Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Mendis looks the real deal for Derbyshire

Following on from my piece on Jeevan Mendis the other day, you'd have to say that the Sri Lankan looks a left field but potentially inspired signing by Kim Barnett, as Imran Tahir's 'other half'.

There were another four wickets for the leggie today, as he did exactly what we hope he will do for us and bowled his side to victory on the final afternoon.

That's 20 wickets in three matches for the bowler, whose ability to bowl the googly with a near-identical action to the conventional delivery seems to baffle more than a few batsmen. Of course, like any other spinner he needs conditions to be in his favour and when the ball isn't turning he's likely to be as impotent as any bowler.

Yet, as we have seen on the England tour of Bangladesh and India this winter, English players don't handle spin well and too many go down the 'hard hands and aerial route' to their peril. As any quality spinner will tell you, it isn't about turning it square and beating the bat by two inches. The key to success is turning it enough to beat the middle of the bat and see where things go from there. While Shane Warne's 'magic ball' that announced his presence and did for Mike Gatting spun a huge distance, his stock ball was much less ambitious. Yet everyone knew, after that one ball, what he was capable of...

Of course, leg-spin is a difficult art to master, but in Tahir and Mendis Derbyshire have signed two men in their thirties who have mastered the art. There will still be days when it doesn't come out right and the batsmen hit it a long way, but there will be others when they will be tough to pick and hard to get away.

One thing that Mendis has, as I have said before, is a novelty value and few on the county circuit will have faced him. Nor will Gary Wilson or Harvey Hosein have kept to him and they will need to learn how to pick his variations and be ready for the catching and stumping opportunities that will surely come.

I'm quite enthused about him and while I would be surprised to see him bat at four, as he does in Sri Lanka, there's a case for him batting anywhere between five and eight. In the RLODC his ability to score quickly and hit long could be a real asset as we set or chase totals and I could easily see he and Matt Critchley bowling twenty overs between them.

It is a lovely thought to occupy us as we go into a new year - and ultimately new season.

1 comment:

Mark N said...

I don't think he bats at 8. I see him as 5 or 6. Left hander in there will help also. His record is good and he is a genuine all rounder. With Broom going he probably is a pick at 5 unless we sign someone else. Looks like he is in good form bowling wise although I have no idea about the quality of the cricket.