A partnership is building, a resilient No. 3 batsman is astutely defending ball after ball and has valiantly scored 11 runs off 61 innings in the fourth innings of the match trying to salvage a draw. The opposition bowler knocks his stump over the next ball, the fans rejoice and the bowler laughs contently. The match was evenly paced, and for most of the fans, this would be just another wicket that fell. The truth is far from that.
When you’re taught fast bowling as a child, you’re told to always aim for the top of the off-stump. Keep the ball consistently in the corridor of uncertainty.
If one bowled the same ball without any variety, the batsman is going to be scoring runs very quickly. The great bowlers keep the batsman guessing. The outswinger swings away from the batsman, a delivery best left alone, for a poorly timed shot will see the edge fly to the slip cordon. The inswinger can knock the stumps or have you LBW.
Jasprit Bumrah was the bowler I was speaking about earlier, I had always heard about his greatness, but today I saw him bowl like how a grandmaster would plot to knock his opponent’s knights off. Ball after ball, he kept bowling the outswinger, with the occasional in swinger. Then, he bowled an outswinger, which initially seemed like an inswinger but angled away, the batsman had to play at it. He actually managed to keep it down and played it pretty well. While he didn’t particularly emote, the batsman knew that he should have let that ball ago. There was doubt in his mind.
The next ball, the bowler bowled a simple inswinger, and this time, instead of playing at it, the batsmen decided to not offer a shot with the pre-conceived notion that the ball was an outswinger and the bails were dislodged. The bowler claps, the crowd rejoices. Sitting at my home, I thoroughly enjoyed this little setup. The wicket that fell wasn’t due to the inswinger, but the doubt the bowler created in the batsman’s mind in the previous ball.
Test cricket is a thing of joy. I don’t care who wins any more, I am just happy to see the sport being played with such passion and spirit in the days of limited-overs cricket and commercialization.