Comparisons between Bishen Bedi and Michael Yardy can, in truth, prove elusive. Bedi, a feisty Indian, was an artist who weaved exotic patterns with the ball which sometimes looked as if it was attached to a piece of elastic.
Yardy, the captain of Sussex and an estimable journeyman cricketer, simply stands there and pings it down on as full a length as he dare, which is about as artistic as painting a wall.
But there you have it. Both of them are classed as orthodox left arm spinners but that is as far as it goes. The pingers are the men of the moment, the pingers may well rule the world.
In four overs of perfect pitch but without an exotic melody in sight, Yardy demonstrated yesterday how England and probably others may well approach the World Twenty20. He took three wickets in the first of the side's warm-up matches, against Bangladesh, familiar opponents with familiar shortcomings. England continue to win every match against these opponents, cantering to the line by seven wickets with 17 balls to spare.
Ravi Bopara, returning from exile, was the main contributor to the successful pursuit. His quietly entertaining half century came from 44 balls. The Indian Premier League has done him good and he likes Barbados: it was where he scored his maiden Test hundred 14 months and what must seem half a lifetime ago.
Yardy's analysis was probably all England (who suddenly find themselves being fancied for the tournament almost as much as they fancy themselves) required as confirmation that their devised strategy is correct. Whether the tournament will benefit is dubious.
Something must be done to arrest the irresistible, bludgeoning takeover of Twenty20 by batsmen with bats as big as their intentions, but bowlers such as Yardy operating on slow pitches should not be it. It was the Indian Premier League that perhaps acted as the convincer. No self-respecting team could do without its pinger.
Yardy knows what he is doing, of course, as he showed in taking 13 wickets during Sussex's run to winning the Twenty20 Cup in England last summer, and after three years out of the England team he can hardly have expected this renewed opportunity. He accounted for Mohammad Ashraful with a smart legside catch by England's new wicketkeeper, had Aftab Ahmed caught trying to break free and outsmarted the Bangladeshi captain, Shakib al Hasan, whom he saw advance down the pitch and amended his length accordingly.
There were two wickets too for Jimmy Anderson, returning to the side after his break to allow a sore knee to recover. Sri Lanka's 126 for seven was not enough to win, even on these surfaces, but was just enough to give England a proper workout.
The new opening pair of Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter (no problems with communication presumably since they are both South Africans) both showed a little of what can be expected. Kieswetter struck an enormous six out of the ground over long off. Who knows they might open together for England more than five times, hitherto the most enduring partnership between Luke Wright and Bopara.
It was Bopara who all but guided England home before being run out with one needed.Reuse content