Monday, July 7, 2008
Ajantha Mendis on debut gets Chris Gayle out LBW to get his 1st ODI wicket, out walks Darren Sammy..
I found the following write up on Ajantha titled 'Ajantha Mendis- A new phenomenon' on The Straight Bat with Brendan Layton.
Brendan is currently a freelance journalist, working for Australian news website Ninemsn as a content producer and blogger with 'Ref needs glasses'.
Ajantha Mendis- A new phenomenon
The retirement of Shane Warne left a large hole in the cricket world, with the greatest spinner of all time no longer affecting the game and delighting crowds with his immaculate control and big turn.
Around the world, the search for spinners to replace the old guard that is passing is underway. Murali is 36 and injuries are beginning to mute his effectiveness. Anil Kumble is 38 this year and not far away from retirement.
Dan Vettori has plenty of years left but is not as exciting as other spinners across the world, such as Monty Panesar, who has a decade worth of service still in him for England. And there is currently no other spinner in world cricket really creating a stir. Until now.
That man is Ajantha Mendis, Sri Lanka’s newest spin sensation earmarked as the new ‘mystery’ spinner, continuing a line from Johnny Gleeson all the way back to Jack Iverson, the original ‘mystery’ bowler.
Mendis has just shocked out India in the Asia Cup Final, cementing a win that Sanath Jayasuria set up with the phenomenal figures of 6/13. India, one of the most powerful teams in the world, couldn’t even make it to 200.
Let’s put these figures into context now. Firstly, spinners are usually subject to a great deal of punishment in one day cricket, with notable exceptions of course (Murali and Saqlain Mushtaq spring to mind).
Secondly, he was playing against India, renowned across the world as the best players of spin bowling. Warne and Murali, the best spinners of this era, cannot average under 30 against them in test cricket, and their ODI records against them weren’t much better.
Thirdly, the Asia Cup has produced featherbed pitches that have been in extraordinary favour of batsmen. 10 innings of 300 or more featured during the tournament, some of those coming in the same match. Mendis took 17 wickets in 5 games, six more than the more accomplished Murali.
Finally, he was introduced in the ninth over of the Indian innings. Bowling to Virender Sehwag, who had dominated the proceedings with his 60, Mendis had him stumped off his second ball, then bowled danger man Yuvraj two balls later for a duck.
He bowled a good length that left the batsman unsure whether to come forward or back (A tactic that made fast bowler Glenn McGrath legendary), then using his variation and a straight ball as a stock delivery, he ran through the rest of the team. Three of the six victims were bowled, beaten by the variation.
Mendis had already been making shockwaves in the Sri Lankan domestic scene, and his first class record is simply bemusing. From 19 matches he has a hardly believable 111 wickets, with a strike rate 32.9 and a ridiculous average of 14.54. Murali’s strike rate is 48, and his average 19.06. Still brilliant figures, but they pale in comparison to Mendis.
Figures like his have not been seen since the golden age of cricket and before, when pitches were uncovered and a bowler had everything in his favour, in this day and age, with the game favouring batsman, they are utterly amazing.
The test now for the young Sri Lankan is to not only maintain his sense of mystery, but to crack the Sri Lankan test team, dominated by that man Murali. His record suggests he could be the man that may challenge Warne and Murali’s positions at the top of the spinning tree.
This is the bowler cricket has been crying out for to lead spin into a new era. I truly hope he can establish himself now and challenge world cricket for his place amongst the greats.