England's bouncers aim to rough up Sri Lankans

Tourists are set to face an intimidating onslaught in the second Test from the six-foot-plus trio Broad, Finn and Tremlett

Harold Larwood, one of the fastest bowlers who ever lived, stood no more than 5ft 8in. It was quite tall enough to frighten the living daylights out of Australia 79 years ago, but how intimidating he would have been at a foot higher is itself frightening to contemplate.

Click HERE to view graphic (185k jpg)

Australian batsmen would doubtless have tried to run for cover when they were not dashing to square leg, had they had time. Larwood's lethal bouncer, bowled in the name of Bodyline, was dangerous because it was skiddy and pinpoint accurate.

England of 2011 appear to have come up with a different plan. It still demands the precision of a surgeon but it is based around men who would have dwarfed Larwood. In the second Test against Sri Lanka, which starts at Lord's tomorrow, it is likely that England will field a three-man seam attack the shortest of whom will be 6ft 6in.

He is Stuart Broad. The others are Steve Finn, who nudges 6ft 8in (and may still be growing) and Chris Tremlett, who has around half an inch on Finn. Even by the standards of the day they rank as extremely tall and it gives them a decided advantage over Sri Lanka's batsman. The combined height is almost 20ft but to this can be added their unfeasibly long arms, which are fully extended as they make the leap to the crease.

Their danger, as demonstrated by England's stunning victory in the first Test in Cardiff on Monday, is at least two-fold. The bouncer is utterly intimidating because it comes down from such a height and then rears up. Aim is vital and both Sri Lanka's final wickets, which fell to Broad, were the upshot of balls that reared alarmingly.

The late order batsmen were completely ill-equipped to cope. The fist fended off to Ian Bell at short-leg, the second, trying to take evasive action, swatted a looping catch to Alastair Cook at slip. Like all great, tyrannical fast bowling it was compelling to watch.

But the early breaches had been made in a magnificent spell from Tremlett in which he showed the other, worrying (for the batsmen) strength. The outrageous height of these men means that balls of fuller length have additional bounce and bounce, any batsman will tell you, is difficult to deal with, especially if they might be thinking of going forward.

One of the pioneers of the so-called throat ball, forcing the batsmen to play high up, was John Snow, who wreaked havoc in the West Indies and Australia in his pomp. At 6ft 1in Snow was taller than Larwood, much smaller than the modern trio but he, too, made his opponents jump.

"The thing about a bouncer is that people can duck under it or do what they want to," said Snow. "What you're trying to do is get the batsman doing what you want him to do rather than what he wants to do, get him playing at something he shouldn't be playing at because you have made it bounce a little bit or move off the wicket a little bit when he's committed. You're getting the guy committed to doing something and then coming up with that little variation."

The integral factor in Tremlett's brilliant burst on Monday evening was the pure control. Like Hadlee all those years ago, he was setting the batsmen up, luring them to do something they did not wish to do, permitted because years of practice were paying off.

"In the first innings, I did try to get it up a bit but maybe my execution wasn't so good," said Tremlett yesterday at Lord's after England's practice. "Second innings, my rhythm felt better and I got them coming forward and found the edges. That probably applies to this wicket as well.

"I think playing the Sri Lankans, you always have a slight advantage against any batsman and those guys are used to playing on slightly slower pitches."

Snow is slipping down the list of England's greatest wicket-takers, overtaken by modern bowlers who play more Tests, but that should not diminish his status. In Australia in 1970-71 he did what the present lot failed to do and instigated a pitch invasion by Aussie supporters after one of his throat balls felled Terry Jenner, the leg-spinner and no duffer with the bat, who died last week.

"You don't have to be that quick," said Snow. "It's a fallacy to say you have got to bowl at 90mph but I could bowl it if I wanted to, or as quick as I wanted to do, which was quick enough. Glenn McGrath wasn't the fastest bowler out there, nor was Hadlee.

"By that tour in 70-71 I always felt I could bowl anybody out. Four years earlier I might have ummed and aahed a little bit about it but by that stage I knew I could do it and also had the control to be able to do it and the finesse of bowling. Somebody like Malcolm Marshall or McGrath, there was the finesse of being in control, doing something when they wanted to do it."

It is not yet a done deal that the tall guys will all play tomorrow. Jade Dernbach, newly called up to the squad, is somewhat shorter at 6ft 2in but has various swinging options up his sleeve. Dernbach is fascinating to talk to on the subject and having taken nine wickets for England Lions against the Sri Lankans at Derby is not out of the picture. But what happened on Monday was extravagantly persuasive and Finn will probably play.

As Tremlett said: "The short ball is a great weapon and playing against this team, they are not used to it at times. It was quite hard to execute those balls at Cardiff where it was a slow wicket. We'll see if this wicket has more pace. When I've played here before it has. It could be a plan we'll go with but we'll assess that on the day."

There is one other point about these fellows – and that is the height itself is pretty scary before they get a ball in their hand. Tremlett, especially, is worrying to stand next to and to look up at. His body is in its prime, whereas Finn and Broad are still developing.

"Naturally I'm a pretty wide built guy and I'm a pretty intimidating character to face so that's an advantage. In the last couple of years, I've learnt to deal with that and become more confident and more aggressive on the field. I guess I'm a big guy and bigger than most others."

And that means there is no need to sledge à la Jimmy "Mr Grumpy" Anderson. "I guess I've always been a believer in letting the ball do the talking," said Tremlett. In 2007, I played a Test series against India. I did try to be aggressive but guess it was forced a bit to be honest. I tried to be someone I wasn't and it's difficult to be nasty, I guess." At present every batsman in Sri Lanka probably thinks Tremlett is nastiness personified.

Suggested Topics
News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam