Part Time Bowlers: Boon Or Bane?

Rohini IyerSenior Writer IMarch 12, 2009

The concept of part-time bowling has gained momentum in the last six to eight years, with the traditional format of six batsmen including the keeper and five full time bowlers undergoing a stark change.

These days, nearly all cricketing captains prefer to go for players who can wield the bat for most of the 50 overs and, in addition, contribute with the ball as well.

So, where in the good old days we had the quota of 100 overs being completed by traditional and tailor-made seamers and spinners, in recent times we can see batsmen pooling to complete the job.

Observing this phenomena makes me ask whether this is justified. Against minnows and on a rare day against the seasoned opponents, it might work, but is it really good to bank permanently on such an arrangement? Aren't there chances of backfiring?

Countries which are responsible for the proliferation of this so-called seven batsmen- four-bowlers theory primarily include India and, to a certain extent, England and South Africa. Even New Zealand, in the recent one-dayer against India, opted for such a team composition.

India has been extensively using this format for quite some time now, especially during Ganguly's captaincy in the 2003 World Cup. And while it enjoyed success, there were a few hiccups as well.

I feel this is a very dangerous move to play with. Let us check out a scenario of a match between India and Australia.

It's a batting track, and Australia, having won the toss and electing to bat first, is making India pay dearly for it. Now, if it is a seven-four lineup in India's case, and the four full-time bowlers are being mercilessly whacked, whats the chance that the part-timers will succeed?

We may be optimistic and say that they can be successful, but it won't be an everyday affair, will it? Also, to be fair to the batsmen who double as bowlers, doesn't that increase the pressure on them to contribute twice as much as they ought to?

And its not just an India-Australia picture that I mean to project. It's about every cricket-playing nation that resorts to this tactical play.

Thus, the whole question amounts to this: Should a team go for a standard 11 member-squad, or should it innovate with a risk to bear the brunt of failure? And in case it chooses to innovate, then what and when is the right time to do so?