Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A busy time

I am sorry for not blogging for so long. Since July I have been to England, Sydney, New Zealand, Singapore and, albeit only for a few days, Adelaide on coaching visits.
Currently I am in Singapore for the second of two weeks working with some quite talented spinners.
From next week my ECB program commences in Adelaide with two coaches attending for 10 days followed by two coaches and two very talented young leg spinners for a further 12 days, so October is also a very busy time for me.
I have been receiving quite a number of requests for coaching tips from all around the world which, because of my busy schedule I have not been able to respond to.
My intention is to answer as many of these queries as possible on this blog site so the information will be available to all and not just a few.
Please stay tuned as I will enlarge on my visits to England and New Zealand in the next few days.
After my return to Adelaide on the 28th September expect Singapore to also feature.
On the 8th of September I celebrated my 65th birthday with 40 special friends. The aches and pains commenced the following day!!!
That is what age does for/to you.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Spin Summit

On Thursday11th and Friday 12th June I attended a spin summit at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane, organised by Cricket Australia.
Many would say it is a knee jerk reaction to the lack of genuine spinners playing in the Sheffield Shield competition. They might also ask what could a meeting achieve at a time when clearly there is no spinner on the horizon that gives hope in the immediate future.
I must admit I had my doubts about the outcome of a meeting with so many coaches, mostly holding different views.
The idea was not to work out a method of coaching but to work out a vision for spin bowling embracing captains, coaches, selectors and the spin bowler.
Around the table sat Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill, Australia's most successful modern day spinners. Representing the older brigade was Peter Philpott, Ashley Mallett, Jim Higgs and me. Higgsy only does a little coaching but brought a wise head to the table. Gavin Robertson, David Freedman and John Davison presented the view of the spinners still in their 30's.
Chairman of Selectors Andrew Hilditch spent a day with the group which I believe he found beneficial even though he doesn't have a lot to choose from.
While it is not proper for me to outline what the Summit resolved as a future pathway, I can say we were all pretty pleased with the direction it appears spin will head in the future.
It was interesting to hear all the different views relating to the direction our learning should take. The older generation ( Philpott, Mallett and Jenner) felt the need to work from the junior level through to the senior level as we move forward. Some others felt if you get it right at the top level it will filter down.
I guess the difference of opinion comes from the fact that the older generation has been coaching for years and has witnessed first hand the impact dot ball bowling has had on the development of young spinners.
Whatever the resolution was it will not have an impact for 5-10 years. However, you have to start somewhere and Cricket Australia has.

Monday, May 25, 2009

overseas and local coaching

It is hard to believe we are almost half way through the year. The upside of of the end of June is it brings on July when I normally head to England for some clinics. This year is no different as I arrive into Heathrow on July 24 before embarking on a months coaching.
Before leaving I have 3 boys attending my "live in" clinics here in Adelaide during the first 3 weeks of July.
Coaching in England gets under way soon after I arrive in the Country.
July 27-29 I am conducting clinics at Chigwell School in Essex. It is a terrific venue and already one day after the mailout five boys have booked.
For the second time I am conducting clinics in Leeds. Dates are 17-19 August and one enrolment has already been received. The venue is Kirkstall Education Cricket Club in Headingly where there are 4 turf nets available for me if necessary.
The weeks in between I will be at Loughborough for the ECB.
It certainly is an exciting time for me. I might even get to watch a day or two of Test cricket at Edgbaston at the end of July.
After returning from England and a couple of weeks off it is probable I will head to New Zealand where apart from a few days coaching, I will catch up with John Howell, an old mate from the days when I did some coaching for NZ Cricket at the High Performance Centre in Christchurch. No rest, as I fly in from Auckland on Sunday 13th and leave for Singapore a couple of hours later for two weeks coaching there, thanks to Mahmood Gazznavi who is organising the program for me.
Life is worth living even if it is very busy some of the time!
Perhaps I will see you at one of the clinics some where, some time, some place? I hope so!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Why so few spinners?

