Friday, July 25, 2008

Chennai clinics

I must say I had 5 enjoyable days at the Mac Spin Foundation in Chennai.
Having been there previously I knew what to expect which made things easier to co-ordinate.Between 20 and 26 boys plus one girl attended on various days during the week with the minimum number of 20 on any given day.
As before I had trouble with names so resorted to nick names to help us communicate. All responded well and they all knew to whom I referred when my voice boomed out across the four clay/turf nets.
Big Fella, Thommo, Vemkat, China, Lefty and Princess were some of the "handles" given to the spinners.
In one group discussion I trotted out this Bishen Bedi quote "Spin is in the air and break is off the pitch". The quote was followed by asking the left arm orthodox spinner "who is Bishen Bedi?" It astonished me that he did not know! I then put the same question to the group and one or two sheepish looks accompanied a slight raising of the hand. Strewth, I thought, it upsets me when young Australian or English spinners don't remember 'Bish'.
Despite that disappointment it was pleasing the way they bowled for four hours each day in very hot and humid conditions.
Princess spun her leg breaks, particularly early in the week. On one occasion I called all spinners into a net so she could demonstrate a leg break. It was magnificent. In fact it was so Warne like with its curve and spin I started calling he "Shanette" for a day or two.
A little 8 year old joined us for a couple of days which also coincided with computer analysis. I called for "Thommo" to come out the front as we showed his clip and as I did the 8 year old announced that Jeff Thomson was a fast bowler. So was our Thommo! The other spinners burst into laughter. Taking a punt I asked our 8 year old, who by the way is based in Singapore, to come to the front. "Who is Bishen Bedi?" I asked. "Bishen Bedi is the greatest left arm spinner to play for India" he replied without a moments hesitation. On a roll I then asked "who is Prasanna?" Again with out a second's hesitation he replied "Eripali Prasanna is the greatest off spin bowler to play for India."
It was an uplifting time for us all.
I was assisted with the clinic's by Peter Fernandez, Chief Coach of the Mac Spin Foundation and his friend Vincent.
Peter has a passion for spin, in particular wrist spin and he willingly coached the basics as introduced by me. Alignment as always was a key factor and we improved that with the spinners over the five days.
However the biggest area of concern for us was the Shane Warne elbow! This is the front (leading) arm which has the hand back near the bowling shoulder with the elbow facing the batsman,as they move into their delivery stride. It worked for Shane but the kids are not strong enough to get it to reach out toward the target. Would you believe that of 22 spinners on one day, 16 had Warnie's front arm?
Of all the strong basics Shane exhibits they chose the one hardest to copy.
I am now in New Delhi on the last of 5 days here.
When I arrive in England I will file a report on that clinic.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

It all started when....

Today is July 13th and it is not a Friday. Although one could be excused for thinking it is.
Let me take you through my day so far. I set the alarm for 4.15am to be up in time to shower, dress and catch a 4.45am cab to the airport in time to board my 6am flight to Chennai via Sydney and Mumbai.
TeBe our cocker spaniel woke me around 12.30am seeking treats and a visit to the toilet. That was it for me because from that moment on I stayed awake for fear I would sleep through the alarm.
Having packed the night before it was a breeze once I showered. I had purchased a new zip up top to wear on the plane and again in England, later in my trip.
That was my second mishap. (TeBe waking me the first). The zip was broken and non functional. Trust us boys not to look at these things when we make a purchase.
The taxi arrived early, which was a positive. Then I managed an up grade using points. Another positive!
Arrived into Sydney on time and caught the bus to the International terminal. There was only 40 minutes between the arrival of the domestic flight and boarding time for Mumbai but we looked good.
Not such a bad day afterall, I thought. Then it all changed.
I had forgotten the different liquids rules between Domestic and International. Stupid me had two magnificent bottles of red wine as a gift for my friend Victor in Chennai. They were confiscated and will next surface at the Airport Security booze up!
As you might imagine I was pretty disappointed with them even though they were enforcing the rules. Less than a minute later a lady tapped me on the shoulder with a passport and boarding pass in her hand. They were mine! Losing the two bottles of red had obviously created a state of shock because the documents were previously in my hand!!
Duty free beckoned to replace the wine and I snapped up a special deal on two bottles of Chivas Regal before seeking out the departure gate. As I was doing that an announcement came over the air telling us of a gate change for the Mumbai flight. A few seconds later it was announced that there would be a two hour delay due to "engineering".
Damn! I will miss my connection between Mumbai and Chennai, I mumbled to myself. Within half an hour a further two hours was added to our delay due to "engineering".
Now I definitely won't make the connection.
We want our plane safe so we cop these delays when we are hit with them. I took the time to write this blog during the delay and until the next announcement, (cynical) there is still two hours of waiting.
The amazing thing is that there are ten aircraft delayed for "engineering" as I write. It doesn't give the hopes much of a lift when the very next announcement is calling for the passengers on the flight to Singapore delayed from YESTERDAY to board!!
Hope I make it to Chennai in time to start my weeks coaching on Tuesday!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Future clinics

