Saturday, 26 September 2015

Leg Spin Bowling - Repeatable & consistent bowling action.

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 Repeatable and Consistent Bowling action 

I came to wrist spinning out of nowhere in my late 40's and prior to that never played cricket and then worked on everything I do and know through a process of self reflection and watching videos and reading about it. One of the things that I've struggled with during this 8 year journey is my run-up and the approach to the crease and then as a consequence of those components the action through the crease. From posting videos of my bowling on Youtube I've had numerous people look at it and comment about it as well as team mates... You're to slow through the crease, you haven't got a bound amongst the observations.

With no or little coaching, and with the criticism there and the video evidence, it's difficult to come up with a coherent plan going forwards. It does seem that the obvious conclusion in a lot of people's minds as well as my own is to look for a template in someone else's bowling and this is discussed in the section below with regards its merits as a process to resolve the issue.

The issue I've had is that the bowling action that I use at different stages in the season changes in response to different issues. Sometimes I've been concerned that I bowl too slow, sometimes it's been a case that I bowl too fast and the spin is reduced. Other times it's been inconsistencies with line and length and in a reaction to each of these problems I've concluded that the main culprit has been my run-up and the approach to the crease. But a couple of months ago I watched a SKY TV master class with Glenn McGrath and during it at 16 minutes and 40 seconds he talks about something that I've never heard discussed before in such a simple way and it immediately resonated with me. He talks about and explains how he developed and worked out his run-up and it is so simple.

*Unfortunately some removed that video from Youtube * I'll write up an explanation at some point to make up for the loss of the video.

I've now in a week worked on this and gone from being generally confused and wondering whether I should bowl like a, b or c to now bowling my way.

If you have a look at my Youtube channel here you'll see some video's where I'm working with this new action. Furthermore I've come to some additional conclusions that relate to the run-in aspect of bowling. The McGrath video here should be looked at and considered in conjunction with Stuart MacGills advice in this video below...

The MacGill video differs massively from most of the video's you'll find on the web as they focus on the micro details that should only be addressed once some of the basics have been fully learned. MacGill instead focuses on the fundamentals such as your run-in and approach to the crease. Don't dismiss this aspect and think of it as being a superficial part of the whole process, because it needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, especially if you are struggling with your bowling. Think of it this way. Your run-in and movement through the crease (Bowling action) is the rock bed or foundation of everything else that follows. If you've not got this part consistent and correct, everything else is going to suffer, it will be like building onto a sketchy foundation and having to do remedial work all the time as a result.


Repeatable and consistent action update and analysis.

Lovely day here in the UK, we're just a few days short of November when you'd expect to see frost, even snow some years and generally miserable cold and wet rainy weather, but as it's an El Nino year, so everything is a little weird. It's usually the case that summer lingers as it has today and then suddenly around about November 5th it changes dramatically and the wind shifts from the south to the East and we get unusually good snow.

A couple of days ago both son Joe and Ben joined me over at the home of cricket - Mopsies Park and we had a bat and a bowl, but it was a little damp. So I kept an eye on the weather looking for a better day and that was today. 27th Oct and we had bright sunshine, southerly winds and temperature of about 20 degrees centigrade... Warm!

Today it was Joe and I and we both had a bit of a bat and a bowl. Joe didn't bowl that well as he'd hurt his leading arm shoulder today. But I'd gone with the intention of looking at and trying a few things out. So, let's do this using the Gibbs Reflective Practice Model...

What happened?
We went over to Mopsies Park and used the all weather wicket and had a bowl. I was looking to see how accurate I could bowl, if I could increase my speed a bit and look at getting up on the toes and bring the leg through. I bowled in excess of 250 balls over a 2 hour stint.

Physically - knackered now 6 hours later and was beginning to feel a bit knackered towards the last 50 balls. But, that aside there were some promising things to make note of and consider going forwards. There were some periods where the bowling was going a little haywire, I did at one point bowl 5 balls one after another wide down the legside. But I was able to get things back on track and soon after was bowling decently with a lot of the ball drifting as far as I could make out which is pretty unheard of for me!

(Good and Bad). I've come away with a range of feelings about how this went and since last night when I originally started this post I've looked at the video footage. Yesterday when I videoed my bowling and batting I had two cameras when bowling - one shooting the batsman's perspective which is something I often do and the other shooting from the side at the bowlers end. It's this perspective that is more interesting and looking at it I can gain a few positives and some negatives...

Good first; overall I'm quite pleased with the development and the basic idea of acquiring a consistent and repeatable action. This I think I've improved massively and looking at the footage each delivery looks pretty much identical. I'd been working on the gather aspect and this too has massively improved along with the leading arm. Bad stuff; It just looks slow and lacking in dynamism and looking at the way my 'landing foot' lands it looks as though it's not square enough to the wicket and I'm therefore not getting my body set-up enough to get side on and therefore the hip rotation is weak.

Anlaysis (Everything relates to bowling right arm wrist spin).

This potentially opens up a new avenue of thought on my bowling action, but at the same time I'm running out of time because the UK winter is all but days away and the chances of their being warm dry weather in the next couple of days is diminishing. Looking at the video here, which is the side on shot with all the revealing information...

I can break down my bowling action into sections and start to analyse it and make sense of it.

