Why is Ishant Sharma still playing for India ?

I have long held the belief that Ishant Sharma has been given a longer rope than he deserves. Every time I see him bowl I feel vindicated. You can count the number of good spells he has bowled in his career  with just one hand.

The main problem with him is that he goes for runs – lots of them. I know that with things loaded in favour of the batsman bowlers are going to get hit, but the problem with Ishant is that he doesn’t seem to learn some tricks or come up with a plan to limit the damage. In the current ODI team, he is senior most seam-up bowler and he bowls like a novice.

At the death he dishes up knee-high full tosses or slower balls that can be picked from the moon . Even after 6 years of international cricket and IPL, he doesn’t seem to know what balls not to bowl for a given field. For example, if every one on the offside, a medium fast bowler is expected to keep the ball within the stumps and either very full or very short and rising at the batman’s body . Still a batsman could hit it through the offside, but that takes a lot of skill and the batsman has to take a lot of risk like exposing his stumps.

What does Ishant bowl with such a filed ? A slower ball a foot outside the off stump on a length that the batsman can cart over mid-off. When will he ever learn that slower balls with off-spinning action can be so easily picked by the batsman and unless the pitch is slow ( which makes the batsman a bit early into his shot and drag the ball to the on side), can be easily plundered for runs by modern batsmen. They have no trouble clearing the straight boundary let alone clear the mid-off fielder. And to add to that he bowls wides at the death. He used to bowl lots of no-balls as well, but that has come down.

He does not have express pace, he does not swing the ball and he does not have a bunch of variations that batmen need to keep looking out for. In other words,  on flat pitches he is just cannon fodder. I tried to pull some stats to lend weight to my arguments. I took the ODI stats of bowlers who have bowled 3000 balls or more in ODI cricket in the time since Ishant made his debut.

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=2;filter=advanced;orderby=economy_rate;orderbyad=reverse;qualmin1=3000;qualval1=balls;spanmin1=01+Jan+2007;spanval1=span;template=results;type=bowling

He has the second worst economy rate after Elton Chigumbura the Zimbabwean all-rounder. Players like Dwayne Bravo and Tim Bresnan who are slightly better than him also contribute with the bat and are very good fielders. Ishant’s fielding – I think the less said the better.

Some commentators say that he is a wicket-taking bowler as he has 95 wickets from 67 matches. Most of his wickets come in the final overs, when batsmen are trying to hit him out of the park almost every ball and one or two go straight to the fielder. Rarely does he pick up a top order batsman lbw, bowled or edged and caught.

In short, I feel he is in the team for god knows why.

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One Response to “Why is Ishant Sharma still playing for India ?”

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