Cricket on the Indian sub-continent is a different game. The four semi-finalists in the World Cup comprise three teams used to the local conditions (India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) and New Zealand who are not and did very well to defeat pre-tournament favorites, South Africa. Different types of cricketers are required for Indian conditions. Tall fast bowlers are a liability on these slow pitches and the atmosphere is generally too dry for swing bowlers. Slow bowlers are best suited to the conditions, but even they have to be unorthodox. Variation of pace and flight are essential, especially in the shortened form of the game.
One wonders how the great spinners of the past would have performed. Last week saw the death of Fred Titmus at the age of 81. He played for Middlesex from the age of 17 until nearly 50. He was a grammar school boy who was a self made cricketer. Only five first-class cricketers have scored 20,000 runs and taken 2,500 wickets: Rhodes and Hirst of Yorkshire, Tate of Sussex, WG Grace and Fred Titmus. He was in good company. He did the classic double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in a season eight times, a figure bettered by only four men, and his 2,830 wickets place him in the all-time top 10 of bowlers. Sixteen times he took 100 wickets, with a best of 191 in 1955, when he also scored his maiden century and topped 1,000 runs for the first time.
On a tour of the Caribbean in 1967-68, when on a boat trip out of Barbados's Sandy Lane Bay his left foot got caught in the propeller and he suffered the loss of four toes. His fellow tourists thought he might never play again, but two months later he was bowling for Middlesex, on his way to another haul of 100 wickets.
His last appearance was in late August 1982, nearing his 50th birthday. He popped into the pavillion at Lords and the Middlesex captain, Mike Brearley, playing his last game at Lords recruited him as a third spinner for a turning pitch. He took three vital wickets on the last afternoon and Middlesex clinched victory. On his second appearance for the county he had played alongside Brearley's father, Horace, who was making his last appearance.
All my boyhood heroes are dying.