Karachi: New Zealand Cricket (NZC)’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David White revealed that Pakistan has confirmed their tour in December which will take place in a bio-secure environment.
Speaking to the press, White confirmed that the upcoming cricket season in New Zealand will go ahead as per schedule despite COVID-19 pandemic across the world.
“Teams including West Indies, Pakistan, Australia, and Bangladesh have confirmed their tours to New Zealand, so (there will be) 37 days of international cricket,” he told reporters without revealing many details about the schedule.
The CEO said that they are in touch with their government and cricket boards on regular basis to discuss further development following the changing scenario due to a widely-spread virus.
It must be noted here that Pakistan is scheduled to play two Tests and three T20Is in against New Zealand at their backyard. Currently, the green shirts are in England for three Tests and as many T20Is in the bio-secure bubble.
Read: Everytime you can’t blame captaincy, credit must be given to England: Azhar Ali
Manchester: England’s fast bowler Stuart Broad was fined 15 percent of his match fees for using ‘Inappropriate language’ against Yasir Shah during the first Test at Old Trafford.
According to the details, match-referee Chris Broad, also the father of English pacer, charged the bowler for the offence.
Broad also conceded a demerit point which took his tally to three in the last 24-months time. Remember, if a player concedes four demerit points in the last 24-months, he faces suspension from the game.
It must be noted here that England defeated Pakistan by three wickets in the opening Test. The second Test will start on August 13 in Southampton.
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Karachi: England’s former Test cricketer Michael Atherton suggested Azhar Ali’s men to focus on just positives from the first match and move on with a strong plan into remaining Tests.
Speaking to Zainab Abbas on her YouTube channel, Atherton said Pakistani skipper should lead his team with positivity in upcoming Tests.
“If I was in Azhar Ali’s shoes, I would have been focusing on all the good things Pakistan did,” he said. “Pakistan needs to make a strong game plan against England in order to overcome them in remaining Tests,” he added.
Read: Stay strong, we’ll bounce back: Sarfaraz backs Azhar after first Test loss
Former English captain also recalled a moment after they lost to West Indies badly in the initial days of his captaincy. “I still remember, it were initial days of my captaincy and we lost to West Indies badly, we got out for just 46 in the last session despite dominating three and half days. Everyone was focusing on that last session whereas I was focusing on the fact that we outplayed West Indies for three days. I told players that this is the area where we all should be focusing to bounce back,” he reminisced.
It must be noted here that Pakistan lost to England by three wickets in the opening Test at Old Trafford. The second Test of three matches series will start from August 13 in Southampton.
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Karachi: England’s fast bowler Stuart Broad has trolled match-referee Chris Broad, who is his father, after being fined 15 percent of his match fees for using inappropriate language in the first Test against Pakistan.
Broad used the language against Yasir Shah and also conceded a demerit point which took his tally to three in the last 24-months time.
However, Broad while replying to a post by England’s Barmy Army on Twitter responded comically. “He’s off the Christmas card & present list,” he responded.
He’s off the Christmas card & present list
— Stuart Broad (@StuartBroad8) August 11, 2020
According to the ICC release, Broad was found to have breached Article 2.5 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to “using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batter upon his/her dismissal during an International Match.
It must be noted here that England defeated Pakistan by three wickets in the opening Test. The second Test will start on August 13 in Southampton.
Read also: Broad fined for using ‘Inappropriate language’ against Yasir
Southampton: England opener Dom Sibley is still cautious of Pakistan bowlers ahead of the second Test in Rose Bowl on Thursday.
England leads the three-match series 1-0 after a three-wicket victory in the first Test at Old Trafford last week, the right-hander expects to have his work cut out again in the upcoming Test.
“They are a very good attack and they showed too. They have got a bit of everything, so we’ll have to be at our best to be able to cope with them,” Sibley told reporters on Tuesday.
Read also: ‘Pakistan should focus on positives for remaining Tests’ Atherton
Abbas is very accurate, they have a left-arm angle (Shaheen) and the youngster (Naseem) who has some pace and bowled really well last week and a world-class spinner (Yasir). We have had a look and need to adapt and prepare for Thursday.
