Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Sticky Wickets

I've written articles about it before, and a year ago last week, I blogged briefly about the disturbing notion that a "good pitch" is one on which many runs can be scored, and a "bad pitch" is one on which bowlers are a part of the contest.

In recent weeks, we've had Clive Lloyd, a real believer in the art and craft of spin bowling, criticising the pitches in the India-Sri Lanka Test series, and just yesterday, Cricket Australia condemning the current MCG pitch as "embarrassing."

It continues to amaze me that even the most illustrious of former cricketers can sometimes forget that bowlers are part and parcel of the game we know and love.

Granted, it's always been a batsman's game - so much so that a wiser head than mine believes that "bowling is for idiots," and that machines will ultimately do the grunt work.

That said, it is a truth, albeit not universally acknowledged, that the best cricketing contests have been those in which both bat and ball have had the opportunity to shine. For it is only then that the real skills of the protagonists are put the test, and that is where us armchair fans have the good fortune to catch glimpses of talent and greatness of the sort that we can only aspire to.

Jaysuriya's 340 when Sri Lanka responded to India's 537-8 with 952-6? Or Sunil Gavaskar's 96 at Bangalore? It's pretty clear to me which was in fact the greater innings, all but numerically.

I'm thrilled to see that over at my ex-stomping ground, Dileep Premachandran has picked up on this notion. Despite his misguided penchant for quoting Bill Shankly ahead of Sir Matt Busby, Mr Premachandran is unquestionably one of the better writers at CricInfo. He has a few more readers than I do these days, so perhaps one or two will sit up and take notice.

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