November 12 2018
For those who don’t know, swinging in cricket is the art of making the ball swerve in the air in unpredictable trajectories in order to confuse the batsman. The swerve can be towards or away from the batsman. Conventional swing is in the direction given by the bowler and is towards the rough side of the ball but if it happens in the direction of the shine on the ball, it is referred to as reverse swing.
The asymmetry of the ball helps to generate swing and this is why you will often notice players from the fielding side polish one side of the ball on their track pants. It takes considerable time and effort for the asymmetry to be achieved. Normally, in a One Day match, the ball only starts reverse swinging around the 40th over.
Asymmetry of the ball alone will not help you swing it and you need to be a talented pacer who can generate genuine swing to be able to execute such deliveries. But if you are a bowler with that kind of caliber, on a pitch that supports pace, you will have even the best batsmen struggle against it. Which is why most batsmen prefer to defend in those overs.
But then again, Virender Sehwag is not most batsmen and playing defensive is not really his style. He had a completely different way of dealing with reverse swing as revealed in the book Shane Warne’s century: My Top 100 Test Cricketers. In the book, the Australian spin legend recounts a story Jeremy Snape narrated to him during their days together in the IPL.
Snape is an English cricketer who played 10 One Day Internationals and a lone T20 for his country. But he played plenty of County Cricket and while at Leicestershire, he played alongside Sehwag. This particular incident happened in a match against Middlesex for whom Pakistani pacer Abdur Razzaq was reverse swinging the ball.
Credited with inventing the technique, Pakistani pacers are deadly when it comes to swinging the ball and Razzaq was no less. On the pace friendly English tracks, he was giving the Leicestershire batsmen a tough time and Snape had resorted to defending the ball and letting go of stray deliveries. But that was completely against Sehwag’s mantra: ‘See ball, hit ball.’
So he walked up to Snape and told him that he had a plan. His plan was to lose the ball. Simple but very effective. The first chance he got, he whacked the ball right out of the stadium. The ball was gone and hence replaced. The replacement ball was not going to start swinging immediately. So Sehwag walked up to Snape again and told him ‘We’re good for another hour.’
While many dispute if the incident actually happened, knowing Sehwag and his swashbuckling style, you would hardly put it past him to pull off something so out of the box or should we say, out of the stadium!