He also emphasized the role of players and stepping up in the remaining Tests in the absence of Ben Stokes, who has been ruled out for family reasons and would shortly fly to New Zealand.
“He’s a massive part of our team and one of the best players in the world but family comes first and we’re supporting him with everything that is going on. We will have to make do in his absence and people will have to step up,” Sibley added.
Read also: Ben Stokes to miss rest of ENGvPAK Test series due to family reasons
If you’re anything like me, Rugby Australia announcing their new rugby rights deal out of the blue would’ve completely thrown you.
Shoutout to Raelene Castle, because without her taking the rights to market earlier in the year, we would likely have another run-of-the-mill Super Rugby competition, played at shocking hours, packaged up for a minuscule price on Foxtel, which ain’t gonna attract any new fans.
I love that, after years of fans throwing around competition concepts, Rugby Australia have shown themselves to be right up there with the most ambitious and open minded of us in terms of competition structures.
It’s a massive turn of events after years of just submitting to whatever SANZAAR suggested. And I’m not criticising, I get why they valued that union.
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Something that stood out was the sheer amount of content RA threw onto the table and how they emphasised that no broadcaster needed to snap it all up – a network could pick and choose what fits their needs.
Anyway, let’s try and make sense of it all.
Much as I can appreciate a vast number of formats and competitions, a lot of them won’t appeal to broadcasters, especially with the state of the media industry. Reports earlier in the year were that Optus were interested in showing at least some rugby, albeit for a much lesser price, before that fell through.
As for the only free-to-air commercial network not already swamped with primetime content from the other codes, Channel Ten, they’re hardly in a position to be spending money, after announcing multiple big-name redundancies. And in May they let go of their head of sport, Matt White, before opting not to televise Supercars anymore.
The reality is that at this point in time, the sporting public don’t watch rugby week in, week out. Bledisloe Cup matches get some interest, as do World Cups, Lions Tours and maybe the odd Super Rugby game.
But which networks or streaming services will want to throw millions out the door for a weekly Super Rugby game, which, in the short run at least, will struggle to crack 50,000 viewers?
Michael Hooper. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
First cab off the rank are the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup games.
The latter is the jewel in the crown – without it, these rights look a lot less impressive. The Rugby Championship can be dull and predictable, but the Wallabies’ games will bring in viewers. Home games will all be at TV-friendly times, as will games in New Zealand.
If you can embrace a Sunday morning (AEST) kickoff in Argentina, the only real blemish is what would be a 1am start in South Africa, especially with half the Wallabies’ games produced overseas.
This is a broadcaster-friendly competition, especially with anti-siphoning laws, I’d expect these games to get on FTA.
The next product announced are Wallaroos Tests. As of yet, 15s rugby hasn’t seen the meteoric rise that the other women’s sports have. Really, the best RA could offer would be the sevens series. Unless a network could snap these up and get some kind of grant for doing so – similar to what Foxtel have recently been given – you’d expect these to end up being streamed via RA’s social channels, or maybe stuck behind a paywall.
The next point addresses the void Super Rugby has left – suggesting either a trans-Tasman competition or a domestic comp like Super Rugby AU.
Make no mistake, a trans-Tasman comp is the most beneficial from a broadcasting point of view. Five games weekly, Friday and Saturday primetime covered, double-headers on both of those days, and the extra game could be shoved over to Sunday so as not to clash with club rugby.
Again, with half the games produced overseas, with locally relevant teams and New Zealand powerhouses, this is another safe model. The likelihood is for one or two games to be screened live weekly in primetime, on FTA or Optus.
The suggested Super Eight competition is the wildcard in all of this. Not too many people envisioned a Champions League-style playoff between the two best teams from South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, along with representatives from Japan and South America.
Would I watch it? Yes. Would I be in the minority? Also yes. And I’d predict that Foxtel, at least, would have some interest.
A club Championship model sounds decent. One of the (many) obvious arguments against letting club rugby fill the void after Super Rugby is that it has niche appeal. While that will still be the case for this competition, at least it’ll tap into multiple markets of club rugby fans.
