Tag Archives: anil kumble

The new Jack Potter: Sunil Narine

West Indies cricket has been playing a nauseating film noir movie on loop for over a decade now. The one thing they’ve been missing is the exciting, quirky, deformed character that steals the focus. In cricket, no one does that better than a mystery spinner. Just the term mystery spinner gets people ferociously excited.

One tweet was it all it took for me to get my twitter followers fired up. The press box also got engaged. All I’d done was try to remember the name of the Australian part-time spinner who bowled a doosra as a party trick without ever trying to make a career out of it. I received blank stares from many in the press box, and from twitter names were flung at me. Some odd, like Clarrie Grimmett and Bishan Bedi. Even Colin McCool was mentioned. Probably, just because someone wanted to say Colin McCool.

Eventually it was Mike Atherton in the press box, and former Notts finger spinner Paul McMahon on twitter, who correctly named Jack Potter, the Victoria batsman-cum-spinner from the 1960s. I say spinner on purpose, as Espncricinfo and Cricket archive both have him down as a legspinner, but the stories are that he bowled off spin.

Jack Potter may in fact be the ultimate mystery spinner, as he never even played a Test, hardly bowled at all, was rumoured to have shown Warne the flipper, and according to Richie Benaud and Wally Grout, had an offspinner that went the other way. Yet for all the talk, stories, and interest, he took 31 wickets in 104 first-class games at an average of 41. Presumably some with doosras, others with flippers, and the rest from another ball he invented while playing Yahtzee.

Yet here we were, 44 years since Jack Potter played first-class cricket, and people were still talking about him. Mystery spinners, even the part-time ones, do something weird to cricket fans.

As is the case with Sunil Narine, who really doesn’t need a Mohawk to get attention.

I’m a sucker for any spinner. But throw an air of mystery and the unknown into the mix, and I go a bit crazy. This is possibly why during one of those conversations that you don’t entirely think through; I said that Sunil Narine could be the best spinner in the world at the moment. It’s a pretty big call at the best of times, but the fact I said it to an ECB employee who is also a friend of Graeme Swann made it even more explosive. A predictable argument followed.

His perfectly sound theory was that no one who hadn’t played a Test could be thought of that way. My less sound, but still reasonable theory was that mystery bowlers could only be at their best when no one knew how to pick them, and that is right now for Narine. That while players like Vettori, Swann, Herath, Lyon and others had proved themselves on the world level, Narine was probably at his absolute best right now. And I think that best could be as good as Johnny Cash at San Quentin.

Of course I could be wrong. Narine has only played six first class games, and in a poor quality domestic competition. My assertion of how good he is can only be based on the cricket I’ve seen him play. In the Champions League he looked a class above. Against Australia he looked like a potential home-wrecker. And in the IPL he was the best bowler in the whole tournament.

Yet, even I have to admit there have been spinners before who have bowled well in limited-overs cricket when the opposition is trying to score or smash every ball, who struggle when the batsmen play patiently in Test cricket. That could happen to Narine, but I don’t think it will.

Narine’s one magic trick is a delivery that spins away from right-handed batsmen, that no one seems to be able to pick from the hand. That is not something that should only work in the limited-overs slogfest, that should work in every form of cricket, against every type of player, on almost all surfaces around the world. To virtually all batsmen who have faced him, how to pick the ball that spins the other way is a mystery, and that makes him deadly.

Mysteries don’t last forever. Once upon a time Bernard Bosanquet’s wrong ‘un was seen as a mystery, but batsmen worked out over time that a wrong’un had more of the back-of-the-hand facing them than a normal leggie. Of course , Abdul Qadir claims to have two wrong uns (at least). One, that eagle-eyed batsmen can see, and another called a finger wrong un that he has only ever passed down to Imran Tahir and Shahid Afridi because its power is deadly. Without Qadir talking, passing it on to me directly, I assume it is the same or similar to Anil Kumble’s wrong un that is held between the thumb and index finger and doesn’t show the batsman the back of the hand.

