Of Mark Richardson, and Murali’s bowling arm

Mr Mark Richardson, the former New Zealand batsman, is at it again. This time it concerns the bowling action of the Sri Lanka great Muttiah Muralitharan, who has been shown to have a body structure that makes his bowling arm deviate from being straight as he bowls.

Well, the latest ICC rules allow a 15 degree bending of the arm, and Mr Mark Richardson is “convinced” that Murali is going beyond the 15 deg rule. Watching the slow-motion replays on television have only strengthened his conviction, it seems.

Heh. I wonder why I’m not surprised.

Cricket, and its politics, from the Enlightening Mark Richardson

The Indian cricket team is in New Zealand. The last time they were there they were routed 2-0 in the Test series, and 5-2 in the ODIs, thanks largely to green top wickets that assisted swing and seam movement like no other set of pitches in the world. Evidently it’s not expected to be any easier this time.

Mark Richardson does not think so, apparently. He asserts in his column at Cricinfo that what will play on NZ Cricket’s mind is the fact that the all-powerful Indian Cricket Board – the BCCI –  should not be angered by preparing pitches which will “show-up” an apparently great Indian batting line up. Says he:

New Zealand Cricket knows on which side their bread is buttered. Ergo, expect more favourable conditions for the Indian batsmen this time round

Hm. Interesting. The idea seems to be that sport itself is less important nowadays than being in the good books of the BCCI, and evidently it’s all the fault of the rich and powerful BCCI.

Well, thereafter Mark Richardson explains that this sort of situation will demand that the cricket pitches be absolutely perfect – so that while India is not at a distinct disadvantage, neither is NZ at a disadvantage thanks to India’s huge batting might.

Richardson describes what the pitches will need to be like:

So the people under the most pressure may in fact be the ground staff. Nothing but perfect cricket conditions will suffice for this tour. In the ODIs we want conditions that provide for quality strokeplay, but ones that don’t turn Iain O’Brien and Co into cannon fodder. In the Tests we need a session or two of movement, followed by a batsman-friendly period, and then some turn and variable bounce later on.

Hm. Yes, very difficult, that, and very unfair to NZ. And it’s all the fault of the rich and powerful BCCI.

But, hey… wait a minute, wait a minute, Wait A Minute! Let me see…

–  Session or two of movement. Seam friendly – check.
–  batsman friendly period. Batsman friendly – check.
–  turn and bounce. Spin friendly – check.

Huh! Come to think of it, isn’t that what every cricket pitch is supposed to be?

Aren’t all the pundits quick to renounce modern ODI tracks where batters have field days and spinners in particular, and bowlers in general, are murdered?

Aren’t Indian pitches renounced by visiting teams because they are spin friendly and batsman friendly, but not seam friendly?

Aren’t all cricket pitches advsised to have exactly the conditions that Mark Richardson talks about?

If modern ODI tracks are renounced because they are bad to bowlers (and hence not a sporting track), and if Indian pitches are renounced if they are bad to seamers (and hence apparently not sporting tracks), why, oh why, should the NZ pitches of six years ago NOT be renounced because they were excessively seam friendly and very difficult to bat on? (In the second Test, neither team managed to touch the 100 run mark in their first innings – Mark Richardson says so himself in his column.)

And now that the pitches are supposed to be more batsman friendly (and hence, in this case, more sporting), it’s supposed to be only to appease the Indian Cricket Gods? I’d say they’d better be more sporting tracks than six years ago, if NZ expect to have any viewers at all!

Mr Richardson, NZC is responsible for its pitches, and for the quality of cricket possible on them. The pitches of 2002 were atrocious, and hopefully the ones on this tour will be better.

And no, Mr Mark Richardson, none of this is the fault of the rich and powerful BCCI.