The greatest attack ever

Some will say that it's always been that way, that second-change bowlers are workhorses rather than legends. Look at the finest attack to visit Indian shores this century. Jason Gillespie took 20 wickets, and Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne 14 apiece as India were beaten 2-1 in 2004. They took wickets, and they bowled dry – Warne was the most expensive, conceding just three an over.

updated: December 20, 2012 18:19 IST
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In July 2011, India were still the No.1-ranked Test side in the world. Though they had lost at Lord's, the first two sessions at Trent Bridge – England limped to 124 for 8 from 51 overs – suggested that they wouldn't give up the mantle without a fight. Sreesanth, Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma had bowled beautifully in helpful conditions, but after tea, they gave Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann 73 runs in just 11.4 overs.

Immediately, press-box discussion focussed on how India had failed to bowl 'dry'. In the back row, someone listened to the debates and just smiled. A knowing smile. What did he think the problem was? "Lack of quality," he said. "Not good enough."

No theory, no elaborate explanation, just a slap-in-the-face statement. Later, when I asked him what he meant, he said, "Look at the first and second-change bowlers. That's the best indicator of an attack's quality."

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