Hawthorn have become renowned for their "unsociable football". It's a brilliant phrase which doesn't mean they have reverted to playing like 1984 all over again, when their matches against Essendon were all-out war and the rules allowed a certain latitude not available to today's players, it means they get up the noses of the opposition players. In their heads, in their faces and in their space, as well. Footy is all about getting your opponent thinking out of his comfort zone.
The same applies to cricket, but even more so given the "one mistake and you're out" nature of batting. No batsmen likes having a bowler all over them. The best batsmen are able to block out any distractions and get on with scoring runs, but the blancmanges invariably do something stupid.
Which brings me to Paul Harris.
A couple of final thoughts on this winter's Australia-South Africa Tests.
1. Paul Harris has... something.
Ostensibly, Harris is a pie chucker. But he gets wickets. Why? Well, for a start, he keeps the ball roughly on the spot. Second, he has a reasonable arm ball. And third, he has a passable change of pace. Neither variation is particularly noteworthy given a park mug like me can pick them while sipping a hot Milo, but a Test player should certainly be able to pick them.
What Harris does do very well, is get right up the batsman's sneezer.
How often did you see him give it the full "Phwoar!" when a batsman comfortably middled the ball? He regularly appealed when the batsman wasn't even slightly out. He was endlessly rabbiting: chipping the batsmen directly, chipping the batsman indirectly courtesy of a comment to one of the fieldsmen. And there were the sly moves, or "Fletchers". (Duncan certainly didn't invent Fletchers, but he surely knows their value.) Prior to bowling the ball that got Boiled McDonald out in Cape Town Harris engaged in a delaying conversation with Rauf Mauf. When he got Klutz Haddin out, it was on the back of a false start. There's only one reason spinners baulk their run-up: to annoy the batsman.
Harris is not the first spinner to augment his armoury with gamesmanship. Warne, Harbhajan, Bracewell and Symcox all got stuck into the batsmen. Apparently Bill O'Rielly and Doyen Benaud were feisty, too. But while Harris can continue to bowl to knuckleheads like Haddin, Symonds, Clarke and Hughes, you can bet he will continue to get wickets.