2024 Men’s T20 World Cup – ‘It’s about constant work’ – Ultra-modernist Akéal Hosein waves from Uganda


Akeal Hosein took his first five-wicket haul ICC/Getty images

Late on a warm Saturday evening in Providence Guyana, Akeal Hosein made spin bowling look easy. First ball with a big bend, a plumb lbw with his second, then four more dismissals – all bowled or lbw – only two boundaries conceded, and his team on their way to a stirring victory by the time he had finished his overs.

An uninterrupted four-over spell, figures of 5 for 11… but just that seems Easy, said Hosein. Polishing your skills to get to a place where hitters, no matter how inexperienced a team, have no idea how to play against you – all of that takes time.

Because there was serious skill in the way Hosein bowled against Uganda. And these are skills that very few players have ever possessed in the history of cricket. Hosein is an example of an ultra-modern breed of cricketer: the spin bowler who operates in the powerplay. More than that, he is a spin bowler who counts swing/drift (in terms of physics acting on the ball, they are basically the same, we just call it swing when it is fast and drift when it is slow). his main tool.

Although there was an offer for Hosein on the Providence surface, it was this drift with the new ball that earned him the majority of his wickets. He bowls at a high spinner pace, but sends the ball straight down, slightly tilted. On Saturday he didn’t get the ball swinging/floating until late. Batters often played down the wrong line, and with Hosein regularly attacking the stumps, this meant many lbw and bowled dismissals.

After the match, Hosein revealed that he had teamed up with Sunil Narine, another ultra-modernist and a bowler who uses swing/drift to excellent effect.

“I’ve done a lot of work here,” Hosein said. “We had a camp before we took part in the World Cup, but I also did a lot of work with Sunil Narine. He is a very good friend of mine.

“So it’s just about constant work. And especially when you start having success in your way, we know that the game has evolved so much that guys are going to read about you. Boys are going to do their homework. So you always have to try to stay one step ahead.”

One of the other reasons for Hosein’s success against Uganda is that he kept the length and pace fairly high so batters had to stay committed to front-foot shots at him.

“Today I thought I would judge my spell mainly on the lengths I bowl, and I know once I execute those lengths it will be difficult for most batsmen to play,” he said. “I think it’s a pitch where if you really start looking, you can sometimes miss your height.”

With Hosein putting himself into some form in this match, West Indies are now looking increasingly ominous in what is a home World Cup for them. They have overcome two opposites they expected to defeat: Papua New Guinea and now Uganda. But there are tougher games coming up – against New Zealand and Afghanistan.

“I think going into the third game we definitely have to take strength into account,” Hosein said. “We’ve played good cricket over the last 12 years and we’ve improved massively in areas we weren’t the best at.”

Andrew Fidel Fernando is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo. @afidelf

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