Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pakistan & The Reverse Swing Saga

A brief run down history first before I get to Umar Gul.

Wasim Akram

1985: 10 wicket haul in only his 2nd test match against New Zealand.
1985-1990: enhances his repuation through leading performances against all teams.
1990: destroys Australia in Melbourne with a 11 wicket haul.
March 1992: one of the leading wicket takers of World Cup, 2 in 2 ends England's hopes.
Summer 1992: Destroys England in England with 21 wickets in 4 tests leading Pakistan to 2-1 series victory.

Reaction: Wasim isn't an exceptional bowler. He hardly picks up wickets. We don't know how he managed so much swing and picked up so many wickets against us. Must be ball tampering.

Waqar Younis

1990: Destroys New Zealand at home with 29 wickets in 3 tests.
1990: Picks up 9 wickets against a powerful West Indies test line up in his first test against them.
1990-92: Builds his reputation as the world's fastest bowler.
Summer 1992: Destroys England in England with 22 wickets in 5 tests leading Pakistan to 2-1 series victory.

Reaction: He's just a fast bowler. Has pace, but we've never seen him swing the ball so much. We don't know how he managed so many wickets. Must be ball tampering.

Mohammad Asif

Jan 2006: Destroys India in Karachi with 7 wickets helping Pakistan win test series 1-0.
Apr 2006: Destroys Sri Lanka in Kandy with 11 wickets in 2nd test.
Summer 2006: Returns from injury to play England in 3rd test at the Oval. 4 wickets in the 1st innings results in England collapsing to 173 all out.

Reaction: Who is this boy. We've never seen him before. And how can he come back from injury and swing the ball like that? Must be ball tampering.

Saeed Ajmal

July 2008: Makes impressive ODI debut against India in the Asia Cup.
July - Nov 2008: Bangladeshi and West Indian bastmen find his offies and doosras difficult to pick.
2009: Bamboozles Australia with his doosras in ODIs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Reaction: Where did this spinner come from? Has he even played before? Why don't we have videos of him? How does his doosra spin so much? Must be a chucker.

Umar Gul

2007: Leading wicket taker at the ICC World Twenty20.
2007-2009: Builds his repuation as one of the best T20 bowlers; figures speak for themselves.
May 2009: Destroys the Australians with 4-8 in a T20I in Dubai and becomes leading wicket taker in T20 internationals.
June 2009: Demolishes New Zealand batting line up with 5-6, the best ever figures in a T20 international.

Reaction: We don't know how he swung the ball so much. We have never seen reverse swing in the 12th over of a match. Must be ball tampering.

After the English and the Australians, only New Zealand were left to whine against Pakistan. Maybe it will be South Africa's turn after the semi final.

Why can't these guys just accept the skill and talent that the Pakistan bowlers possess?

Why do they always have to come out with baseless accusations?

Ofcourse Daniel Vettori doesn't know how Umar Gul managed to swing the ball.

Had he paid more attention to Gul's feats in T20 cricket over the last 2 years, maybe then he would have realized what hit his batsmen.

Actually Vettori didn't even have to look all that far back in history; just a month ago Gul had run through Australia's batting line up with 4-8. Not that different from his 5-6; that too against far superior batsmen.

The problem with all the above mentioned accusations is that those accusing have chosen to ignore history.

Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Mohammad Asif, Saeed Ajmal, and Umar Gul did not become unplayable overnight.

Nor did they perform with the ball for the first time when these accusations were made.

Did none of these baseless assusers follow these great bowlers or study them on video before coming out to play against them?

Why raise eye-brows when the same bowlers have been doing the same stuff to all teams, particularly when those other teams have had no reason to doubt!

About time everyone sits put, shuts up, and acknowledges that they were just not good enough.

Make your pitch on this post...

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33 Pitched:

  1. Hani said...

    Hear, Hear!!

    Now that is what I'm talking about. I wonder how long it will be till Mohammad Aamer starts chucking. I think we're going to Australia at the end of the year, for some reason, that feels like a good time to start. Poor aussies, every bowler starts chucking against them.

    I don't get it though, why us?!! I mean seriously, what is it about our bowlers that irks them so much?!!

    It'll be interesting if our 6'10 bowler, Mohammad Irfan ever gets to play international cricket. I wonder what they'll come up with then, oh you can't bowl, the side screen isn't big enough? You never know, they'll probably come up with a new maximum height limit of 6'9.

  2. raj said...

