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.