Wednesday, 20 July 2016

A Comparison of Sorts

Bairstow - nothing like FB
Fantasy Bob has for some time been prepared to acknowledge that Jonny Bairstow might be superior to him in the cricketing skills department.  Experts may struggle to spot the crucial differences but to the layperson, Jonny’s batting average in First Class Cricket of 48.64 is a bit of a clue. 
FB has come to terms with this unfavourable comparison.  He bears Jonny no grudge and has shared the general elation at Jonny's performances this season. They have taken JB to another level. There seemed to be no way that FB could match JB. 
However as Fantasy Bob watched last week’s First Test between England and Pakistan the realisation came upon him that he had downplayed his own skill level too quickly.  For there was the evidence.  His batting average might not show it, but in one critical respect he was on a level with Bairstow.   

Long suffering readers of these pages know that FB’s prodigious skills with the willow dissolve into nothingness when confronted with leg spin bowling.  At the twice weekly net sessions of go-ahead Edinburgh cricket club Carlton, aspirant leggies from the age of 5 upwards form an orderly queue to take turns in making a monkey of him.  His sacrifice to youthful mirth seems to pay dividends as the youngsters involved who frequently as a result go on to glittering careers for club and country. 

FB is living proof of the 10,000 hours fallacy.  Mozart may have practiced piano 10,000 to be become the towering musical genius that he was.  But 10,000 hours of facing leg spin in the nets has left FB no further advanced than he was at hour zero.  (History does not record how Mozart got on in working out leg spin.) 
Bairstow - just like FB

Now it would appear that FB shares this much with Jonny.   He cowered in front of the TV, feeling the sympathy of a fellow sufferer as he watched Bairstow turned inside out by Yasir Shah.  All the certainties of JB's technique against other bowling disappeared as he was left, FB-like, chasing shadows.
Lindsay Hassett
FB has long sought the Holy Grail of  a plan to improve this area of his performance.  Once seeking inspiration he found an article written by Dean Jones, a great Australian batsman who played spin as well as any other batsman.  Jones reports that he spoke to another great Aussie of a previous generation with an equal reputation for mastering spin – Lindsay Hassett.  Hassett told him:  

''Deano, watch their ball release, watch the rotation of the seam, and try to get down the track and hit the ball on the full. If you can't get to the pitch of the ball, then play them off the back foot. It's easy!'' 

FB more or less understood this advice.  Watching the ball release he could just about manage.  Watching the rotation of the seam would require him to keep his eyes open, a major change in technique.  Getting down the track, yes that seems sensible advice.  FB has never managed it, but it seems sensible advice. He was clearly on a roll.   he had the Hassett method to a T. Mastery would be his.  But suddenly it all fell apart as he reached the final sentence.  ‘It’s easy.’   

Not for FB.  And not, it would appear, for Jonny.


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