Tomorrow England face Pakistan at Old Trafford. Expect a feast of bowling. At Lord’s, the Pakistan seamers were getting it to reverse almost by the twenty over mark. At that rate, if the OT wicket is typically abrasive, they’ll be getting it to reverse after five!
But the highlight will surely be the chance to watch Yasir Shah again, following his 10 – 141 in NW8.
Viewing Shah from side-on you’ll appreciate the speed of the arm and the powerful force he generates through the crease, like a catapult assisted jet taking-off from an aircraft carrier.
In the first innings he exploited the minimal turn offered by the wicket. Throughout both innings he was content selflessly to bowl from which ever end his seamers didn’t want to bowl from and made the best of it whenever that required him to bowl his leg-breaks up the slope: a good team player for an obvious super star.
Also he took a number of wickets when England batsmen played vicious top spin deliveries square to leg instead of bunting them straight back.
Was this faulty technique? Well of course. But it wasn’t as simple as that.
Every now and then … perhaps once every four overs … Shah, as if in error, would drag down a delivery which a grateful England batsmen would gleefully pull to the mid-wicket boundary. But it was like watching a fisherman dangling some rubby dubby over the side.
“Enough of these metaphors TM!”
So, when in the 71st over of England’s second innings, with a valiant Bairstow on 48 and doing his very best to refrain from all temptation and shepherd England slowly but surely towards the required total … well here is how Cric-Info described it, “A straight ball, that (Bairstow) should have whacked. Yasir has pitched it a little short, which is why Bairstow went back. He tries to play it with perhaps too closed a face …”
Except that to understand why Bairstow played the ball as if it was a drag down ball and not the top spinner that was going to screech through anything but a straight bat, you have to have seen that Shah had deliberately given him just such a dragged down delivery to ‘whack’ to the boundary four of his overs before.
And here’s how Cric-Info had described that ball in the 63rd over, “Yasir Shah to Bairstow, FOUR, a rare – very rare – poor ball as he drags one down and Bairstow latches on with a powerful pull through square leg.”
Subtle stuff to savour.