Thursday, 4 October 2007

Mavericks make it good

Owais Shah and Graeme Swann are a pair of cricketers who, after showing huge early promise, never found favour under Duncan Fletcher. They are now both 28, have both matured and, in Peter Moores, have a coach more sympathetic to their gifts. Both were at the forefront of England's victory today.

Shah seemed destined to be a player who never fulfilled his palpable batting talent, but he has emerged in one-day cricket under Moores. In nine innings in 2007, batting between five and seven, Shah averages 47. Although he either opens or bats at three for his county, his gift for improvisation, wristiness and flair, alluded to his fine technique, make him well-suited to the 'finisher' role. His 82 against Sri Lanka today was a masterful display of how to adjust to slow wickets - something others in the England side, including Kevin Pietersen, would do well to learn from. The feeling, certainly, is Shah is a man nearing his prime, and he could soon find himself a regular in the Test side too.

Swann, meanwhile, was a controversial selection ahead of Monty Panesar, picked for his three-dimensional gifts. Yet he has undeniably vindicated the faith. Spinning the ball hard - as when dismissing Tillekaratne Dilshan today - Swann appears a bowler of superior one-day nous to Panesar. Equally, his lower-order batting has proved very effective: he has a sound technique, as his first-class average of 26 illustrates, can play some unorthodox shots but also work the ball around and scamper hard when required. In short, the overall one-day package he offers is greater than that of Panesar, as good a Test bowler as he is.

The upshot of it all is Swann, as I have previously advocated, is now very likely to tour Sri Lanka as the second spinner for the Test series; and Shah will probably be on the trip alongside him. Duncan Fletcher did an excellent job, but two players who will have shed few tears to see him go are, happily, reinvigorated under Moores' stewardship.

3 comments:

Chrispy said...

I've been fancying Shah for quite a while and his play of spin is awesome. Could be moving up the order if Cook is ditched. But, Swann, well I knew he was multidimensional but I wasn't expecting the success with the ball. I doubt he could translate it into test matches on flatter pitches, but that is why we have Monty. As far as ODI's are concerned he looks our best bet and has decent control and variety (The bit Monty needs to work on). Apologies for not contributing for an age! I will try and get something in soon!

Tim said...

Cheers Chrispy.

I agree that Shah opening, as he has for Middlesex, may be worth a try although, on the otehr hand, he is doing very well at 5 and 6.

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