Phew: England Finally Win


We won. Thank heavens for that. The relief in the blogosphere is almost tangible. A win is a win, is a win, is a win. Finally some positives to lift the gloom.

Positive number one: the mighty Mo. Yes, it was only Scotland, and I have to say I was thoroughly unimpressed by their bowlers, but Mr Ali didn’t get bogged down like many of his teammates and thrived under the pressure.

Moeen is such a good player to watch. That high back lift might get him into trouble now and again, but he wouldn’t be half the cricketer he is without that wonderful flourish.

Mo revealed after the match that he was in a really good place mentally after a long talk with Paul Farbrace. Very clever Mo. Ignoring Peter Moores is obviously the way to go. Seek out the coach who’s actually won a limited overs trophy in his career.

There was a lot of chat in the commentary box about Mo’s back lift. The conversation inevitably came round to Brian Charles Lara: ‘ah, but Lara was a genius so he could get away with it’.

All very true of course, but being a Worcestershire fan I think Mo based his game on another absolutely superb player to watch: Vikram Solanki. We all know Vik came a little unstuck at international level, but his back lift was similarly extravagant. And he was just as much of a joy to watch.

Positive number two: Steve Finn. Our bowlers obviously performed a lot better against the Scots than they did against Brendon McCullum, but it was still heartening to witness a decent performance. There was always a danger that one of Scotland’s batsmen might pull off a Kevin O’Brien. We didn’t let them.

Positive Number three: Eoin Morgan. Yes it was only Scotland …. but at least he managed to get himself in this time. We also saw a few trademark Morgan swats: hitting the ball over extra cover is usually the sign of a good player.

Positive Number four: We are still very much alive in this world cup. I said at the time that the first two games wouldn’t mean a lot in the scheme of things and I stick by it. England’s tournament will probably be defined by their result in the quarter final, and after South Africa’s heavy defeat against India the other day, I don’t think there are many teams to fear in group B.

Obviously England are still huge underdogs in this tournament, and the world cup market reflects this, but every nation other than Australia has their problems at the moment. India look to be coming good, but England beat them twice not long ago.

Having said all that – and here’s some meat for the malcontents (are you reading Maxie?!) – there were still a few negatives we can’t ignore.

Negative One: When England reached 120-0 off approximately twenty overs, we really should have made 350. Scotland’s bowling was barely county standard to be honest, but only Mo looked fluent.

Negative Two: I’m afraid Gary Ballance struggled yet again, and I would’ve moved him down the order after such a good start by the openers.

England had the opportunity to promote an attacking player when the first wicket fell and really go for the jugular, but instead the innings lost momentum. The best teams would have aimed for nearer 400 (and practiced their range hitting) but England were understandably but disappointingly cautious.

Negative Three: The bloodthirsty mob outside Paul Downton’s office has temporarily dispersed. Giles Clarke would have poured himself an extra glass of celebratory cognac too.

One can anticipate the propaganda: “we lost to Ireland in the last world cup, and lost Holland in the World T20, so we’re surely making progress. Peter Moores’ inner steel and this exciting generation of dressing room friendly youngsters is clearly too much for the mighty affiliate nations to handle”.

I’m being facetious, of course. My sense of humour clearly requires an hour or two of intense upskilling.

James Morgan




  • Negative Four: Ian Bell. When you watch Jos Buttler bat you can see that he is looking where he can score before every ball. James Taylor likewise. Bell doesn’t do this, and it reflects in his score, far, far too many dot balls. You’d forgive it, if he was hitting boundaries, but today was awful. I know you could argue that he was supporting Ali, but to me it seemed more like Ali was supporting him. I don’t expect every ball to go to the fence, but I want to see batsmen looking to score off every ball and defending only when it really isn’t an option. Didn’t see that with Bell today, really disappointing…

    • Bell was surprisingly off colour yesterday but he’s still a quality batsman who times that ball beautifully on his day. Let’s not forget the runs he made against Australia when he scored at more than a run a ball. I’m not too worried about Bell myself, I think yesterday was just a dodgy day at the office.

