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    March 28, 2006

    Will he grumble ... or won't he?

    With just around an hour to go before the Durban test comes to an end, just as Nicky Boje and Mark Boucher looked like taking South Africa to safety, this is what happened in the game
    79.2 Kasprowicz to Boje, OUT, GONE! Kasprowicz picks up the wicket, pitched up delivery outside the off stump, Boje drives hard in the air towards extra-cover, Clarke at short extra-cover dives in the air and takes a spectacular catch, wonderful effort
    So here's my question. Given that Michael Clarke was a substitute, will Graeme Smith carp about Ricky Ponting's usage of substitutes to get the job done?
    Thus spake Jagadish @ 7:25 PM |
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    25 sledge(s):

    Ponting objected to using subs that were not part of the squad. Michael Clarke was their twelth man and so should be brought on if a player is injured.

    Ponting has used players like Gillespie and Kasprowicz as sub and neither of those two can be called a good fielder.

    By Blogger Libero (29-Mar-2006, 12:19:00 AM)  

    libero: Point taken. But it has always been practice in England to use subs not part of the squad. Ponting only complained about it when he got run out.

    greyvampire: I'm deleting your comment for the usage of profanities. We clearly mention this on the page just above the 'Post your comment' link. There's every chance of you having seen it. If you didn't read it, I suggest you read it the next time you're about to post. This is what the section says: "We'd prefer if you posted comments with your real name to add more credibility to your opinions. Obviously comments containing offensive and unsuitable language will be deleted. The opinions in the comments are your own views. You are welcome to provide a URL to your own blog, especially if it discusses cricket."

    By Blogger Jagadish (29-Mar-2006, 10:24:00 AM)  

    No, Jagadish Ponting had compained about it before he was run out and before the test started. The story only gained coverage after he was run out and he let fly with abuse at Fletcher.

    I agree with Ponting's use of fielders. India recently used Laxman as a fielder against England when they could have used Kaif and actually caught something.

    By Blogger Libero (29-Mar-2006, 4:20:00 PM)  

    libero: Perhaps he did. As for Kaif, if you've ever seen him stand in the slips or at short-leg/silly point, you wouldn't have claimed that he'd have caught better than Laxman! Kaif missed umpteen number of chances in the recent tests, perhaps on day four at Bombay. I'm not sure about when, but he did!

    By Blogger Jagadish (29-Mar-2006, 5:54:00 PM)  

    It was probably a poor example to choose Laxman but the point is still the same. Most other test playing nations use their 12th man as sub fielder.

    Gary Pratt was not a Nottinghamshire player, he was brought from Durham to play as sub fielder. This can't have happened in case of injury to a player but as a pre-meditated decision by Fletcher to rest his bowlers.

    By Blogger Libero (29-Mar-2006, 6:51:00 PM)  

    I'm sorry, why is that? If there's a good fielder going spare around the counties, they may as well be twelfth man. Then, in case of injury to a player, they are ready.

    This raises the question of whether you think that having a tweflth man at all is pre-meditated...

    England usually send their 'proper' twelfth man back to their county to play. Because England is a small country, there's no logistical problems in picking from the best available fielders.

    One final point: need I remind you that Simon Jones hasn't played internationally since he left the field to be replaced by Gary Pratt? But it can't have happened in case of an injury, of course.

    By Anonymous Geoff (29-Mar-2006, 9:58:00 PM)  

    Most teams keep their tewlth man as a sub fielder, England didn't need theirs to field as they bring the best fielder that they can find in. I don't agree that if you're going to use a sub fielder you choose the best one, you should use the 12th man and not send him back to play county cricket.

    Pratt came on for Jones when he was injured but England constantly rotated which bowler left the fielder so during the ashes there was almost always a sub fielder on the pitch. Collingwood was also used.

    Gary Pratt is a player who will never play for England and from Cricinfo he's been released from Durham as well. Now England can take him to wherever their playing and he could be the mascot.

    By Blogger Libero (29-Mar-2006, 10:47:00 PM)  

    You're right Libero - they are completely different matters. England had bowlers going off for toilet breaks, massages whatever - Ricky Ponting was held up in his hotel room with food poisoning.

    Besides, we're talking about possibly the best fielder in the world here. Clarke maybe good too, but anything he can do, Ricky can do...

    Not one of your better Aussie sledges Jaga... ;-)

    By Blogger Stu (30-Mar-2006, 3:48:00 AM)  

    Libero: with no offence meant, I'm not sure that the counties really care whether you think their best players should be used a drinks waiters and substitue fielders for home Tests. They are, in most cases, key players for their sides, and should play if possible.

