Thirty overs, 169 runs and no wicket. Fairly miserable performance, one would say. Yet Xavier Doherty refuses to be overly self-critical. For, if his task seemed intimidating after the recent rule changes in ODI cricket, the left-arm spinner’s challenges have inched closer to the realms of impossibility thanks to the harsh tracks on offer in the ongoing series against India.
If Doherty makes the cut on Wednesday, he will play his 50th ODI at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur.
It is, perhaps, the least significant of all milestones. If anything, the record’s only purpose would be to remind Doherty the need to better his performances. While a career economy rate of 4.71 is commendable, the Tasmanian’s bowling average of 37.78 would earn him no bouquets.
Hence, as he reluctantly accepts the current set of rules, Doherty is clearly enthused by the idea of using two new balls on a country-to-country basis.
“I think that’s probably something they should look at. Obviously with the scores we have seen here, there has been less impact with the new balls. I don’t think there’s a real need to have two new balls over here.
“Even if there’s a shortened game we still use two new balls, which is a bit ridiculous. Leading into the World Cup, I’m sure they (the ICC) will look at some different little things around those rules.”
The rule stating that only four fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circle in non-Power Play overs has only multiplied Doherty’s frustration.
“Personally, I’d like to have five fielders out, but that’s the way it goes. I think from a spectator’s point of view there are more boundaries and more runs scored, 350-run chases. I’m sure there will soon be 400-run chases.”
Quite surprising then to hear Doherty claim that these changes have not affected him too much.
“Bowling early obviously is a bit more of a challenge. The ball is newer and harder and skids onto the bat a bit more, particularly on the wickets we have played on. But there have not been too many (technical) changes from me.”
Perhaps, the contradiction can be explained away by the fact that Doherty’s search for a successful bowling formula on this tour remains elusive. The 30-year-old admitted that he expected helpful tracks in India and continues to hope so.
“It looks like this wicket (at the VCA) might spin a little bit. From my point of view it has just been about locking down and trying to get out of my 10 overs as best I can. It has been pretty tough, though.”
Yet, Doherty has found a reason to be cheerful — Mitchell Johnson’s form.
“I know there have been a lot of runs scored, but Mitch has been the man of the series so far for me. He’s the guy we go to anytime we need a wicket or to restrict those runs.”