Prem Panicker describes the bowling effort of Harbhajan Singh against South Africa yesterday:
The wicket had bounce and sharp turn— the kind of conditions spinners revel in and batsmen, especially from teams like SA that are not known for their skill at playing the turning ball, dread.
As for Bajji, any time you find an off spinner bowling the bulk of his deliveries from around the wicket to right handed batsmen, you’ve got to figure something is way wrong. The likes of EAS Prasanna, newly picked as one of India’s two spin bowling coaches, will tell you that when there is turn to be had, the off spinner’s stock ball is the one just short of driving length outside off, turning in to hit the top of off. That line forces the batsman to play the turning, bouncing ball from beside it, without the protection of his body behind the bat; Bajji’s preference on the other hand seemed to be to bowl off, to off & middle and middle stump lines — just right for batsmen to get behind it, watch the turn and play it down and away through the “leg trap” for easy runs.
Douglas Adams had once described the flightless Kakapo parrot of New Zealand thus: “ Not only has the Kakapo forgotten how to fly, it has also forgotten that it has forgotten how to fly.” The net result, according to Adams, is that it frequently runs up a tree, tries to take off and falls flat on its face.
Harbhajan Singh reminds me of the Kakapo. Not only has he forgotten how to bowl, he frequently forgets that he has forgotten how to bowl. The result being that he goes around with a permanent scowl and every now and then throws up wild tantrums.
Meanwhile, the selectors have forgotten how to select spinners; worse they don’t seem to realise that they have forgotten how to select spinners…..