|Wasim Akram - master of variation|
This obsession has become all pervasive. Even the fresh faced junior members joining FB in his All Star Carlton Fourth XI have got the bug. On being invited to bowl at a critical stage in a match, the freshest faced and juniorest of them will now inform FB, 'Going to try my new variations, Bob.'
FB sighs and sets the field deeper.
For FB finds variations are over rated. Perhaps the intense environment of lower league cricket is not a fertile ground for them. But even in elite cricket he sees that batsmen now expect the change up - or change down (whatever that piece of coaching speak may mean) after 2 balls of the over. They are therefore set up for the slower one - and off it duly goes over the boundary rope. Or the bowler's control over the delivery is so fragile that a set of increasingly embarrassing wides follows. Some variations. The only surprise variation these days is no variation at all.
Variations might seem a new craze, but great bowlers have always been able to keep the batsman guessing. Shane Warne or Wasim Akram, for example, may well have had 5 or 6 different deliveries which they could bowl at will.
But 5 or 6 variations pales into insignificance when the true greats come into view. And the greatest of them all was incomparable.
In 1819 Anton Diabelli, who was a music publisher and minor composer in Vienna, invited a number of Austrian composers to offer a variation on a waltz theme of his own composition. His worthy objective was to raise funds for widows and orphans of the Napoleonic Wars.
Legend has it that Beethoven, then at the height of his Test career, at first scorned the invitation thinking the theme was too banal for a composer of his talents.
|Beethoven's slower one|
No simple change-up or change-down for Beethoven - his piece is endlessly inventive and ground breaking. The ball comes from the back of the hand, the front of the hand, across the seam, down the seam, top spin, side spin, over spin - and then some more. With good reason it has been described as Beethoven's greatest piano work and the greatest set of variations ever created. FB is bound to agree - it certainly tops his own efforts to master the slower one.
33 Variations - that would keep any batsman guessing.
|Beethoven - greater even than Akram|