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.