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Go home, you have been spun

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The dry, abrasive spin-dom, rich and prosperous, has rarely been in ruder health. Its loyal and efficient foot soldiers- skilled in the finest traditions of guerrilla bowling- have set about ambushing hapless batsmen, preying on their confused minds in the most sly manner.

Not without the wily grin and brilliantly bright eyes of a spinner is a scene of cricket complete on the decaying powder kegs of our home grounds. Neither is it complete without poor batsmen, as foreign to turn as we are to lambskin woolens in summers, crouching low or standing still, completely mystified by anything between the classical off-break and the darting slider.

Of course, spin bowling does not require the courage of going mano-a-mano against a seething quick (or even squeamishly blunting his threats) but this mischievous art splits the minds of even the most skilled batsmen. The men (and women) of this spin-dom, they assiduously work to make you look like fools, like wooden pegs on a crumbling ball-room floor.

But while running the risk of betraying this clan, and also treading against the casual jingoism heralded by famous Indian victories, I must ask if the spin-dom has gone too far? Was Nagpur a sign of insecurity and not their rampant dominance? This relatively new watcher of cricket has seen a few turning pitches in the subcontinent, but not since Wankhede 2004 have I seen anything quite as nasty.

 

It’s not that pitches shouldn’t suit the strengths of the home side, but should they be doctored to such a great extent that they resemble an earthquake-ravaged square on day 1 itself? After all, cricket is best when the pitch facilitates a contest between bat and ball, throwing up different variables as the match progresses.

Neither extremes- docile flat beds nor vicious minefields- are acceptable and they often mislead the watching public in their estimation of cricketers. Leaving aside the foxy Ashwin, would lesser tweakers like Jadeja and Mishra have verve enough to wreak havoc on such a disconcerting scale on a more balanced wicket? While an absurdly spin-friendly surface still requires bowlers to bowl well, maintain tight lines & cramp the opposition for space and runs, is it a true test of their qualities?

Well, before I stir this fiery pot, I must add that it is only an opinion, one that shall be put to test in the verdant greens of England and New Zealand and the pace and bounce of Australia and South Africa. Till then let us wriggle our fingers or twist our wrists in celebration: our spin-dom has not merely survived but crushed the invasion. Go home South Africa, dare I say, you have been spun.



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