This starts off as a Twitter story, but stick with it because that’s merely the setting. The point we’re about to make has nothing to do with that.
Firstly, let us just say that we don’t make predictions on Twitter. No-one really cares what we think and it’s too easy to get drawn into predicting things which are fairly likely anyway. In any given match, someone will get runs and someone will get wickets. Why name names? Keep it for your fantasy league.
However, with India 453-9 and the last pair having been together for two and a half hours, we made an exception. Moeen Ali came on to bowl and we said:
Mark my words, Moeen Ali will take this final wicket.
— King Cricket (@TheKingsTweets) July 10, 2014
That over, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was dismissed.
A lot of people were impressed by this. We even got a ‘whoa man!!!’ off Pommie Mbangwa.
Pommie spoke for many and there were lottery number jokes and so forth, but to us it wasn’t a lucky guess. We thought it was highly likely to happen and that’s why we broke our own unwritten rule about making predictions.
Why was the wicket highly likely?
We play squash. Every now and again, the stars align and both ourself and our opponent have decent fitness and excellent timing and we play the sport like it’s meant to be played. At these times, the rallies drag on. When things are going really well, we middle the ball every time, play it exactly where we want to, but neither of us can engineer a winner. It becomes a strategic battle, which is very satisfying. However, these points are almost always resolved in exactly the same way: with a mishit.
It’s not that every shot in the rally’s the same. It’s that you get used to the way the ball moves, whether it’s a drive, a drop shot or something played off the side wall. You’re in rhythm. Your body’s moving into the right position long before the ball arrives and it does so with perfect timing. A mishit plays havoc with this. Your brain simply can’t get to grips with the weird, looping trajectory or the non-angle which brings the ball to the middle of the court.
Are you calling Moeen Ali a mishit?
No. It’s about bowling diversity and presenting a change of rhythm. Shami and Kumar were starting to look like unmovable top order batsmen, but they’re no such thing. It was just that England’s sterile monoculture of a bowling attack had allowed them to get into a groove. Bowling changes were no such thing from the batsmen’s perspective. They were timing everything.
This is England’s problem at the moment. It happened against Sri Lanka and it’s happened again. It’s not about the quality of the bowlers. It’s about the lack of diversity and the more tired the seamers get, the more it becomes a problem.
Here’s another prediction: it will happen again.