Not for the first time recently the question is being asked in Australia "Where are all the spinners?" People in high places are also asking another question which, whilst it might sound the same, is different. That question is "Why are there so few genuine spinners in Australia?"
A spin summit is to be conducted this year to try and provide answers to those questions and probably more.
The thing about those two questions is the number of questions they create.
Is it the fault of coaches? There are a few who probably believe that.
Is it the fault of captains? There are plenty who feel that way, including Shane Warne.
Is it the size of grounds, or the size of bats nowadays? There is a strong push in that belief.
These are just a few of the questions doing the rounds, each of which creates more questions than we can find answers.
The game of cricket has changed so much over the last 15-20 years and in my view that is the major reason for the demise of genuine spin bowling, either by wrist or by finger.
If in fact those changes in the game eg; 20/20 and 50 over a side cricket is responsible for the decline in genuine spinners being given a chance to develop from junior level upwards. What can be done? Nothing because both forms of the game are here to stay.
Perhaps using proper sized boundaries is one way of encouraging spin, so mis-hits can result in wickets and not public pleasing sixes.
Will less people attend matches if the ball isn't sailing over the boundary like a tracer bullet?
People in high places will probably answer yes to that question. If that is so then please tell me how we, the spin coaches and lovers of the art can continue to promote spin ahead of dot ball bowling.
You see, more questions than answers arise from just a few questions!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bent arm bowling

Twice within a couple of months International cricket has been rocked by the 15 degree controversy. Because Australia has been the opposition on both occasions they have been deemed to be whingers!
Shane Watson has been deemed a "dobber" for the way he seemingly brought the umpires attention to Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal unorthodox release. It always has been the view of cricketers that the batsman is in the best position to detect varying flex with a bowlers arm.
Not only can he see the movement but he is subject to pace variations unable to be obtained the orthodox way without o considerable change at the time of release. eg a much faster arm from the basic stock ball.
South Africa's Johan Botha, the other player brought into question recently has the same change of pace advantage. I recall him bowling to Ricky Ponting in one of the One Day Internationals and one delivery was in the high 90 kilometers per hour which Ponting kept out of his stumps with a hurried stroke. The next delivery had Ponting into the stroke way too early causing the master batsman to lob back a simple catch. There was approximately 15 kph difeerence in the pace with no discernable difference in his action.
I would say that is an unfair advantage.
For the great leg spinner to vary his pace in such a way he would need to introduce his flipper which has a totally different wrist action to his leg break. The release is created by flicking the fingers as the ball is spun backward with the palm facing down. The leg break has the palm facing up. It is the power in the SHOULDER which is important.
Both Botha and Ajmal open up their action at the crease with the front foot splaying well to the left of their intended line.
That is the common denominater with all the bowlers who have been reported over the years.
In my view too many people are more fascinated with the delivery which borders constantly on legality than they are on watching a side-on artist at work.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Overseas Coaching

My July/August trip to the UK to condust coaching clinics is on again.
I am planning at least three seperate clinics on the following dates;
July 27-29....August 3-5....August 10-12.
At this time it seems probable the July 27-29 clinics will be at Chigwell School while the 3-5 Aug will be held in Leeds. I am still seeking a venue for Aug 10-12 but it is likely to be somewhere not too far out of London.
We will be mailing out early May with the revamped programme aimed at assisting those who travel distances and stay a couple of nights in accommodation near the venue.
I think you will be pleased with the new format. I trialled it in Leeds earlier this year and felt it was worth doing again at all clinics.
Please feel free to make contact if you wish to ensure your name is on the mailing list.


I am sorry for not posting a blog for almost 3 months. I was quite shocked when I realised that fact. However, I am back on line and will again regularly provide items of interest.
A lot of you know already that on March 22nd I became a Grandad for the first time. My daughter Trudianne and her partner Damian provided Ann and me with a bouncing baby girl named Ashlea Sue. The excitement of the occasion took my mind away from all things until the arrival through out April of Asif, Saif, Rezza and Thomas for the Elite Wrist Spin Programme and Spin Doctor Clinics.
It was a very busy time until last Saturday when Thomas returned home to New Zealand.
You could say it was one of the most challenging months since beginning the live in Programmes in 1999. Why you ask? Because for the first time ever I cooked Halal for three of the boys.
It is not the first time we have welcomed Muslim boys into our home but in the past they have shared with non Halal boys which made it difficult. Now we have managed the challenge without too much trouble it will become a regular part of meals for those who require the special diet.
On a sad note we lost our special mate of more than 13 years. Our cocker spaniel, Te Be passed away on the 20th March, just two days before the arrival of our grand daughter.
Te Be was a friend to every spinner who spent time at our home. Even those who arrived with trepidation when faced by this bundle of joy. He always managed to win them over.
We still miss him so much.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Heat/cold and travel

