When ODI cricket took over the game in the mid 70s, there was still a balance between bat and ball mainly because of those nasty tall boys from the West Indies. But by the mid 90’s that balance had tilted in favor of the batsmen. It was a time when bowlers weren't really that important. It was then that Murali, Warne, McGrath, Akram, Pollock and co came along and proved that good bowlers are always going to be in demand and without them, cricket would be like watching 11 Bradman’s face up to an attack consisting of Mick Lewis's.
Twenty20 cricket was not designed with bowlers in mind. And like ODI cricket in the 90s it sought to put bowlers back where they belong into the stands. 'The best way to slow the run rate down is to pick up wickets' - that's a code by which most captains and cricketers and especially bowlers lived by. Twenty20 has changed that philosophy.
When the run rate is consistently 10 or 9, getting it down to 6 or 7 is an acceptable consolation prize. In that sense, bowlers have had to re invent themselves more times than Puff Daddy or is it P Diddy or Diddy now? Getting wickets is good but if you can keep the runs down to a decent rate, its good enough. Forget the ODI specialist, the most in demand commodity in cricket now is the 20-20 specialist bowler.
And with the season two moving to South Africa, it opens up a new debate about what kind of bowler would do well there. The wickets will be a lot different than what the bowlers would have been expecting to bowl on a month ago. There won't be much help for spinners, except possibly getting some bounce. Pitches aka Roads designed for batting will offer limited movement for the faster men.
So which bowlers should you have in your ideal team? Here are our top five picks that have the ability to make a world of difference in IPL v.2 in the bowling compartment.
5. Dale Steyn - South Africa number 1 hit-man will be licking his lips at the chance to have a go at the world’s best batters on his pitches. He is quick; he gets bounce and is deadly accurate. However his, too accurate for comfort, assessment last year of the IPL being a 'paid holiday' means his franchise owners will be wondering whether he is putting in his best efforts. All the more reason for Dale to rip it up at home.
4. Ajantha 'Splendid' Mendis - When the first IPL was played, Mendis was an unknown, a few months later he was heralded as the next great mystery spinner. Under the apprenticeship of Muralitharan, they dismantled India and Splendid Mendis became the fastest man to pick 50 wickets in ODI Cricket history. After having had shrapnel removed from his head, twice, Mendis has had a great return to cricket in Sri Lanka’s domestic 20-20 competition picking up wickets and keeping the runs down. This IPL might just be where Mendis announces his arrival well and truly to the rest of the world.
3. Shane Warne - You have to wonder how much Warne would sell for if he was put on an IPL auction again. You also have to wonder what the man who has been called 'Showbiz' Warney has in store for us this year. Forget pitches not offering spin, Warne has tricks up his old sleeve that no one in the game could pick when he played much less after he retired. Most remember him leading the Royals to a win last year, but don’t forget he was the 2nd highest wicket taker in the IPL 2008 season.
2. Ishant Sharma - Arguably one of the best fast bowlers in the world at the moment, he is coming across as a fine bowler has been the highlight of all over. He loves bouncy pitches, as Ricky Ponting would attest to in Perth. And he would be dead set keen to put his poor IPL season last year behind him. He has already warmed himself in New Zealand condition and is ready to show his immense talent against big names in IPL season two.
1. Dirk Nannes- Wild Card, Wild Man, known to the cricket blogging community as the Wild Beast Man, Dirty Dirt Nannes, is set to light SA and some batsmen on fire with his raw pace and energy. He has lifted two teams in two parts of the world to 2020 Championship wins at Middlesex and Victoria. His psychotic pace can change matches instantly in a couple of balls. Plus he wants to prove a point to the Australian selectors who have incomprehensibly left him out of the national twenty20 team.
The Wild Beast man is on the loose.
Don't say we didn't warn you.