Jade Dernbach thinks yesterday’s fast bowlers had it easy in limited-overs cricket. Marshall, Holding, Lillee and the rest had batsmen hopping about, while their modern day counterparts face batsmen more equipped to deal with pace, on slower pitches.
“Today every team has someone bowling 90mph, whereas back then perhaps batsmens didn’t come across it that often,” said the Surrey and England seamer. “Even the lower order guys are used to pace these days.”
On India’s dull lifeless pitches last year, Dernbach and the rest of England’s much vaunted pace attack were helpless to stop the Indian batsmen’s ‘stand and deliver’ tactics. “Against someone like MS Dhoni, if you didn’t get a yorker in it disappears,” Dernbach added. “Any ball even six inches out he will smash it for six. Other batters, like Jos Buttler, lap sweep you all day.”
It’s hard to imagine Eoin Morgan switch-hitting Andy Roberts’ quicker bouncer on a Jamaican glass-top, or Dilshan going down on one knee against a Jeff Thomson lifter at the WACA in Perth. According to Dernbach, however, on today’s slower batsman-friendly limited-overs pitches, fast bowlers need more than pace, aggression and a nasty stare to be effective.
“On the subcontinent, the ball can come off at different speeds, and the pitches are abrasive so you get some reverse swing,” he said. “You’re not going to rush anyone, so on subcontinental pitches subtle changes of pace are important.”
Dernbach, who recently turned out for Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash, believes that with a good slower ball, an effective yorker and a bit of pace up front when the ball is new, a quick bowler can still do a job on slow pitches.
“In India spinners play a greater role and in Australia you might have an extra quick in the side,” he added. “People say English pitches aren’t too good for T20, but we’re the world champions so we can’t be producing too many bad ones.”
In Melbourne, Dernbach also played alongside Shane Warne. “It’s Warne’s cricket brain that stands out,” Dernbach revealed. “He understands situations and reacts so quickly.”
Twenty20 takes its fair share of stick, particularly from the traditionalists, but for Dernbach it’s all about putting on a show. “You get the chance to show your talents in a short space of time. You’ll play in front of five hundred in a County Championship game, and then 15,000 will turn up to the T20. People have taken to it, and that makes T20 a really exciting format for the players.”
Dernbach doesn’t consider himself a T20 specialist though. He wants to play Test cricket and thinks more consistent performances with Surrey should put him in line if an England place becomes available.
“You only have to look at what David Warner has done for Australia in Tests recently to see that, if you have the right frame of mind, you can apply the T20 skills to the longer format.”