The greatest cricketing changes are upon us and the Sri Lanka versus India series will test them.
If one wants a vision of the future world game they should look no further than the three-Test series between Sri Lanka and India, which begins in Colombo (SSC) tomorrow.
It will be the clearest crystal ball with television referrals, star players missing because they are knackered by Twenty20 and spinners with the freakish ability to bowl an array of deliveries without a discernible change in action.
Don’t fret, however. None of the above should dramatically alter one’s ability to decipher the odds. Indeed, the draw is still reassuringly short 1.80 for the first Test, like a friendly face in a room full of strangers, and the Betfair series odds market is struggling to split two talented teams.
But more of that later. Let’s bring you up to speed with how cricket is so far away now from it’s beginnings of leather on willow, cucumber sandwiches and ties holding up trousers.
The greatest change to the game we have ever seen is upon us. This series will be the first to trial the umpire review system where television replays will be used to make decisions.
The old system will remain of the fielding side appealing and the umpire making a decision but if they don’t get their way they can ask for a referral. If the batsman does not like it, so can he. Inevitably the result will be a referral for every single decision, which could get very tedious indeed.
Of course, eventually the right decision will be made which has to be a good thing although one would have to massage the brain to think of a series or tournament which has been won or lost because of a single umpiring decision. As football managers say “the league table doesn’t lie”.
Hawk-Eye, showing the ball hitting the bat rather than where it would travel on to, slow motion, super slow motion, ultra motion and sound from the stump microphones will all be used. Read about the changes here. http://content-uk.cricinfo.com/ci-icc/content/story/354984.html
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to miss this tour because he is tired is another shift from the status quo. Granted, since 2007 Dhoni has played 134 days of international cricket in less than 20 months but it shows a change in attitude where a Test series against a neighbour is considered the best option for rest.
Dhoni has been replaced by Parthiv Patel – still only 23 would you believe – and his absence will be a loss, although there is nothing to gauge from it for punters. He has only missed two Tests for India, one was lost (v South Africa in Cape Town, 2007) and the other drawn (v Pakistan in Bangalore, 2007).
The final change is perhaps the most exciting of all. Sri Lanka are set to pair Muttiah Muralitharan with the exciting 23-year-old offspinner Ajantha Mendis. But bear in mind that the term off spinner is used very loosely indeed.
Mendis can bowl the lot: googlies, offbreaks, top-spinners, flippers, doosras and legbreaks. Mendis took 17 wickets in the Asia Cup last month, including two five-wicket hauls, and one of those came against India in the final.
Mendis is a finger spinner and has a doosra which he appears to flick from his hand with a snap of the middle finger. See if you can decipher some of his variations here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nL9-D-Hp2GI
The inclusion of Mendis for Sri Lanka threatens to end India’s dominance over their neighbours. Sri Lanka, who are 2.30 for the series with India 2.76 and the draw 2.88 have won only three Tests against the visitors in their history. But two of those came in their home series in 2001 when they claimed a 2-1 series win. Another sign of changing times.