Bowlers need to keep innovating, says Doull

Bowlers need to keep innovating, says Doull

Until a few years ago, England was one place the fast bowlers loved visiting. Even as pitches in many cricketing nations started shifting their allegiance to batsmen in limited overs format, England chose to maintain their friendship with the pacers.

However, much to their dismay, England is slowly changing its character. Since the 2015 World Cup — an event that witnessed 28 team totals of over 300 with 38 centurions and two double centuries — England has seen a steady rise in the run-rate. Before the Champions Trophy kicked off, the average ODI run-rate in England since the 2015 World Cup had climbed to 6.14, the highest among countries that had hosted at least 10 ODIs.

Former New Zealand cricketer Simon Doull, a popular face in the commentary box during the IPL and doing broadcast stint for Champions Trophy, attributed the high scores to improved drainage systems that have made the pitches drier and batting friendly. “What we've seen around the world, and even in India, with the great drainage systems, people are finding it hard to get water into the pitches, to hold moisture in the pitches, to grow the grass and get seam movement out of them. We've seen that in England quite a bit of late,” said the brawny Kiwi.

“That certainly doesn't help. As far as Champions Trophy and World Cup and those tournaments are concerned, you want to see runs. So, as a bowler in the day that I played, I wouldn't like it.”

Doull, a medium pacer who represented New Zealand in 32 Tests and 42 ODIs, felt the onus is on the bowlers to keep innovating themselves. “You've got to find different ways to contain the batsmen. Certain sides and certain bowlers get it right. They bowl to the big side of the ground, a lot of good slower balls, we're seeing more knuckle balls and different varieties of slower balls. The bowlers are thinking about it but some of these tournaments are going to be massive scoring and that's what people want to see.”

Doull said international T20 cricket should be stopped and all energy must be used in promoting franchise-based T20s. “I'm a big fan of never playing international T20 cricket. I don't think there should be any international T20 cricket until there's a World Cup. All cricket at T20 level should be franchise only. The IPLs, the Big Bashes etc. By that way you are encouraging people to watch 50-over cricket. If you want to see India play, you can only watch 50-over cricket. You can't ever watch India play T20 internationals unless you watch a World T20’

“To me, that would also give 50-over cricket a little more context and a little more relevance as well and a little more popularity. That's the way I'd go about it. The only problem I guess with that is that it's a money-spinner for the boards and that's where they might lose that,” said the 47-year-old.

With four world-class pacers at his disposal, Virat Kohli faces a selection dilemma. In the opening game against Pakistan, he chose Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah and Doull said he too would have made the same decision. “There's two guarantees for me — Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah. Yadav because of his pace and if the ball is going to reverse swing later on and the wickets are dry, then he's the quickest of the lot. I think he uses reverse swing the best. But I still think there's an opportunity to swing the ball conventionally and that's why I'd go with Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar over (Mohammed) Shami). What you might lack a little bit at the death if you play Bhuvneshwar Kumar, you pick up at the front. I'd go with Bhuvi just in front of Shami at the moment.”

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