    I'm not arguing that England shouldn't keep their first XI on the pitch if possible, because bowlers going off for massages and toilet breaks is wrong. But Ricky Ponting chose the wrong time to mouth off: the issue isn't the identity of the substitute, it's when the substitute is used. If a substitute is a good fielder, it doesn't matter - as long as he's only used legitimately.

    By Anonymous Geoff (30-Mar-2006, 2:55:00 PM)  

    Geoff that's what i'm disagreeing with, the sub fielders were not always used legitimately. Stu's right, the bowlers continually went off the field and only in the case of the run out was it for a valid reason.

    By Blogger Libero (30-Mar-2006, 3:20:00 PM)  

    So you concede England's right to use county players as sub fielders? It certainly seemed as if that was what you were disagreeing with.

    By Anonymous Geoff (30-Mar-2006, 6:09:00 PM)  

    England should at least use local county fielders as (i think) they used to. But if the bowlers are constantly rotated so one is always off the field then England could play a sub fielder for a whole innings. Is that right?

    By Blogger Libero (30-Mar-2006, 8:21:00 PM)  

    Again, that's two issues. A fielder who is considered local in India or Australia might even be further from the match than Durham is from Nottinghamshire. I don't have any problem with England using good fielders from anwyhere in the country as long as they weren't going to play anyway.

    I've already said that rotating the bowlers isn't right, in fact I said it was wrong. But that's not the point I'm debating.

    By Anonymous Geoff (30-Mar-2006, 9:27:00 PM)  

    Hmm, around 24 hrs away from a computer and a pretty nice discussion developing!

    To me, it seems like the '12th man being the substitute' is more of a protocol thing rather than actually being ingrained in a law. I could be wrong on that count though. Australia frequently do send the unlucky chap off to play domestic cricket instead of making him do 12th man duties.

    Nice coincidence this. I've been reading Waugh's autobiography for the last hour or so and he writes in pg 234 in the context of him doing 12th man duties on the 1990/91 tour to WI - "Later on in my career a more united group effort on tour from the reserves gave the 12th man some respite from these monotonous tasks and gave him a chance to practise in the nets or even have a day off. At home in Australia, he can sometimes go back and play state cricket to gain match practice rather than hamper his chances by continual watching, and hence have an opportunity to push his claims when the opening arises."

    That is exactly what happens in England frequently as well. I can't quite see what is wrong with a team making the best use of the available resources. In the recent Mumbai test, I'm fairly sure I saw VVS fielding at slip for long periods of time, when Sehwag was away. I'm guessing that VVS wasn't actually the 12th man. His ability at slips was obviously something India needed to take advantage of. It'd have been interesting to note Fletcher's reaction though had he caught quite a few catches :)

    Stu - it has started a discussion, so it couldn't have been too bad :)

    By Blogger Jagadish (30-Mar-2006, 10:41:00 PM)  

    Geoff, I was wrong to use the word 'local', but the fielder should be chosen from either the current squad (why India can justify Laxman fielding) or from the county or state the game is played in.

    It might be unfair that India or Australia could choose from a greater pool of fielders but that is due to the relative population and size of those countries respectively.

    Gary Pratt was not in the local county side but travelled from Durham. Although this wasn't far in Indian or Australian terms it wasn't from the region the game was played in.

    By Blogger Libero (30-Mar-2006, 11:25:00 PM)  

    You're proposing replacing a system that's unfair in favour of England to one that's in unfair in favour of India and Australia? ?I'm not sure I stated the point forcefully enough before, but: most Indian and Australian states have a larger area than the whole of England!

    Is there any reason for that, other than you support India? Both are completely arbitary. The location of the match should not alter who gets to go on the field of play and who doesn't (other than team selection issues, obviously).

    By Anonymous Geoff (31-Mar-2006, 1:17:00 AM)  

    The main problem I have with England is that they chose players like Pratt and Penney who are purely specialist fielders, even a coach. It would have mattered less if England had chosen Collingwood who was often the 12th man to field as he is among the England set up.

    If teams did begin to choose the best fielder in the country what would stop teams carrying a player just to come on and field. India could choose from millions of players, one of whom could come on and potentially stop a lot of runs and cause run outs. I'm just saying that they should bs some sort of limit to who can and can't be picked. England being one of the smallest countries playing cricket would nearly almost be at a disadvantage.

    On Willow and Leather (i think) after the Ashes a comparison of how many outs sub fielders cause was shown, England were at the top by a clear distance and I think they've gone too far in bending the rules. It's not an anti-England feeling because I'd do the same if it were any of the other test teams as well.