    You missed out an episode in between
    2005 - Ashes
    Simon Jones reverse swings England to victory
    England and Aussies both hail him as a all-time great bowler who invented a new bowling trick!

  3. nestaquin said...

    Looking back a little further.

    Safraz Nawaz destroyed Australia in 1979/80 by swinging the old ball. I was only a kid but I do remember talk of bottle-tops, long dirty fingernails, Brylcreem and cheating in the media.

    I also remember Safraz becoming a cult hero in Australia because of his great moustache, laid back manner and efforts.

    On the back of his popularity there was a TV interview with Richie Benaud where he shared through an interpreter the tricks of his trade.

    I can even recall Richie saying that he first encountered the art of 'old ball swing' when in Pakistan playing on matting in the late 1950's and that it was perfectly legitimate and above board yet still a mystery to most.

    The following summer Mike Whitney adopted a few Safaz tips, started to get it 'going the other way' and it scored him a BaggyGreen.

  4. Chullanz said...

    read aus/english comments about Murali with this. then it will be more clear. I never heard they call botha or brett lee a chucker.not even much commented about lee's frequent beamers. but if it is any bowler from subcontinent it echoes from every part of the world even from w.i. this is the height of arrogancy isnt it?

  5. The Old Batsman said...

    Am glad to see that this story died a death in the English papers - I don't think any fair-minded follower believes it. Gul's taken his wickets mostly through supreme accuracy rather than huge amounts of swing. When others like Parnell have got it right, they've done so to.

  6. Atif said...

    Bret Lee was reported for a suspect action by the BCCI when Cricket Australia reported Shoaib Akhtar and Harbhajan Singh in the same month.

    As expected, all 3 cases just disappeared from memory of the Aussies and they weren't even reported again by them.

  7. Anas Imtiaz said...

    I thought Vettori would come out after the SL match complaining about Mendis too because apparently Mendis is a spinner and he wasnt spinning the ball, so that's cheating :P lol

    I just think Vettori should look at the last two matches hsi team played and scored more or less the same runs - so that speaks volumes of his batting line's abilities against quality bowling.

  8. Atif said...

    intresting thing to note:

    India, England, New Zealand and Australia's women teams have made it to the Semi Finals..

    and none of them made it in the men's version..

  9. raj said...

    Speaking of bottle tops and cheating, Lever famously used vaseline in India to generate reverse swing. To date, English journalists maintain that it was skill rather than cheating. Whats sauce for the goose is obviously not so for the gander...long and short, only subcontinentals are cheats. Englishmen, Ozzies and New Zealanders are all Jesus incarnates. Every single one of them.

  10. Rayden said...

    Oz, English and NZ boards have always ganged up against the South Asian teams since 30 years now. Thats why its all the more sad the recent BCCI vs PCB spat - after Pak lost rights to host the 2011 world cup. I dont think our boards can fight individually agains the the other groups in ICC.

  11. Q said...


    I guess the Indians (Harbhajan) and Sri Lanka (Murali) have also borne the brunt of the Aussies.. Its always been like that with them against the subcontinental nations.. whereas their similar acts have been swept under the carpet!

    As for Mohammad Irfan.. I believe he had a problem bowling with shoes on.. if that's been solved, he should be in the team soon!

  12. Q said...


    Oh how could i forget abt Jones. The best bowler on this planet who destroyed the Aussies with such an awesome skill that no one had any idea abt and then disappeared from the face of this planet.

  13. Q said...


    Thanks for sharing the Sarfraz Nawaz story.. that was one I had only heard about, rather than witnessed, hence I couldn't exactly write down the facts.. I didn't know abt Whitney adopting the tricks though..

    Many bowlers have picked up the tricks from Pakistan bowlers, e.g. Freddie did so from Wasim Akram at Lancashire, while Jones did from Waqar Younis at Glamorgan...

    They were no longer cheats then.

  14. Anonymous said...

    it never got out of hand in UK media at least - they crushed the "vetmoan" right there and then. Atherton and Nick Knight were pretty quick and direct at showing their displeasure over the vetmoan.
    same was the case with the forfeited test - nasser/atherton both were very clear that what happened was completely out of line by Hair, and that had they been the captains of a team accused of ball-tampering, they wouldn't take the field either. (not that it makes it right, just that the perception among intelligent cricketers/commentators seems to be that this is passe, specially in this age of technology where they capture every single act).

  15. Q said...


    It is. We do it, its a crime. They do it, its an art. Its always been like that.

