ENG vs WI: James Anderson's baffling admission

Apr 19, 2015, 09:13 IST | Ian Chappell

The recently departed Richie Benaud was full of helpful suggestions and sage advice and I was reminded of one of his persistent observations; "Cricket is the most controversial game of all," a few times this week.

England's James Anderson celebrates the wicket of WI's Denesh Ramdin on the last day of their first Test on Friday to become the country's leading Test wicket-taker. Pic:AP/PTI
England's James Anderson celebrates the wicket of WI's Denesh Ramdin on the last day of their first Test on Friday to become the country's leading Test wicket-taker. Pic:AP/PTI  

For instance, why did Jimmy Anderson, England's wicket-taking record breaker, on the eve of the first Test against the West Indies, admit he wasn't the same bowler during the World Cup?

Anderson blamed his lack of aggression on the threat of being suspended in the aftermath of the Trent Bridge incident with Indian spinner Ravindra Jadega. I can understand Anderson curbing his on-field motor-mouth antics by applying a zipper but I don't understand how that would have an effect on his aggressive approach to batsmen.

Reasons to fire-up...
If a fast bowler needs something — other than the sight of a batsman trying to take the food from his mouth — to get him riled, then there are a number of sources open to him. In the World Cup for instance, he had the devastating effect of bulging bats, the punishing field restrictions and England's woeful performance, any one of which should have been ample provocation for a burst of vengeful aggression.

Why he needs to engage in verbal fisticuffs with batsmen on a regular basis to be at his best, is a mystery. Former Australian leg-spinner Bill 'Tiger' O'Reilly was one of the great batsmen haters of the bowling fraternity. He despised them and once when asked if he'd ever tried to Mankad anyone, he responded disdainfully; "Son, I never found a batsman that keen to get to the other end."

Tiger had a simple solution; dismiss batsmen and then you didn't have to deal with them again that day. My next question. Why did Alistair Cook send in a night watchman in England's first innings, when Ian Bell was dismissed from the last ball of the penultimate over of the day?

It was obvious that Ben Stokes would be on strike for the first ball of the last over. That made it a reasonable assumption that the night watchman — James Tredwell — wouldn't face a ball. Why then not have the much more proficient and aggressive Josh Buttler out in the middle ready to savage the bowling first thing the next morning?

Senseless decision
Night watchmen can be handy on occasions but this move made no sense. There should be more night watchmen like Sussex's Robin Marlar; he was once sent out to stall and was dismissed, stumped for six off the second ball he faced. Now that's the way to show disdain for a captain's impudence.

And finally, a conundrum that has exercised my mind for a long time. Talking to Cricinfo colleague Daniel Brettig the other day he mentioned that some of Australia's "high performance people" reckon if Brett Lee had trained the way they wanted him to, he'd have touched 165 kmh on the speed gun.

I'm not convinced. Without the benefit of any medical or mathematical prowess to reach this conclusion, I reckon the human body has a "governor", much like those huge road trains and it's set around the 160 kph (100 mph) mark.

What's my proof?
International cricket has been played for nearly a century and a half, all of it on a 22-yard long pitch. In that period the human body has increased in height and in a lot of cases, strength and yet the measurement still works.

If the expansion of the human body had resulted in a marked increase in pace, then the length of the pitch would need to be extended, as the batsmen wouldn't have time to react to the fastest delivery.

Just too quick
In the period from Australia's Frederick "the Demon" Spofforth to Pakistan's Wahab Riaz, there hasn't been a bowler who was just too quick for a batsman's reactions. Some have come close, with England's Frank 'Typhoon' Tyson and Australia's Jeff Thomson probably the nearest but no fast bowler has yet made the 22 yards redundant.
I would love to know how the old-timers hit upon that measurement.

If it was; "Ah 22 yards, that looks about right," then they should've immediately invested in a lottery ticket, because that would be the best example of dumb luck I've ever heard about.

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