It’s an absolute statement of fact that no-one remotely cares whether England win rain-reduced one-dayers against Sri Lanka. England fans care whether England have an England fast bowler playing for England though.
In Olly Stone, maybe they sort of do. And maybe he’ll play a quarter or a third of England’s major games in the next year or so.
Stone’s first international wicket was Niroshan Dickwella. He bounced the shit out of him with a ball that was clocked at… 82mph.
It looked quick though. It probably was quick. Other deliveries definitely were quick. On commentary, Mahela Jayawardene said Stone looked “absolutely brilliant” which is a pretty weighty compliment to attract within the first four overs of your international career.
Frankly, we’re delighted that England have access to someone who’s maybe a fast bowler. A maybe-fast bowler makes life better even when he doesn’t play because you can say “they should have picked Stone” whenever the other bowlers look a bit limp.
Having a theoretical solution to the problems playing out in front of you is a much better way of watching your team lose a cricket match than having to go “well, there’s nothing anyone could have done differently, this defeat was simply unavoidable.”
When is a one-off not a one-off? When he inspires a copycat.
Lasith Malinga is not unique. We happened across this video of Sinhalese Sports Club’s Nuwan Thushara the other day.
Nuwan has clearly thought to himself: “That bowling action of Lasith Malinga’s looks really logical and easy to reproduce. I’ll bowl exactly like that.”
We first wrote about Malinga’s action back in 2006 and that page is still attracting anonymous comments from people who are convinced that he’s a cheat.
Our response is the same as it ever was. He bowls with a straight arm, so no problem there, and if it’s such a massive advantage, why isn’t everyone doing it?
The answer is because it’s not a massive advantage. Unless you absolutely perfect this technique, it’s actually a monumental disadvantage.
If you were to try and build a wide-bowling machine, you’d build it with this action. (Either that or you could just point a normal bowling machine slightly to one side.)
At the time of writing, the 23-year-old Nuwan Thushara has played three first-class matches and two T20s. He took 2-24 on his T20 debut two years ago, but is yet to take a first-class wicket.
If you were India and had access to a time-and-place machine capable of replacing a nearby patch of land with one from elsewhere and elsewhen, then when and where would you choose to play Sri Lanka at Test cricket?
It’s unlikely that you answered ‘Derby last April’ but that is apparently what the nominally home team decided. There’s been swing and seam aplenty. In a match blighted by rain and bad light, India are 74-5. They’ve been dobbled.
We’ll be watching the rest of this match with interest – if only to see whether any Derbyshire players breach the walls of the portal and inadvertently saunter into Kolkata/the future.