      • I have to admit I am a little more worried. In the main tournaments, either World Cup or ICCCT, when the opposition mostly play their strongest possible side the likes of Bell and Anderson have lamentable records. Bell averages just north of 30 with an s/r of under 70. Isn’t that a bit of a problem?

        Anderson has struggled to take wickets in the last two world cups and started poorly against Australia and New Zealand. If our most experienced players can’t bring their A game soon, England go home without a whimper.

      • I hope you are right about Bell. He was downbeat, dispirited and obviously very annoyed about something during that interview he gave recently. His feelings seemed to go deep. Then we had that strange innings from him. I hope there is not something brewing.

  • Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased and more than a little relieved that we won this game. What worries me is the manner in which we won. With the exception of Mo, who looks a class act in whatever format he plays, our batsman were not at all fluent and didn’t press the advantage when they really should have done. We went along at under six an over for the whole game which against opposition like Scotland is not enough. There is no way Sri lanka will allow us to score like that and our batting will collapse again leaving Buttler and the tail with far too much to do and far too many overs to do it.
    It’s too late to do anything meaningful about it now. We are stuck with the mindset we have and the dated game plans we have followed. Because of the way the tournament is rigged to favour the top 8 teams it’s almost guaranteed that we will make it out of the group stages. I am confident that we won’t make it further than the first knockout game though. We need to wake up to the fact that our brand of ODI cricket is jaded and horribly outdated. What we are doing is letting down the fans who pay dearly to watch attractive entertaining cricket. We deserve better and our players are capable of better.
    I’m sorry but one victory against mediocre opposition is not cause for celebration.

      • Don’t try to tell George Dobell. It is as if the Sri Lanka series didn’t happen….. The one where they kept scoring 100 runs in the last 10 overs, and you can win an ODI on a flat pitch with 230 runs. He ought to know by now that English pitches in May and June are quite rare in Australia.

  • Davey was seriously off target in his opening spell except for one swinging beauty which Mo played and missed comprehensively. Had he been good enough to get a touch it is horrible to contemplate what total England might not have got.

  • Never mind 100-0, any side that gets to 200-1 off 30 overs and then limps its way to 303-8 off the full 50, against a sub-county standard attack, deserves a shoeing.

    Yet again, Moores showed he had no imagination in terms of mixing up the batting order. Ballance is patently out of form (who can blame him?), while Buttler languishes at 7 when he could be better deployed to inject some impetus during the power play or after a platform has been built.

    I still think it’s stupid to go into games against decent sides with a 4-man pace attack, regardless of conditions. Anderson’s not swinging the ball much, Finn and Broad lack pace, and Woakes is reliable but unspectacular. So you have 4 very ‘meh’ bowlers with little or no variety. Tredwell is a proven performer and at least offers something different. I know Ali gets a few overs here and there but it’s not quite the same, is it? And he’s probably a better batting option than Finn, Anderson and particularly Broad at the moment, who is just a total catastrophe at the moment.

    • Buttler should definitely have come in at 3 yesterday.

      I’m not clear what Ballance is doing in the XI. It’s not his fault that he hasn’t been given a long enough run, but he hasn’t been able to adapt fast enough. I reckon put Taylor back at 3, move Buttler up to 5, move Morgan back to 6 and bring back Bopara at 7 (he’s offering more to the team than Ballance right now).

  • Well with all the issues dogging English cricket at the moment the that would worry me th most is the bowling.

    It’s insipid and lacks penetration. Finn may have taken wickets today but against a modestly test capable side he will be smacked off his length with a regularity that may border on the monotonous. Broad’s bowling is like being savaged by one of Cookies sheep. Woakes seems to be pretty hit and miss but he does have pace. Anderson seems fairly toothless without the Duke Ball and a non swinging pitch.

    What’s the answer…buggered if I know.

    • My sentence composition has gone the way of English cricket.

      First sentence should read: Well with all the issues dogging English cricket at the moment the one that would worry me the most is the bowling.

