Ishant Sharma’s death bowling

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Bailout made an unusually strong and comprehensive argument in favour of Stuart Matsikenyeri when we requested names of players whose continued selection seems inexplicable. However, Ishant Sharma was mentioned more frequently.

Sharma seems to be the subject of much scrutiny at the minute. A Cricinfo article about him last week was rendered all but redundant by a blunt and brutal subheading which told the whole story:

“Ishant Sharma has been a disappointment in ODIs, proving ineffective with new ball and old for the majority of his six-year career”

Yesterday, he was taken apart as if he were a national health service, with James Faulkner in the role of right-wing politician. With Australia needing 44 off three overs, Faulkner scored 30 off Sharma, who somewhat disappointingly didn’t bowl any wides or no-balls to extend the destruction.

MS Dhoni says that his bowlers don’t need to be spoon-fed. Presumably, Sharma is currently being fed through a straw.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. – and he’s been retained for the rest of the series! (he obviously has the negatives, somewhere nice and safe)

  2. Ishant Sharma’s laryngeal prominence is and always will be his most memorable characteristic – even if he one day goes for 45 runs off his final over to snatch defeat from the very jaws of victory in an ICC World Cup final.

  3. Ishant Sharma would’ve been a fantastic bowler in the 70’s and 80’s. Pity he has to play on shit pitches, against adamantium bats and 70 m boundaries.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for him, and will continue to do so, regardless of which No.11 hits him for five sixes in a meaningless game.

    1. I think everyone had a soft spot for him as the fantastic 19 year old who burst onto the scene 6 years ago.

      The over was bad but as a Leicestershire fan, I’m not sure anything could beat that Scott Boswell over -

    2. i remember watching that one, live on tv. (such occasions were still broadcast on terrestrial, back then…) it was awful, car-crash viewing cos you could just see this poor guy’s career going down the pan as the yips got worse and worse. and he went into *teaching*, of all professions? he must hear sniggering everywhere he goes.

  4. damn, that hilarious clip (as featured on the badger) has disappeared. i was hoping to cheer myself up by watching it again… laughed my arse off the other night

    1. It can be found on the Daily Mail, if you feel you really need to.

      We’re not providing a link.

    2. thanks. mmm, no, i wouldn’t normally want to go digging around on the daily mail’s website, but mrs c wanted to know what was making me laugh so hard the other night

  5. The key reason why it can’t be Ishant is the lack of credible alternatives. Praveen Kumar ate all the pies and is barely above medium pace. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is great with the new ball but again hardly express.
    The only other name I can think of is serving a life ban for spot fixing.

  6. ‘Taken apart as if he was a National Health Service’.

    Love it. Bit of politics here on King Cricket.

  7. This is really puzzling.

    Ishant doesn’t have mediocre hair. He has spectacular – almost Pakistanesque – hair. So logically his test innings should be either 6/23 or 0/125. His figures don’t do justice to his hair.

  8. I finished the ironing when Australia needed that 44 and decided that I could care less which lot won and it was too boring to watch without distraction …

  9. Ishant’s selection isn’t completely inexplicable as we all know why he’s been picked. He’s a bowler, he’s there to bowl. Not like this, obviously, but he’s meant to bowl. And he did.

    The deeply inexplicable selection decisions are where it’s not even obvious why the player’s on the pitch. Not to bat, not to bowl, not to keep – instead the talking heads reassure us he’s there to “provide balance”.

    Sometimes a player just so happens to offer balance, by virtue of being insanely talented (Sobers, Kallis, Imran, Simon Doull). But if this mysterious, jedi-like quality of “balance” is the main attraction, then we are in realms beyond rational explanation. Ajit Agarkar’s throne in the pantheon is impregnable to a mere bowler. He may only be usurped by an all-rounder whose bits are as dubious as his pieces, or by that rarest of beasts, the specialist fielder.

    1. You’re right about “balance” being the veil of secrecy behind which some selection rationale might be hiding (not likely). In this respect it goes very well with “potential”. As everyone knows, “potential” is another way of saying “rarely performs well”. You can see the selectors in their meetings all unspokenly thinking that they can’t not pick X for the next match because he will for sure very probably maybe with a following breeze score 230 and / or take 7 for 12. It will / might / would have been the greatest performance in cricket history, and we selectors prevented it from happening by dropping the lad. No conceivable amount of evidence is sufficient to overturn this thought once it gets into a selector’s head.

      Any player who offers both balance and potential is both a choice of wild desperation and a shoo-in for the team.

  10. So either you’ve just outed yourself as the statistically minded alter ego of Simon Doull, or you’re taking the piss. “(Sobers, Kallis, Imran, Simon Doull)” is not a grouping I’ve heard before, or imagine I ever will again!

    1. It’s one of those glorious things that might be completely facetious, or may be frightfully serious, so cosmic justice compelled me to write it.

      Doull was a decent bowler (unluckily finished two shy of a hundred Test wickets with a sub-30 average) but also knew how to hit a ball. Back when pinch-hitting was a Thing in cricket, not just baseball, he could and arguably should have opened for the Kiwis in ODIs. Though the international selectors were too conservative to give it a go, he was effective in provincial cricket including a memorably humiliating England warm-up match.

      Just like Sobers, Kallis and Imran, you wouldn’t pick Doull for “balance”. You’d play them because they were very good at what they did. But even Doull could alter the balance of sides he played for – my point was that you don’t have to be an Immortal Great for that to apply. Or maybe it was that the juxtaposition of Sobers, Kallis, Imran, Doull was inherently unlikely and therefore comically satisfying.

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