Are Asian batters the best at attacking spin? While popular perception given the pitches in the sub-continent might indicate that they are, the numbers tell a different story, especially in T20 cricket.
Since the 2021 T20 World Cup, batters from the top Asian teams – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan – have better strike rates against pace than spin. On the other hand, teams like England (134.15 against spin and 135.26 against pace), Australia (131.04 against spin and 128.48 against pace) and South Africa (142.16 against spin and 143.17 against pace) have similar strike rates against spice and pace.
“I found that the modern Asian batsman didn’t really sweep,” Arthur said. “They didn’t reverse-sweep. Australia, England, South Africa used the sweep shot and reverse-sweep shots a lot more than the Asian batters, who relied on their wrists to work the balls into an area. And it was once that we got the sweep shots going that teams then had to change fields – that created holes for the Asian players to use their wrists where they’re predominantly comfortable and confident scoring.
“Reverse sweep is something you continuously have to work on. It’s not like a cover drive that’s natural. This is something that takes subcontinent batters out of their comfort zones. Because they’ve relied so much on their excellent wrists – so if you look at the Indian batsman, Sri Lankan batsman or Pakistan batsman, they rely on opening the bat face and closing the bat face to push the ball into different areas. They don’t get a massive amount of power into those shots though. Those shots are good for singles or twos but not for boundary options. So they had to find options to get boundaries. For getting boundaries, it’s easier to attack the ball square of the wicket and that’s to sweep and reverse sweep …”
Has having to deal with four or five quicks in opposition teams made Asian batters prioritise playing spin less? Arthur said it could be a reason.
“We work on [playing] short-pitched bowling and pace because we think that takes them out of the comfort zone when they’ve got to play away from home. Where really if the batsmen’s technique is good, they play those balls particularly well. It comes down to actually playing spin, and that’s something as coaches we generally forget because we take it for granted that they play spinners well.”