Thursday, 16 August 2012

Scout Report: Will Beer

There’s something about a leg-spinner that automatically makes them more interesting to watch than any other kind of bowler. It’s the sort of thing that made a Sky commentator describe Will Beer as a “more unorthodox bowler” than the rest of the bowlers in the match. Whilst that makes little sense as Beer bowls a fairly orthodox style of a long standing type of spin – he’s no Murali – there is a grain of truth hidden in the comment; the fact that leg-spinners have been rare in English cricket for a while.

Not now though, there are a better crop of leg-spinners around than for a long time. Adil Rashid and Scott Borthwick have both been selected for England, and below them there are some other talented players, from Tom Craddock at Essex, to Max Waller at Somerset, and Will Beer at

Whilst the first two are regular first team players, Beer is one of those who struggles to get a place in the first team at his county. He’s only played five first class matches with his way blocked by Monty Panesar, but he gets the limited over job regularly for the county.

That’s what happened last night against Warwickshire at Hove; he was preferred over Panesar despite the fact that he’s never replicated his T20 form in List A cricket. Still, he started well after being brought on in the 18th over, immediately settling into a good line and length with just a fraction of flight.

In his third over he missed a sharp caught and bowled chance off a full toss, but after than almost everything he bowled was gold. He got rid of Tim Ambrose with a perfect leg-spinners delivery, drifting in to pitch on off stump before spinning and taking the edge on the way through to the keeper.

His second wicket was a stumping, beating Jim Troughton in the flight, and getting lucky that the batsman was lazy in thinking he had his foot back in. He hadn’t and he had to go. His third wicket came in his penultimate over, a leg break kept low outside off stump and Darren Maddy chopped on trying to cut. He ended up with figures of 8-0-27-3, his best performance yet in List A cricket.

Given that it was in the end a match winning performance, I’ll start with the positive attributes the young leggie has. He gives the ball just enough flight, has a pretty decent googly (I couldn’t pick it), keeps it accurate, and never looked flustered.

On the negative side, his fairly low arm action could make him susceptible to dragging the ball down, though he’s showed no evidence of that so far. He also bowls fairly slowly, which will help him to spin the ball on helpful wickets, but he may need to push his pace up on unhelpful ones. The wicket he bowled on tonight didn’t offer much turn, so I couldn’t judge how much he turns the ball, but it looked to me that he may need a little bit more rip. That’s a difficult judgement to make though.

Performance 9/10
Potential 7/10

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Kevin Pietersen wants to be Sachin Tendulkar

Kevin Pietersen has always been seen as somewhat of an arrogant player. While nobody can look inside his head, it seems like an accurate assumption. Others have speculated that his arrogance is part of a deep seeded insecurity about himself. What some might see as arrogance, others can see as a need to please, a need to be liked and revered.

Sachin Tendulkar has spent his whole career being revered. No cricketer, bar perhaps Don Bradman, has ever had the amount of adulation that Tendulkar has received over his career. Whereas Pietersen has always strived towards that sort of adulation, Tendulkar has received gracefully it as a side product of his success doing the only thing he wants to do in life.

Kevin Pietersen wants to be Sachin Tendulkar, he desperately wants that idolatry, he desperately wants ever more fame and success. Most of all, he wants the freedom that Tendulkar has in the Indian team, to duck out of series at the drop of the hat.

Given that Tendulkar has been ‘rested’ for four out of six ODI series since the World Cup in 2011, and was hardly a regular before that, it’s hard to avoid the interpretation that he picks and chooses his own series. He’s been resting up at home when India beat Sri Lanka in an away ODI series, yet for the series before that he turned out at the Asia Cup, to notch his hundredth hundred (and arguably lose India the game in the process).

Before that he was rotated in and out in the Australian tri-series, but he missed two series against England, home and away, an away one against West Indies. It’s now early August, and the last game Tendulkar played was in the IPL for Mumbai Indians. Yet, he still needs more rest, and can’t bring himself to play the ODI series against Sri Lanka.

His schedule is the one that Pietersen is aiming for, virtual ever present in Tests, technically not retired from ODIs – but only coming out for the big occasions – and playing the entire IPL. The only difference is that Tendulkar is no part of the T20 set up for India whilst Pietersen has made clear his desire to play in the World T20 later this year.

The only problem is: Pietersen isn’t Tendulkar. He’s a very good, bordering on great, batsman but he isn’t the national icon that Tendulkar is. That means he can’t get away with what Tendulkar does. The ECB have been as intransigent with Pietersen as the BCCI have been flexible with Tendulkar, but the comparison is worthless. The BCCI make special arrangements for Tendulkar, but Pietersen cannot expect the ECB to do the same thing for him.