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Sledging (in cricket, not on snow)

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Alfred E Neuman
1279101.  Sun Mar 25, 2018 2:02 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
It's been put on YouTube by an Australian TV station, so you can see it here. At 1:25, the man with not much hair and a green jacket is Lehmann; the man clutching a football* a few seconds letter is the Australian 12th man Peter Handscombe.


That's the footage I had seen too when I said that I think Lehmann knew what was going on.

I'm quite impressed by the work done by the cameramen, they seem to have captured all of the salient details quite well.

 
suze
1279142.  Sun Mar 25, 2018 6:45 pm Reply with quote

Smith is adamant that Lehmann knew nothing about it.

Now OK, it could be that Lehmann told him to say that. But Andy doesn't think Lehmann would throw his captain under the bus to quite that extent.

 
Alfred E Neuman
1279156.  Mon Mar 26, 2018 2:42 am Reply with quote

It seems that when Smith said that the team leadership knew about it, it wasnít the entire leadership, just him and Warner. That does make sense, and also makes it far less of a big issue than the implication that win at all costs was official team policy.

I suspect that Smith doesnít need to worry about what Lehmann thinks of him going forward, so why would he let himself be thrown under the bus to protect him?

Iíve also been trying to work out exactly why this incident has got me so worked up, when other incidents of ball tampering havenít. Iíve not got a satisfactory answer for that yet.

 
barbados
1279175.  Mon Mar 26, 2018 5:24 am Reply with quote

Could it be that the incident was so obviously premeditated and once discovered, rather than come clean the player then lied to the umpires to try to get away with it?

 
Alfred E Neuman
1279186.  Mon Mar 26, 2018 6:39 am Reply with quote

I think thatís a big part of it.

The strength of reaction in Australia is also quite a surprise. I read an article published on cricinfo which makes sense.

Brydon Coverdale wrote:
Sometimes our sporting stars behave detestably, and are rightly castigated. Our cricketers are no exception. They say they do not cross "the line", while the rest of us wonder where the hell it is. Of course, like any line in the sand, it washes away with the tide, to be redrawn wherever it suits at the time.

The Australian public has a line, too. And with their culture of sledging, whingeing, hypocrisy and arrogance, our cricketers have been head-butting it for so long that they have become an insufferable national migraine.


http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/22916100/why-australia-outraged-steven-smith-team

 
suze
1279225.  Mon Mar 26, 2018 11:40 am Reply with quote

The writer of that piece makes it plain that he doesn't really believe the claim that Lehmann knew nothing about what was planned. FWIW, former Australian coach John Buchanan has told the media that he doesn't believe it either - although there may be an axe being ground here, because Buchanan and Lehmann are known not to get on.

Alfred makes a good point though. While both men are in serious danger of being fired, as things stand it's Lehmann who has the better chance of keeping his job. Why would Smith save Lehmann's arse, if his alternative was to throw Lehmann under the bus and just maybe save his own behind?

There's no obvious reason for Smith to do that, so just maybe he was telling the truth and Lehmann really didn't know about it. If it's that then Lehmann's competence has to be called into question, as indeed does the need for his role to exist, but he's not actually done anything naughty.


Should any of you ever bump into the good husband at Lord's or any similar venue, do not get him onto the subject of whether cricket teams need a Darren Lehmann, a head coach whose role is comparable to that of a football manager. He is very firmly of the opinion that they don't, and he has Mike Brearley on his side. Being called an "idiot" by another former England captain who had best be nameless here for espousing this theory is one of his badges of honour!

 
brunel
1279244.  Mon Mar 26, 2018 1:24 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
The writer of that piece makes it plain that he doesn't really believe the claim that Lehmann knew nothing about what was planned. FWIW, former Australian coach John Buchanan has told the media that he doesn't believe it either - although there may be an axe being ground here, because Buchanan and Lehmann are known not to get on.

Alfred makes a good point though. While both men are in serious danger of being fired, as things stand it's Lehmann who has the better chance of keeping his job. Why would Smith save Lehmann's arse, if his alternative was to throw Lehmann under the bus and just maybe save his own behind?