I love showing the Shute Shield and Queensland Premier Rugby, but given the unique timeslots of these competitions, Shute Shield in particular, you’re limited in broadcast options. Any deal would have to be limited to one, maybe two games per comp. In what is already a niche market, diluting the audience too many ways will only harm you in the long run. Maybe a game or two weekly will make it on air, but either broadcasters will demand to be reimbursed, or it’ll come cheap.
The final aspect of the deal refers to “A showcase of the best schoolboy rugby in Australia”. Cryptic.
Make no mistake about it, there’s some interest in schoolboy rugby, and I’m not just talking about the thousands of schoolboys and old boys who flock out to every match. But YouTube highlights reels getting 50,000 views is one thing, the general population watching each week is another. Don’t hold your breath.
I love what Rugby Australia has done here, and how open minded they’ve shown themselves to be. However, cash-strapped broadcasters (the ones that matter anyway) will glance over the vast majority of what they’re offering, and toss that media release right into the bin.
Any doubt about who should be playing at number 7 for the Wallabies this season has been erased by the Waratahs’ comprehensive 45-12 rout of the Reds in the gathering rain on Saturday evening.
When I wrote this article only three weeks ago, things were looking pretty rosy for the men from Queensland. They were on a three-match unbeaten run and sitting atop the Super Rugby Australia table after beating the Western Force.
But since the bye week in Round 4, their tournament has begun to unravel. They lost (unluckily) to a last-minute penalty against the Brumbies, and over the weekend they were unable to prevent their most bitter interstate rivals scoring at will in a remarkable first half at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The Waratahs scored five tries in the first period. When the rain poured down out of a blackening sky after halftime, it came as a merciful relief for the Queenslanders. Otherwise the Tahs might have racked up a cricket score.
What has changed in the passage between the unbeaten initial run and the post-bye collapse? The steady drip-drip of question-marks about the Reds’ defence, which I’d raised in the original iteration of 2020 Super Rugby back in March, became a raging torrent on Saturday evening.
It was as if a dam had finally burst. Where the Reds conceded eight tries in their first three Super Rugby AU games, they’ve shipped nine in two matches since. The Reds have now conceded four more tries than any other team in the competition – including the Force, who have won no games at all so far.
The coaches had picked Fraser McReight at number 7 and moved Liam Wright to blindside for the first three matches, but they dropped McReight to the bench, started Angus Scott-Young at 6 and moved Wright back to the openside flank in Round 5 and 6.
Liam Wright. (Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)
It has not worked, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Poor Angus Scott-Young managed to look better as an emergency second-rower against the Force than he did as a blindside flanker on Saturday evening. The Queensland back row was a mess from beginning to end.
The problems started with the Reds’ failure to secure their own lineout ball, despite an average advantage of two inches per man in the back five forwards, and the absence of lineout leader Rob Simmons from the opposition pack.
As against the Force, the Reds chose to deploy Wright at the front/middle of the line:
At this lineout, turned over by Ned Hanigan, Wright is the target with both Scott-Young and Harry Wilson knitted tightly around him. All three back-rowers are therefore grouped towards the front end of the line, When the ball is spun out to the far touch-line, there is no back-row cover folding in behind the line of backs:
The two Queensland forwards closest to the play when James Ramm makes his break are locks Angus Blyth and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto. The back row is nowhere to be seen.
The effect is compounded by the Reds backs operating a rush defence. The physical demands are far higher than they are in a drift or in an up-and-out system. There are two waves of defence, the backs attack that much further upfield, and there is a premium placed on forwards who can run well enough to cover the space they leave in behind. It is exhausting aerobic work.
At an average of nine kilos per man heavier than their opponents, the Reds’ forwards never looked likely to be able to manage those spaces:
This is the Waratahs’ first try of the game. The Queensland backs rush upfield, there is a bounce pass from Karmichael Hunt out to Ramm out on the left to slow things down, but even then, after Ramm makes the bust, the forward cover is paper-thin:
Wilson at least overtakes Salakaia-Loto, but gets nowhere near enough to stop the final offloading sequence between Ramm, Hunt and scrumhalf Jake Gordon.
