Cricket: Has West Indian leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo delivered the Ball of the (21st) Century?

Twenty-two years later to the day, the Guyanese leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo has delivered a wonder ball of his own to deceive Australia’s Brad Haddin at Windsor Park that is also sure to be replayed time and time again.

Warne’s legendary delivery at Old Trafford will probably never be challenged but on its anniversary Bishoo, 29, did his best to try and imitate it on the second day of the first Test here.

A cry of ‘bowled Shane’ was heard in the media stand at the River End of the island’s cricket stadium after Bishoo left Haddin stranded in his crease, barely believing the delivery that had pitched on leg had turned square and crashed into the top of his off stump. 

“Yeah, it was a good ball wasn’t it?” said Australian centurion Adam Voges, the only one of the recognised batsmen who could repel what Bishoo had up his sleeve. “I think he bowled me a couple of them as well. It was the same sort of thing – I sort of got caught a bit with the length but fortunately the ones I played and missed at spun enough to miss the stumps. That was a very good ball.

“He bowled really, really well. I think he got a bit more spin and it’s tough to start against that sort of bowling. You’re not sure how much it’s going to spin, how high it’s going to bounce.”

Asked about the Haddin delivery Bishoo replied: “Ah, I don’t know what to say. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it very well,” adding of Test cricket’s greatest leg-spinner: “Growing up I was looking up to Shane Warne. I watched a lot of videos with Shane Warne.”

It was the highlight of a stunning first-session performance from the diminutive West Indies bowler, who added to his capture of Australian captain Michael Clarke on day one by sending Steve Smith and Shane Watson packing, as well as Haddin.

When the Australian wicketkeeper was bamboozled, Bishoo had three wickets in 19 balls, playing on the tourists’ vulnerability against spin in subcontinental-like conditions. 

Smith, having been very patient in creeping to 25, was the first to go when he was coaxed down the wicket and stumped by West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin. “A lot of previous balls he was coming (down the wicket),” Bishoo said. “I knew exactly that he was coming. I just had to get it in the right place at the right time.”

Bishoo then made short work of Watson for 11, one ball after having a half-tracker dragged by the Australian all-rounder for a boundary. Watson went for him again, attempting a drive this time, instead catching an edge and landing in the hands of Jason Holder at second slip. 

The ripper that fooled Haddin didn’t even complete the collection. He trapped Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc as well to capture a career-best 6-80, although later he had to leave the ground several times for treatment on a sore finger.

Windsor Park is clearly a favoured track for the leg-spinner. Less than three months ago, he had collected 10 wickets for the match in a first-class outing for Guyana against Windward Islands here.

Since his debut four years ago, however, Bishoo has been only an occasional Test player, with the contest against Australia this week only his 13th match. The West Indies may well be picking him a lot more regularly after this memorable delivery.


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