    • Possible bowling solutions:

      Luke Fletcher (best death bowler at county level?)
      Rikki Clarke (ditto)
      David Willey (lfm; can also bat)
      Stokes (if we’re prepared to wait a few months for him to come good)

      Samit Patel and/or Monty (sla; Patel can also bat)
      Rashid and/or Borthwick (lb; both can also bat)

      I don’t think the cupboard is bare at all. But the ECB seem to have ruled potential stars at county level for no obvious reason.

      I also think England underestimate how many all-rounders the modern ODI game requires. If you want to bat down to 9 (say) and also play 6-7 bowlers in your XI (which you do), then mathematically, most of the bowlers have to be either batting or bowling all-rounders.

      • Both Rashid and Stokes should have been in the squad, IMO…

        …and your general point is right, except that you should always first accommodate any truly outstanding bowlers and/or batters irrespective of their all round (in)ability.

        • I know where you’re coming from, but space is limited for specialists. The maths goes like this:

          You have 11 players, which need to include: 1 batsman-wicketkeeper, 5-8 bowlers and batting down to 9 (preferably). So you have space for 2 specialist bowlers maximum and 3 or 4 specialist batsmen maximum, depending on the number of bowlers you want to field.

          The only way to ensure both your batting and bowling are deep enough simultaneously is to have high-quality batting all-rounders like Moeen, Dilshan etc at the top of the order and bowling all-rounders like Faulkner, Russell etc leading the tail, each one effectively giving you 2 players for the price of 1.

  • Peter Moores here….

    After much sole-searching, the lads had a good look at themselves, re-evaluated their plans and, this time, executed well. But we can’t stop here, we need to keep looking at ourselves, critically, and re-evaluate our plans again. This means we will have re-evaluated them two times since the NZ game so they should be pretty different. Then with the double re-evaluated plans, execute them again against SL, which is a pseudo-mission critical match. I see my role in making sure that the boys have got everything they need to hit their deliverables and I think we are on a roll now.

    • Thanks for your input Peter. What percentage figure would you put on England winning again against Sri Lanka? I’m thinking it’s 0%. But if we multiply that 0% by the number of team meetings you have between now and Saturday, I anticipating something very different (but the same).

    • Dear Peter,

      Rupert has told me that I have to sack my Chief of Staff, the remarkable Peta Credlin. Although I am devoted to her Rupert did make me PM so I must bow to his will.

      You seem like just the kind of bloke that could fill Peta’s (great that you have the same name it will cut down massively on my learning curve) shoes.

      You seem to embody all that I want in a CoS, an ability to coin three word slogans (we use them instead of formulating policy). Meaningless circumlocutions that will keep the press in tied knots for days. Which is great it will keep them from asking me hard questions like, what are my policies.

      And I really like the way you can keep out of the limelight and hang out the boys to dry, oops, sorry I mean put relevant people in front of the press to answer their annoying questions.

      So what I’m saying mate is that when you’re undoubtedly short engagement with the ECB is over I’d love to get your job app. on my desk

      Tony Abbot
      PM of Straya

      PS don’t wait to long, I don’t know how much longer I’ve got left.

    • A wonderfully enriching and insightful piece Peter. The clarity you bring is far more incisive and positive than that what you get from the average Joe outside the hallowed halls of cricket. Your genius will be cemented into the National psyche I’m sure! Keep up the good work!

  • “every nation other than Australia has their problems at the moment”.

    I’m struggling to see what problems NZ are having at the moment!

    • NZ took over 10 overs to beat us. They need to take a good, long hard look in the mirror after that failure.

  • ….STOP. Some England player score runs, and a few don’t, against bowlers none of whom is good enough to earn a contract with even a lower second division county. STOP.

  • Has there been clarification yet about why the ECB released the team on Twitter before the toss? By all accounts it is against the anti corruption rules.