For the Waratahs second try, defensive negligence bordered on the criminal (at 1:20 in the above highlights clip). The referee has already awarded a penalty advantage, and Gordon makes no secret of his desire to take a quick tap:
Reds halfback Scott Malolua (who should be Gordon’s mirror on this play) has his back turned, and all three back-rowers are out of shot on the right side of the field. Only hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa is alert to the danger, and his chances of stopping Gordon one-on-one are somewhere between slim and none. ‘Slim is outta town’ at that moment.
Meanwhile, the Reds persisted in calling long lineouts with both Wright and Wilson bunched towards the front:
When the ball is turned over, it results in some truly bizarre back-row positioning after a couple more phases:
Wright and Scott-Young are in the middle of a ragged Reds defensive line, while Wilson is corner-flagging in the backfield against the long kick 30 metres behind them!
All three were caught on the wrong side of the ruck for the Waratahs’ third try of the game (at 1:44 on the highlights reel). The crucial moment is visible from the wider shot:
There are two sky blue outside backs (Jack Maddocks and Ramm), two back-rowers (Lachie Swinton and Jack Dempsey) and a hooker (the lively Tom Horton) opposed on the short side by only three Reds defenders: lock Angus Blyth, scrumhalf Malolua and replacement back Jack Hardy. It is an unequal contest with all of the Queensland back row so far away from the scene.
The next New South Wales score (at 2:17) was an even more direct exploitation of the disjointed Reds back row. Wright is competing in the air, which was fine with Fraser McReight standing alongside James O’Connor against the Force. But Scott-Young does not even lay a finger on Gordon after he bursts between two front-rowers around the end of the lineout.
The balance in the back five forwards, which Queensland had in the first three rounds of the competition, has been unequivocally lost.
It had the effect of playing Michael Hooper into the game in quite spectacular fashion, and dispelling any remaining doubts about his right to a starting spot in the first Wallabies side to be picked by Dave Rennie:
Hooper ruled the open spaces on both sides of the ball with almost no serious opposition. In this instance, with Scott-Young taking himself out of the play with a late shot on Maddocks, Wilson corner-flagging and Wright trudging back in midfield, Hooper has no opponent at the first ruck:
Defensively, Hooper won five turnovers and was miles ahead of the Queensland back row in all the important moments:
As Hunter Paisami breaks down the left side-line, Hooper is more than 20 metres ahead of the nearest back-row support for the Reds, Wilson:
He even has time to make a second, and decisive, play on the ball before the next man (Scott-Young) arrives.
Even in more structured scenarios at the ruck, the task of removing Hooper was often left to the Queensland backs:
Wilson carries, but Bryce Hegarty makes a poor attempt at cleaning out Hooper and another ball is lost.
The most symbolic moment of all arrived after another Reds’ break down the right in the second half:
Hooper has time to organise the defence as Alex Mafi thunders down the right touchline, make a tackle, get up again and recover the loose ball, all before the first Reds forward arrives on the scene. That forward is not one of Hooper’s back-row opponents, but second-rower Angus Blyth. It was as neat a capsule of the game as any other.
Every coach in the game looks for winning formulas in selection. Once they have found it, they tend to stick to it through thick and thin. Few voluntarily change course again.
Brad Thorn found a winning formula by shifting Lukhan Salakaia-Loto to the second row, and Lukhan is now rewarding that faith with some substantial performances in his natural position. However, Thorn has rowed back on the other success story, which involved Liam Wright moving to number 6 and the introduction of the outstanding young number 7 in Australian rugby, Fraser McReight.
It is no coincidence that a significant performance drop-off occurred against the Waratahs, a side the Reds had already beaten earlier in the competition. Whenever the Reds lost the ball, their back row was conspicuously unable to cover the many holes left by their rushing backline defence.
The Reds never adapted. They never called shorter lineouts to get more defenders out into midfield, they never switched from the back-line rush to a more conservative pattern, and they failed to get McReight out on to the field until it was all far too late.
In the process, they gave Michael Hooper the run of an open field and he made hay, with or without the ball, whether the sun was shining or not. It was no coincidence that Jack Dempsey and Ned Hanigan had their best games in the sky blue for some time, either.
