cricket in the 1990s and he lived just long enough to see his tribe hold their own in the game’s shorter formats.
Warne will remain an obvious case study for any spinner, especially those traveling to Australia. He defined the power of a turn of the wrist. When the wave of wrist spinning swept through limited cricket from 2018, it just kept gushing. At the forefront of this wave were Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. India’s emphatic success in the middle overs thanks to the wrist spin has prompted every team to prepare at least one from their ranks.
The circumference of the wrist has become the prescribed tonic. Spinners were no longer intended to only contain with the white ball. In this T20 World Cup, only Chahal survived to join India’s T20 World Cup squad.
Suddenly there is reliance on the control of finger spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel. If one goes through the teams, a turn of the wrist seems to be the
standard. But India’s problems go beyond just getting a few overs from spinners.
The absence of Jasprit Bumrah, the indifferent form of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the lack of T20 match practice behind Mohammed Shami and the inexperience of Arshdeep Singh and Harshal Patel mean spinners will have to play a bigger role. Cutting through opposition batting lineups remains a challenge.
Warne was ahead of his time even when he was in his forties, retired for a good five years from international cricket. Playing for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League (BBL) in 2012, he was the first to demonstrate that wrist spinners had a bigger role in T20 cricket even as batters got stronger, bats became more fleshy,
the pitches looked like concrete roads and the boundaries narrowed.
Warne’s video explaining over the ear mic how he’ll set up Brendon McCullum, then display him T20 cricket, then clean him behind his legs in a BBL game has an internet cult following.
Top spin, overspin, drift and angles had been Warne’s main weapons in disrupting the myth of fast, bouncy pitches in Australia. To extract exaggerated turn on
T20 locations in Australia are a mistake. It’s the model.
Adam Zampa, Australia’s trump card in the T20Is, testified on Wednesday: “In Australia you can try to hit the top of the bat, do a lot of overspin and try to get the longon and long-shot guys to catch. off because if you’re (bowling) at the top of the bat, that’s where the ball goes. Lateral spin isn’t really a key factor here, it’s more about getting guys to hit the top of the bat.
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One Indian cricket bowler who could do all of this with consistency is Ravi Bishnoi. Extra pace, bubbly and scary overspin on the ball have helped him get his start in international cricket rather smoothly over the past eight months. India selectors and team management had to choose between him and Ravichandran Ashwin. Axar was the practical replacement for the injured Ravindra Jadeja. They chose to play it safe with Ashwin’s experience.
The Asian Cup debacle must have been playing on their minds. Preferring experience over youth was the model of captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid. Bishnoi was the bowlers’ choice against Pakistan in the Asian Cup. It was the only match he played in the tournament and has never found a place in India’s first-choice XI ever since.
“Everyone has to bide their time. We don’t remove or select players based on stats. It’s about the role a person plays in the team. If a new player plays, that doesn’t mean that a player who has been playing for two years abstains. That’s where that player loses confidence,” India vice-captain KL Rahul said after India ended their forgettable Asian Cup campaign in early September.
(File image of Indian captain Rohit Sharma with Ravi Bishnoi – ANI Photo)
On paper, India’s indirect attack is formidable. Axar and Ashwin had formed a potent combination for Delhi Capitals in IPL in the UAE. But the terrains offered varying pace and turn. With Australia’s large borders, their cunning and experience could work very well.
Again, Zampa’s words on the expected conditions should be noted: “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a summer where there’s been (enough) sunshine for the pitches to be dry enough to shoot. As a spinner, if there’s some juice in the game, you hope so.