Monday 10 May 2010

The rest is noise

Halfway through New Zealand's innings tonight, Stuart Broad comes on to bowl to Scott Styris. He brings his fine leg, Ryan Sidebottom, up inside the circle. He bowls a long hop outside leg stump. Styris easily gets inside the line and whacks it past Sidebottom. Broad goes double teapot and gobs Sidebottom off for not stopping it...

There's some irony in the above, in that Sidebottom is by some distance England's least temperate cricketer in terms of displaying his emotions on the pitch. Yet Broad is not far off him now. Is it coincidence that they are the two England bowlers under the most pressure?

That would be a simple conclusion, and might contain some truth. But there seems to be a wider, more modern cause too. Broad and Sidders are of the generation of the sports psychologist. They've doubtless listened to hours of jargon and hype about process and hunger and the 'right' mental state. In short, they've probably been conned into thinking their bowling will seem faster if they bowl it with 'attitude'.

Yet despite the image of the mouthy tearaway fast bowler, what's remarkably common about many of the most deadly is their serpentine calm. Even Thommo and Lillee seemed to posture for effect rather than anything else. When they were bowling well, they didn't bother. Didn't need to. Think also of the implacable and implacably great Marshall, or of the vast stoicism of Walsh, or the knowing grin of Ambrose, or Waqar's marginally creased brow and McGrath's amusing chunter.

The truth is, if you've got it, you know it. You don't need to tell anyone - they already understand. Increasingly, we're learning about Broad and Sidebottom, too.


Brit said...

'double teapot' - excellent, and a new one to me.

You may be right but my suspicion would be that Broady is just one of life's whingers and moaners and is now senior enough to not worry about stifling it; I don't know if you need a deeper explanation.

btw, this is an unsettlingly good England outfit, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I'm inclined to agree about Broad. The filthy looks he gives umpires when he bowls an obvious wide aren't even surprising anymore, just dull.

Sidey, Broad and Swann all roar at their fielders when under the hammer a bit.

It looks so embarrassing, they are a team for god's sake.

The Old Batsman said...

Embarrassing is the word.

Brit, I'm deliberately not thinking or writing anything positive about England. It's working so far...