  • I’m so grateful for the win, it’s bordering on the pathetic. But as others have correctly pointed out, no need to put out the bunting just yet…

    Incidentally, am I the only one that thought it was a good call to give Ballance some more time in the middle at 3? Bearing in mind how he has probably been off-colour due to a lack of game time before the WC, I thought it made sense to give him another run, especially as we were in such a dominant (if not impregnable) position against a weaker side. Can fully appreciate that it didn’t work out, and if it was a one-off game, that would have been a bad call, but maybe they were trying to see the bigger picture as regards his form?

    • It’s a decent argument.
      The other view would be that Ballance is a good test batsman whose game does not particularly suit the one day form at international level.

      It’s notable that Ballance has a higher test average and strike rate than Root, but a lower average and strike rate in ODIs. A failure to adapt, or just not had a long enough run ?

      FWIW, I’d play Taylor at three, and move Buttler back up a place in the order – though it’s rather too late to be chopping and changing now.

      • I don’t understand why Ballance is always so cautious in ODIs. I’ve seen him play many attacking innings for Yorks, In fact, he once topped the six hitting league in the English T20 (either that or one of the other limited overs trophies).

        • I think Moores has told him to bat that way. Either that, or he’s somehow managed to psyche himself out.

        • Yes, both his T20 results, and his short test career, are at odds with the way he’s played thus far.

          The common denominator for quite a few of our selectoral problems seems to have been an unwillingness to give the new players an extended run (in sharp distinction to that of Mr Cook…).
          Marry that to the generally hyper-cautious England approach to the 50 over game, and you don’t end up with a recipe for success.

      • I think England stymied themselves by their squad make up – when Bopara was dropped, they had the option of Ballance or Hales to replace him, both of whom are top order batsmen rather than the power hitters that are required to bat between 5 and 8. Stokes was abysmal in Sri Lanka which gave them a problem – I think I would have taken the chance on him rather than Ballance.

        England’s lower middle order is a problem – 18 months ago the likes of Bresnan and Swann offered some lower order power. Woakes’ batting is ‘nice’ but not particularly destructive and Broad seems to be trying to bat like Glenn McGrath rather than bowl like him. Jordan can bat but his bowling is just not there yet.

        Incidentally, why is Bresnan not in consideration any more?

  • It was exactly the right game for England – when England players used to lose form, they could at least go off and play a bit of county cricket against lower standard opposition, and on tour there used to be some state / provincial games for the same reasons. Best way to get back into some kind of match form

    Currently all contracted players have is international matches and nets. Even if Moores was a great coach, there’s only so much netting and practice that can benefit without time in the middle.

    The good thing about this competition is that England get a couple more easier games like this which might help them back into form

  • The Lankans up next and it’ll be interesting to see how they approach Moeen:
    1) Attack him with some short stuff – but this isn’t really Malinga or Lakmal’s game. Do they risk Eranga who can go for a few?
    2) Dilshan trouble Moeen in the second part of the warm-up series. However he didn’t bowl in their last match and may be carrying an injury. Do they play Senanayake and bowl him early?
    3) Concentrate on swing – the match is at Wellington where Southee did the damage. However it doesn’t always swing there.

    It promises to be an intriguing match.

    By the way, Scotland’s bowling has been taking some criticism. Bowling isn’t their storng suit – they are a better batting side than they showed last night. No general conclusions should be drawn about the quality of associate teams’ bowling from last night and Afghanistan in particular have an impressive seam attack.

  • this is a beaut!! we are all aware of the team meetings called by Moores to facilitate the well-being and forward thinking of the team, well, here’s yesterday’s team talk:-

    “From now on or in future we are using drill down to action by end of play delivering actionables, deliverables in recognisance that there is a problem so big that we are scared to even talk about it directly. We need to leverage our synergies, manage our stakeholders,update our stakeholder matrix competencies. We’re going to sunset the project. You really can’t fail with facilitating monitored projections. We need a more blue-sky approach to functional digital projections. We need to get on-message about our interactive policy concepts.”

    This gives us some insight into the team’s deliverables alright!!