  16. Q said...


    Thats true. Gul didn't get THAT much swing, plus a lot of his deliveries were also natural swing, swinging towards the shiny side - I can't believe Vettori and his batsmen failed to understand that.

    Plus ur right abt the accuracy bit. And Thank Heavens the English media this time did not make such a big hue and cry abt the accusations :-)

  17. Q said...


    I remember the Lee thing was brought up and killed very quickly.. the amount of beamers he bowls is more than any bowler I have seen.. wonder why the commentators / others never comment much on that.

  18. Q said...

    Anaz Imtiaz,

    Welcome to well pitched.

    You're right. The NZ batting has hardly been up to the mark.

    Funny that u mention Mendis cos we had a small joke going around Well Pitched regarding that, see this:

  19. Q said...


    I guess those countries have focused more on their women's 20-20 than the mens.

    Very interesting indeed.

  20. Q said...


    Jesus incarnates? ha! and hence cannot be cheats but artists?

  21. Q said...


    I hear you. I hope the PCB and BCCI resolve their issues soon.

    Which have taken a positive step though with the whole world cup hosting rights remaining with Pak, despite them not hosting the matches.

  22. Q said...


    I agree. Nasser and Atherton were more than supportive during 2006. But the England team that was playing wasn't.

    Same with Vettori and NZ this time round.

    The media though was smarter in 06 as well as now. I guess they learnt their lesson in 1992.

  23. raj said...

    ok GOD incarnates, if a specific GOD is controversial to quote here!

  24. Q said...


    I got the point first time round ;-)

  25. Hani said...

    @ Q,

    I think the problem with his shoes was that they had no spikes, so he was always scared that he might slip and injure himself. The academy was going to buy him new shoes that had spikes, which would allow him to go full pelt. Even with the shows though, how can a 6'10 guy dig out a fast yorker when he is batting? Can he drop down to the ground quick enough to field a ball coming at him with speed?

    Ahhh Simon Jones, the greatest exponent of reverse swing ever.

  26. Obaid said...

    A very close relative is friends with Wasim Bari... Bari confirmed that a bottletop had been used in that 1979 Test by Sarfaraz.

    I dont think that goes on anymore though.

    What nobody is talking about is the fact that 12 overs in Twenty20 is roughly equivalent to 20-25 overs in 50 over cricket. This is based on about 80-100 runs being scored. Who knows that accelerated scoring in twenty20 cricket may have different wear and tear patterns on the ball?

  27. Wasim said...


    What about the story that appeared a few months back on cricinfo about the English bowlers using a special gum to make their saliva more sticky and they used it to reverse the ball. I don't remember the name of the player may ybe it was Trescothik.

    As regards these accusations, the Australians when they miserably failed to read Ajmal they lodged a protest against him with on field umpires, imagine how much pressure you can put on a young player with such allegations.
    The same tactic was employed by Vettori and the on field umpires changed the ball several times during the match they still got away with an unfair tactic but unfortunately for them changing of the ball didn't help them much.

  28. Wasim said...


    What about the story that appeared a few months back on cricinfo about the English bowlers using a special gum to make their saliva more sticky and they used it to reverse the ball. I don't remember the name of the player may ybe it was Trescothik.

    As regards these accusations, the Australians when they miserably failed to read Ajmal they lodged a protest against him with on field umpires, imagine how much pressure you can put on a young player with such allegations.
    The same tactic was employed by Vettori and the on field umpires changed the ball several times during the match they still got away with an unfair tactic but unfortunately for them changing of the ball didn't help them much.

  29. Wasim said...

    Sarfraz Nawaz after he retired still used to practice and play at LCCA ground in Lahore which was close to my school I used to stop at the ground and used to watch him whenever I could, I have never seen anybody swinging the ball in yards except him, he was the Grand master of reverse swing.

  30. Wasim said...

    I think on this subject Aaqib Javed's response has been the best,
    if the ball was tempered why Razzak and Aamir couldn't reverse it is simply an art which very few bowlers in the world can practice.

  31. Q said...


    Not sure how his shoe problem was solved, but I'm sure that a bowler standing at 6'10 will be one hell of an asset to have!

  32. Q said...


    Thats a good point abt the ball getting older faster in T20 cricket. Younis Khan was also trying to xplain the same point by syaing that the ball goes into the crowd, hits the concrete, hits the hoardings, etc.

  33. Q said...


    I think the gum was what was used during the ashes in 2005. I could be wrong though.

    As for Sarfraz Nawaz, yep he was the true master.

    Aqib's response was apt. He explained it better than Younis and Inti too.

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