At the moment it seems no one can pick Narine out of the hand© Associated Press
Then there is the flipper, a delivery that seemed to be handed down like a legacy to Australian leggies, in eager anticipation of the one with the skills to use it best. In the mid 90s it was a ball that batsman feared more than a snake in their pillow case. By the late 90s most top-order players seemed to have a handle on it and Warne was using his slider, which had much less of a reputation, but probably got far more wickets for him The doosra was invented (unless you count ol’ Jack Potter’s) by Saqlain Mushtaq. Mushtaq, like creators of Golems, was eventually brought down by the very thing invented to protect them. The doosra is now the staple of several bowlers around the world. And while is legitimacy is often questioned, it seems weird that batsmen claim they can see the arm bend more than 15 degrees on a doosra, yet so many of them still don’t seem to pick the delivery itself.
Then there was perhaps the most intriguing mystery spinner of them all, Jack Iverson. Flicking the ball from Hercules-like fingers like a kid playing with marbles, he predated the carrom ball, and got the ball to spin in both directions while doing so. He only played five Tests, yet Gideon Haigh wrote a whole book about him, and the famous photo of Iverson’s grip is as good as any image from any horror film. Iverson didn’t last long, but like the Velvet Underground, he encouraged others. John Gleeson was one. Gleeson was not as devastating as Iverson, but the English players had a lot of trouble with him. There is the legendary, and perhaps apocryphal story, that Boycott had worked out Gleeson, but didn’t tell the rest of his team-mates so he’d look better.

The very best of batsmen, like Boycott use very low fi ways of working out mystery spinners. The Australians decided that if they played Saqlain Mushtaq like a leg spinner, not an offspinner, so they’d be able to handle his doosra. Paul Adams bowled his legspinner and wrong un at two different vastly different speeds. Even Murali early in his career would bowl his doosra from wider on the crease giving alert batsmen a chance to spot it. There are many tells that help batsmen. A ball that spins usually drifts in the opposite direction. It also has to be pitched in a different place. Some batsmen can see which way a ball is spinning before it lands. And of course, it comes out of the hand differently in the first place.

At the moment it seems no one can pick Narine out of the hand. He bowls a mixed seam so it’s hard to tell which way the ball is spinning, his pace and position don’t seem to vary, the ball doesn’t drift much for him, and his position on the crease isn’t an obvious giveaway. Perhaps only his placement of the ball tells you which way a ball is going to spin, but even then, if that’s all you’ve got to go on, you’re rolling the dice on each delivery.

That doesn’t mean that he will be the best spinner in the world for the next ten years. It may mean for a short while he will be virtually unplayable, and then may just fade away.

Logic would suggest this is the case. Ajantha Mendis is the obvious modern story of a mystery spinner breaking onto the world stage. In Mendis’ first four Tests he took 33 wickets at an average of 18. And that included three Tests against India. He was a sensation. His carrom ball was unpickable to the Indian players, and most other international players. According to many he was to become the next Warne, Murali or Kumble.

But the modern world got hold of Mendis. Unlike Gleeson, no players kept their secrets about Mendis. Because of the IPL, many players discussed the Mendis’ giveaway of his carrom ball. Which had first been picked up by video analysis. This giveaway was simply that when he bowled the carrom ball, unlike his other deliveries, he kept his fingers up like accidental antennas that alerted the batsmen of his intention. He was caught in the modern age of super slow replays, Youtube and the IPL helping players share secrets.

In Ajantha Mendis’ last next 12 Tests he took 29 wickets at 48. He is still a handy limited-overs performer. But was overlooked for the World Cup final and hasn’t been a regular in the IPL for quite some time.

Mendis was all mystery. His problems is that while he is a spin bowler, he doesn’t spin the ball much at all. He has virtually no drift, doesn’t drop the ball, and never beats batsman in flight. He is essentially a slow medium pacer who can move the ball slightly in both directions with a bit of help from the pitch. And his biggest problem is that his stock ball is not dangerous in the slightest. Without a stock ball that creates danger, you’re always going to struggle in Test Cricket.

Narine seems more like a spinner, who has some mystery to him right now. Narine has a brilliant stock ball. So brilliant that the first time I saw his carrom ball, I thought he should bin it, because it just limps off the pitch away from the right-hander whereas the offspinner of Narine is brutal. It rips and bounces. Even without a mystery ball, you can see why Narine would be a handful. It’s also just more than what he can deliver, it’s his poise and intelligence that stick out. He seems to bowl differently to each batsman, almost using their ego or batting stlye to his advantage, like some cunning super-villian. It is old school spin bowling.

I think Narine can survive and even prosper once his mystery is unlocked. But maybe I just want to believe that West Indies have a bowler that can win Tests for them for the next decade. The fear is that he will be a guy who can take a few wickets and be nothing more than a quirky little character actor in this long running dark period in the West Indies. They need a hero, or even an anti-hero, and I’m betting and hoping that Narine can be that guy while solving a lot of their problems.

