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

I saw it on two occasions. And for that I am grateful. At Asgiriya in 1987 and at Kettarama in 1991. It was undoubtedly the strangest ball ever invented. The mystery of mystery balls. A ball that bounces and changes direction twice.

Gokulanath described a ball that kept low and skidded on matting wickets. Newton claimed to have seen him use it in softball cricket as early as 1985.

Charith remembers facing such a ball when Mathew bowled for Bloomfield. “I managed to glance for a single, but I asked umpire, ‘Ball is dead if bounces twice?’ Fellow didn’t know.”

Against New Zealand at Asgiriya 1987. Ari and I were in the pressbox, Kuga and Minister Tyronne Cooray in the VIP lounge. The Kiwis had hammered our medium pacers to an opening stand of 87. Mathew began bowling aggressively. Flat finger spinners, darters, undercutters, the occasional skidder. It was almost as if he were the fifth seamer. It certainly put the brakes on. Kiwi openers Franklin and Horne played out two maidens, nodding with respect at the accuracy and pace.

And then he bowled it. Short and wide outside Franklin’s off stump, the tall batsman stepping back poised to deliver punishment. But instead of sitting up and offering itself to Franklin’s waiting blade as most short, wide balls are wont to do, this one keeps low, changes direction, pitches again, this time on leg, where it darts in to topple the batsman’s exposed leg stump.

A 5-ounce, spherical, leather-bound object made to behave as a pebble skimming water.

Reggie Ranwala says that he bowled two consecutively against Anton Rose in 1994 and that both were declared no-balls. We have footage of Mercantile Credit vs Sathosa, 1986. Premlal Fernando and Basil Goonatilaka are bowled by double bounce balls.

Newton claims he helped perfect it in 1993 and that there is nothing illegal about a ball that bounces twice. Gokulanath said he knew how to bowl it, though he could not show us.

Jonny remembers it against South Africa. Mathew was no-balled every time. Reggie remembers it against Manawatu in 1995. The ball bounced not twice but thrice and was called dead. The dismissal of Greg Loveridge with a double bounce ball could well have been Mathew’s last international wicket.

I remember it in the Bloomfield vs SSC final 1994. Perhaps Mathew’s second greatest performance. I was with Ari and Renga. Every over Renga reminds us that the young new batsman is his nephew Arnold Russell. Short ball outside leg. Arnold pulls at thin air. Ball cuts to his off, pitches, bounces into the wicket. Renga swears.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” says Ari.
“That’s the best ball I’ve ever seen,” says I.
We turn to Renga.
He scowls and pretends to write in his notepad.
“I’ve seen better,” he says.

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         Articles (c)W.G. Karunasena.