An essential part of many a bowling structure is the left arm orthodox spinner to provide variation in angle and ability to turn the ball away from right hand batsmen.
Personally, childhood memories invoke the mysterious wizardry of the turban clad Bishan Bedi from the Punjab region in India. A career that produced 266 Test wickets @ 28.71 (an Econ Rate of 2.14) and 1560 first-class wickets evidence of his class. As described on his CricInfo Profile: – “the purity and perfection of Bedi’s art was a connoisseur’s dream. He was stealthy, silent and deadly, a master of deception who conjured variations in flight, loop, spin and pace without any perceptible change in action.”
For mine, an artist like Bedi, far more interesting than the gentle floaters of minimal rotation that are released in defensive hope that clog up the middle overs of many a side.
Recent shifts in coaching responsibility has allowed this correspondent to be fortunate enough in having access to an impressive range of coaches with experience from the Test arena to high level Premier cricket.
Consideration as to how we can enhance the skills set of the players within our structure has initially focused upon the spin wizards. Due in some course of a shared history with deep respect to the “spin to win” mantra. In our coven, the particular transfer in mindset of a left arm orthodox spinner from defensive to attacking.
Following is an insight into how the conversation and thinking has flowed so far in preparation for the new season. Thanks to JMW and hopefully the eager willingness of players to allow us the gratitude of discovery.
There are thousands of words and a myriad of ideas, the key aspects (in no priority – except SPINNING the ball!) and those that I’ve seen work very well for a number of successful, elite orthodox spin bowlers.
1. Spin the ball! Hear and watch the ball come out of your hand. The spin delivers dip and bounce. On flat pitches the revs on the ball will help you beat the batsman in the air.
2. Flight and trajectory above the helmet encourages the batsman to HIT ME! As spin bowlers we just accept that a batsman will get hold of us. Use the width and depth of the crease to generate these variations.
3. No singles/No rotation. Keep the batsman on strike so you can work them over. Forget the boundaries. (On many occasions, the boundary is a desperation shot). This means you know your field placings for all situations and have worked it through with your captain.
4. Be very clear about your STOCK BALL. It’s something to go back to.
5. Know your LINES – will vary according to the conditions and game situation.
6. Rush the batsman (NOT yourself).
Into this are a number of elements (casually described as “No No’s”) to avoid and remove from the planning, practice and skill set.
1. Not trying to turn the ball. If you don’t, it rolls out and is “fruit!”
2. No stock ball.
3. Bowling too straight.
4. Bowling flatter when you get hit for a boundary.
5. No flight.
6. Not pivoting on your front foot.
7. Not varying your pace.
Hopefully this will prompt further thought where the LAO can become more prominent than just a holding option and a highly valued member of the bowling group.
Enjoy and release fully…..with clarity.