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'Sri Lanka if the ball turns!'
by Boria Majumdar
Apr 25, 2007
Ian Bishop was one of the best West Indian fast bowlers of his time till a bad back did him for good. 161 Test match wickets at 24 and 118 one day wickets at 26 does sum up the talent Ian Bishop had.

A successful and most respected commentator these days, Bishop took time off to speak to Boria Majumdar before departing for Barbados to commentate on the final.

Boria: So its Australia versus Sri Lanka again Bish. Any chance Sri Lanka can stop the Australians?

Bishop: Yes they can you know provided they play on the right pitch. If the final is played on the track that was used for the West Indies vs England game, Sri Lanka has a very good chance. They have a very balanced bowling attack and can really put the Australians under pressure on that track. If some other track is used, I don’'t see the Australians losing to any team in the world.

Boria: Do you think spinners will have a role in the final? Vaughan did very well against the West Indies as a bowler and the wicket did offer some turn.

Bishop: The only type of bowling the Australians don’t play well is good quality off spin. And the Sri Lankans have Murali, Dilshan and Arnold. If the game is played on that track and Murali and the others get their act together anything can happen in the final.

Boria: What happened to South Africa against Australia?

Bishop: I don'’t know really. St. Lucia wasn'’t the right venue for them for the semi-final. If the match was played in Barbados South Africa might have had a chance. The St. Lucia track isn'’t conducive to their type of bowling. This may have played on their minds before the match. And they were determined not to let Australia take the upper hand. Nothing else justifies the shots from Smith and Kallis. In doing so they lost the plot in the mind.

Boria: What about your own team, West Indies cricket pains me these days.

Bishop: Yes I agree. That pride is missing. Commerce has hit us the wrong way. If you are not patriotic you can'’t make it to the top as a sportsman. It is all about nationalism. I think it will be very very hard for the West Indies to make it back to the top in the next 10 years even.

Boria: What is your overall impression about this world cup?

Bishop: Mixed you know. I think it could have been much better cricket wise. Most matches have been one sided including the semi-finals. I sincerely hope the final is competitive. There were some organizational lapses but all could have been made up had India and Pakistan not lost early and had more matches been competitive.

Boria: Not many people know you love academia. Tell me a little about your MA thesis.

Bishop: Ha! My dissertation was on West Indies cricket and culture, the contemporary period. I haven’'t published it yet and am keen to see it published. I am rather keen to start work on a Ph.D and maybe you can help me do it. I am embarrassed at times but am keen. It will be about West Indies cricket from my time to the present. I have spoken to Prof. Hilary Beckles about it as well.

Boria: Bish, my final question, who is your winner Australia or Sri Lanka?

Bishop: Sri Lanka if they play on the right surface. Sri Lanka is my team in this world cup and I am confident they will win if the ball turns.

Boria Majumdar, a Rhodes Scholar, recently completed his doctorate on the social history of Indian cricket at St John's College, Oxford University. He is Executive Editor of the Routledge journals Sport in Society and Soccer and Society and General Editor of the Routledge Series, Sport in the Global Society. Author of the acclaimed Twenty-Two Yards to Freedom: A Social History of Indian Cricket (Penguin, 2004), he is also visiting lecturer at the University of Chicago and a fellow of the International Olympic Museum at Lausanne, Switzerland. A well-known media figure, he has done television programmes for Ten Sports, ESPN, NDTV, Headlines Today and Channel 7 and written extensively for the Times of India, Outlook, Wisden and Anandabazar Patrika.
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