Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Video That Speaks of a Thousand Possibilities

I was just randomly sampling some cricket videos and I searched for some "doosras", especially by Saqlain since he was the first legitimate bowler of the delivery. I realized that I missed seeing him bowl. Harbhajan, Murali and other top spinners bowl this delivery quite commonly now, but its fair to say that Saqlain invented it and Moin Khan coined the phrase "doosra".

Here is an interesting video I'd like to share from that amazing 2nd Test match between Pakistan and Australia in 1999.

Some interesting points:

1 - Saqlain clearly at his best. I think during this time period (1999), Saqlain was up there with Warne and Murali as one of the best spinners and may even have been the best finger spinner.

2 - First dismissal of Gilchrist shows the difference a great keeper makes. Akmal is no where as nifty as Moin Khan.

3 - 2nd dismissal, you can hear Wasim utter an expletive after the dismissal. Atleast the team has a positive and vibrant vibe about it. When you saw the team like that, you could see they had self belief, something the current team lacks.

3 - Third dismissal... showcases the wonderful variety possessed by Saqlain. Flighted delivery for the first dismissal, doosra for the second one and finally a faster one that spun for the third one.

4 - Australians had quite a few problems with Saqlains doosra during this time period. The novelty has worn out since then and they have studied the delivery very carefully and I don't think they have the same problems with it anymore.

5 - The match itself: I rate this match as a turning point and as a starting point of Australia's ascendancy. If I'm not wrong, this video is from the Australia's first innings of the second Test match in 1999. After Saqlian's brilliant spell Australia only managed a 24 run lead, Pakistan set Australia a target of 396. With Australia at 126-5 chasing this target Langer and Gilchrist combined to chase this record target. Langer's position at that time in the side was not secure and Pakistan had lost the first game. If Pakistan had won this match it would have opened up lots of possibilities. They didn't and I feel this was a turning point from where Australia have never looked back (other than that Ashes defeat).

6 - There is some talk of Saqlain playing for England. His wife is English and he will also get English nationality. Do you think he can or will do something like this?

What do you think?

Make your pitch on this post...

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10 Pitched:

  1. Q said...

    I think Australia's ascendency started in 1994-95 under Mark Taylor when they won the series against the Windies in the Carribean 2-1. That was the 1st time that the West Indies EVER lost a test series at home and their first test series loss in more than 25 years or something.

    That started the decline of The Windies test side and the ascendency of the Australians. The Aussies haven't lost any test series since then apart from one in India and the 2005 Ashes.

    The Aussies haven't lost a test series in Australia for over 30 years now.

    This match was indeed the 2nd test between Pak and Australia in 1999 and had the umpires been neutral ones and not Australians, Pakistan would have won the game. Langer was caught behind twice of Wasim bhai and the umpire didn't give it out. Clear edges. I remember watching the game LIVE at Khi airport while waiting for a delayed flight back to Dubai.

    Either way, thats history.

    Saqlain was the best spinner to have played for Pakistan. Injuries coupled with a loss of form hurried his decline. His career ended before he turned 30. He has an amazing record.

    He has secured the British citizenship as have Mushtaq Ahmed, Mohammad Akram, Naved ul Hasan, and many other Pakistanis and Indians. A lot of Asian origin cricketers have played for England including Nasser Hussain, Owais Shah, Vikram Solanki, Usmaan Afzal, Monty Panesar, etc...I won't be surprised to see Saqlain or any other doing it either.

  2. Jrod said...

    Q, you can't say that if the umpires were neutral Pakistan would have won.

    The records suggest home sides get a better run now than they did before neutrals were around, and the umpire made a mistake, two of them, it wasnt a case of a parochial decision.

    Wasim Akram made many more than 2 mistakes in his captaincy that day.

    His fielding positions and pandering to Gilchrist, who was in his second test, was atrocious.

    And as much as i love Saqlain, he didn't bowl intelligently as Langer and Gilchrist put on probably the best last innings test partnership i have ever seen.

