Saturday, 26 September 2015

Leg Spin Bowling - Bowling Plans & Psychology

Bowling Plans and Psychology Work in progress.

As you get better at your bowling and more serious about your cricket, you're going to become increasingly aware that in order to perform better you will need to have plans and strategies in place to work with in order that you get results. I would imagine that the transition from Youth Cricket to 4th team cricket and then making your way up through the ranks to first team cricket as a wrist spin bowler is pretty difficult and one where your learning curve is pretty steep. You as a bowler have to be pretty thick skinned to be able to accept that in between being hit for 6 by far superior and stronger batsmen, you have to somehow put that out of your mind and focus on the positives. It's at this stage I would imagine a lot of kids lose the plot and give up wrist spinning because of the negative side to what you're doing.

If your team has got a several teams... first team down to the 4th or 5th XI it may be the case that you're moved back and forth, given the opportunity to play at different levels - trying you out, which is completely normal - think Adil Rashid here in the UK... He's been around the England set-up for some years now and has played international one day cricket for England back in 2009. He didn't do that well and therefore, soon disappeared again. It seems to be universally acknowledged that wrist spinners (and the other blokes as well) mature  with age and as you get older and wiser your approach to the game changes, you become more wily and less affected by being hit for 6, you internalise it and see it as a positive and you don't let it get under your skin. Rashid, now 27 has recently played in a one day series against Australia and New Zealand and has done fairly well and there's speculation that the up and coming series against Pakistan on spin friendly wickets, will see him possibly break into the Test Arena?

At 27, that's seen as still being pretty young and if he doesn't do well it may be the case that he'll disappear again to play around the fringes of the England set up "England Lions". and for his county Yorkshire. It'll probably be the case that if he doesn't make the impact that he needs to this year in the test side if he's given the chance we'll see him again later on in his career when he's in his 30's. It is just the case that this thing that we all do, is one of the most difficult if not the most difficult  of all the disciplines in cricket and it takes years and years to learn and be good at it.

Part of the being good at it includes the need to have a good cricketing brain. Something you'll hear said about Shane Warne very often. This means thinking about it, planning, scheming, and working out batsmen.

Working out the Batsman

In Bob Woolmer's book 'The Art and Science of Cricket' there's a good chapter that is dedicated to this in a section headed 'Thinking cricket'. The section starts with this aspect, discussing the importance of it and he mentions Glen McGraths ability to dismiss both Sachin Tendulkar and Michael Atherton again and again based on observations about small flaws in their techniques. Woolmer says that despite being geniuses at their game, all batsmen have flaws, it may not be entirely technical, it may be a flaw in their psychology as Woolmer says...

"Be alert to the signs of tension and be willing to dominate him emotionally as well as technically".

Bob Woolmer's Art & Science of Cricket; 2008; New Holland Publishers; London; Page 399.

Bill O'Reilly Is mentioned in Woolmer's book The Art and Science of Cricket as being a advocate of keeping notes on the batsmen that he faced, making meticulous notes of new information at the end of each game. Teams for years have had staff members that draw up pitch maps that show the where batsmen score the majority of their runs and nowadays this is being increasingly recorded using digital technology and there are even apps on mobile phones and tablets that allow you to store this data and make use of it, if you have a scorer, coach or someone off the pitch that can record it for you.

Clarrie Grimmett was so serious about his bowling that when he played for Australia, he never netted with the other Australian players because he new that when they went back to playing state cricket he would have to face them. If he bowled in the nets with them he knew they'd potentially be able to work out some aspect of his bowling. You can see Grimmett watching and learning about them, but never giving them the chance to get one over him!

The thing is what can we do in our situation? As mentioned if you have access to the equipment and someone to record the data you could start to do your own Bill O'Reilly. The sooner you can start to do this the better and potentially the better you'll be at cricket generally. If you are a youth player and you're good enough to play in leagues where they mix club players up to represent larger areas that you play/live in, these are the perfect opportunities to observe the players that you'll meet in club games. In the UK, the next step up for kids that play for their clubs are 'District' teams...
This allows such players to play with all of the best players in their local area that they'll meet again and again over their cricket lives (if they go on to play cricket as adults). So this is one of those opportunities to bowl against those blokes when they're young and start to work out what it is they do well and what they do wrong. The environment is one of sharing, so it's one of those situations where if you're clever you could even ask the bloke - what's the weakest aspect of their batting? What don't you like about facing Leggies?

If you're not that player and you're in a position where you only get to see the players twice a year as I do, then the problem isn't that easy to work with. But you can make a start and you do have to see it as a long term project and the younger you are the better, because you will over the years get to know these blokes and you will have to face them every year thus enabling you to start working the player out. Remember, your apprenticeship as a Leggie is going to be 8-10 years if not longer so get started with this straight away!

What do I look for?

This is the hard part as far as I'm concerned - partly because I can't bat and I've never had any training or coaching in batting, so I haven't got a clue basically, and everything I've learned (and never been able to implement in any meaningful way) has been through observation and listening, without any confirmation that my assumptions and conclusions are sound. So, I'll turn to Bob Woolmer for guidance...

