Spin – A forgotten art for the Indians

At the risk of being criticized for being critical of Indian team after the defeat, I am going ahead and writing my views on the just concluded test match. Indians lost the game simply because we have forgotten to play spin bowling. The Indian batsmen have not encountered spin bowling in India for more than 10 years now. We have lived under the pretext that Anil Kumble is a spinner all this while. How pathetic can it be when the Sri Lankan spinners have claimed 20 wickets between themselves and Kumble did not even manage to get one. The big four rarely play games in Indian domestic cricket and even if they do so, they get exposed to mediocre spin bowling. The Indians have fallen to Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Shahid Afridi and Arshad Khan in recent times leave alone the quality of Muralitharan and now, Mendis.

Tendulkar (partially in the second innings) and Laxman seemed to be the only players to have the ability to play out some of the quality bowling and, I guess, more out of memory than real practice.

India cannot simply rely of fast bowlers to get them out of trouble and win test games. The current pacemen are good, exceptional in exceptions, but not world class. They are certainly not a dependable bunch. India can still pull out victories from nowhere in other countries with the pace battery but a win in Sri Lanka is only possible if we match spin with spin. We need spinners, quality spinners. Kumble and Harbhajan don’t seem to cut it.

Expecting grenades,

– Srikanth

10 responses to “Spin – A forgotten art for the Indians

  1. The Sanjay Manjrekar brand of blogging, I see! And what’s more, just after I had written a post on the Sanjay Manjrekar style of reporting… jai ho!

    Anil Kumble is not a spinner? Well, he is the third highest wicket taker in the world ever… so if he has been able to fool the world (but not you, dear blogger) all this while, and successfully,what’s more…. I would assume we can understand who is the fool here, dear blogger.

    The quality of Mendis is yet to be determined. Murali is great. The greatest spinner ever.

    And while India’s batting has indeed fallen to Symonds and Clarke (albeit either the tail, or on a paddyfield)…. they have not done so to Warne, McGill, Vettori and Panesar…
    Really, is this some recent thesis you have developed? That the Fab 4 play well against quality spinners, and badly against part-time trundlers? congratulations to you then.

    Dear doomsday-prophet blogger, India’s batsmen crumbled to Murali and Mendis because they were unprepared. extremely underprepared. It’s a shame really, that our player take the field to play a test match mentally completely unprepared… you could see it in their body language…..

    And it is not because the batsmen have suddenly become bad players of spin.

    p.s. Factual faux-pas – Sri Lankan spinners managed 19 wickets among themselves

  2. I concur with Shrikant.. though i don’t think its enough to just say the we’re not good players of spin bowling. The point is, that the Indian batsmen weren’t reading Mendis at all. They were reading Murali (i.e which way it would turn), but kept getting beaten in the flight by him.

    This has a lot to do with pressure – exerted by Murali and Mendis bowling in tandem. Another huge factor is the weight of 600 runs and the wearing wicket, especially in the second innings.

    As for the Indian spinners, Kumble is clearly in decline. As for Harbhajan Singh, he hasn’t been bowling well for a while. His volatile temperament is cannot suited for spin bowling….. an art built on guile, subterfuge and patience.

  3. Kumble has been a straight spinning medium pacer all his life –just like Afridi
    As Bedi would say, the more you bowl, the more chances of getting a wicket
    THE time has come to get rid of Kumble, Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman and bring in Chawla, Raina, Rohit Sharma and may be Badrinath–lose a few games initially but in the long run, it will pay off.
    As for Bhajji–let him go into politics–just like Sidhdhu did–we won’t miss him. He has become too predictable with his bowling.

    There must be other javelin throwers like Murali in India—or as he is married to a Chennai lass, qualify him to play for India!!

  4. Govinda,

    I notice one interesting name missing from your hit list – Tendulkar. He is really the one who is long overdue to retire. I know he needs another 150 odd runs to beat Lara’s record. I hope and pray that he gets it in this series and hangs his boots. Indian cricket cannot keep bending over backwards to accomodate this guy.

  5. Srikanth Mangalam


    Apart from blowing your top, you seem to be stating pretty much the same as what I had mentioned. You say the batsmen came in unprepared, I say they have come in unprepared for a while now not because the lack the technique but because they lack the practice against quality spin bowling. There is none of it in India.

  6. Tendulkar does not throw his wicket away–has the same concentration and application he had 15 years ago. Plays every bowler on the merit. He doesn’t win games on his own bat but will contribute.
    Dravid is too circumspect now–Ganguly is gambling from memory–Laxman is playing for averages–Kumble can only take wickets in dust bowl or if bowls 50 overs in an innings–Kumble can’t be dropped now because he is the CAPTAIN–very clever on his part to promote and accept the captaincy 6 months ago. V Mallaya will drop Kumble and Dravid from HIS team , next time around before the Indian selectors do

  7. If Indian batsmen can not play quality sping – there is an element of truth in that – by the same tokem, they are not good players of fast bowling also – on a bouncy track @ Perth – With McGrath or Brett Lee or Flintoff or Steyn they struggle.

    In comparison, Gavaskar was a master playing fast bowling. WI players considered Mohinder Amarnath a better player of WI fast bowling than Greg Chappell. Ashok Mankad, Gavaskar were excellent players of spin bowling.

    If Mendis and Murali could make our players dance, what happened to Kumble and Harbhajan ?

  8. rajiv ramanujam

    I saw India’s Spectacular collapse partly on Friday and Saturday.They were completely done in by magnificent,sustained pressure from too freak bowlers…I actually think now that Indians are better players of Pace than Spin.

    Only sachin and Laxman looked capable of hanging on.Dhoni with his sheer street smarts maybe would have managed..after all he learnt to play against tennis balls.

    Great show.India can only get betetr after this.Too soon to press panic button, but I think the curtain is drawing on Saurav and Rahul.

    Maybe this is their last hurrah.

  9. Srikanth,

    I agree that the basic tenets of what we say are not too different (lack of practise, in a phrase), but the analogies and examples you provide are wrong, IMHO.

    There’s a difference between calling Kumble a bowler in decline (which I will agree to), to calling him a medium pacer, summarily negating his years of brilliant service to Indian cricket. That’s the BS Bedi school of commentary.

    The easy way is to say that the Indian Fab4 had fallen to trundlers like Clarke, Symonds and Arshad Khan.. and summarise that they have been bad against spinners for a while now; disregarding the fact that they had dominated Warne, Vettori, Panesar and McGill, and have consistently averaged better against Murali than any other team …. sustainedly for the greater part of the last decade-and-a-half. And the last-mentioned five are not mediocre spin bowlers by any stretch of the imagination.
    These things happen, you know. Even Murali Karthik, who I consider a lesser bowler than Clarke or Symonds, has had his moments. Even Venkatapathy Raju. Even.. shudder shudder … Rahul Sanghvi. So please, let’s not draw conclusions off stray events.

    And let me add, if the Fab4 fail for the entire series, there will start to develop some modicum of credence in your statement. Will they? I doubt that.
    And if it does not, all that your post has been, is an example of doomsday-mongering.

    And no, I am not blowing my top. Polite debate has a place for irony, non?

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