  • Cricinfo:

    New Zealand may well struggle to field a team in their two warm-up matches. As well as McCullum, Test regulars such as No.3 batsman Kane Williamson, allrounders Corey Anderson and James Neesham, and new-ball pair Tim Southee and Trent Boult have IPL contracts.

    Lindsay Crocker, NZC’s head of cricket, told the Dominion Post that the ECB had refused requests to change the tour itinerary, including moving the Tests back and playing the limited-overs matches first.

    “Clearly it is not ideal preparation for us,” Crocker said. “But the bottom line is some of our players have the chance to participate in the IPL and in order to be picked up we had to allow them a playing window. If we had truncated that it would have reduced their marketability.

    Don’t ya just love the ECB?

    • Why does this matter? It’s not as if New Zealand – having probably found its best all-round side in a generation – are only playing four Tests in England this decade, while India – right after losing most of its best side in a generation – play fourteen.

      Oh, it is… As you were then.

  • It may be churlish of me to remind you that England have played international cricket in May for quite a few years now.
    Not everything has to be sacrificed for the hits and giggles of the IPL.
    We only have a short summer, why should we give up part of it for cricentertainmet?

    • what? as opposed the the ‘real thing’ hummmm??? After all New Zealand aren’t a proper test playing nation are they with so many part-time players and, of course they don’t have England’s rich history or England’s ‘Big Three’ power, hey??????

    • Neil

      There’s a much more serious point than the IPL here (although, much as I personally have no interest, we’re only shooting ourselves in both feet by not accommodating it). I started following cricket in 1981. From then until 2000 we managed perfectly well with ODIs starting in May and not a single day of Test cricket being played before June 1st. Since then, touring sides have been asked to play Test cricket in England in mid and early May, with the nadir coming with a 6th May start in 2009. Not only that, but the high summer weeks of late June and early July have often been devoted to ODIs. Furthermore, the distribution of “early summer” Test cricket has been markedly unfair between 2000 and 2015:

      New Zealand 4 tours out of 4 played early summer
      Sri Lanka 4/4
      West Indies 3/5 (the last three in a row)
      Bangladesh and Zimbabwe both 2/2 (admittedly this is less of a concern)
      Pakistan 1/3
      South Africa 0/3
      India 0/4
      Australia 0/5

      (That’s even before we get on to the subject of number of Tests allocated)

      I examined in the post below how this compares to previous decades, and how it might be distorting people’s views of the records of modern greats.

      In short, the likes of Border, Gavaskar, Richards, Miandad and Crowe were tested across all conditions in the English season. By contrast, some of the great batsmen of the 21st century have been heavily favoured compared to others. And in future, it seems likely that, say, Kane Williamson will only ever play Test cricket in England in May and early June. Meanwhile, Steve Smith and Virat Kohli will almost certainly never even have to play before July is underway. I find this very sad and frustrating.

      • I agree with all that Arron. I wouldn’t play test match cricket in May, it’s too early.
        But the pre 2000 ODI’s were regularly played and tour games (the aussies used to arrive in April)
        We can get good weather in May (the last WI test at Trent bridge were the hottest days of that summer) but it’s less likely and also less likely in the north where the 2nd test is usually played.
        But if we clear the schedule completely for the IPL that sets a dangerous precedent.

      • ‘Hits’ – implies T20 is just about big sixes. It isn’t. Perth Scorchers just won the BB through a combination of outstanding bowling and fielding. SL won the T20I WC through brilliant death bowling by Malinga and Kulasekera.

        ‘Giggles’ – implies that T20 is lightweight nonsense. It isn’t. Every ball matters. The T20 WC and the BB were played with an intensity that surpassed certain recent Test series I could mention.

        I like all forms of the game. Some prefer Tests only – fair enough. But the implication that one taste has some sort of superiority and gravitas comes across as pompous and grating.

