Home > Features >

James Anderson, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami’s batting success amounts to divine justice for bowlers

The three bowlers who scored fifties in the first Test at Trent Bridge and were involved in over 100 runs partnership for 10th wicket. (From left) James Anderson, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami © Getty Images
The three bowlers who scored fifties in the first Test at Trent Bridge and were involved in over 100 runs partnership for 10th wicket. (From left) James Anderson, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami © Getty Images

The batting success of the frustrated bowlers in the Trent Bridge Test was divine justice, writes Arunabha Sengupta.

“Like it or not, God is a batsman,” wrote Bill Ricquier while discussing the ways Abdul Qadir’s genius was blunted by unhelpful tracks.

He was not the only one. Plenty of other cricketers and cricket writers have voiced the same sentiment, if not in as many words. Cricket as a game is heavily loaded in favour of batsmen – they seem to be the chosen ones, while the men with the ball are merely there to toil.

In a light-hearted cricket dictionary doing rounds in the 1980s, the entry next to Don Bradman noted “n. see God. One parable speaks of his making runs in England while a lady in Australia wondered how he could see the ball at night.” In Monty Python and the Holy Grail it was the animated face of old WG Grace with the flowing beard depicting the Almighty as divine instructions were sent down to embark on the quest. And of course there is the famed Matthew Hayden comment, “I have seen God. He bats at number four for India.”

While a handful of batsmen have been raised to divine stature, it is rather curious to note that Fred Spofforth was given the epithet of Demon. Since then there have been plenty of ‘demon’ bowlers who have carried out sorcery with the cricket ball.

Besides, the most placid batting wicket is often described as beautiful, a paradise, while the moment the ball does something there are talks about devils in the pitch.

Ricquier’s words ring out true. God does indeed seem to be a batsman.

However, the just concluded Test match at Trent Bridge did provide hints that there is a guardian angel for the bowlers as well – and the divine justice rendered by that deity, however minor, is impish in keeping with the image of the devil.

It was a wicket that broke the backs of the bowlers, and their hearts, frustratingly slow, with a thin layer of brown grass that seemed to suck the life out of deliveries bowled with every bit of summoned strength. The nastiest of short balls were played with ease, with an aeon along with the willow in the hands, without even forcing the batsmen to get on the toes. There was no spin on offer either, till the very last session of the last day, to the one and a quarter spinners who bowled in the game.

Yet, the karmic balance was struck when these very bowlers, backs aching and sinews cramping from the toils, clutched their willows and went out to play their supposed minor roles. First, Bhuvneshwar Kumar raised his bat and then Mohammed Shami, registering half centuries both, batting together for two and a half hours to add111.

And then it was the turn of Jimmy Anderson, the sole man without a First-Class hundred in the England side, even a First-Class fifty before this game. He had not hit a fifty even in Lancashire League matches, his highest 49 for Burnley against Todmorden. He had bowled 38 overs under the sun. Shami had piled on humiliation by hitting him for six, that too straight down the ground.

Anderson did not want to go back to bowl that soon, not on this pitch. He reverse-swept for four, flashed his bat through the off side and the balls raced away, hammered a Wimbledon-style forehand and it streaked between the bowler and the mid-on.The bat kept swinging and the ball kept travelling. The fifty was raised with a hoik to the leg, the first in any form of cricket outside the backyard. By his own tongue-in-cheek admission, he raised the bat to the pavilion because he had seen other folks do the same on such occasions. Joe Root curiously continued to farm the strike, but Anderson chalked out 81, having batted nine minutes short of four hours. If Test cricket is not pronounced dead and buried under such graveyard tracks around the world, this is likely to remain the highest score of his career. The partnership for the last wicket amounted to a world record 198.

The tails were not done with their wagging. Kumar, his first innings exploits with the bat and his five wickets all rendered inconsequential by the lethargy of the track, seemed determined not to bowl on the wicket again. With two number elevens having notched up half centuries, the Indian No 9 made it perhaps the greatest Test in the tale of the tails by cracking his second half century of the match.  He was unbeaten on 63 when the innings was closed and the match puffed and panted to an end, to infinite relief of the spectators.

Stuart Binny and Stuart Broad, two men with lots of similarity in names if not methods, also had memorable moments with the bat. But then, one is a batting all-rounder and the other a bowling one, and are perhaps not justifiable inclusions in this list.

However, the success of the worthy bowlers with the willow underlines that there is perhaps a god for the bowlers after all – rendering divine justice in his own curious ways.

Catch all the stories from India’s tour of England 2014 here

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry.He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix) 

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: Central Zone 214/4 at stumps; lead by 111 runs

Live Cricket Score: Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 2 at Abu Dhabi: Pakistan reach 517/4 at tea

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

KL Rahul could be opening option for India’s tour to Australia

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Australia lose Chris Rogers and end the day at 22 for 1

PCB honours Nobel Prize for Peace winner Malala Yousafzai

Pakistan 517/4 against Australia at tea on Day 2 of 2nd Test

Misbah-ul-Haq becomes fifth Test captain to score century after age of 40

Younis Khan completes 5th Test double century; Pakistan continue to dominate Australia in 2nd Test

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Younis Khan equals Javed Miandad’s record of most 150+ scores by Pakistan batsman

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here