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The IPL is back in India, splash water on your face, do a push up, read the paper

Buy the book, get a t-shirt, or donate to the whisky fund.

Like Ganguly doesn’t have an employee to wash his face.

The stunt double pretending to be Warne is doing a great job.

Has anyone ever read the paper with more intensity.

The IPL is back in India.

The IPL is back, so are the weird ass ads.

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Old Dogs

Prince Brendon may have started last years IPL with a full frontal assualt on the crowd, but this year the old dudes and an untouchable dog started us off.

Sachin chipped away a 50 odd.

Hayden followed that up by top scoring for the sooper dooper kings.

Next game the old guys really came out.

Rahul (still not a 2020 player, but still classy when his team is falling apart) top scored and pretty much kept Bangalore from collapse.

Warne was probing like a motherfucker too, some of his balls wouldn’t have looked out of place in his best of.

Anil didn’t like being overshadowed and popped in with 5 wickets as the tail fell apart.

The cricket was scrappy, there was always something in it for the bowlers, a great collapse by last year’s champsions and a leg spin master class.

It was a proper cricket day, with 10 minute ad breaks.

Jesse looks hot in red as well.

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Goodbye Anil

No more straight ones, no more forehead wiping, and no more Anil.

The man is gone.

There will never be another Kumble.

It is not possible.

Being a legspinner is hard enough, but to play at his level for this long, without a ripping leg break is super human.

It’s like a porn star having a small dick.

Or a porn star having no breasts.

It just doesn’t happen.

Somehow Anil made it work.

That takes a special man, a great man.

To rise above all the crap that goes on in Indian cricket and be a genuine match winner for over 100 tests is amazing.

He was written off so many times, but something in him just rose above it all.

And that is why he is a champion.

He wasn’t exciting, not even to a leg spinner, but he still won matches and contributed to his country winning games, not many players can say they did that.

Compared with the other great test spinners of his generation, he looks average.

But like a boxer without a knockout punch, he is overlooked and underrated.

Sure Murali and Warne had the weapons, but Kumble could punch all day, or for all 5 days.

He was never going to win as many fights as the other two, but he never stopped punching.

I would say in the history of test cricket there has been hundreds of bowlers more talented than Kumble.

Yet he has out lived, out bowled, and out muscled almost all of them.

That is a special player.

That is Anil Kumble.

And test cricket was lucky to have him.


Dear Anil,

I need you.

Things feel different without you.

I am having trouble sleeping at night, food doesn’t taste the same, and some of my arm hair is falling out from the stress.

Back when we were together things were easier, everything was so perfect, we just clicked and you don’t just give up on that magic.

You are hurting now, and I understand, but I need you to fight, for us.

I know it was too high profile for you, and the papers printed all sorts of nonsense, but we have an electric connection, you cannot deny that.

Sure we had our bad moments, but Sydney was a long time ago, and I made up for it in Perth, didn’t I.

It’s hard to find a good man Anil, and you are courageous, dignified, hot in a Ravi Shastri nerdy kind of way, and it’s you I want to toss with.

This new guy isn’t that same, he isn’t as polite, his hair has obviously been styled, and between you and me, I am not sure he is even ‘one of us’.

You can’t replicate what we had with someone else, remember it took two men to replace you.

They say you’re old, I say you’re Sophisticated.

They say you’re boring, I say you’re dependable.

They say you’re past it, I say you’re it.

You are the sunshine that warms up all my darker press conferences.

You are the song I sing when I see a bird or smell a flower.

You are the life force I need to make it though the hellish winter season.

You are my everything.

You do not merely complete me, you are me, and I you.

We are the ying & yang of the cricket word, and when we are together there is nothing we can’t achieve.

I wanna see you plow through the crease, over after over.

I wanna see you let the ball come out the back of your hand.

I wanna see that forehead drip with sweat, just for me.

I miss the way your hand feels before the toss…

So come back my brown sugar lover.

I need you.

With Hugs & Kisses

Your hairy little goblin Ricky

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Made of chalk

Young men are vibrant.

They are made of rubber and they bounce back before their injuries are fully realised.

Old men are not so lucky.

They injure themselves masturbating.

Thinking about masturbating.

Or in the nets.

3, of the 18 over 30 year olds in this Bastard Monkey Series, may not play in the test Friday.

Anil Kumble injured his shoulder wiping his forehead.

Stuart Clark hurt his elbow while putting a more realistic rinse through his hair.

Matthew Hayden wounded his elbow cooking relief packages for Roy, but he tells people it was bashing in the heads of Orphans.

