The Indian Premier League is about to kick off again, so James Buttler starts a new series looking at the way the world’s biggest T20 tournament has changed cricket forever…
With the Indian Premier League about to get under way in its 12th year it set me all of a ponder. Thinking about the game, as I tend to from dusk ‘til dawn, the world’s premier T20 tournament has changed the game of cricket beyond recognition…
Think about the mechanics of the Dilscoop. It’s such an amazing feat of batsmanship the shot has its own Wikipedia page (but then so has Piers Morgan). As a player, to have a shot named after you, and to have invented your own bit of history, is pretty special.
Tillakaratne Dilshan first practised the stroke during the 2009 Indian Premier League and first aired it for real at the 2009 ICC World T20 in England. He’d played a lot of street cricket with tennis balls and it’s there the seed had been sewn: that there are no fielders behind the keeper.
Although traditional coaches will tell a youngster to ‘get in line’ and ‘get your nose over the ball’, the Dilscoop defies all common sense. Every instinct as a batsman is to hit the ball whilst trying to give the impression of being in complete control of all bodily functions. Rule one of playing cricket is don’t get hit by a cricket ball. They are seriously hard and really hurt!
So, to bat against some of the fastest bowlers in the world, to go down on one knee to a good length ball and hold your bat out in front of you has to be against all self-preservation logic. To then flick and guide the ball over your own head and that of the keeper, is quite frankly moronic. It defies nature.
But when it is played well and we see the ball reach, or often clear, the boundary immediately behind the batsman’s stumps, it is so ridiculously brave and beautiful, you just want to try it yourself. Then reality hits. You’d never be brave enough to be that daft.
Dilshan wasn’t the first player to score runs with this shot in cricket but was the first to make it his trademark and use it with success and regularity.
As with cricket, T20 and all that is good in the world (apart from Brexit) the shot was invented in England.
It originated in Somerset in July 1962, although it wasn’t called the Dilscoop back then. It was probably referred to as ‘that daft shot Brian Langford played’. The Somerset captain was first recorded to have used the stroke in county match against Lancashire at the Edgarley Cricket Ground, Glastonbury. The first music festival didn’t arrive there until 1970, so Langford doesn’t even have some dodgy mushrooms to blame for his pioneering ways.
The majority of the rest of the world missed it as Langford, a tail-end bat, was not caught on film. The Longscoop would have worked quite well as a name too.
Ryan Campbell was the next man on record to have been insane enough to part his own hair with a cricket shot in Sri Lanka 2002. The former Aussie keeper performed the stroke twice as he played two ODIs and three T20Is, before being dropped.
He had to try something eye-catching as he had the thankless task of trying to replace Adam Gilchrist in the national side. Campbell would play for Hong Kong before becoming Netherlands head coach. It appeared he had taken the Campscoop with him into relative obscurity, until Dilshan made it his own.
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