    By Blogger Libero (31-Mar-2006, 1:50:00 AM)  

    I wouldn't bring Trevor Penney into the debate: if you're going to claim that Pratt is purely a specialist fielder as he's been released by Durham, then Trevor Penney gave almost twenty years of sterling service to Warwickshire. Yes, he was the fielding coachfor England, but he still found time to play in the C&G final.

    I'm not sure about anything on Willow and Leather, but Cricinfo had an article on this:

    It shows that Indian susbstitutes are responsible for almost as many Tests per dismissal as England's. And that Indian substitute fielders actually make more run-outs per Test than England's.

    And, again, you're combining the two issues. What would stop India bringing on an absolutely brilliant fielder all the time is that they shouldn't be on the pitch for very long, unless someone is seriously injured. The important point to remember is: I think England should not abuse the law to use their substitutes as they do now. I just think that they, and indeed all countries, should be able to pick whatever players they choose as substitutes.

    By Anonymous Geoff (31-Mar-2006, 11:59:00 AM)  

    libero: I still can't understand why substitute fielders _must_ be from a limited set. I can't see any reason why the idea shouldn't be to use the best available talent, regardless of location. So what if England chooses specialist fielders? Are you suggesting that the substitute fielder must have a batting average of at least 35 or a bowling average of at most 35 or both? India not choosing from the 'millions' of folks just means we're not making the optimal use of resources. Then again, there're probably only half a dozen *good* [as opposed to safe] fielders in India.

    The stat on # of tests per dismissal may not reflect the actual usage. It just perhaps shows that India's & England's substitutes do a _far_ better job than Australia's ;)

    By Blogger Jagadish (31-Mar-2006, 3:21:00 PM)  

    Maybe I've been a bit unfair to England, but the discussion started about Ponting.

    A hypothetical situation with specialist sub fielders:

    If England have a world class fielder in the pavillion and are bowling to India/Australia... and Monty Panesar (the worst fielder I could think of) is not bowling (because of the type of wicket), what would stop England taking of Monty for the sub? The sub would surely take a catch or stop the runs flowing better than him. This could even change the game for England.

    I think that if there is always a world class fielder in the changing room then the temptation is always there to bring him on. That's why I think there should be a limitation on the fielder; so as to remove this temptation.

    By Blogger Libero (31-Mar-2006, 6:36:00 PM)  

    I can see your point of view, Libero, but surely that's changing something that isn't being abused to correct something that is, rather than just dealing with the root cause.

    If, say, Ponting is legitimately injured, and the Australian Monty Panesar comes on, then that is unfair to the fielding side. But if a team can only use a substitute correctly and fairly, then there is no issue with having a good fielder as a substitute. It is only highlighted if a side abuses the system, but that's no need to restrict the identity, ability, or even residence of subtitutes - just the use of them.

    By Anonymous Geoff (31-Mar-2006, 7:42:00 PM)  

    libero: If someone like Panesar goes off the field, he cannot bowl for the duration that he is off it. Ditto if there's a top quality batsman, like say Ponting, off the field. He cannot bat for that duration, or higher than #7. If a team tries to act smart, there are rules to prevent misuse. If a side takes its bowlers off for 5-10 minute durations for restroom/massage breaks, what're the chances that the excellent fielder who substitutes him effects a heart-stopping catch or run out? Very low, I'd say!

    By Blogger Jagadish (31-Mar-2006, 8:15:00 PM)  

    I know that's the rule, but if this happened in the 4th innings of a game then what could be done. The sub could then be given license to field all day by the management. The person going off could be useless in that situation so the fielding team lose no advantage.

    I'm just in favour of changing the rules somehow before they get misused, which teams could do if it means them winning a match or series.

    By Blogger Libero (31-Mar-2006, 8:37:00 PM)  

    One more thing George, if the rules are not abused I have absolutely no problem with champion fielders coming on. It's just that if a champion fielder is in the pavilion the temptation to bring him on might be too much in a crisis situation.

    By Blogger Libero (31-Mar-2006, 8:56:00 PM)  

    libero: Good point. How does a match ref handle the fourth innings. Maybe ensure that the player can't bat/bowl for that duration for the next test he's picked for? Then again, if this test is against Australia and the next test is against Bangladesh, any side would rather have the substitute in against Australia and bat/bowl later in the innings v Bangladesh.

    By Blogger Jagadish (31-Mar-2006, 9:01:00 PM)  

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