Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralidaran Monday said that spinners will find the going difficult as they will not get much assistance or purchase from Australian and New Zealand pitches in the ICC World Cup starting Feb 14.
In a column for the International Cricket Council (ICC) website the former off-spinner wrote,”My experience of both countries is that, although both are very different, neither will offer very much assistance to spinners, especially in matches where, in 100 overs, you are unlikely to see much deterioration in the pitches. There will be bounce in Australia, which is always the spinner’s friend, but not much purchase off rock-hard surfaces”.
The 42-year-old added that it does not, however, mean that spinners cannot prosper in such conditions but it will be hard work for them trying to vary the pace and flight in their attempt to beat the batsmen.
However, the Sri Lankan took the example of Pakistan’s leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, who in the 1992 edition when the World Cup was last held in the Antipodes, was one of the highest wicket takers.
“That is not to say that spinners cannot prosper. I took 58 one-day wickets in Australia, a mark I only bettered in my home country and in the United Arab Emirates, but I also know it can be hard work and you need to find other ways of getting batsmen out beyond beating them with turn off the pitch.”
“Pakistan’s Mushtaq Ahmed finished second in the list of wicket takers with 16 victims in 1992, the last time the tournament took place in Australia and New Zealand. But at the same time, he was the only slow bowler to reach double figures and that illustrates the difficulties I am sure will be similar this time around,” he wrote.
Muralidaran further added that the larger grounds in Australia will give spinners more chance of picking up wickets but at the same time said that with only four fielders outside the 30 yards circle they cannot afford to err in length.
“The larger grounds in Australia will, at least, give spinners the chance to flight the ball, safe in the knowledge it will require something more than a mis-hit to clear the boundary, but the use of two new balls will tend to cause the ball to skid on rather than spin.
“And while the restriction brought in a couple of years ago, with only four fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle except in the powerplays, will help spinners build pressure if a batting side is losing wickets, it also means there is nowhere to hide if a slow bowler comes on with the batsmen already on top.”
“Good spinners will adjust, cope and even prosper,” he added.