Michael Hooper. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
In the process, they have probably also squashed for good any challenge their captain Liam Wright might have presented to Hooper for the Wallabies number 7 jersey. I believe Wright’s challenge for the number 6 shirt is still very much alive, and that Harry Wilson will be in the squad as reserve number 8.
But the message is clear: it is high time that Thorn stopped cutting off his own nose to spite his face. Or for that matter, quits looking a gift horse in the mouth, to check for imaginary imperfections. Play Fraser McReight from the start, and watch him go.
Despite securing the Premiers’ Plate since coming back from the season pause, Sydney FC’s formline has fans and media questioning their championship credentials.
Just looking at the scoreline, you would have thought Sydney had it easy in a 3-1 win over Wellington in their first game back.
Their performance was far from polished that night, and Wellington led before Sydney were awarded a somewhat fortunate penalty. The win was only sealed late on with a double from Trent Buhagiar after the New Zealand side themselves exposed and later saw a goal ruled out for offside that VAR would have surely allowed.
In the four games since, the Sky Blues are winless and have taken just two points from a possible 12.
The rhetoric coming from the club is what you’d expect.
“I think I can turn it (our form) around very quickly,” Corica told reporters following his side’s one-all draw with Brisbane Roar.
“I think the last couple of matches we have shown we are back to our best with the ball, especially in the second half (against Brisbane).
“It is just about finishing teams off and creating a few more chances.”
There’s no doubt Corica believes what he is saying and there is weight behind his words. He already boasts two trophies in his short time as Sydney manager.
But there is cause for concern.
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The logjam of fixtures in the return of this interrupted season meant clubs needed to hit the ground running.
For Sydney, with the Premiers’ Plate all but secured before the break, their remaining games stood to be great opportunities to optimise their performance and ensure they would be ready for sudden-death football.
They’ve now burned five of their six games, and have one last chance to finetune before the finals series begins.
And it’s not against a side with nothing to play for – they come up against a Western United outfit that may well be desperate for the three points to secure their own finals spot.
Centre-back Ryan McGowan’s form has been worrying, with the former Socceroo again caught out against Brisbane. He was slow to react to a through ball for Brisbane’s goal and also struggled in one-on-one situations.
(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
On the attacking front, they’ve only managed three goals in their last four outings. They’re certainly not going to be comfortable with that stat going into the finals and Corica will be hoping for a much more prolific showing against Western United.
This is not to say they lack attacking weapons. Quite the opposite, in fact. You can never count out Kosta Barbarouses – despite his up-and-down 2019-20, he remains a legitimate threat up front – while Adam le Fondre’s stats speak for themselves. Scoring at a 0.76 clip throughout the season, he is a threat every time he takes the pitch.
Young gun Luke Ivanovic showed off his goal-scoring ability in the draw against Brisbane with a sumptuous curled effort that even the in-form Jamie Young could only watch sail past him. Ivanovic didn’t see the second half of that match, but Corica confirmed that was due to cramp and he didn’t suffer any serious injury.
It’s not likely Ivanovic will feature from the start in the finals, but he’s certainly a handy option for Corica to bring on in the second half and let him run at tired defenders.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Corica’s side. Across their five games back, key players have been rested and they’ve encountered sides with a lot more to play for than themselves.
There have been flashes of the pre-COVID break Sydney, but they’ll need to be right back to their best in the finals.
The performance was solid and had they not run into an in-form Young, they would have notched a win last time out against Brisbane.
There’s a fair bit hanging on their final game of the regular season. A win would salvage their record since the A-League’s return but anything less would leave it looking quite grim.
More importantly, attaining the three points would provide a significant psychological boost for Corica and his squad.
It’s crunch time. Sydney FC know how to win trophies and now just two wins separate them from a second-straight championship.
They’ll need to draw on every ounce of that experience because they certainly won’t be able to rely on form.
Lord’s, 1973, the third Test versus England – Garfield Sobers closes a day’s play on 31 not out.
Not exactly living up to his last name and never one to say no to a drink or a good time, Sobers hits the town, visiting some Guyanese friends first, then meeting up with English off-spinner Reg Scarlett at a swanky inner London nightclub.
By the time Sobers had worn out his dancing shoes, it was 4am and the sun had begun its ascent for the next day’s play.
