judgement that the world must have been waiting for.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if the debate were to be re-opened today between the two of us. There's a bit of hidden truth about that episode; time to come clean. I had tried to contrive that decision, though the foul-play was not eventually needed.

Back then the honour went to – take a breath now - “one that is delivered at decent pace close to the stumps, lands the inner edge of the ball in line with the outer edge of the off-stump - at a length likely to hit the stumps 2/3rd height from bottom - and moves away just enough to take the outside edge of the front-footed batsman’s perfectly offered defensive bat”. The men behind the stumps would complete the remaining formality. No one should survive that, we opined, unless good fortune prevents the nick.

Put on paper, it reads like a balloonful of hot air. However there is well-preserved footage of what the delivery could be like. It is stored up here - a mental recording of the greatest over personally seen, a memory that can colour judgement permanently.

(The post goes on to recount a magic Curtly Ambrose over to Sachin Tendulkar. It can be read at

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