Monday, 16 February 2009

No business like Shah business

'A bit susceptible to pace early on' is one of those blanket criticisms sometimes applied to batsmen. It's a little like a clairvoyant cold-reading a crowd: 'I'm seeing a white room with cream curtains...'. Practically everyone's been in one, just as every batter is vulnerable to a 90mph yorker bowled by Wasim Akram. 

Yet it's a criticism that has attached itself to Owais Shah; it was trotted out as conventional wisdom on TV, radio and newspapers yesterday. 'Ooh, he's got a strong bottom hand... can get out to pace bowling early...'

It's just a fear of unconventionality, a fear that has its natural home in England, where, in May 2005, almost every commentator of note expressed grave doubts over the suitability of Kevin Pietersen for Test match cricket.

Shah is antsy and odd at the crease, especially early, all mad stares and quirky rituals, but the ball cracks from his bat and he drills lines through the field. He hits it either very early or very late; both are fine qualities to have. 

Anyone who reaches Test cricket with their idiosyncracies intact has character, and the next age of batting will be all about unconventionality. Owais Shah has it, and England, and the media need to embrace it. Show the love, boys. Owais can play. 


Ankit said...

Owais Shah reminds me of the stance of Mohd Kaif, only more effective.

He has to be consistent though!

Leg Break said...

I'm old, but not old enough to have seen Bradman play.

Has there ever been a batsman who isn't a bit iffy early on?

The Old Batsman said...

LB - no, I'm sure that the Don was just slightly less iffy than the mortals!

Ankit, get what you mean about Kaif. Good spot. I hope he gets as much chance to be consistent as Bell got...