It is currently 42 degrees here in Adelaide following on from 44 degrees yesterday. Now that is HOT in any language.The next three days are also expected to be 40 degrees and upward which will make five consecutive days well above the old century. That makes it an official heatwave!
Perhaps it is timely as on Saturday 31st I head to Chennai for 5 days followed by 3 days in Kochi, all coaching in the heat. I am looking forward to the MAC Spin Foundation sessions for the third time and for the first time coaching sessions for Kerala Cricket Association.
For those from countries other than India it will surprise you know the coaching day starts around 7.30am for a couple of hours and then it is rest time before resuming at around 3.30pm.
The times are designed to beat the heat.
Following Chennai and Kochi I head to London for two weeks coaching where the heat will not be a factor but the cold just might!
Packing my suitcase is not easy given the two extremes but the common denominator is working with young men with a love of spin bowling.
That is why, in my 65th year, I still look forward to the challenges.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is spin old fashioned?

We all have different views on the development side of the game of cricket, a game steeped in history.
The game has changed in so many ways. Thicker and heavier bats that pick up like a tooth pick and shorter boundaries are the two most significent "dimension" changes in recent times.
Fifty and twenty over matches have played a major role in those two changes. The short form of the game is about 'sixers' being hit for the benefit of the crowds who flock to these games.
Spin bowlers are less successful in the fifty over game than in the twenty over run fest. That statistic surprises me greatly, but it is factual I am told.
Taking the pace of the ball forces the batsman to do all the work hence quick bowlers are in name only, as they grip the ball across the seam a lot of the time and present an array of slower balls. Clever stuff but you won't catch much of that bowling in four and five day cricket.
Likewise the spinners tend not to take the pace of the ball in the longer form of the game which leads to less spin.
Spin is one area where the game appears not to be advancing, as technology and mind set is working against it.
The ball is still five and a half ounces and the pitch is still 22 yards long so why are we not developing players who spin and flight the ball?
Part of the reason. I believe is that some (a lot) of coaches see flight as old fashioned.The coaches and the captains are more about economy than wickets hence the ever growing shortage of teen age spinners who actually spin the ball.
A former Australian player said to me the other day that there is no way the game will go back to "old fashioned" methods of coaching spin.
I don't believe it is going back, more it is continuing with tried and proven methods which have stood the test of time....until now that is.
In Australia there has never been such a shortage of wrist spinners. I believe the need to address the handling of these special bowlers requires urgent attention. There was a time when every Australian state boasted more than one wrist spinner of first class standard.
Currently there is not one playing in Sheffield Shield cricket apart from Steve Smith from New South Wales who is a batsman who also bowls.
It would be terrible to look back in 10-15 years and identify the lack of understanding of what spin is as the reason for the game being filled with quicks, seamers and diddly dobblers.
Yes the game continues to move forward but it must continue to take with it the successes of the past.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I receive a lot of e-mails asking about drift or curve.
For a right arm leg spin bowler the drift he/she is seeking is in toward a right hand batter which tends to square the batter up and then ideally the ball will spin away toward slip after landing.
Shane Warne created havoc with batsmen because of the drift and spin he achieved.
How does it happen?
Genuine drift, which should not be confused with the ball angling in to the batter by a slicing action at release, comes from several basic areas.
1) side on alignment toward the target area.
2) revolutions on the ball (mostly side spin)
3) strong shoulder rotation (180 degrees)

Breeze over the left shoulder can also encourage the ball to drift in toward the batter.
If, as a couple of boys have told me, the ball is "drifting" toward slip it is most likely the shoulders are rotating around the front leg creating an angle of release in that direction.
For a ball to genuinely drift toward slip the revolutions on the ball would normally be the opposite of the leg break eg; Googly or off spin.
The more over spin (top spin) on the ball at release the more the ball will "drop" on the batter and the less it is likely to curve inwards.
As a rule chest on spinners struggle for drift.
So, improve your alignment and impart lots of spin on the ball and await the outcome.