Sunday, May 21, 2006

Marlon's Hurl-in

Marlon Samuels exhibited fine fitness in the first two ODI's versus India at Jamaica. That takes care of his 'knee-gling' fitness woes of late. He contributed to a stabilising partnership with Sarwan, and that must give him batting hope for the coming matches. And as always his off-spin bowling was a handy plus for his team. Samuels bowled exceptionally well during each of his spells in the 2nd match that culminated in a classic final over, reminding viewers of the tied Australia - South Africa semi-final of 1999 World Cup. His constrictive bowling was pivotal in a stunning West Indian effort that broke India's 17 match streak of consecutive successful chases by a solitary run.

But what on earth was an 82 mph delivery doing in his armoury?? Yeah, that is EIGHTY TWO Miles an hour!

Faster deliveries from spinners are getting to be as commonplace these days as slower ones from the quickies. Kumble once bowled a quicker one at about 73 mph in some match from the late nineties and it stuck in my mind then.
Then came Shahid Afridi, the leg spinning all-rounder. After playing at the highest level he re-assessed his bowling capabilities, quickly developed a faster one - and delivered it just as quickly. Seriously it is a fast yorker that looks more Waqar than Qadir. Even as Afridi keeps improving as a leggie in every match, that rocket delivery remains a weapon used by the strongly built all-rounder to engender doubts in minds of accelerating batsmen.
Afridi has gone past Kumble's 73 mph (or whatever) numerous times bowling it. The quickest I saw Afridi bowl that one was at 80 mph in a recent Indo-Pak one dayer. At the time I considered it to be a miracle of sorts. The sucker for records (even dubious ones) that I am, I even considered it to be a scarcely noticed feat achieved while bowling from a spinner's run up, one that looked as difficult to surpass as Jayasuriya's world record 48 ball ODI ton at Singapore'96 appeared then.

Not any more. Marlon Samuels, in a final spell that started off with brisk deliveries and gained in pace as the match got tighter, has done an 'Afridi' on Afridi with his 82 mph scorcher. I rubbed my eyes after I actually saw this ball, bowled off the normal slow bowler's run up, I rubbed my eyes after I actually saw this ball, bowled off the normal slow bowler's run up, get rated by the broadcasting folk at 130 Ks! Some internal doubts about diminishing vision may have lingered if one of the merciful commentators had not shrieked out the speed in subdued disbelief.

AND.....this creep n' slime delivery got unleashed while their fast bowler Ian Bradshaw was consistently clocking late sixties from the other end, with a flummoxed Carlton Baugh standing up at the stumps. I almost screamed in protest (muted it with great difficulty, as it was midnight in India) when the otherwise lovable bore Tony Cozier tried to vilify the poor keeper for missing a stumping chance. Guess he wanted to call the little gloveman a dumb ass for not realising, after all those years of keeping to 'fast' and 'slow' bowlers, that a stumping was easier attempted off quickie Bradshaw?!
West Indies cricket losing potential quick bowlers to basketball? Huh! Ever thought of blaming off-spin?

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