Pradeep Mathew's amazing deliveries
  Webpage dedicated to the varied talents of Pradeep Mathew: Sri Lanka's greatest unsung cricketer.
  The Carrom Ball  

Jack Iverson, the 1950s Aussie spinner, bent his middle finger as if he were flicking a leech off the ball. He held the ball with his elongated index and ring fingers and flicked it at the batsman, the ball spinning in whichever direction his thumb pointed.

GentlemanCricketerofYesteryear, or the GenCY, team manager during Sri Lanka’s ’87 World Cup campaign, shared a photograph of Iverson’s unusual grip with Mathew. Inspired by all the idle games of carrom played with the reserves at Guwahati, Mathew attempted to incorporate a carrom flicking motion, which meant the ball could spin with no discernible change in action. It also meant that the ball’s trajectory would be torpedo-like. In theory anyway.

While Jack Iverson is fondly remembered as a genuine mystery bowler by the likes of Benaud and Bradman, the GenCY failed to tell young Mathew that despite a few 6-wicket hauls in his first few outings, Iverson was soon worked out by batsmen. His fragile temperament kept him out of test cricket and led to his suicide in 1973.

Mathew tried the carrom flick vs England, Pakistan and the West Indies, and while the trajectory was torpedo-like, the bounce low and the turn sharp, Mathew’s directional control was abysmal. Of the nine balls that made it to the pitch, all were adjudged wides. The other seven attempts had the ball squirting out at second slip, short leg and even mid-wicket. Salim, Gatting and Richardson helped themselves to half centuries off the rest of Mathew’s deliveries.

Mathew bowled 17 wides in a 191-run defeat to the West Indies. He was warned by the umpire of turning the game into farce after the mid-wicket ball against Pakistan. And was taken out of the attack against England by the Skipper for using that “bloody carrom bullshit.”

Mathew never used the carrom grip again, though Ari claims to remember him using it thrice in the ’92 World Cup. Ill-gotten ITL footage confirms these claims. Ari shows me the carrom flick darting under the bats of Richardson, Gatting and Salim. It is I who note that these three were the very same men who put Mathew to the sword at the previous World Cup. It is Ari who proffers this to be coincidence.

  << Back  
         Articles (c)W.G. Karunasena.