Ravindra Jadeja, school cricket and playing for the turn

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In some parts of England, they talk about ‘schools cricket’ – note the plural. This is a bizarre, alien form of the game in which posh 15-year-olds play on immaculate grounds in exquisite locations having been expertly coached by former internationals. ‘School cricket’ (singular) is rather different.

In school cricket, everyone is useless and there is no gear. At best, the batsmen will be sharing a set of pads and if there are gloves, they’ll be those ones with the spiky rubber bits on the back. The game is played on a bobbly football field with cut grass left behind in clumps. Even if there were a boundary, no-one could reach it because of the bats and terrain.

We thought of school cricket while watching Ravindra Jadeja’s wickets from this series. To be clear, this isn’t a reflection on his ability. It’s more to do with his bowling style and the batsmen’s ability.

Jadeja trots up to the crease and delivers the ball round-arm at about 50mph. That is how you bowl in school cricket – slowly and round-arm. He is aiming at the stumps, because that is what you do in school cricket (there is no point having elaborate plans). The batsman then misses the ball, even though it doesn’t spin or do anything and finds that he has been bowled. Ravindra Jadeja then takes the bat off the batsman so that he can have a go at batting.

Okay, so the last bit doesn’t happen, but the rest of it is no different to school cricket. Basically, Jadeja is bowling slow, straight deliveries with a round-arm action and England’s finest batsmen are missing them. Why is this?

We’re told it’s because they are playing for the turn and this begs the question: “Why are you playing for the turn?”

This is a pretty decent question when Jadeja’s bowling, because he doesn’t really spin the ball a right lot. It’s not a bad question all round though. Is this really how professional batsmen approach spin bowling? We thought it was all about playing back and watching the turn or playing forward and negating the turn? Is just sort of guessing where the ball might end up and aiming for that particular patch of air a genuine gameplan?

This isn’t rhetoric. We’re actually asking. Do professional cricketers actually do this deliberately, expecting that they will succeed?


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  1. All I know is that I would rather want to be bowled by a ball that spun than by one that didn’t. At least in school-cricket there is no replays, and if the non-striker even said it spun, then you can decide by how much in your story.

  2. A Grade Cricket batsman I know once told me that the difficulty in playing spin was all about dip and drift, as opposed to turn off the pitch. The huge amount of spin on the ball causes its flight to be affected, making it very difficult for a batsman to know where it was going to pitch. Therefore they play forward to a ball that pitches shorter than where they were expecting it and get surprised by the bounce (caught at slip), or vice versa (trapped lbw). What separates a good spinner from a poor one is the accuracy with which they can do this, i.e. to make the average point of pitching right in the play forward / play back zone.

    I’m not sure whether that helps or not.

  3. I can’t think of a general answer to the question, but I would guess Pietersen approaches slow left-arm spin bowling with the same enthusiasm with which a fat person would approach a Margherita pizza. Also with the same nagging feeling that while he is going to dominate the pie for a small amount of time, it’s eventually going to make him hate himself.

    1. After enough last-minute orders of the questionable Meat Feast (from that place where I suspect the bloke never wears gloves), a Margherita can make you feel relatively angelic

    2. Pizza isn’t pizza without dead pig on it. Margherita is an abomination. Give me a margarita instead, please.

  4. To be fair, in the last ODI England’s finest batsmen didn’t miss them, Kieswetter, Samit and Dernbach did. I don’t defend Inky Jade very often, but I thought it was a bit harsh of Nasser to condemn the no. 11 for playing for non existent turn at 150ish for 9.

  5. My experience of school cricket was there wasn’t any. At all. I played in every single game I could between the ages of 11 and 16 at my school which consisted of one completed game, one rained off, and (I think) 3 abandoned because one school or the other couldn’t field a team.

    We didn’t even get to play during sports lessons; the chosen sports each term were decided democratically – which meant football or basketball every single time and that was it. I tell a lie. We played cricket once in six years – just me and some girls.

    School sports at comprehensives is pathetic.

  6. Perhaps it goes something like this: First, batsman registers that Jadeja is not a “mystery” spinner that he is supposed to be afraid of. Second, batsman recollects that he saw Jadeja listed as “leg spinner” in the pre-match prep sheet.Third, batsman knows he is playing an ODI game and must project aggression and flamboyance. These powerful forces combine to convince batsman that the ball will turn away from him and he must address this with his bat immediately. Batsman gets bowled.

  7. This is a very upsetting posting.

    My only significant achievement playing cricket was bowling slow, round-arm, non-turning stuff at a school cricket level, when just shy of 13 years old.

    The achievement in question was a hat trick. The first, clean bowled, the second, caught and bowled, the third, clean bowled.

    Now I’m told this seminal achievement, upon which all my cricketing hopes, dreams and loves have been based, was a mere chimera. No better than Ravindra Jadeja’s mediocre stuff.

    I am gutted.

    I am just going outside and may be some time.

    1. Sure. So….mmmm..yeah, so what’s the weather li..oh, wait, you covered that. Well then…

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