Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Coaching tip..field placements.

Field placements for spinners at all levels has been a constant concern for me since I began coaching in 1990. It is certainly one of the questions most asked of me, especially by junior spinners and their coaches.
My attitude has always been that the bowler should encourage the batsman to drive, therefore his catchers and run savers should support that tactic.
Inviting the drive encourages the maximum spin available to the bowler.
Shane Warne started that way, setting fields which encouraged him to spin the ball up, working the batsman across the crease as he did so.
Once he reached his prime his field settings changed to support two of his special gifts....spin and accuracy, a rare combination for a wrist spinner.
In my view his ability to almost always bowl with two fielders under the batsman's nose impacted heavily on the expectations of captains and coaches in all grades. They expected their leggies to bowl to the same field, despite the majority needing to sacrifice maximum revolutions on the ball to do so.
I recall a Richie Benaud story about how on a rare Saturday afternoon off he would drive around Sydney hoping to see a young spinner in action. Passing an oval his encouragement to stop and have a look was generally motivated by a glance at the field setting. If it was spread far and wide it usually meant a young spinner was having a trundle so he would pull over have a quiet look . That was quite a few years ago of course. Now, so the story goes, on a similar drive around town on a Saturday afternoon the same field is employed to diddley dobblers drying up the runs, so Richie drives on until he comes across a game where there are close in fielders suffocating the batsman. Ahh, better stop for a look, must be a spinner bowling!!
I am not sure how true the story is but there is a lot of substance in it.
Warnie discussed fielding settings with the spinners at the Centre of Excellence on the 12th September. To a man they believed that to put men in close meant you were attacking. I also think there is a touch of ego about wanting fielders around the bat. It suggests that pressure is being applied...and it is...mostly to the bowler!!
Shane said to the group" if you attack with the field then you defend with the ball. If you defend with the field, you attack with the ball." How simple that is and how true?
Spinners need a chance to develop their accuracy with maximum spin. Field settings play a major role in their growth.
I hope this article reaches captains, coaches and spinners out there because there is a need to apply the Warne principle in our cricket matches, for spinners at all levels.
It isn't old fashioned to set a field based on the bowlers ability and age.
It is common sense!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Warne 'uncomplicated'

It is hard to believe it is a month since last recording a message. Mind you it has been very hectic with our time in Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki and Berlin. Ann and I arrived home in Adelaide on the 9th September and on the 10th it was up at 4,30am and off to Brisbane for a National Spin Camp from 10th to 12th inclusive. It was great to have young spinners such as Nathan Hauritz, Dan Cullen, Cullen Bailey, Aaron Heal and Steve Smith attend the sessions held at Allan Border Field. What a great facility that is.
Coaches from interstate including Ray Bright and Murray Bennett joined John Davison and me in offering advice to the spinners.
No doubt the hilight for the boys (and the coaches) came on the 12th when we were joined by Shane Warne for most of the day.
Shane spent time in the nets and in discussion groups. Every thing he spoke about was commonsense. It was also simple and non elitist.
We all hung onto every word and I can tell you my coaching will be improved with the addition of some of Shane's "pearls".
Following the clinic it was back to Adelaide for a rest on Saturday before again rising at 4.30 am to head to Hobart for 3 days coaching.
The flight between Melbourne and Hobart was the roughest I can recall. We sat in thick cloud during descent which was unsettling but when the plane dropped, lurching from side to side in the process my stomach began to feel queezy. Luckily there were 2 bags in the seat pocket and no one sitting next to me!
As we left the plane I offered the bags to the steward who politely pointed to the toilet saying "it was pretty rough, wasn't it?"
I spent the day recovering and began my coaching stint on Monday, feeling a lot better!
During the 3 days with Richard Allenby I attended a senior net session and was able to congratulate Jason Krajza upon his selection in the Australian team to tour India. Unfortunately for Jason his A team tour to India was spoiled by rain and he never got to bowl a ball in the middle. He looked in good shape and was bowling well.
On Monday night I presented the Spin Matrix to Tasmanian coaches in Hobart to complete my day, having also worked with 8 or 9 young spinners in the indoor nets earlier.
Tuesday it was on to Launceston where my first session was with young leg spinner Jason Shelton. There is a lot to like about his bowling and I get the feeling he will be a late bloomer. Keep your eye on the sports pages in a couple of years from now!!
A session with a few young spinners followed and amongst the group was a little red headed kid. What improvement he has made during the past couple of years. When I first saw him he bowled with his front foot off the ground at release. I have found that problem one of the most difficult to eradicate from an action. "Blue", as I called him, has not only got his front foot on the ground at release but he is bowling up and over his front leg and generating very good spin combined with nice shape. He is a determined young lad. Pity all the kids aren't the same.
Another Spin Matrix session followed in the evening for local coaches followed by a longish drive back to Hobart. The Wednesday was occupied watching a trial game between the Tassie Tigers players. Instead of being a "nothing" trial, coach Tim Coyle and his selection panel chose a country versus city concept and played for a trophy and bragging rights!
There is a good feel in Tassie.
So, as you can read I have been pretty busy but am home in Adelaide for a while now so the blogging should become more plentiful.
In fact in the next day or so I will write something on Bryce McGain, Jason Krazja and the two spinners they seem to have slipped past, Dan Cullen and Cullen Bailey.
Stay tuned.