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The mystery of 100 mph deepens
Mirror.....mirror on wall.....who is the fastest of them all?

By Ali Yawer Usmani

Do all of you seriously believe that no one ever has thrown a ball in the air at a speed of 99.9mph? i.e.100mph (Well forget about you at least I think that way!). Actually with so much of hype and hoopla going around as to who would touch that magical figure, many people wonder, whether it is really difficult to bowl that fast. Infact, now a days we see that the very objective of fast bowlers is to bowl fast to somehow touch that dream come true figure. Taking wickets has become secondary as it comes as an added gift. Take the example of our dear Ajit Agarkar who is a terrific bowler; that he bowls fast is a fact (Poor guy almost flies off while bowling) but where the ball lands is no guarantee. Can someone tell him that ‘WICKETS’ is what we want and not his super speeded wides?

I am sorry for making Agarkar a guinea pig, well actually the real culprit is Mr. Thompson. Ever since Jeff Thompson bowled the fastest measured ball in the history of cricket, there has been a wide interest in this particular aspect of the game. The fact that even Thompson could not reach 100 mph has added another touch to the saga and every tear away fast bowler worth his salt would not only aspire to break Thommo’s record but also reach that magical 100mph mark. The excitement has again been raised by the pronouncements of Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee, both of whom intend to break the dream mark someday. But who reaches their first remains to be seen.

Now consider this: The former English fast bowler Frank Typhoon ‘Tyson’ says that 100 mph barrier has probably been broken already. In a chat programme on an interactive site he commented that he and his partner Brian Statham were measured at the NZ Aeronautical College in Wellington way back in 1955. Both of them bowled with at least a couple of sweaters on and still recorded a speed of 89.887 mph respectively and that too without any warm up or a long run up!

The earlier speed measuring techniques were not that perfect and the measurement was done by attaching a metal plate to the ball which was then bowled through a sonic beam, which produced a whistle, which was measured and speed was worked out according to the distance covered and the length of the whistle. (Thank GOD! Today we have new scientific methods for measuring the speed otherwise we would have gone mad listening to the whistles from all directions, well thanks to the popularity of the game.)

There were attempts to measure the speed of most fearful bowler of all time who was credited with the name 'Body Line' -  Harold Tarwood. He has been measured between 90 to 130 mph! With the help of high-speed photography technique! Even ‘Tyson’ believes that he has reached 119mph!

In the end Tyson has some advise for the new breed fast bowlers. He wants them to come out of the media generated hype and acknowledge that there have been bowlers in the past who have bowled much-much faster.

Are you Listening? Shoaib and Brett Lee!

Jonty Rhodes says goodbye to tests
By Ali Yawer Usmani

The Australian Summer of ’92 would perhaps be one of the most celebrated year for  cricket photographer all over the world. Because this was the year which gave rise to one of the greatest fielders of all time, Jonty Rhodes. The image of Rhodes, ‘flying horizontally’ in the air to run-out Inzamam-ul-Haq, is one of the best that cricket, as a spectacle, could offer. That single ‘dive’ still remaining etched in our memory and has came to be associated with fielding greatness of all time.

When, Rhodes recently decided to retire from the longer version of the game, the game of cricket lost one of its greatest assets that made it such a popular sports on T.V.The last decade must have seen many changes in the game of cricket but none has been as pronounced as the ‘fielding’ aspect, which has changed dramatically, thanks largely to Rhodes , who redefined the whole aspect of fielding itself. 

The ‘point’ came to be associated with him so much that today one would be considered the best fielder only if one were standing at that point. It has become the number ‘10’ shirt of football in cricket. You are not your team’s best fielder unless you are at the ‘point’. And so, in the recent series against Sri Lanka and New Zealand, whenever the ball went to the point region, one invariably searched for Jonty. But then realized that the great fielder has said adieu to the test matches. Now he would be only representing his side in one-day gamers. That’s really unfortunate for fans, for he was not only a great fielder, he was a great entertainer. 

His batting was no less electrifying and at many occasions, he steered South Africa out of trouble. Apart from his good one day batting record, he has a good enough record in Tests too (2412 runs from 50 tests at an average of 36). He was one of their best players of spin, the department in which most South Africans are considered deficient. Jonty has always been a team-man and it shows in his on-field actions where he always keeps goading his teammates all the time.

But many people, who know him, say that his greatest quality is his elevation – to God, to his family and also to his team. A God fearing man, he is always involved in philanthropic activator and has especially contributed to ‘epileptic-research’ from his earnings, as he himself was once an epileptic patient. A multi-talented personality, who also played Hockey at the highest level, was unable to juggle his professional and private life for long and when his wife gave birth to their daughter Daniella, he decided to quit the larger form of the game, in order to devote more time to his family. But his devoted fans will miss him ever after and watching South Africa play a Test match won’t ever hold that great excitement for them ever again.

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