There's no obvious reason for Smith to do that, so just maybe he was telling the truth and Lehmann really didn't know about it. If it's that then Lehmann's competence has to be called into question, as indeed does the need for his role to exist, but he's not actually done anything naughty.

As you note, so far it is only theorised that Lehmann might have been involved, and some of those who have made such a suggestion were not on good terms with Lehmann to begin with.

Whilst we might expect a figure like Lehmann to be involved in the major decisions of the team and that he should have known about this, I can see how Smith might have been able to keep him out of the loop.

I could see how he could have, say, arranged for a private meeting back at the hotel and put pressure on Bancroft not to go to Lehmann about the meeting, and he might have only needed or or two other senior players in on the plan to help pressurise Bancroft. In those circumstances, I can see how Lehmann could have been kept out of the loop - whether he was is something that I guess will only become clearer with time.

Still, as you say, so far at least there doesn't seem to be a major incentive for Smith to protect Lehmann if he was involved, particularly with the Australian cricketing authorities now holding their own investigation.

 
crissdee
1279250.  Mon Mar 26, 2018 1:52 pm Reply with quote

The thing that is currently puzzling me, is why they do it at all? Ball tampering I mean.

I can understand how having one rough side and one smooth side to the ball could make it curve in flight, although PDR could probably explain it it detail.

I can also understand how a curved path would make it slightly harder to hit it at the other end.

But, given that it has to reach the wicket at the other end, and it only has 22 yards (?) to cover, how far out can it go without being a no-ball?

I would like to see some experimental data on how much of a curve they can get on a ball, or even some testimony from some guy in Kent who might have a working knowledge of the matter.

 
Alfred E Neuman
1279274.  Mon Mar 26, 2018 5:02 pm Reply with quote

You only need to get it to swing half the width of a bat, and instead of middling it, the batsman will get an edge which gives the fielding team a pretty good chance of getting a wicket.

 
crissdee
1279276.  Mon Mar 26, 2018 5:05 pm Reply with quote

Ahah! Serves me right for messing about with guns and bows instead of whacking leather balls with paddles.

 
AndyE
1279277.  Mon Mar 26, 2018 5:47 pm Reply with quote

Suze has summoned me, so I'd better say something! Mr Neuman has already made one key point: a bowler doesn't want the ball to swing too far, because if it does that the batsman will leave it well alone.

In a test match that's no more than a wasted effort, but in one day cricket it may well cost you a run because the ball is likely to be called as a wide. Unless it's really wild, or a bowler seems to be bowling down the leg side on purpose, the umpires in test matches don't call wides very often. In one day cricket on the other hand, they are very strict indeed on anything that is not within the batsman's easy reach.

The basic principle of swing bowling is indeed that one side of the ball is smooth and one side is rough. The smoothness was traditionally achieved by polishing the ball, usually by using sweat or saliva and then rubbing the ball on the trousers. That is why cricketers often have red dye stains on their trousers. The use of these natural liquids is allowed, but foreign substances such as hair gel and vaseline are not. That is not to say that they have never been used.

The notion of deliberately making one side of the ball smooth goes back a century and more, but the notion of deliberately making the other side rough is newer. It's mainly used when the bowler is attempting to produce reverse swing ie the ball moves through the air in the opposite direction to that expected. Reverse swing was probably invented in Pakistan in the 70s, but didn't become well known until the 90s. It is in the attempt to produce reverse swing that some players have resorted to dubious tactics like soil in the pocket or the use of sandpaper. (A guy I've played against for absolutely years uses sandpaper. He knows that I know, but even properly qualified umpires seem to think that it's a private joke between the two of us and don't actually believe that he does it.)

As a spin bowler, I'm not that bothered about swing. I can make the ball swing very gently away from the batsman, and it's what I do with the quicker ball that I bowl a few times per game for variety. But I bowl that ball with a different action, I might as well put a sign on my head saying 'Quicker ball up next', and no batsman who is better than a village idiot will fall for it. Mind you, a fair number who are as bad as that have done!