On July 13th I fly to Chennai to conduct 5 days of spin coaching for the MAC Spin Foundation. I was there last September and enjoyed my time immensley, especially working with passionate young Asian spinners. I worked with both finger and wrist spinners last September and imagine the same will apply this trip.
From Chennai I will travel to Delhi to conduct a five day clinic there. This will be my first visit there and if my dealings with Mr Sunil Dev of the Delhi Cricket Association are an indication, it should be a wonderful experience.
My Indian experience concludes on July 26th when I head for London. Following a 24 hour stopover to recover it is off to Loughborough to assist David Parsons with four days of spin trials from which two boys will be chosen to visit Australia for two weeks intensive coaching, in my home town of Adelaide.
It is a great opportunity for the two boys who have an opportunity to follow in the foot steps of Mark Lawson, Adil Rashid, Michael Munday and Matthew Gitsham who have all progressed through this system on to First Class cricket.
The boys become known as BJ boys because it is the support of the Brian Johnston Memorial Trust that ensures the ECB are able to continue with this specialised wrist spin program.
In early August I will be conducting two private clinics, one at Teddington Cricket Club and the other at Chigwell School. A few vacancies are awaiting interested persons at both venues. If interested please forward your enquiry to my e-mail address on this page.
My coaching concludes with an evening at Amersham Cricket Club on August 14th.
A few days in Lancashire with Ann will be followed by 15 days in Europe with our great friends Ian and Carol Berry before returning to Australia on September 9th in time for the Centre of Excellence Spin Week in Brisbane.
It is a tough life but someone has to do it!!

Front Arm

It continues to amaze me just how many young spinners around the world fail to gain any benefit from the use of their front arm. As this arm leads and guides the action it is little wonder these bowlers are struggling to improve at a reasonable rate.
My belief is that a strong front arm leads to a strong action. I call it the rudder.
A lot of the boys seem to copy the Shane Warne front arm with one major difference. Warne takes his arm from bent towards his chest to outstretched towards the target, taking his weight over his front leg. Those attempting to copy him take the front arm back towards their chest but do not then reach out toward the target. Most flop it to the side encouraging their body to fall away, not allowing the bowling shoulder to become powerful. Certainly there have been fewer (if any) more powerful wrist spinning actions than Shane's.
His front arm reaches out, pulls down hard encouraging his bowling shoulder to rotate up and over along the path set out by his "rudder".
Follow his lead and you are almost certain to improve.
Whilst on the front arm, let me share a true story with you.
"A young leg spinner bowled his deliveries with virtually no lead from his front arm. It basically stayed by his side throughout the action. It looked odd and it made it difficult for him to gain spin and consistency.
A group of coaches (me included) were discussing his lack of a front arm (typical coaching expression) over a few beers in a bar at the end of a coaching session. We probably mentioned the "no front arm" comment at least half a dozen times before heading to dinner.
One of the coaches wives was present and heard our conversation and when they finally arrived home after dinner she got stuck in to him. "How dare you criticize that boy with no front arm. At least he has the courage to play cricket with his disability". She went on " Can you imagine how hard it is for him to bat and field one handed?"
The coach burst into laughter, of course because he knew it was only cricket terminology we were using. She never saw the funny side!