In cricket, fast bowling is generally attributed more to brawn, and spinners considered more thinking cricketers because of the inherent nature of the job (guile and patience are, of course, key qualities of a good spinner). In this context, it is interesting that India is yet to produce an international-standard sardar fast bowler. Balwinder Singh Sandhu is probably the only one who played with India with some success (primarily because of 1983 World-Cup winning exploits) and he was essentially a medium pace swing bowler, which is not exactly brawn-oriented.
On the other hand, some of the best spinners to have played for India are Sikhs. Bishen Singh Bedi, Maninder Singh, Sarandeep Singh, Harbhajan Singh … and now there’s one playing for England as well.
Monty Panesar’s performance today (aided by some luck, but still) was quite astonishing. Getting a five-wicket haul on the first day of a Perth test match is mind-boggling to start with, but to become the first English spinner EVER to get five wickets in a Perth innings is just unbelievable. It is not difficult to imagine how sick Flintoff will be feeling for not heeding the majority cacophony and including him in the first two tests. He had made such an emphatic mark in the series against Pakistan so recently, that the decision to leave him out for a proven mediocre Giles just because the latter was a better batsman and fielder defied all claims to reason. (If nothing else, the Poms should have remembered the “Turbanator” curse of 2001 and tried him out!) It was so spectacularly stupid that even the majority was right.
But it was also terrific to see the intensity in England’s game today. Half their results came from Panesar, but Harmison’s passion was very encouraging, as was Straus’ positive strokeplay when England batted. The Australians haven’t dropped their intensity yet, so it will be interesting to see who blinks first (England probably will), and this is precisely what makes for great test cricket. Maybe there is life in this series yet.