Ajantha Mendis

Okay, this guy is the next big thing in world cricket. He is a 23 year old Sri Lankan spin bowler and he has just helped Sri Lanka defeat India by a massive innings and 239 runs in Colombo.

won the player of the match award for match figures of 42-7-110-11. Mendis, in his debut match, provided a perfect foil with match figures of 45.5-8-132-8.

What makes Mendis so special? He's an Iverson type spin bowler. Instead of spinning the ball like a traditional leg-spinner, he flicks it with his middle finger while he bowls it out of the back of his hand. Since the finger is almost impossible for a batsman to see, there is no way to judge which way the ball is spinning - thus a batsman can only read it after it pitches.

In the end, there are only three sorts of deliveries a spin bowler can deliver - one which spins towards leg, one which spins towards off, and one which goes straight on. If a batsman cannot judge which way the ball is going and is forced to read it off the pitch, only back-foot shots can be played with any form of confidence.

To the right is Jack Iverson's grip, which I assume is similar to what Mendis is able to do. So far Mendis' career has been short but brilliant:
  • 20 first class matches with 119 wickets at 14.68
  • 8 One Day Internations with 20 wickets at 10.25
  • 27 List A Matches with 57 wickets at 11.03
  • 7 Twenty20 Matches with 6 wickets at 20.33
I am really excited about this guy. I think he is going to turn international cricket on his head and hopefully produce some more Iverson type spinners.

Read this article by Cricinfo about Mendis. They point out that it has been over 20 years since India was decimated by spin bowling. Moreover, only three times in history have 2 bowlers taken 19 wickets in a test.

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