Clean bowled. That’s the most emphatic way of dispatching a batsman to the pavilion in a game of cricket whereupon no one expects the umpire to lift his finger and give the marching orders. There’s no better sight to the start of a big contest with the fast bowler truly 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 ultimate objective of hitting the stumps and send the bails flying; or the slow spinners bluffing the batsmen with their guile and making them fall hook, line and sinker.
So far 2055 Test matches have been played by ten countries and batsmen have been bowled 13540 times, trapped in front to be declared leg before wicket 9032 times and caught 36724 times. But nothing stirs the imagination and excites followers of the game than the sheer act of a fast bowler’s triumph, beating the batsman lock, stock and barrel and castle the stumps. Once in the course of an England - West Indies Test match and 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’’.
Even 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. The run-machine Don Bradman (bowled 23 times) has been outwitted by fast and skilful bowlers like Harold Larwood, Maurice Tate, Alec Bedser, Bill Bowes and Wally Hammond and in his last innings by leg spinner Eric Hollies.
In recent times a famous bowled victim has been Sachin Tendulkar. He fell to left arm seamer Trent Boult (playing his fifth Test match) in the first Test at Hyderabad and thereafter to the right hand seamers Doug Bracewell (playing his 11th Test match) and Tim Southee (playing his 19th Test match). The champion batsman made 19, 17, 27 in the three innings he got to bat against New Zealand facing 62, 50 and 34 balls and soon experts either pointed out the probable reasons for him to be dismissed the way it happened 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 Sachin is `over the hill’ and the time is upon him take a call on his long and distinguished career latching on to the legendary Sunil Gavaskar’s quick observation that Tendulkar was slow on his footwork.
It was virtually seven months after he had played the fourth Test against Australia at Adelaide (24th Jan, 2012) that Tendulkar readied himself for a Test match practicing at the BKC in Mumbai, National Cricket Academy at Bangalore before joining the team at Hyderabad. Tendulkar faced the likes of Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma at nets and probably availed of the bowling machine, which was not good enough before getting into a Test match and against a trio of youngsters in Boult, 23, 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 in Rahul Dravid (55/286 innings) and Allan Border (bowled 53 times/265 innings). After being bowled by Waqar Younis in the first innings of his first Test against Pakistan at the National Stadium, Karachi, Tendulkar (190 Tests, 15533 runs, 51 x 100s, ave.55.08) has been engaged in battles with 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, Australia’s Stuart Clark who may have had the measure of them and delighted at breaching his defence twice, but surely the confrontation between Tendulkar and Donald (Kingsmead, 1996) was top class. Three years later at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata, Akhtar sent down a remarkable spell to send back Dravid (24) and Tendulkar of successive balls, both bowled for the historic venue to descend to silence.
The two dismissals (at Kingsmead and Eden Gardens) offered proof that pace, swing and accuracy does make the best in business vulnerable. After Hyderabad and Bangalore 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 in South Africa would offer him chances to play against quality bowlers, but sure enough, getting bowled three times in a row would have indeed affected his nerves.
Top Bowled Victims
India: Dravid (55), Tendulkar (51), G R Viswanath (41), Laxman (39), Gavaskar (33) and Kumble (30)
Australia: Allan Border (53), Steve Waugh (39) Victor Trumper (35), Richie Benaud (35), Neil Harvey (34), Ricky Ponting (34), Warwick Armstrong (32), David Boon (32) and Mark Waugh (30)
England: Alec Stewart (40), Wally Hammond (38), Godrey Evans (37), Graham Gooch (36)
South Africa: Jacques Kallis (45), Mark Boucher (40), Herschelle Gibbs (35)
Pakistan: Salim Malik (31)
Sri Lanka: M.Muralitharan (27), Mahela Jayawardene (26) and T. Dilshan (26)
New Zealand: John Reid (44), Daniel Vettori (27) and Chris Martin (27)
West Indies: C.Walsh (37), Vivian Richards (36), Brian Lara (36), Sir Garfield Sobers (34), Desmond Haynes (31)
Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (13), Shahadat Hossain (13), Mohammad Rafique (13), Habibul Bashar (11), Shariar Nafees (10)
Zimbabwe: Grant Flower (24)