Friday, June 08, 2007

The end of the tail?

Excellent tailend swishing this. Tailenders should do this more; swing and hope.

A scrap of commentary from the Cricinfo team covering the third test between England and the West Indies in Manchester.

It’s an aspect of cricket that can be a bit irritating for the fielders looking forward to some rest and relaxation and more than a bit painful for the batsmen if they are at the receiving end of some perfume balls. But it is probably a most relaxing watch for the spectators – when the game is really a game and not a contest. A Courtney Walsh, a Curtly Ambrose, or a Muthiah Muralitharan at the crease were absolute delights to watch, not for their runs (or the lack of them) but for the way they handle their bats.

Unfortunately, tail-end batting is probably going to join the annals of history as a dying art, alongside touch batting, on-field expressions of dissent and walking after feathering the ball. With teams increasingly emphasizing on batting contributions from the tail, tail-enders (soon they may protest against that phrase; so what would you call them – bottom order? late order?) are increasingly becoming dour, defensive and, sacrilege, more than a bit proficient with the bat.

A Glenn McGrath could have been great entertainment, but what does he do? He goes and gets a test-match fifty. Anil Kumble (remember him chopping his own stumps like they were recalcitrant weeds in New Zealand eons ago?) looks so serious his ineptness is close to unwatchable. Monty could have been a great personality in the Jack role, but he clearly looks like a No. 10, if not a No. 9 (or is he England’s next great all-round hope?), considering his recent batting exploits. Even a Steve Harmison seems to be trying hard – he actually scores more runs than take wickets nowadays (may be that’s what keeps him still in the playing eleven).

Where have the real tail-enders gone?

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