  3. Q said...

    Uncle J, I should have said - Pakistan could have won had those 2 decisions gone in their favour. Plus you are right abt the record of home teams improving after neutral umpires came in.

    I was too young back then to realise captaincy mistakes on the part of Wasim Akram, but I do remember being pissed off at the fact that Langer was not given out caught behind, which so very clear.

    Had Langer gone at that time, then I don't think the tail of Mcgrath, Warne, Fleming, etc would have survived in front of the likes of Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib, and Saqlain.

    I'm not taking anything away from Gilchrist who played a brilliant innings of 150 odd of the same number of deliveries in that game. He announced his arrival on the international circuit with that innings.

  4. David Barry said...

    Uncle J, do you have any stats/reports to say that home teams get a better now with neutral umpires than without? Because certainly away teams are more successful overall in recent years, and I would have thought neutral umpires have contributed in small part to this phenomenon.

    Q: I would say that the Australian ascendancy began (stutteringly) with the Tied Test in 1986, or maybe the World Cup in 87. The 94/5 win in the Windies was the symbolic series that announced Australia as #1, but we probably would have beaten them in 92/3 if it hadn't been for Darrell Hair giving McDermott out caught behind off his helmet grill. And we did lose that series, so it's only been 14 years since we last lost a Test series at home. :)

  5. Q said...

    I read somewhere that home teams are the ones that have benefitted from the introduction of the neutral umpires. But your assessment David also seems right - away teams have been more successful lately...Great idea for a blog. I'll see if I can dig out some stats, unless Uncle J does so before that.

    Thanks for the correction David. I don't know why I had in mind that the Aussies were unbeaten at home for 30 years now.

    I guess the Aussie ascendency can be dated back to 1986 as David mentioned, however their path to invincibility begain in the mid 90s after that series against the Windies.

  6. David Barry said...

    I actually got my thing about away teams doing well from a recent Cricinfo column: here.

    If no-one's found the relevant umpiring stats, I'll probably do the analysis myself in a week or so. I am building myself a pet cricket database, but it has some bugs at the moment, and work'll prevent me from getting it running properly for a few days.

  7. obaid said...

    David, that would be an interesting analysis. I remember the days when Imran Khan, as Pakistan captain, couldnt complain enough about biased home umpires. Many Pakistan vs England series would end with a sour note because of the umpiring (Gatting vs Shakoor Rana being a nadir). Many of the India vs Pakistan series also ended in boring ties because the umpires were notorious for favoring the home team, specially when it came to lbw's

    After reading the cricinfo article youve linked to, it seems that both umpires and home pitches have changes over the years.

    Also, while your idea of a statistical analysis is awesome, it would also be interesting for one of us to look at Tests/Series' where poor umpiring really stands out

  8. Jrod said...

    David, I trolled and trolled but i couldn't find the article with the stats about how home sides have got more LBW's since the advert of Neuts.

    I know its out there, I will keep searching.

    Q, Your right about if Langer had gone that the game was all over that day.

    As for the Australia team and its ascendency, in 86 it got its groove back, in 87 it learnt how to win, in 89 it learnt how to destroy, in 95 it dragged down the monster, in 99 it took its game to the another level.

  9. Q said...

    Thats an interesting article David, but I think it covers only this year. If we look at the last 10 year period during which neutral umpires have been introduced, I think Uncle J's assessment of home teams winning more than touring teams would probably turn out to be true.

    What Obaid refers to is also correct. Javed Miandad was never given out LBW by home umpires. I believe there are stats to prove this as well which show that he has been LBW only once in home tests.

    I have seen West Indian umpires favor the home team quite a bit - this was in match during the early to mid 90s as I haven't watched much before that.

    Uncle J - I like how u describe Australia's growth as a cricket team. I wonder when the decline will set in again. Another 3 years?

  10. Jrod said...

    If the Australian wickets get any flatter it could happen sooner rather than later.

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