        • I was being slightly facetious – but fair play to you, that’s the most well-reasoned defence of T20 I’ve read.
          Does nothing for me though. Bowlers going for 10 an over in whatever form of cricket bores me pretty quickly but I freely admit to being a dinosaur. I wonder if I’ll even have test cricket to watch in 20 years time – outside from maybe an annual England/Australia game? A large part of me thinks not. Failing that, there’s always baseball! :)

          • Funnily enough, I greatly enjoy both T20 and test cricket – and the 50 overs game slightly less so.

            The monster hitting thing is a bit of a red herring, as it’s not specific to any one form of the game; rather a general development in the balance between bowler and batter.

        • It’s not about ones tastes being superior. I fully accept that a lot of people love T20 and would never bother with a test match, but surely to safeguard the sport we should protect test cricket?
          I personally don’t see a future for the game without it.

          • I don’t think Test cricket can be protected. It’s just not profitable these days. The world has moved on; the pace of life is faster, etc.

              • It’s not as if we have a choice. T20 is the only format that’s paying for itself right now.

              • I think you are right. We are just spitting into the wind. If England starting beating all comers at test cricket we might have a chance, but I can’t see that happening in good time.

    • I have mixed feelings about this. His wickets last year were clearly illegitimate in my humble opinion, no matter how valuable to Worcs. When I watched him play his action was diabolical, and I’m sceptical as to whether he’ll be the same bowler if he’s now bowling with a straight arm. I’m one of those who believes the doosra simply cannot be delivered legally unless the bowler in question has some kind of deformity or abnormality. It’s just the way I feel.

      • How effective Ajmal will be with his remodeled action remains to be seen. Senanayake didn’t seem any less effective and seemed to resolve his problems simply by getting more side-on in delivery.

        On the doosra, I think much depends what one means by the term. Originally it meant ‘the other one’ (called by Moin* to Saqlain) i.e. a ball turning from leg to off however that was achieved. Over time, it has come to mean a specific method of bowling with the back of the wrist facing the batsman. I probably agree that the latter may be impossible to deliver legally – but other ways of achieving the same result are entirely legal (like the carrom ball or a traditional arm ball). Saqlain and Ashwin, to pick two examples, both employed a type of carrom ball with no questions about the legality of their actions. How Ajmal has remodeled his action we’ll see when he plays.

        One thing is certain – the sooner on-field monitoring of actions with sensors on a bowler’s arm is introduced the better.

        * The story about Moin, in his current role as Pakistan’s chairman of selectors, apparently gambling large sums of money in a NZ casino while his team were losing to WI is alarming if it turns out to be substantiated.

        • Do you know why Senanayake didn’t play in Sri Lanka’s last game? His action looked a lot better in the recent games against England but he didn’t seem quite as effective. I imagine the same will happen with Ajmal (although yes we obviously don’t know that for sure). I agree that carrot balls are the way forward. I’m a big fan of Ashwin. Arm balls don’t really ‘spin’ the other way, although they can move somewhat off the seam.

          • Yes, on arm balls I should have said ‘move’ the other way rather that ‘spin’.

            SL have played their matches so far at Christchurch and Dunedin – two smallish grounds that don’t usually help the spinners. Senanayake wasn’t that effective on these sorts of pitches in the warm-up series against NZ. I don’t think they are leaving him out because they’re still concerned about his action – but who knows?

      • Totally agree about the doosra.

        The problem the authorities have got is this 15 degree ‘tolerance’, which I thought was to cover the occasions where a player strayed from the norm or developed a kink. The problem is that players are developing actions to make full use of the allowance, with the result that they will start to stray towards 20 degs or more.

        Zero Tolerance – the way forward

        • Fifteen degrees tolerance was introduced because it was the point at which it becomes visible to the naked eye.

          No bowler ever tested has bowled with no flexion. Brett Lee was found to have 14.5 degrees for some of his deliveries.

          Some people still repeat the myth that fifteen was chosen because of Murali’s doosra. This is just untrue. Murali was well within fifteen degrees (twelve if I remember correctly).

          • The cricket fraternity certainly felt that the rules were changed for Murali (whether they were or not). I remember Gilchrist calling the law change ‘horse crap’ that was designed specifically to protect Murali. Thorpe is also pretty candid in his autobiography I believe.

