Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Bennett copping it fair and square


Kids - don't try this at home.

Big Hamish Bennett's unusual bowling action is the talk of the town after he went horribly wrong in the World Cup game against Australia.

At a barbecue, someone asked, "What do you think of Hamish Bennett's action?"

"Unusual," I replied.

"It's embarrassing," my new acquaintance responded.

When I repeated this story, someone else said the same thing. "My wife can't even bear to watch Bennett bowl," I was told.

Not many sporting techniques warrant "embarrassing", although there might have been similar sentiments years ago when Onny Parun, our tennis ace, served by chewing on a piece of string.

Over the Ditch, Dragons league goalkicker Jamie Soward twirls like he is aiming for Black Swan, rather than the black dot.

From the strange but true file comes news that veteran Aussie golfer Peter O'Malley has taken to putting with his eyes closed. This is all very well, although in the interests of safety, clubs must ensure that desperate Joe and Jane Public don't start trying this from the tee.

Bizarre just about described the putting technique of Aussie golfer Jeff Wagner.

Once an excellent putter, and a top American college player despite his woes on the greens, one single bad short putt in the States when the ball "exploded" into a bunker launched an extreme case of the yips.

Wagner told me at the New Zealand Open in 2003 that he consulted a Buddhist monk, looking for enlightenment on the subject. Right handed, he was reduced to crawling down to the bottom of the shaft, left handed, where doubled up, and with the blade poking towards him, he stabbed at short putts. His pre-putt routine looked like a lawn bowls warm-up.

Once marked for an outstanding career, Wagner went into armed combat with his putter on lonely greens attended by playing partners who had enough concerns, if more conventional ones, of their own. Wagner was such a good sport about it though.

Bennett's awkward, square-on action is like a hacker's golf swing where compensations come together in glorious fashion every now and then. Under pressure, he lacks an efficient technique to fall back on.

So, young fast bowling hopefuls, seek out the old Richard Hadlee videos and don't dare do anything more than leave Mr Bennett as a weird poster on your wall.

I'll add an apology, to Bennett, for picking on him. The results aren't always so bad.

He just happens to be the most peculiar deck chair on this Titanic and it's very hard to know what to say about the New Zealand cricket team anymore.

- NZ Herald

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Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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