Nov 10, 2008

Silky wrists, but what else?

What was the last successful cricketing innovation to have come out of India? This question came up during a conversation between Harish and me. To be honest, I couldn't think of anything since Ranji's leg glance! (and that was over a hundred years ago.

To give you some idea of what we're talking about:
The Pakistanis invented the reverse sweep (Hanif or Mushtaq Mohammad), reverse swing (Sarfraz, Imran, that generation, perhaps even earlier), the doosra (Saqlain Mushtaq). The Aussies invented day-night cricket in ODIs (Packer et al.), slow bowling in the death overs, the zooter (if you believe it exists), (perhaps) trying to score at 4 rpo in a Test. The New Zealanders, usually an innovative bunch, had Mark Greatbatch taking advantage of the then new 15 overs restrictions, Martin Crowe and lot invented "Cricket Max" that eventually inspired Twenty20, not to mention opening with a spinner in ODIs. The English had the googly, Bodyline (besides, they did invent the sport!), Duckworth-Lewis, TV innovations, switch-hitting. The South Africans brought in fielding revolutions and earpieces and (seemingly) choking. The Windies used pace attacks (that was enough), and the chinaman (probably). The Lankans invented dual pinch-hitters and now re-invented the carrom ball (and flex elbows). Zimbabwe seems to have invented wicketkeeper-batsman-captains! (let's see: Fletcher, Houghton, A. Flower, Taibu).

The closest that we could think of:

1. Srikkanth's over the top hitting in ODIs (a little weak, because it wasn't sold as a strategy - he was an opener and that's how he played)
2. (Harish) Sending the top batsman to open in ODIs rather than shielding him in the middle order (as with Sachin Tendulkar)
3. Playing a spin trio? (was a strategy, but hardly any alternatives existed)
4. (Harish) Perhaps the paddle sweep?
5. Day-Night cricket for a first class game? (unless it has been done elsewhere before the 1994 Ranji Final at Gwalior)

As you can see, we're clutching at straws here. Innovations often happen as a response to constraints or as a product of careful thought that challenges existing conventions. That rules out "the Great Indian batting collapse" as an entry.

Ranji: you win, unless we can come up with something better.

How about "Mankading"?


Anonymous said...

Mankading : Had been happening in first class cricket for nearly a century before Mankad did it in Tests. Being named after doesn't make him the inventor

Salil said...

What about the after-wicket or after-win huddle? I remember reading Harbhajan's claims that it was his idea.

Also, there are rumours that ICL is planning to introduce 'niners' to reward shots over the 90m mark.

Sandeep Limaye said...

The over-the-slip-cordon cut shot to counter short-pitched restrictive bowling? (Sachin has invented and mastered this stroke and used it effectively against Ntini et al, Lee et al., Sami et al.)

Nobody else (except perhaps Sehwag) seems to have picked it up yet.

Ramanand said...

anon: I would have expanded on "clutching straws etc", but since you didn't leave a name or handle, I won't bother ;-) Anyway, many of the listed innovations turned out to not be about just creation, but popularisation.

Salil: IIRC, the huddle was suggested by Sandy Gordon (i, like some other people, won't take harbhajan's claims at face value :-))
Niners: perhaps yes.

Sandeep: good point. In fact, Harish also mentioned it yesterday to me (I forgot to add). The only doubt we had was if others had made it their own before - esp. on the bouncier pitchers. Of course, Sachin's control here is exceptional.

anand said...

Yoicks Tally Ho--thought Ranji only played for England but you are the "IndiancricketRanji" expert :)

What about the "chapati" shot ? Playing two wicketkeepers in one team when both are fit ? Parties till dawn on match-day ? Dhoni's double-handed topspin down past mid-off ? Bhajji's Tan ki shakti monkey shakti ?Number of cricketers who've shaved off moustaches ?

Anonymous said...

About Sandeep's comment : Google says that the upper-cut over the slips was invented by Eddie Barlow. Ramanand - I assume from your post about the Balls... quiz that you (re)read Idols. Gavaskar says in that Alan Knott used the cut over the slips with much success against the bouncers of Lillian Thomson in 1974-75

It also seems to have existed in some form before Barlow. For instance Cardus says about George Gunn (an online version at,,106904,00.html ) of how he got under an off-side bouncer of Ted Macdonald and " actually cut under the ball, sending it over third-man's head, high over, for six." Sounds a bit like what Tendulkar and Sehwag do in modern times.

(I am the anon of the first post and the "Wadhwaney fan" in the other blog)

Anonymous said...

Isnt it funny that everything you mention about pakistani innovations are "oolta" in a way ... "reverse" sweep, "reverse" swing, "doosra" ....

Ramanand said...

Anand: refer 'straw clutching tendencies' ;-) Anyway, not sure the English would want to claim that 'unchristian' stroke as theirs :-)

Anon aka Wadhwaney fan: ah, thanks for the info, I just re-skimmed Idols, so don't recall from that, so I will take your word for it.

Anon_ulTaa: yeah, that mind of theirs! I think studying Pakistani innovations is much more fun in general. Am sure Javed and generation had many more up their sleeves.

CruiZen said...

How could Sachin fans miss his checked drive! And his adjustments to stance? Or is it quatrainman's ploy to let the fans point out that most if not all the recent inventions from the blues have one source? ;-)

Then there's the strategy of close fielders hounding the batsman to complement an all-spin attack and plucking catches almost on the pitch a la Solkar.

Nasir Hussein setting a negative line, which may become a trend, Sehwag forbid. Wonder if Sachin called him the best captain for this innovation.

Jeeban Ram said...

Would you consider these as original Indian innovations:

1.Dhoni's vertical helicopter shot in which he whirls his arms like a windmill and occasionally sends the ball over the long on boundary.

2. Slow bowlers disguised as fast bowlers and vice versa (Venky Prasad and Anil Kumble respectively)

3. Match fixing

4. Cricketers who went on to act in films (Kirmani, Jadeja)

5. Lowest Performance/Potential ratio for a team ever.

6. Arun Lal and Navjot Sidhu as commentators.

Manish said...

On Srikanth "was an opener" and played like that. The opened those days playe less than 3 an over.

First 15 overs, you need to save wicket. Srikanth was the only guy who did otherwise, but of course without strategy.