By Bharath Ramaraj
These days, every time, the stockily built New Zealand all-rounder Corey Anderson strides into the middle to wield his willow, there is a whiff of heightened anticipation in the crowd. Since that record-breaking century in a One-Day International (ODI) against the West Indies at Queenstown, bowlers in shorter versions of the game seem to clasp their hearts, while bowling to Anderson on flat decks, twinned with short boundaries in the land of Long White Cloud. The Indian team in the ongoing ODI series against New Zealand too have felt the shock waves of bowling to a power-hitter who with his rapier-like blade zips the ball to all corners of the ground.
Actually, there have been times in his brief career when Anderson has struggled to pick the length quickly yet, has been able to thwack it into stands with his sheer power and tremendous bat speed. Those two deadly combinations of sheer power and bat speed have made bowlers wince with pain and befuddle them completely. In the first game at Napier, it was crystal clear that back of a length stuff by pacers or floaty off-spin from Ravichandran Ashwin was just too easy for him. He stood still at the crease and sent those harmless back of a length deliveries soaring over mid-wicket, long off and cover regions for sumptuous shots.
Even in the second game at Seddon Park, Hamilton, with his bullet-like strikes, he wowed the crowd with an unreal exhibition of stroke-play. The startled look on Ishant’s face after he was swatted like a mere fly for 17 runs in a single over said it all. As the ball whirred and whistled into the stands, MS Dhoni perhaps wistfully wondered whether one of those bazooka shots would turn out to be a safe catch for the fielder in the deep, but it wasn’t to be. In short, he just kept swinging his bat with awe-inspiring confidence and those crisply played shots continued to travel the distance.
It is obvious that Indian pacers still haven’t learnt from their mistakes. There is no fun in just digging it half way down the pitch and for it to turn into a juicy half-tracker. As legendary West Indian paceman Michael Holding says, if you bang it short then it should be an effort ball and it has to be head high. Only Mohammed Shami bowled an effort ball in the first ODI that forced Anderson to take it from outside the off-stump and was head high.
If we have a glance at his career, it has been a little more than six years since Anderson made his debut for Canterbury in List A games. He then went onto play two Under-19 World Cups for New Zealand too. But his performances in domestic cricket were a trifle inconsistent. Only in 2012-13 did he turn it around with a fine season in First-Class cricket.
One has to remember that Anderson in many ways is still a work-in-progress. His brand of medium pace bowling may come in for some severe punishment in the near future. On tracks where the ball zips around zig-zag, his stand and deliver modus operandi may come unstuck. But there is no doubt that Anderson has those gift-wrapped skills to become the X-factor of New Zealand’s batting line-up.
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)
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