Being asked to deliver a class on spin bowling to an attentive and enthusiastic audience of students in Bangalore presented some initial daunting concerns.
What would be possible that a cricket coach from outside of India teach the locals? Particularly after another series loss where Ravi Ashwin and Jadeja had proven, yet again, utterly dominant. Was there something in Nathan Lyon that impressed them which we were not fully appreciating?
The class assembled. Attendance was optional. It was a rather hot Saturday afternoon.
Therefore, deciding to park all the usual knowledge and video references about the techniques and variations that many spin bowlers apply, the direction that we went down revolved around the strategic.
The sessions then shifted the focus towards the strategic elements on skills, tactics, process and practice.
We took the position that is generally quite common on the sub continent for the majority of cricket played at domestic level. What is available to the spin bowler when the wickets are flat and conditions are favourable for batting.
Working through the skills (tools, weapons) that a bowler is able to call upon, we placed these into segments with key elements:
- FLIGHT = Drift, Dip & Loop
- BOUNCE = Rise, Slide & Normal
- TURN = Left, Right & Straight
Then by turning our attention to some of the best spin bowlers that the students selected, we discussed their methods and attributes. Some of these listed as per the board below.
We also learned that Rangana Herath had adopted a philosophy around length. Initially he shows you he can turn the ball, then he takes that away. Next he mixes the length and pace to introduce deception within his method:
- Full length = hit the bat on the sticker
- Short length = hit below the knee roll
This steered us through a discussion that continued along understanding the process followed by these masters of their craft and how this could be applied in practice. A very small extract of these which we then used as the basis for our practical session included:
- Breathing technique, inhale through nose and exhale through mouth
- R – R – R = Reflect / Relax / Refocus (Warne, Zampa)
- Stick to what is known and able to do well
- Use slight variations around angle and pace
- Slow things down, get back to what you do well
- Bowl six (6) balls to fielder at mid on / off before start first over.
- Clear conversation with captain about field placings as early as possible.
- On match day, spend as much time as possible bowling out in the middle to properly feel what it is like
So in conclusion, we found an endless interest in learning together more about the art of spin bowling and recognising that it is still as healthy and significant to all formats of the game than ever before.