MiD DAY catches up with Ashley Mallett and discovers how disappointed he is with the visitors' spin stocks; former offie also believes Delhi pitch in 1969-70 series was changed during rest day
South Australia-based former Test off-spinner turned coach Ashley Mallett, who in 2001, rightly predicted that Harbhajan Singh would trouble Steve Waugh's Australians in their series in India, felt India need to look past Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha -- the two spinners who are in the team for the ongoing Test series here.
Harbhajan Singh, who was left out of the Australia-bound party
Ashwin is very ordinary
"Ashwin is a very ordinary bowler. I am not very impressed with Ojha either. When I travelled to Chennai in 2006, I saw some really good spinners at a camp. I am amazed. Where have they all gone? Here at the Adelaide Oval, the ball must be flighted up to a batsmen's eye line, but I haven't seen Ashwin do that. He's just not good enough," he said.
"I think Harbhajan Singh is 20 per cent better than Ashwin. I think India must look for a bunch of new spinners. These guys are ordinary," he added.
Mallett was instrumental in Australia's 3-1 victory on Indian soil in 1969-70 with 28 wickets in five Tests. So much happened in that Test series. Stands and chairs were burnt after S Venkataraghavan was controversially given out in the first Test at Brabourne Stadium. Australia captain Bill Lawry was accused of striking a photographer with his bat during a pitch invasion at Kolkata. But, Mallett specifically remembers something that has not been widely reported. "At the end of the third day of the Delhi Test, India were 13-1 at stumps. I remember bowling balls that were shooting up till the wicketkeeper's head. There was sharp bounce and turn. A staggering 17 wickets had fallen on that third day. I remember Eknath Solkar was taking some fabulous close-in catches. We were bowled out for 107 by India's super spinners. The next day was a rest day. When we returned for Day Four of that Test match, suddenly the ball was going through to off-stump comfortably. I immediately told myself that there was something fishy. India went on to chase 181 without breaking a sweat, to level the series. I knew that something was wrong.
He continued: "A couple of years later, Ashok Mankad, the Indian opener who played that match, met me at a charity event here in Adelaide. I asked him, 'tell me the truth, mate. What was up that wicket?' Ashok confessed to me that the wicket was changed overnight, during the rest day, just to help India's batsmen. I am not sure if any of the Indians will admit to this happening. Ashok is my only witness, he would have (confessed), but unfortunately he's not with us anymore (Mankad passed away in August 2008)."
Mallett: The doosra is illegal -- period
Ashley Mallett is a strong detractor of the doosra. He felt that the International Cricket Council (ICC) defaulted by allowing Muttiah Muralitharan to continue playing cricket despite a suspect action. "I might get some stick for this. But I will continue to say this: you cannot bowl a doosra without chucking.
"Now, they cannot ban Saeed Ajmal, because Murali was around for so long. They can try and prove whatever scientific bulls**t, but I can assure you that these guys have cheated the game," he said.
� Sai Mohan