While enjoying the struggles of visiting cricket teams, especially English ones, is all part of the fun for Aussie cricket fans, even the most parochial of Australian supporters might have found themselves feeling a tinge of sympathy for one particular English player.
English leg spinners haven’t exactly prospered against Australia, unless you want to go all the way back to Bernard Bosanquet, and when you add the pressure of a Test debut, in an Ashes series, in Australia—well, it doesn’t get much tougher than that.
Having the greatest leg spinner of all time watching wouldn’t have helped either, but what really made me feel for Mason Crane at the SCG was the fact that when he finally did take a wicket and got to celebrate a milestone that he would have remembered for the rest of his life it was cruelly snatched away—he’d bowled a no-ball!
Despite our sympathies, though, there’s some truth to the observation a number of pundits made. Bowling a no-ball really shouldn’t happen at that level, and it’s no-one’s fault but the bowler’s if it costs him a wicket. It’s bad enough when it’s a fast bowler coming in from a long run up but a spinner has no excuse.
In this era of extensive sport staff and computer analysis, and the way that training regimes are so thoroughly mapped out, it’s strange that we seem to see this still happening regularly. When a no-ball can be the difference between winning and losing, you would think it would be hammered into players. So, why does it keep occurring?
If you ask grumpy old retired bowlers, they aren’t shy in pointing to the way that no-one seems to care about bowling a no-ball in the nets. If you watch footage of training you will often see bowlers overstepping as they search for more pace or intensity but, when asked whether it is a problem, they will say that it’s not, because they will get it right when it matters.
One could argue that there is something to be said for training for the way you want to play. It’s no different to taking fielding drills seriously, or batting properly in the nets—not caring about no-balls at training might even unconsciously translate to it happening when it really matters.
That’s no different to life off the field, where the way we act when no-one is watching or there are no consequences can impact how we respond when it comes to the crunch and life—like a cricket match—can turn on a single moment.