Clean bowled! That’s the most emphatic way of dispatching a batsman to the pavilion in where no one expects the umpire to lift his finger and give the marching orders.
There’s no better sight to the start of a contest than a fast bowler running in from the top his mark, manipulating the seam and propelling the leather from between the bowling and popping crease, or just relying on sheer speed, with the objective of hitting the stumps and sending the bails flying; or the spinners bluffing the batsmen with their guile and making them fall hook, line and sinker.
In the 2055 Test matches played by 10 countries, batsmen have been bowled 13540 times, trapped leg before wicket 9032 times and caught 36724 times. Nothing excites the followers of the game than the sheer act of a fast bowler’s triumph — beating a batsman lock, stock and barrel to castle the stumps. Once, in the course of an England-West Indies Test match on a flat wicket, the venerable BBC commentator Brain Johnston described Michael Holding’s act of uprooting Tony Greig’s stump as a “smart piece of dentistry.”
Humbling the greats
Some of the greatest batsmen have not been spared of what is often described as ‘humiliation’ in the field. Australia’s Victor Trumper endured the ‘bowled’ dismissal in 35 of his 89 innings. Run-machine Don Bradman (bowled 23 times) was outwitted by fast and skilful bowlers like Harold Larwood, Maurice Tate, Alec Bedser, Bill Bowes and Wally Hammond and by leg spinner Eric Hollies in his last innings.
In recent times the most famous bowled victim has been Sachin Tendulkar. He fell to New Zealand left arm seamer Trent Boult (for 19 runs) in the first Test and then to the right-arm seamers Doug Bracewell (17) and Tim Southee (27) in the second.
Soon experts pointed out the probable reasons for him to be dismissed in that manner and also for a rare show of frustration after his downfall in the second innings at Bangalore. The layman went a step further suggesting that Tendulkar is ‘over the hill’ and it was time to take a call on his long and distinguished career, latching on to the legendary Sunil Gavaskar’s observation that Tendulkar was slow with his footwork.
Seven months after he had played his last Test (against Australia at Adelaide), Tendulkar readied himself for the New Zealand series by practising at the BKC (Mumbai) and NCA (Bangalore). He then faced the likes of Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma at nets and probably availed of the bowling machine.
Maybe, it was not good enough before getting into a Test match against the young trio of Boult (23 years old), Bracewell (21) and Southee (23). Former New Zealand captain and super batsman Martin Crowe hinted that the age of the young fast bowlers and the pace generated by them challenged Tendulkar to the utmost.
Tendulkar (bowled 51 times in 314 innings) figures in the top three behind Rahul Dravid (55/286) and Allan Border (53 times/265). After being bowled by Waqar Younis in the first innings of his debut Test (Karachi, 1989), Tendulkar (190 Tests, 15533 runs, 51 x 100, ave.55.08) has been engaged in battles with speedsters like South African Allan Donald and Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar.
Seamers like England’s Chris Lewis and Dominic Cork, Sri Lanka’s Ravindra Pushpakumara, New Zealand’s Chris Cairns and Daryl Tuffey and Australia’s Stuart Clark may have been at delighted at breaching his defence twice but the confrontation between Tendulkar and Donald (Kingsmead, 1996) was top class. Three years later at the Eden Gardens, Akhtar sent down a remarkable spell to bowl Dravid (24) and Tendulkar of successive balls. The above two dismissals were proof that pace, swing and accuracy could make the best in business vulnerable.
After the recent debacle, Tendulkar may have realised that at 39 he has to re-work his preparation for the four-Test series against England. Playing for Mumbai Indians in the Champions League would offer him chances to play against quality bowlers, but getting bowled three times in a row would have indeed affected his nerves.
Top 10 bowled victims: RahulDravid (55 times), Allan Border (53), Sachin Tendulkar (51), Jacques Kallis (45), John Reid (44), G.R. Viswanath (41), Mark Boucher & Alec Stewart (40), Steve Waugh & V.V.S. Laxman (39).