However, should you ever see a bowler who keeps a couple of his fingernails long as a guitarist might, you can be fairly sure that's because he's a seam picker. If the ball lands on the seam then it deviates in an unpredictable way, and if the bowler uses his fingernails to pick at and raise the stitching, it deviates more.

You can't get away with that at the top level any more, but in the 1970s and 1980s it was pretty much taken as a given that bowlers in county cricket all did it. In club cricket, plenty of trundle bowlers - bowlers of no pace, but who can be relied upon to land the ball in more or less the right place for ten overs - still do it.

'Mr Sandpaper' certainly does. He was really quite quick thirty years ago and was on the fringes of county cricket for a few years. He's now nearly 50 and his arm gets lower by the week, but he still gets plenty of wickets in lower level cricket by knowing every trick in the book.

I have, of course, never indulged in any of this sharp practice. At least, not when I'm writing something that my wife will read.

 
barbados
1279282.  Tue Mar 27, 2018 1:02 am Reply with quote

The one thing that I am still struggling with is the claim that Lehmann knew nothing of the plan.

I'm not familiar with the set up in a cricket team. However if he plays the role that suze suggests, he would play an integral role in all tactical planning. And he would most certainly have been part of the "leadership" group that discussed the plan over lunch.

It is entirely possible that he may have disagreed with the plan, I just cant see him as being unaware.

 
crissdee
1279289.  Tue Mar 27, 2018 3:32 am Reply with quote

Andy, I don't suppose they are used in the serious game, but I have seen in various places synthetic balls (fnarr, fnarr!) with a moulded in "seam". Are these subject to the same kind of tampering?

 
Alfred E Neuman
1279307.  Tue Mar 27, 2018 5:24 am Reply with quote

barbados wrote:
It is entirely possible that he may have disagreed with the plan, I just cant see him as being unaware.


I donít think that Lehmann could have known and disagreed - if that were the case I honestly donít think they would have gone through with the plan. Unless thereís a really dysfunctional relationship between captain and coach, I just donít see it happening that way. And if their relationship was that bad, there would be other signs.

 
AndyE
1279318.  Tue Mar 27, 2018 6:45 am Reply with quote

crissdee wrote:
Andy, I don't suppose they are used in the serious game, but I have seen in various places synthetic balls (fnarr, fnarr!) with a moulded in "seam". Are these subject to the same kind of tampering?


In England those balls are used only for casual practice, or in games played by young children who don't yet know about evil deeds such as ball tampering. 'Organised' practice for adult teams more often uses balls that have previously been used in matches. You can change the character of the moulded seam with a nail file or a penknife, gouging around it rather than raising the seam itself, but I doubt many consider it worth the effort.

In India though, they do use such balls for lower level match play because they are considerably cheaper than leather cricket balls. I dare say that an Indian league player of my sort of age would know all sorts of things that can be done with the synthetic ball, but he'd be even less willing to talk about them than English players are.

Lower level match play in Pakistan uses tapeballs, tennis balls with one half of the sphere wrapped in electrical tape (or parcel tape for very casual play but you'd have to do that yourself, while tennis balls wrapped in electrical tape are sold at retail). Only if you go to a private school or you play in the leagues directly below professional level will you use leather cricket balls.

The tape means that the tapeball is about the same weight as a cricket ball, and it being only on one half of the ball means that the tapeball will swing. That may be where the Australians got the idea of using electrical tape, because many of their players will have been to Pakistan and seen tapeball cricket being played in parks.

You could probably see it too, although not all of our British readers could. There are plenty of cricket fields in your part of London, and the cricket played on Saturday and Sunday afternoons will see all the players in white and a leather cricket ball in use. But if you see a game on a weekday evening which looks reasonably organised except that there are no umpires, and all the players are of Asian heritage, it may well be a tapeball game. There are leagues, and a few of the guys on the field will be serious cricketers who are being paid to take part.

 

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