Picking the bowlers was much harder than picking the batsmen and all-rounders. We’re not going to pretend that we’re 100% happy with what we’ve come up with because that would be dishonest and we save the dishonesty for getting out of social events.
Dale Steyn, South Africa, age 26
We’ve still not quite worked out how someone so spindly can be so quick. The fastest bowlers do tend to be whippy, flexible beasts, but even allowing for that, Steyn still looks a bit malnourished. Being quick AND being able to swing the ball makes him more rounded than other bowlers.
Mohammad Asif, Pakistan, 26
There are a lot of variables here. As long as Mohammad Asif can stay fit and stay out of trouble and as long as Pakistan actually get to play against other people; as long as all that happens he’ll take wickets by the big-receptacle-load.
Ajantha Mendis, Sri Lanka, 24
You have to do something a bit mental to get batsmen out on today’s pitches. Even if people work out the mental deliveries Mendis uses at present, he seems like the type who’d just invent another one. Will get lots of wickets with slow, straight deliveries that will confuse batsmen predicting sorcery.
Ishant Sharma, India, 21
Has been a bit ropey of late, but anyone who can make mincemeat out of Ricky Ponting when they’re 19 doesn’t need to improve too much. Ridiculously, he’s still only 21.
Also, just a note to say that the bowler we’re perhaps most excited about, Mohammad Aamer, is more of a bowler for the next 15 years, not the next five. We’re giving him time.
As for the Aussies, they’re all good and all about the right age, but none really stands out. It’s more that we couldn’t pick one in particular than that we couldn’t pick any.
‘Bye bye Sachin, Rahul, Sourav and VVS, the new generation are here now. You guys are past it, but we’ll conquer Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan with ease.’
This is what India’s glittery one-day batting line-up might have said, but it would have been followed by a bit of a frown and a muttered ‘balls’, after Yuvraj Singh top-scored with 23 (six of which were scored in a blind panic while waiting to be clean bowled in Mendis’s first over).
Most media outlets will doubtless paint this as the next chapter in March of the Mendis, but all the Sri Lankan bowlers chipped in.
Our angle would be how deeply satisfying it is to see one-day matches being decided by bowlers for once. We don’t do angles though. We just witter aimlessly and then maybe tail off with an unnecessarily long and uninformative sentence that would perhaps be removed if it were to appear as the final words of a piece in a more respectable and professional publication.
Let’s close our eyes to England’s filthy performance and instead imagine we’re in Sri Lanka. The sun is shining, monkeys are rife, you’re having string hoppers for breakfast and Sri Lanka are playing India in Colombo.
They’ll already have started by now and Ajantha Mendis should be playing. Unfortunately, Lasith Malinga‘s injured, so we’re going to be denied the most irregular, misshapen bowling attack of all time for a little while longer.
Murali will be playing though. With him at one end and Mendis at the other, the bowling will still be twice as weird as the next oddest attack, which was probably Alastair Cook’s round-arm spoddery as the Lord’s Test bored its way to a close.
To doing the EXACT OPPOSITE of what everyone tells you to do and getting to play for Sri Lanka as a consequence!
Sanath Jayasuriya might have pummelled a trademark hundred, but Ajantha Mendis won Sri Lanka the Asia Cup.
If you want to see some impressive bowling figures, read on: 6-13 off eight overs. Virender Sehwag had hit a 26-ball fifty when Mendis came on to bowl, so the young spinner basically just flat-out won the match.
Having one baffling, unconventional, once-in-a-generation spinner would be enough for most nations, but not Sri Lanka. They have to have two. Greedy swines.
Ajantha Mendis bowls ‘spin’. He’s not bound by petty distinctions like that between off-spin and leg-spin. He bowls everything.
He bowls everything and then has the face-slapping audacity to add another delivery – the carrom ball.
Ajantha Mendis’s ‘carrom ball’ does look to be pretty much a new delivery. Inventing a new delivery is a pretty brash thing to do. It’s almost like discovering a new colour or introducing a new letter into the alphabet. We should have all the deliveries already – cricket’s been around for bloody ages.
Doubtless people have done similar things before now, but perhaps not in exactly the same way and certainly not to the extent that the delivery’s been branded, as the carrom ball has. Maybe previous trailblazers just didn’t have a good name. You’ve got to have a name.
You can probably get a decent idea of what he does from the picture on the right.
His middle finger is bent down along the side of the ball. When he releases it, he flicks that finger, spinning the ball in the same direction as a leg-break.
He seems to have good control over where it lands as well, which is pretty astonishing. It might just get him the odd wicket, you know.
The name derives from the Indian table-top game ‘carrom’ where you use a similar flicking technique.