Watching a tail-ender bat is like watching a dork attend his first party. It’s fun, it’s awful, it’s magical, it’s clumsy and it’s brilliant all in one.
More often than not though, he will go a bit too hard and look quite silly afterwards. But surely, he has enough smarts to know his limits… right?
Not if your name is Shannon Gabriel.
With seven balls remaining in the third and deciding Test match, six of which could have been faced by a centurion, the fast-bowler went about reducing the 101-run deficit.
On a wearing fifth day pitch, Yasir Shah floated a wide half-volley outside off-stump. Gabriel must have thought, ‘what better opportunity to hit a slog-sweep over midwicket?’ There would only be one outcome against the leg-spinner. I still don’t know why he did that.
It’s unfair though, for me to single out this dork when there are plenty of others out there.
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John Hastings also tried the slog sweep in last year’s World T20. With five runs to win off 13 balls against Bangladesh, and four wickets still in hand, he didn’t need to pick out the sole fielder on the deep midwicket boundary.
Neither shot was wrong technically – both just picked the wrong liquor at the wrong time.
But then you get those dorks who try to take over the dance floor, like Trent Boult. In the first-ever day-night Test match, Boult tried to boost New Zealand’s marginal lead of 183. With Doug Bracewell sitting pretty on 25 at the other end, Josh Hazlewood bowled a full, straight delivery to the right-hander. Boult proceeded to clear his front leg, so far that it cleared two sets of stumps. He went for the slog over mid-on and lost his middle stump. New Zealand lost by three wickets.
No dork, though, has ever attempted the infamous ‘Shaun Tait’ from the 2005 Ashes (yes, this is an official dance move). With the series level at one-all, Australia held a small lead of 129 after being forced to follow-on in the fourth Test. This lead would prove not so small with the ‘King of Spin’ bowling from one end.
Right at the point of Steve Harmison’s release, Tait began shuffling across the stumps. He went one better than Boult, clearing three sets of stumps. Except Tait went to the offside. It was a slow-motion calamity.
He went for the lap down fine leg and lost his middle stump. “That’s not very sensible,” quipped Richie Benaud. He was right – Brett Lee was 26 not out and Australia lost by three wickets.
So why aren’t dorks more sensible? Maybe because they are put in sticky situations they aren’t supposed to be in. Their accomplices could have supported them better – aside from one or two mainstays. But they could not prevent the dork’s lapse in a key moment.
They all made errors of judgement, and it’s something they’ll have to live with in the social media age.