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Monday, 13 July 2003
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Using the Crease
W.G. Karunasena
11.07.92
 

Uvais Amalean, Sri Lankan reserve wicket-keeper 1988-93, told me this one. He picked up this trick during a 1986 domestic game vs SSC. A crane used in the reconstruction of the pavilion cast an unusual shadow on the crease. Non-striker nightwatchman Ravi de Mel, nursing a hangover, insisted on standing in the shadowy side of the crease. Asking Mathew, not very politely, to bowl around him.

The umpire, an SSC stalwart and fellow Royalist, pretended to reproach de Mel, but only ended up convincing Mathew to relent. So Mathew had to bowl over the wicket to right-handers and suddenly found that the awkward angle served up all sorts of possibilities.

He dispatched de Mel with a ball that cut in at right angles, bamboozling the belligerent bowler turned batsman. Mathew then bowled around the wicket to left-handers, exploring the farther reaches of the crease. Mathew ended the match with 7 wickets and his first domestic Man-of-the-Match award.

Since then the crease has always been a subtle component in Mathew’s armoury. The ball to dismiss Howarth in the Asgiriya test comes to mind. (See diagram) Against the West Indies A team in 1988, he was no-balled for bowling two feet behind the popping crease.

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