New Zealand's varied attack outguns South Africa's one-dimensional one

A lot of people sneer at New Zealand's medium-pacers. 'Dibbly dobbly' is usually the phrase of choice.

At least New Zealand's bowling attack is varied and that's one of the main reasons they beat South Africa yesterday (that and best use of the pitch).

Shane Bond and James Franklin made early inroads into South Africa's batting line-up. Bond in particular bowled some absolutely unplayable deliveries. After that, the pitch flattened out.

'Mixing it up' is a phrase often used in one day cricket. It's usually used to describe the approach of a particular bowler. Yesterday, Stephen Fleming mixed it up with his bowling changes.

Having gone through a quick bowler, a swing bowler, a tall bowler, two spinners and a medium-pacer, Fleming eventually turned to Craig McMillan's medium-pace off-cutters. It was one style of bowling too many for Herschelle Gibbs and Ashwell Prince. Looking not unlike a Kiwi Ramesh Powar, bowling with his sunglasses on, McMillan went on to snaffle Mark Boucher's wicket as well.

To return to the sneering of the opening sentence, there's a huge difference between bowling medium-pace because you're not as quick as you used to be - as exemplified by several of the South Africans during the same match - and deliberately bowling medium-pace.

If you're a born medium-pacer, you devise tactics for success; spin, slower balls, general deception. A downgraded fast bowler is of no use to anyone. He'll try and blast out batsmen but he hasn't the pace.

A medium-pace fast bowler is a weapon blunted. A genuine medium-pacer has never once been sharp, but has still managed to carve a niche.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

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