That is the problem with playing men of advanced years.

They have chalk for bones, and vinegar for blood, not many people know this.

Mitchell Johnson has never injured himself putting in a labret or tongue piercing.

Ishant Sharma doesn’t hurt himself shaving his adams apple.

Because they are young you see, they could break a bone, and it would heal 8 minutes later.

Someone of Tendulkar’s age drops a packet of sugar on his toe and he never walks again.

There seems to be an obsession with youth everywhere in the world except Australia & India’s change room.

Will this lust for the elder gentleman be either side’s downfall.

Who knows, but stay tuned for the next episode of Grumpy Old Chalky Men.

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Australian spinners are crap, aliens told us so

Without Warne, MacGill, McGain & Hogg Australia has no spinners.

No one denies this.

Two part timers, and both very very part time.

Michael Clarke has a great record against India, and Cameron White has a great record against no one.

India had three spinners, one a champion, one with a great record at home and a part timer of real skill.

Of the 5 spinners used in the game, India had the top 3.

India’s spinners took 3/370.

Australia’s took 3/166.

You could say their were mitigating factors, like Bhaji bowling shit in the first innings, and Kumble’s shoulder.

But the fact is they bowled a lot more overs, and went for a lot more runs, than two part timers, one straight off a plane, and got as many wickets.

India’s quick bowlers on the other hand, for the amount of overs they bowled, did a great job.

If the spinners had matched their output India would have probably won the game by a fair distance.

Reputations are there for a reason and Kumble and Bhaji deserve theirs, and no one is saying that Michael Clarke and Cameron White are long term spinning options, or even really decent short term options, but you have to give them some credit in this match.

Imagine that.

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Is Ricky Ponting the greatest comedian of our generation? (Never ever trust an Australian at cricket, or tiddlywinks)

Is he?

Better than Daniel Kitson, sure.

Better than Ross Noble, hell yeah.

Better than Dubya Bush, it’s neck and neck.


“I will have a think about it over the next couple of days,” Ponting said, “and see if I think it is the right idea to bring it up again.”

Might not sound funny on it’s own.

But when he is talking about trusting the word of the fielders on catches, he is surely taking the piss.

That is George Carlin funny.

Never trust an Australian in sport, and never ever ever trust an Australian in sport when they say “trust me”.

How do I know this, because I am Australian, and I have not only claimed catches I haven’t taken, hell I once claimed a bowled where I saw the ball miss the stumps.


Live by that.

That is why Sydney was as much Anil Kumble’s fault as it was Pontings.

Kumble has been playing test cricket since keepers could keep.

He knows the game, and he knows Australia.

So why would he ever enter into an agreement with someone as hell bent on winning as Ricky Ponting?

He won’t do it again, because Anil aint no idiot.

Ponting isn’t an idiot either or is he,

“Anil [Kumble] was the one who didn’t want that [a pact on trusting the fielder’s word] after the Sydney Test for one reason or the other,”

One reason or another.

Michael Clarke might have been one reason, Ricky Ponting might have been another.

You know Ricky when you claimed one of those catches under the backyard rule of one hand one bounce.

I don’t blame you, a test was to be won, but let the umpires decided.

None of this trut me crap.

You’re not someone trust worthy, like say, a used car salesman or a politician.

You are an Australian cricketer.

Your word is no good here.

Just the way I like it.

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Peter has a point

Peter Roebuck occasionally gets something spot on.

At other times he is clearly speaking out of of his bleached asshole.

This is one of those former times.

He is talking about two leg spinners, and how alike they are.

Anil “he of the straight one” Kumble.

And Cricket With Balls Own Nice Bryce McGain.

Roebuck gets leg spinning, and in this case he even gets the men involved ever more so.

“Put them alongside each other and try to guess which man until recently worked in a bank.”

He has a serious point type point here, although i would say that Anil looks more like an accountant.

But why split hairs.

Leg Spinning is a harder art than making it as a professional yo yo er.

Somehow through his haze on nonsense Roebuck has always understood this.

Leg Spinners are a weird bunch of crazy mother fuckers.

Like writers.

Worst combination ever, a writer who bowls wrist spin, they make crazy people look straight.

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kumble’s mystery ball

Anil Kumble has joined the Mendis steam train of love.

Look at this picture, he looks like Mendis who looks like Gleeson.

It’s actually uncanny, there is simply nothing canny about it.

There is also some sort of new umpiring system in the news, but it hardly seems as newsworthy as Anil’s mystery ball.

I mean look at his finger.