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If you are a "take it or leave it" cricket follower, then stop here. What follows is an in depth diatribe on the LBW and other Law changes before and during my lifetime and their effect on the way the game is played.

Time was (anyway in Don Bradman's era) when the ball had to pitch in the line of the stumps and be hitting for an appeal to be upheld. Thus the faster bowlers needed to bowl from close to the stumps i.e. wicket to wicket. Away swing was another way of achieving the desired result.

Bowling from close-in meant a degree of pivot on the front foot to avoid running down the pitch. Thus there was less rushing through the crease and more body action to achieve pace.

By the time I arrived on the scene, the law had been altered to allow the ball to pitch outside the off stump - with the proviso that the point of impact was still between wicket and wicket. This meant that I could still pad up to anything so long as my pad was outside the off stump. It meant still being able to play more off the back foot, which was just as well because a new breed of bowler came along delivering from wider on the crease and rushing through full tilt.

I emphasise here that lbw law changes are not usually followed by wholesale changes in how any existing group of bowlers go about their business. What they Do do is to dramatically improve the chances of types of bowlers to whom they suddenly hand an advantage.

A further change came along which allowed the point of impact to be outside the off stump if the batsman was judged to have played no stroke. This led to an era of pad play against spinners, hiding the bad behind the pad as though pretending to make a stroke.

A major beneficiary from this change was Derek Underwood whose slow-medium cutters bowled for quite wide round the wicket were ideally suited to this new regime. Unlike the old timers who had to bend their backs over the stumps get the ball to "pitch on and straighten".

Coming right up to date, that new kind of "pretence" pad play was conveniently sent packing by the advent of DRS (Decision Review System) which made any form of pad play a more perilous proposition.

Another very lucky guy was Graham Swann who, thanks to DRS, was given LBWs galore with the leading pad well down the pitch. His proportion of LBWs compared with those of, say, John Emburey was so considerable as to be almost embarrassing. Batsmen have been forced to play the ball more in front of their pads and also to go down the pitch more - to "get to the pitch".

With the successive changes to the Law, and with the majority of the world's fast bowlers being right handed, I felt so certain of the advantage given to left handers that I predicted a rash of lefties coming to top. Hence the make-up of the two current Ashes teams where every other batsman is a lefty. What was that advantage? Simple. The ball goes down short to the right hander and he shapes to pull. The ball keeps low- out LBW. Exactly the same ball to the left hander - not out because it has pitched outside leg.

But there is an almost Darwinian undercurrent of natural selection in the game of cricket. Is it by chance that the Australians have two or three top quality fast left arm bowlers? Or is it natural selection at work as they pose the left hand batsmen an equal number of problems to the "right to right" combination.

Another straw in the wind is the increasing popularity of right arm quickies e.g. Broad and Anderson and Stokes too, going round the wicket and getting the ball to spear in and then move away, both in the air and off the pitch.

It would have been unthinkable a generation ago when bowlers' "sideways" actions would have meant running on the pitch and only bowling in swingers to left handers. Because the current generation of bowlers are more open chested 1. they will naturally cut their fingers down the inside of the ball to move the ball away. 2. they naturally follow through straight down the pitch and are able to keep clear of the sensitive pitch areas.

So the great battle between bat and ball continues with small advantages shifting the balance of power, not exactly from match to match, but slowly and surely over a period of time.

Cricketing common sense

I have stopped watching the Oval Test. Steve Smith is in charge and England have no clue how to counteract his unusual and extreme footwork. It beggars belief that he has suckered the England Captain and his quicker bowlers into NOT bowling at the stumps. He cannot be bowled. Nor can he be LBW. So before the ball has left the bowlers' hand, Smith has reduced his chances of getting out by at least 50%.

They insist on setting an off-side field which is just what he wants. Any length ball can be left alone. Over pitched or short and he has all the room in the world to swing hard. He is extremely gifted at his leg side placements when the occasional ball drifts onto his pads. And because there are only two fielders that side, ones twos and threes are there for the taking.

Is it so hard to grasp that the way to make Smith think hard about his tactics is to bowl at the stumps and set a 6/3 on-side field. Then all methods of dismissal are back where they should be.

Via Andrew Srauss, I made my views known to the England coaches before a ball was bowled in the Series. It was pretty galling to watch the Australian get a faultless double hundred at Lord's, without any change of mind by the Captain. Not even an experimental over or two in case it happened to work.

The fact that hey got him out on some very sporting pitches at Cardiff, Edgbaston and Trent Bridge is neither here nor there. Every batsman, bar the excellent Joe Root was struggling for runs in those matches.

To sum up - if any batsman can persuade bowlers, for whatever reason, not to bowl at the stumps, then he is already the boss and the fielding side will pay dearly.