Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Waqar essentially just did one thing with the ball"

When Wasim & Waqar were in their playing days, I used to hang around in a group of late teens / early 20's chaps who were more attracted to Wasim. That variety in swing and seam, that lift from a seemingly innocuous action, that magic surrounding his towering persona. In comparison Waqar appeared to be more of a ramrod to breach defences, the guy with perhaps the most imposing bowling action of his time.

However subsequently I have watched more cricket. And with the increasing dominance of the bat, I have come to value bowlers who had an aura of inevitability. With that realisation,  Waqar Younis and his craftwork during the 90's is a subject of particular interest to me. 

This passage in a lovingly written article on Waqar precisely describes why some of us find the Waqar phenomenon so intriguing: the inevitability of what the batsmen already knew was coming:

"International batsmen generally have half-decent balance, but the Waqar Younis inswinging yorker made fools of them all. Given a choice between losing their toes or losing their dignity, most batsmen opted for falling flat on their face, a position from where they could better hear their middle and leg stumps going their separate ways. Where Wasim was an expert lock pick with a wide array of tools at his disposal, Waqar just burst through doors with a battering ram so immense he could just as easily have gone through the wall. Wasim could do a million and one devious things with a cricket ball, but Waqar essentially just did one. And he only needed to do one. The Waqar Younis reverse-swinging yorker might just be the most destructive delivery in the history of cricket.

Maybe all of this is painting him as one-dimensional, but it was that yorker that grabbed me when I finally got to see him bowl, and it was that yorker that largely explains his phenomenal ability to run through a batting order in the time it took a dismissed opening batsman to say, "Mind your toes." Delivered with a different, more round-arm action to the one he used when opening the bowling, it was a virtually unstoppable delivery, and one of Waqar's greatest strengths was that he acknowledged that fact and was perfectly happy to bowl it again and again and again, where other bowlers might have held it in reserve as a surprise weapon. It didn't need to be a surprise, because knowing what was coming simply didn't help the batsman all that much."
Here's a video of that one thing that Waqar did incomparably. 

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