Sobers was a realist, thinking ‘I have so much liquor in my head that if I go home to the motel and go to bed, I am not going to wake up.’
Naturally, for Sobers, this meant a few more drinks to watch the sunrise, a quick shower and then donning the pads for the next day’s play.
He walked out to bat and played and missed the first five balls from Bob Willis. The sixth ball found the middle of that bat and it never really stopped that day. He went on to pound 132 runs before retiring for a break to go to the toilet.
During the break, he mixed two large glasses of port and brandy, scoffed them down, and then came back in and made 150 not out. For good measure, he also bowled 12 overs for 37 runs in the next two innings. He was 37 years old at the time.
Bradman once called Sobers a five-in-one cricketer, because he could do pretty much anything on a cricket field.
There is a similar term used in baseball to describe all-round gifted athletes that can hit for power or precision, throw, catch and run the bases: a five-tool player. They are the holy grail for baseball scouts.
Sobers was a five-tool player. Perhaps the only one cricket has seen.
He was an aggressive, explosive batsman, though not necessarily careless.
After smashing six sixes against Glamorgan in a county game, the opposing captain Tony Lewis remarked that: “It was not sheer slogging through strength, but scientific hitting with every movement working in harmony”.
(Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images)
He was, by all accounts, an exceptional fielder in close and in the outfield. He was also willing to strap on the keepers pads, to guard the wicket if needed in a pinch.
But what fascinates me the most about Sobers is his bowling.
Starting as an orthodox left-arm spinner, he developed the ability to bowl wrist spin and googlies.
Later in his career, he was also used as a seamer, either to bowl fast given the new ball or as a stock bowler sending down medium-pacers.
There are some contemporary examples of cricketers doing this, but it’s very rare.
Manoj Prabhakar, an Indian all-rounder, while bowling pace to the dangerous Sanath Jayasuriya during the 1996 World Cup was smashed for 33 runs in the first two overs.
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For his next two overs, he reverted to spin and went for 14 runs off his next two overs of spin bowling. Ironically, he was the one that took the catch that saw Jayasuriya off to the pavilion.
Kapil Dev’s opening fast-bowling partner, Karsan Ghavri, once took a five-for after changing to left-arm spin after the Indian spin trio of Bishan Singh Bedi, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar and Erapalli Prasanna failed to make an impact in the fifth Test against England in Bombay in 1977.
Mark Waugh was a medium pacer before reverting to off spin in to sustain his career after multiple back injuries.
Colin ‘Funky’ Miller, the blue-haired jack in the box, won Australian Test player of the year in 2001 after being brought in as an off spinner. He changed from swing bowling after an ankle injury.
Sending down four dot balls, Kiwi opener and captain Stephen Fleming glanced a quick single to the leg side to bring the right-handed Matthew Sinclair on strike.
Miller lengthened his run-up, the commentators remarked in astonishment how he was about to bowl medium pace, and he charged in and trapped Sinclair LBW.
Andrew Symonds, probably best known for his destructive batting and disciplined offies, started as a medium pacer.
Even the great Sachin Tendulkar could throw down a few leggies mixed in with some medium pace. He might be the only cricketer in the world to hold the claim that he got Shane Warne out with spin and Brian Lara to medium pace.
As far as my understanding of the legality of changing bowling style goes, as long as a bowler informs the umpire of their intention about which side they wish to bowl from, then it’s all cricket.
Perhaps, the streams in cricket academies teach players to specialise in one skill at the expense of others. There is the famous story of Dennis Lillee discouraging Tendulkar at his MRF Foundation to drop the pace bowling and focus on batting in Chennai in 1987.
The trend seems to be for quicker spinners, in the style of Anil Kumble or Shahid Afridi, or for pace bowlers who can slow it down, like James Faulkner for example.
It seems that in most cases, switch bowling has been employed out of necessity rather than novelty. To turn the screws on a pitch that is unfriendly, for example, or to compensate for a disruption to the bowling attack.
So my question for all the Roarers out there is this: Do you think we will ever see another bowler in the same mold as Sobers, or possibly one of those mentioned above? Does the idea even have merit?