Has IPL given Parnell a lightbulb moment?

2011-05-05 00:00

SOUTH AFRICAN paceman Wayne Parnell is using his head in the IPL. In a recent interview Parnell admitted that 20/20 cricket is a constant battle of wits and that bowlers who cannot think on their feet will end up as cannon fodder.

Parnell went on to say that bowlers need to be smart and bowl wisely and that he felt bowlers are a lot smarter now than they were in the first IPL.

It may be stating the obvious, but for Parnell, who turns out for the Pune Warriors, it may well prove to be an “aha” moment.

Parnell knows just how important success in any format of the game is to him as he aims to push his way back into the Protea team.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe looks competent and comfortable in the third seamer position Parnell once made his own, so there is pressure on the Port Elizabeth-born paceman to perform.

The current IPL has seen some of the bowlers taking a hammering as a result of a number of rapid-fire batting displays. It’s quick-thinking bowlers who make their mark and it’s as true in the IPL as it is in other forms of the game.

A good cricketing brain, as Parnell is learning, is what distinguishes the truly great bowlers from the ordinary.

As a team-mate of the late Malcolm Marshall, I remember vividly the way he would analyse every delivery, sum up every batsman, and work out a plan to get his wicket.

There is a long list of bowlers who did the same — Glenn McGrath, Shaun Pollock, Dennis Lillee, Curtly Ambrose and many more. These were bowlers who used their heads. They didn’t simply turn up and rely on their skill and athleticism to get them wickets.

Shane Warne is another example. As captain of the Rajasthan Royals at the age of 40, he continues to mesmerise batsmen. Cunning bowlers like Warne understand that strike rate is everything to the 20/20 batsman.

After all, an impressive strike rate raises the stakes at the auction. As the big hitters try out fancy strokes in an effort to appear innovative, their wicket’s become less valuable. This presents wicket-taking opportunities to bowlers who have the skill and guile to exploit them.

Parnell admits that 20/20 cricket is forcing bowlers to think more, an important truism for him to take on board.

Success and big contracts have quickly come Parnell’s way, but his international career has yet to live up to its initial promise: always in the squad, but seldom on the team sheet,

He has battled to cement a place in the SA side. His consistency has been exposed at international level, but as a young and skilful left-arm seamer he has much going for him.

The IPL may have provided Parnell with a lightbulb moment. With a good head on his talented young shoulders he may well realise his impressive potential.

Neil Johnson is a former Zimbabwe, Dolphins and Western Province cricketer turned commentator who lives in the midlands.

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