Carlisle remembered a story Ngidi told him from his childhood about the first time he turned up at cricket practice. “He wanted to be a batsman but didn’t have any kit, so he decided to give bowling a go,” Carlisle said. “The rest is history.”
Rohit is an enabling idea and it is his fate to deal with the same philistinism that conceptual art and its pioneers have had to suffer. The Turner Prize, the most prestigious award in the British art world, was won in 2001 by Martin Creed for an installation that consisted of an empty room and a timer switch that turned the lights on and off every five seconds. Everyone sneered then; twelve years later, the Tate bought it for its permanent collection for more than a hundred thousand pounds. Rohit is Creed’s installation – his absent runs are that empty room, those timer lights are twinkling intimations of his genius.
The charming Hyderabadi Jaisimha did not even have to hold a bat — his walk from the pavilion alone was worth the price of the ticket. Relaxed, collar up, seemingly swaying to the beat of music only he could hear. He could bring a crowd to its feet by merely pushing his hair back. And when he finally held a bat in hand, he swung between mastery and vulnerability, but he couldn’t play an ugly stroke even if he tried.
His truant bat; his gimbaling wrists; his now-you-see-them, now-you-don’t obscuring of the stumps: Smith confounds all precept. But the method is of a piece with the preliminaries, the multiple touches of his pads and helmet to check that everything is still attached, the stiff-legged double tap of the bat, the bent-knee double-squat address of the bowler; to follow, the signature followings-through, including, when he lets the ball go, a gesture of the bat as if bestowing a knighthood. Then, as he sets off for a little recuperative amble, a movement of the right arm as though slipping it into a sleeve.
Consider this scenario then. India are going to South Africa without any left-arm quicks who might give Ashwin rough to work with. South Africa won’t give him dry pitches or left-hand batsmen – only two – to exploit. We could possibly have ourselves a situation deep into a Test where India are desperate for a wicket and there is a rough outside a right-hand batsman’s leg stump. Might we see Ashwin the legspinner then?
A rousing square-drive off Andy Roberts, or a hooked six off Malcolm Marshall, could sustain the Madras cricket fan for a decade. Rajinikanth, after all, is not known as much for garrulous oratory, as he is for a quip here or a joke there. The gossip magazines in Madras had more important things to talk about than run aggregates and hundreds. They needed to discuss Srikkanth’s addition of an extra ‘k’ to his name, so he could make it 9 letters long, for numerological reasons. They felt the need to weigh in on his decisi
With a technique that many people still believe is unorthodox, Smith has eliminated or severely minimised two modes of dismissal – bowled or LBW – against fast bowlers. To succeed against him you need a pitch or bowler capable of beating the outside edge of the bat. On the current Australian tracks that is almost an impossible task. It is time for fast bowlers to be creative and conjure up alternative methods to dismiss a batsman that is starting to impose himself like Bradman. Bowling at his stumps is simply not going to work. Good luck to all the quick bowlers around the world.