Fast Bowler

 

 

4th_Test_Woodfull

Sid is just annoyed, annoyed from yesterday, he is constantly trying to pick up a fight with his elder brother Gautam. But his brother just shunning him away with sheer disinterest and sarcastic smile, normally it’s the other way around, Gautam and his best buddy Sonu is always picking on him, bullying him.

Gautam and Siddharth are studying in the same school, in 12th and 9th standard respectively. Yesterday when 12th standard boys were mocking Siddharth’s classmates for trivial issue, Sumit, the cricket captain of the class 9, lost his nerves and challenged the elder boys for a cricket match, which they gladly accepted knowing the 9th standard boys are no match to them.

As the challenge is made and accepted for a twenty20 match between the boys on this Sunday, Gautam came and whisper in Sid’s ear, “Hope you’ll bowl in this match, we’ll make sure your bowling figure looks as generous as it can be, 100 for none may be.”, and laughed his head off.

Gautam is the opening batsman and Sonu is the no. 3, they are the best batsmen this school cricket team has, no wonder they are popular and have quite a fan following. Other hand Sid is a first change fast medium pacer yet to play for the school team. For obvious reason Gautam is snubbing him.

When at the dinner table that night the same topic was discussed, Gautam and Sid’s dad was as always not much interested, but their mom was over cautious and asking Gautam to go soft on his younger brother, which made Sid more irate and frustrated.

Saturday, as Sid returned back from school he heard fragments of words and laughter from his brother’s room. He peeped in and found his brother’s snobbish girlfriend Harshita inside, she’s called miss snotty in school and Sid loathe her for her cosmetic smile and fake attitude.

As she saw him, she taunted, “Heard you are playing a match against your brother, good luck. You need that when you are playing against our school’s Virat Kohli.”, and started to giggle.

“I heard Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma are breaking up, when you people are going to?” He threw those words at her and started walking, he heard her shouting, “Tell that li’l devil not to talk to me that way.”

Sid made a face and sat with his grandfather on the sofa, the highlights of India Australia match was going on. Sid’s grandpa shook his head and said. “It’s such a one sided affair now a days, it’s all a batsman’s game now. Boundaries are small, fieldsmen are restricted, bowler’s wings are clipped with so many rules, no wonder nobody is interested being a bowler. Everyone just want to pick the heaviest wood they can lift and hit the ball as hard as they can”

“Yup, and Australia is always a strong, from the era of Don Bradman”. Sid replied. “Ahh, Don Bradman, Do you know story?” Sid could see the glow in his Grandpa’s eyes, he answered, “No, tell me.”

 

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It was just an exhibition match, a tennis ball cricket game, sports teacher and school cricket coach agreed to be the umpires. 12th class boys won the toss and decided to bat first. As usual Gautam and Dhiman walked in to open with Gautam in the striking end.

“Let me open the bowling”, Sid asked Sumit. Without much thought Sumit tossed the ball at Sid, even he knew the outcome of the match.

“Right arm, round the wicket.” Sid announced it to the umpire and started to walk towards his bowing run up. Gautam surprised to see his brother taking an unusually long run up.

First ball, a short pitch bouncer till the chest, Gautam played a defensive shot.

Second ball, a higher bouncer hit Gautam’s shoulder.

Third ball, almost the same like the first ball, raised till his rib cage. “That’s no ball”, Gautam screamed at the umpire, “Only one bouncer is allowed.” “That’s not above the shoulder, legitimate delivery.” Sports teacher playing the leg umpire dismissed the plea.

Fourth delivery was also similar. On fifth delivery Gautam lost his patience and tried to play a hook shot, the ball parachuted down to deep fine leg fielder’s hand. Sid finished his over as a wicket maiden.

Sid started his 2nd and match’s 3rd over with Sonu facing him. The first ball hit his forehead, second ball hit his shoulder when he tried to duck, third ball flew few inches above his head, called a no ball. The next ball was a Yorker, cleaned off Sonu’s leg stump. From the look of his face Sid could tell, Sonu wasn’t expecting that. The other pacers of the team were following Sid and started bowling on leg stump line with waist and chest high bumpers.

12th class boys were all out in 16th over scoring only 67, with two of their best batsman out so cheaply, that too against the 9th standard boys, demoralized the whole team. Sid finished his bowling figure as ‘4-1-13-4’.

They tried to get back in the game with tight bowling and fielding, but Sumit’s team were already sniffed the victory. 9th standard won the match with 4 wickets and 1.3 over remaining. Sid became the overnight hero.

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Harshita and few of her class girls were standing outside the ground, awestruck and heartbroken, they came to see and cheer for the victory of their class. Sid walk by them like a proud peacock with his full glory, royally ignoring each of those known faces.

Puzzled Sonu asked Gautam, “What was that all about?”

“Bodyline”, Gautam replied with dry and uninterested face.

Sonu: “What?”

“1932-33 ‘English tour to Australia’ under Douglas Jardine. Harold Larwood and Bill Voce brought down Don Bradman’s dominant Australia to its knees with their bodyline bowling, Bradman’s own average came down to 56.57 in that series.”, Gautam answered with frustrated voice.

“Sure they didn’t have Twenty20 back then.” Sonu said while scratching his head.

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(A bodyline delivery was one where the cricket ball was bowled towards the body of the batsman on the line of the leg stump, in the hope of creating leg-side deflections that could be caught by one of several fielders in the quadrant of the field behind square leg.

A cricket team representing England toured Australia in the 1932-33 season. The tour included five Test matches in Australia, and England won The Ashes by four games to one. The tour was highly controversial because of the Bodyline bowling tactics used by the England team under the captaincy of Douglas Jardine. The debatable series notoriously known as Bodyline Series.

As per the instructions of England captain Jardine, the pacers duo, Harold Larwood and Bill Voce constantly attacked the Australian batsmen’s body, caused several injuries to Aussie batsmen. This controversial yet useful tactics paid off, as even the greatest batsmen like Don Bradman averaged 56.57 in the series which is an excellent average for most, but well short of his career average of 99.94.

As a direct consequence of the 1932–33 tour, a lot of cricket rules are changed. From then till now there were many debates if the bodyline tactics is a fair one. Recent death of Phil Hughes added fuel to this debate if fast bowlers are even allowed to bowl bouncers. But definitely as Cricket become exceedingly a sport of batsmen, fast bowlers are becoming the endangered species of the game. )

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