In Sri Lanka, earlier this year, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh were outbowled to a frightening degree by Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis.
With their spin bowlers stumbling somewhat and Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma doing as good a job as all four Aussie quicks put together in the first Test, it was tempting to think that maybe India would have been better advised to replace the injured Kumble with a pace bowler.
Three quick bowlers or two spinners?
Over the last few years, India have firmly done away with any pace bowling frailties they once had. This is a nation who’ve had Sourav Ganguly open the bowling before now, which is like having Ashley Giles opening the batting. But these days there are seemingly dozens of young Indian fast bowlers who could do a job in Test cricket. But this would be wrong. This would be against all that Test cricket’s about. When you tour India, you face spin.
It’s not about tradition or anything pointless like that. It’s about the diversity and breadth of the game. Pitches are becoming homogenised and teams are too as a consequence. One of the most fundamentally intriguing elements of cricket is the fact that while on the face of it, you’re playing the same game in England as in India, in reality, entirely different skills are required. Different bowlers will be effective and different batsmen will prosper using different approaches.
India should always have a leg-spinner
So it was with a little relief that we saw India had stuck with two spinners and it was with delight that we watched Amit Mishra dismiss half Australia’s batsmen. Philosophical delight that all was well and everyday delight when Michael Clarke got nowhere near the googly.
Mishra is a proper leg-spinner. A conventional, slightly floaty leg-spinner who doesn’t just keep it tight. We’d anticipated Piyush Chawla would appear in the final Test, winning it for India, but we don’t mind him being further down the pecking order if there are other, better leg-spinners on offer.
We can’t say for definite whether Amit Mishra is the better of the two, but from what we’ve seen he’s very good. More importantly, if a side with a spin attack of Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra were to lose a Test in India to a side with a spin ‘attack’ of Cameron White and Michael Clarke, the cricket world would be almost as bad a place as the real world.