It is important to be able to spot the gap between the batsman's pad and bat, or to tally a flinch when you slip in a short ball, or a shuffle too far across to off-stump; but it is vital to be able to sense the batsman's state of mind as you run-in. Many batsmen betray their characters and emotional states through small visual clues. Perhaps his eyes are very wide, or he's gripping the bat handle tightly. Some batsmen beat the toe of the bat against the pitch much harder when they're about to hit over the top. A nervous batsman will be a tense batsman, and a tense batsman will be slow to get the bat down to a Yorker, or get his foot to the pitch of the ball swinging away on a good length. Be alert to the signs of tension and be willing to dominate him emotionally as well as technically.

Bob Woolmer's Art & Science of Cricket; 2008; New Holland Publishers; London; Page 399.
Execution of plans and strategies.

It has to be mentioned that in order to put your plans into action you have to be bowling well in almost all instances, as in being accurate with your line and length. Even the most basic of plans requires this one aspect to be in place.

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6th October. I've made a start on this and I'm starting to write the articles. In the mean time here's a good start an article elsewhere discussing the term 'Hunting in packs' when discussing bowling attacks, something we're hearing more and more in cricket commentaries.

Wrist Spin Tactics - Pravin Tambe T20

Over at one of my other blogs I'm slowly writing a post where I'm looking at tactics and plans, so at the moment that post is a bit disorganised and I'm still at the research stage. Last night I was researching Pravin Tambe and watching a Rajastan Royals match with Royal Challengers Bangalore, where he takes 4 wickets in his four overs.

Pravin Tambe has an interesting story in that he came from nowhere, progressing from being a club cricketer to playing for RR in the IPL bowling at the likes of Virat Kohli, AB Devlliers et al. Despite that massive progression he's done exceptionally well, partly due to the fact that it is T20 cricket and the batsmen have to go after the ball and score and the fact that he's been handled well by the captains seemingly.

Watching the Youtube video Tambe's spell is interesting because of the way that he goes about getting Virat Kohli's wicket. In the game Kohli is the only bloke that looks as though he's going to be able to put runs on the board because all around him the other players are falling for pitiful scores. On his side Tambe has the benefit of the fact that Kohli therefore is under immense pressure to score runs. Up to the point where Tambe gets the Kohli's wicket, Kohli has played Tambe fairly well, scoring singles and rotating the strike. Then Tambe does something very simple, not changing his action - so he runs in exactly the same as before, the bowling action effort is the same, but he does something quite obvious in one respect, especially if seen from the side, but from Kohli's position at the crease, possibly not that apparent...
He bowls from way back on the crease, so the ball pitches shorter and Kohli plays through the ball far too early and scoops it up for an easy catch at Mid Wicket. Very simple tactic and very effective.

I've just been listening to Chris Jordan talking about death bowling in the 2016 England v South Africa. Whist this might be obvious to most people captains especially, to learners and people that don't think about this stuff 24-7 it's good to hear people reiterate the point and explain it. Very basic, but if the ground is big - square on the leg-side, put a man out there (your best catcher) and just sneak a ball an over on middle and leg with more top-spin, so that the batsman goes through the ball too early and potentially hits it up in the air - your equivalent of Jordan's slower ball.

Pitches that don't turn (Bob Woolmer) - bowl at the off-stump varying the speed and length. Also move around the crease and mix up your leg break with more over-spin or a pure Top-Spinner. If you've got a Wrong Un, use that as well.

From Pitchvision's David Hinchcliffe

Just been watching the 2015 Pakistan v England in the UAE and it's the 2nd test where Yasir Shar and Wahab Riaz have demolished England pretty much securing a win at the end of Englands first innings leaving them well short of Pakistans total.
Not started on this yet but it'll come. In the meantime check out Shane Warne being smacked for 22 off of one over by a tail - ender. That's never happened to me to date (Not that bad), but the thing is take heart - this is the best Wrist Spinner in the history of the game and he's gone for 22 off of one over. Watch it and empathise!

Batgrip - tight.
Lack of feet movement -
Gap between bat and pads

A couple of links here to be getting on with...

Bob Woolmer's Art & Science of Cricket; 2008; New Holland Publishers; London.


  1. Haha. Vinod Kambli was a top order batsman and was heralded at one time to be a cricket prodigy with bright future. Sachin and him put together the famous 664 run partnership in a school match.

    His indiscipline, aversion to the short ball combined with personal issues led to him falling from grace.

  2. Haha. Vinod Kambli was a top order batsman and was heralded at one time to be a cricket prodigy with bright future. Sachin and him put together the famous 664 run partnership in a school match.

    His indiscipline, aversion to the short ball combined with personal issues led to him falling from grace.

  3. Nice blog thanks for sharing hehe. If while playing cricket if you get pain in leg i will suggest you go for knee surgeon in mumbai or knee specialist in mumbai . They will give you every treatment which is possible.