Friday, 22 July 2011

Mash up bowling

Fantasy Bob has discovered that the juniors enjoy a form of entertainment available through the computer-machine-thing called mash up.  This involves the joining of different songs and videos together to form one piece.  There are millions of these things in all genres and FB invites you to spend the time you have available from rained-off cricket matches exploring what is available on YouTube.  Many are rubbish but some are very fine.  Here are a few of FB's favourites - the first is a blend of The Beatles and Bob Marley, the second of Pink Floyd and The Bee Gees and a bit more up to date with the Ting Tings, the Knack and Tony Basil (with a bit of the Beach Boys right at the end) and finally The Beatles again with LCD Soundsystem and the Kinks.

Of course classical musicians have been doing this kind of thing for ever - exploiting the basic harmonic structures to place one tune on top of another  - try the final movement of Mozart's Jupiter symphony for example.

But what about cricket?  Where is the mash up in cricket?  FB thinks that modern bowling is touched with the features of mash-up.  Most fast bowlers now have a slower delivery - some have several different slower deliveries.  Jade Dernbach for instance is reported to have one for every day of the week, or for every tattoo on his arm.  To be effective the slower ball is overlaid on the bowler's usual action - it is not the run up or the speed of the arm that is different it is how the ball comes out - the grip on the ball is looser or release is earlier or later.  The lethal slower ball looks like it is overpitched, the batsman might even fear it is a beamer but it dips and may even spin.  The batsman might duck, or he plays early.  He is done for.

Stephenson -
in the mash up stride
The first great exponent of the mash up ball was Franklyn Stephenson. Stephenson had a long career with Nottinghamshire and Sussex and may well be the greatest West Indian player never to have played Test cricket.  He was banned for playing with a rebel tour to South Africa in 1982.  In 1988, his first season with Notts, he did the double - 1000 runs and 100 wickets only the second player to do so in the reduced country cricket season.  The other player to have achieved it is Richard Hadlee.  Stephenson's conventional delivery was on the fast side of fast medium, but he perfected the disguised slower ball for use in one day cricket.

 The most celebrated mash up ball in Test cricket might well be that which Steve Harmison bowled to Michael Clarke at Edgbaston in the 2005 Ashes.  But mash up balls come from other bowlers too - Shahid Afridi at one time had a change up ball which, after a series of slow leg breaks, would whizz in at over 70mph. Ouch.

But what of Fantasy Bob's slower ball - mystifyingly these days his slower ball and his effort ball are indistinguishable.  Needless to say both are equally ineffective.  He is reported to be working on an even slower ball.

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