            I think what people miss with Murali is that he bowled with far more than 15 degrees because of his deformity (where he couldn’t straighten his arm). I think the 11 degrees you’re referring to is an additional flex on top of the 15-20 degrees that he was born with; therefore his arm was bent 26-31 degrees approximately when he delivered the ball.

            My personal belief is that Murali was bowling legally after the rules were changed because he was effectively exploiting a loophole. When the law makers wrote the rules, they never envisaged a bowler that physically couldn’t straighten his/her arm – and this is why they only referred to ‘straightening’. It’s all a matter of semantics.

            I assume what the law makers really meant was simply ‘you can’t bowl with a bent arm because it’s a throw’. They never envisaged a human being that couldn’t bowl and could only throw. I’d love to go back and ask the person / people who wrote the laws what they really meant, and what they’d make of Murali. Personally, I think the spirit of the law is that you shouldn’t bowl with a bent arm because it gives you an advantage. I’m no biomechanics expert though, so I could be wrong.

            • I don’t think the laws of cricket are based on what Gilchrist or Thorpe said in their books however much I respected them as players (which is a lot).

              I’m afraid James that I think most of your post is based on a misunderstanding of the laws. It is not – and never has been – illegal to bowl with a bent arm. Throwing is a motion, not a static act. It is flexing (or extending) the arm that makes a throw, not how bent the arm is.

              As for Murali not being able to straighten his arm, I always thought his double-jointed wrist was the key to his effectiveness. Although Murali was technically a finger-spinner he was in reality a wrist-spinner which was why he could turn the ball so much.

              Check this excellent post from the Guardian thread:


              • Hi Simon. I think you miss what I’m trying to say. I know the laws say that ‘throwing’ is a motion (and that is how it is worded). I am also very familiar with the common misconception you are referring to. However, I personally believe that the spirit of the law is that bowling with a bent arm should also be illegal. I don’t think they actually articulated this because they never envisaged that someone would come along with a naturally bent arm who couldn’t straighten it.

                In my opinion, bowling should be a windmill type action with a straight arm, as this is what differentiates it from throwing. I believe this is what the law writers intended and this is what they would have re-asserted has they been presented with someone like Murali.

                I firmly believe that bowling with a bent arm gives an unfair advantage irrespective of flex. Perhaps it’s a quirk of my own body, but I find it impossible to bowl an orthodox off-spinner. I can only bowl leg breaks. However, if I bend my arm slightly, and approach the crease with a slightly bent arm, I can indeed bowl an off break and it turns a great deal. However, I simply can’t do it when my arm is straight.

              • Looks like we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one!

                I may come back to it though in the summer when Worcester and my county Hampshire are engaged in a relegation dog-fight if Ajmal is helping your lot. My position may then be flexed not by 15 degrees but more like 180!

              • No worries :-) I’d just hate to see a world in which everyone bowls with a bent arm (even with no flex) because technically the rules permit it. The rules are ancient and need to be looked at again imho.

            • “I assume what the law makers really meant was simply ‘you can’t bowl with a bent arm because it’s a throw’

              But that’s not the law and never has been. There is no law against bowling with a bent arm.

              The law is against throwing the ball instead of bowling it. What Murali did, and what Ajmal and others do, is not throwing. You wouldn’t watch them bowl and mistake them for baseball pitchers, would you? THAT is throwing. The definition of throwing is the deliberate use of the tricep in generating ball-speed, something that Ajmal does not do and has never done. It has nothing to do with a bent elbow or any other such nonsense.

              • If Ajmal does not throw then why was he banned after extensive studies? You cannot define ‘throwing’ as something only baseball pitchers do. Baseball pitching involves a particular type of low-arm throw. This is not the only way of throwing.

                Again I think you’re missing the point I’m trying to make. The law makers never envisaged someone with a permanently bent arm. I think they would have written the rules differently had they been alive today to see the way cricket has evolved.

