The ICC World Cup of 2011: A tournament of spectacular spinners

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Robin Soderling

Cricket News
  • The ICC World Cup of 2011: A tournament of spectacular spinners

The ICC World Cup of 2011:   A tournament of spectacular spinners

“Slow and steady wins the race”, it is a world-wide accepted and recognized theory. The ongoing 10th ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 has endorsed it more as spinners are acting to outperform pacers on the slow and dry pitches of Subcontinent. In the matches that have been played so far, spinners have an edge over the fast bowlers. Courtesy to spinners’ outclass accomplishment, some of the teams have even consigned new ball to spinners. The age-old pace-paradigm seems to be in shift.

As per the traditional and conventional practice, new ball is held by pacers who are supposed to dismantle the batting order of the rival team in powerplay overs. Every team has three to four quality pacers with fast and medium-fast bowling abilities. But pacers do not thrive always as the conditions of the pitches vary and matter a lot. Some pitches are fast that support pacers while some being rather dry and slow---as the Subcontinent pitches are--- are more favorable for spinners.

During the ongoing World Cup, spinners are on the edge. Some of the top spinners like Robin Peterson, Shahid Afridi, Daniel Vettori, Yuvraj Singh, Ray Price, Imran Tahir, Balaji Rao and Graeme Swann are outstripping the pacers by grabbing more match-winning and critical wickets.

Pakistan’s skipper Shahid Afridi is the top-wicket taker of this tournament with 14 wickets in three matches that include two 5-wicket hauls against Kenya and Canada. Afridi’s five wickets against Canada that led his side to win a near-to-lose game, and made him World’s seventh and Pakistan’s first to take 3 consecutive four-wicket hauls.

India’s left-arm orthodox spinner, Yuvraj Singh has set a new world record by taking 5 wickets and scoring a fifty in a match against Ireland here on Sunday March 6. He dismissed the 5 important Irish batsmen in a row to steer his side to victory.

Apart from these two glittering records, the other spinners are also doing well for their sides concerned. The new comer Imran Tahir has turned to be South Africa’s high-profile spinner in this tournament. The Kiwi skipper, Vettori, has also emerged as a quality spinner. Canada’s Balaji Rao, Zimbabwe’s Price and England’s Swann seem to be in great form. Their reverse, swing and googly deliveries are cause confusion and damage to the batsmen.

Two of the 14 teams have done away with the traditional practice of opening the innings with pacers and entrusted new ball to spinners. The trend setters South Africa and Zimbabwe have tried spinners with the new balls and got good results. The Zimbabwe’s left-arm spinner, Price, opening the innings, had been instrumental in his side’s single win of the tournament against New Zealand that forced Vettori to say, “He does a really good job at the top of the order”. The spin-averse South Africa---that has three world class pacers---also opened the innings against England with the spinner Robin Peterson. It was hailed as a revolution. Peterson did an excellent job by dismissing Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen.

Both these experiences of using spinners with new balls have proved to be highly successful and set a new trend, breaking the monopoly of pacers over cricket and granting spinners prominence. Now the pace-paradigm will transform into spin-led attack in powerplay overs.

The Subcontinent pitches, as it is said, are more supportive to batsmen. The Protease pacer, Dale Steyn, says, “In India the ball does not bounce, and it finds the middle of the bat”. In this situation, the reverse swing and googly deliveries help the bowlers to bowl in right direction and claim LBWs---that are common in this tournament.



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