                Do you think they’d want to see bowlers who can physically straighten their arm running up and deliberately bowling with a bent one (even if there is no flex)? I imagine there is no rule against bowling with a bent arm because nobody actually tried it at the time, and it hasn’t been a problem until now.

                Personally I think they should re-write the rule. Bowling with a bent arm enables people to get their wrist into a different position / angle at the point of delivery. This gives them an unfair advantage over orthodox bowlers.

              • He was banned because he broke the rules as currently written.That says nothing about whether those rules are beneficial or detrimental to the game.

                You’re guessing about the intentions of the original law makers. I might make a guess as well, but my guess would go in the opposite direction to yours. I think that if they had any sense whatsoever, they would keep throwing illegal, but make bowling with a bent arm or straightening arm completely legal.

                Guessing dead people’s intents is a pointless exercise anyway, the only relevant thing to do is to ask what is the best thing to do now, moving forward. Do mystery spinners add or subtract from the game of cricket?

              • I think it’s the straightening of the arm that constitutes a throw?

                I can’t agree that the purists who wrote the rules would have allowed bowling with a bent arm. The art of bowling was always intended to be a pure windmill action, as it used to be taught in schools for almost a century. All this bent arm stuff is a relatively new invention and it’s all getting very messy as a result.

                I appreciate that I can’t say for certain what the law makers would have wanted, and therefore you could call it guessing, but I’d argue it’s educated guessing based on the spirit of the laws. Not everything is codified.

                I know some people will disagree, but mystery spinners who throw add nothing to the game in my humble opinion. They are breaking the rules, just like a batsman who arrives at the crease with a bat made from illegal materials or with illegal dimensions. Where will it end?

                Besides, mystery spinners do not have to throw to be called ‘mystery’ spinners. The likes of Ashwin have proved that you don’t need to throw in order to deceive batsmen. I’m all for innovation but within the rules.

              • Arms have always been bent. I bowl with a straight arm, so do you, and so did WG Grace. To pretend otherwise is just to bury one’s head in the sand. You can’t ignore the facts and hope the issue just goes away. It is by no means a new invention.

                “I think it’s the straightening of the arm that constitutes a throw?”

                No, throwing is any action that involves the contraction of the tricep in order to propel an object. You can straighten you arm whilst taking a penalty kick, it doesn’t mean you’ve thrown the ball. You can straighten your arm while bowling (in fact its impossible not to), it doesn’t mean you’ve thrown the ball. As long as you don’t deliberately contract your tricep, its not a throw.

                I’ve coached 100s of kids to bowl, I’ve coached 100s of kids to throw. I’ve studied the biomechanics in detail. I know the difference.

                “I know some people will disagree, but mystery spinners who throw”

                We’ve just established that there are no mystery spinners who throw, because throwing is a different biomechanical action to bowling. Saeed Ajmal does not throw the ball.

                “They are breaking the rules”

                Arguing about what the rules should be by just saying “those are the rules” is quite clearly a circular argument.

                Let me say this clearly: the current set of rules are stupid, wrongheaded, thoughtless, divisive, unworkable, and biomechanically illiterate. It is clearly apparent that hardly anyone involved knows the first thing about the subject, which frankly is an absolute disgrace.

        • The vast majority of current fast bowlers break the 15 degree rule with their effort balls. But only the spinners get investigated. I’m pretty fed up of the posturing.

      • I completely agree with you. This chucking has got to stop if we wish to carry on playing the game as it was devised. I’m standing by, ready to be labelled as a boring old relic from the past, or worse :-)

  • I’m not sure about much of what Mickey Arthur says, but these comments might strike a chord with some English fans —

    >>Arthur was hurt by his dismissal, but now reasons that it was a painful but necessary step towards Australian cricket’s more recent successes. Most notably, [performance chief Pat] Howard is nowhere near as hands-on with the team and the selectors as he was during Arthur’s time, trusting that Lehmann is in control.
    “I’ve spoken to a lot of people and they say Pat’s hardly ever around now,” Arthur says. “When I was there, he was there every minute of every day….”<<


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