The Gather; This was an issue some months ago and sometimes in the confusion of worrying about the run-up and what I was going to do at the crease, I'd find that my arms were flailing around all over the place. This was one of the first aspects of the new run-up that I looked at and in my research I found some basic advice that said to get the leading arm (Left arm) hand up around you right ear at the start of the gather and make sure that you're looking over the outside of the left arm down the wicket at the batsman or whatever it is you choose to look at at this stage of the bowling action.

I'm happy with this and as far as I'm aware this now happens naturally and I don't have to worry about it at all and it sets me up to then reach out long and strong with the leading arm.

Leading Arm: If I was to be super critical I might say that because I've formed a fist in the leading arm component of the action, it might not be as dynamic as an open hand really stretching out and reaching? I'm too worried about that, but it might be something that I look at later on, but for the moment I'm not that bothered by the fist.

The Bound: The bound looks fine and does seem to be one aspect of the action that does look pretty dynamic. If you look around at some of the international spinners some of them have fairly weak looking bounds, some looking like shuffles. It may be the case though that my bound needs to be tweaked slightly in order that I get set up to land more side on?

Landing out of the bound (getting side on).You can see here below as the foot lands it's not exactly at 90 degrees to the wicket and I feel that this doesn't set me up fully to get 100% side-on, which I'm sure is pretty important if you're looking to put loads of action on the ball at release.
Delivery Stride: This is the other component of the action which I think is weak is the stride out of the bound. The general advice is that your stride is simply one that you're comfortable with.

Looking around at the pro's you can see mine is weak/short...
Terry Jenner - big stride..
Shane Warne - Big Stride
 Pravin Tambe  - Massive Stride
 Stuart MacGill - Big Stride.
Yasir Shah  - Massive Stride.

All of the Delivery strides shown here are far longer than mine, which gives me food for thought, but then they're far younger than me and their speed approaching the crease and dynamism through the crease is that much better than mine quite obviously. But is it something I need to consider and explore? Part of me believes so, but it's something I may look into and consider trying and experimenting with.

Rotation: I was unsure of the rotation aspect of my bowling and looking at the video footage from the batsman's end it appeared that I was very front on, but looking at the side-on video, I can see that there's aspects of the rotation that are coming together okay. As identified, my foot out of the bound lands slightly skewed and not exactly at 90 degrees to the wicket.
As in the diagram there's some scope to get that landing foot exactly 90 degrees, how significant this is I'm not 100% certain but everyone advocates getting that foot correct as it lines up the shoulders, hips so that you're side on and ready to rotate. Looking at some of my previous videos I can see that coming out of the bound and landing side on is reasonable...
Landing out of the bound - looking over the shoulder down the wicket, almost with my foot at 90 degrees. Hips and shoulders almost in line with the wicket. But, if you watch the video footage, the rotation is then somewhat thwarted? Looking at the videos here.. - Shane Warne at the end of  his career in the IPL, his rotation is very evident and in some cases he over-rotates to some extent. Terry Jenner in this video here... demonstrates a good 180 degree rotation. Both of the rotations seem to be a product of getting right up onto the toes of the braced pivot leg and the leading arm coming down strong. Jenner in his video talks about rotating 180 degrees so that your shoulder ends up pointing down towards the batsman.

Watching the IPL footage I noted with interest how short Warne's follow through is in a lot of instances, but at the same time how smooth. Another thing in the IPL footage is the position of his landing foot out of the bound, it's not always at 90 degrees.

Look at this video here which is very new of Warne bowling - watch the rotation of his hips as he bowls to Michael Clarke. I also like the way he bustles in during his run-up something I don't seem to be able to do.

Leg action through the crease

This one is a tricky one with loads of different examples to look at that confuse you and contradict each other. Looking around the internet for examples one thing you shouldn't do is refer to finger spinners as this aspect of their bowling is a desired attribute for them. But for wrist-spinners despite the fact that you'll no doubt be able to find examples of it including Warne there is a definite sense within the Wrist Spinning community that what I'm about to discuss and advocate is the correct way.

First Warne and the incorrect way. Not for him obviously as it worked quite well, but for the rest of us this aspect of his bowling is something I'm increasingly being told not to do. Look at Funkster192's sequence here. At the bottom right-hand corner you'll see that at the end of his action his right leg swings out and round and you'll see many images of him doing this in stills images and video images. But this is not the best way to do it and it increases inaccuracy in your bowling.

 photo WarneActionfront.jpg

But here below is Stuart MacGill who in so many ways was a better bowler than Warne and one aspect that is increasingly recognised as being better is his bowling action as a template to emulate. You'll easily see that MacGills leg doesn't swing out like Warne's - instead it pushes through. Watch the video...
At 2:57 Watch the bowling action of MacGill from the back and how his knee does not swing out and round described by one friend as the 'Dirty Dog Action' e.g. cocking your leg up. Instead MacGill's leg comes through like someone knee butting another person in the nuts. It pushes forwards and through.

I know looking at the footage of my own bowling that my leg swings out and round doing the 'Dirty dog' and this is something I need to address. As far as I'm aware and this is reinforced in MacGill's video, this leads to inaccuracy.

Another exponent of the knee through approach is Pravin Tambe, but watching this video the extent that it comes through and sometimes swings out a little differs which is interesting...

Follow through

Again in this session my follow-through was weak and this is something I need to look at and I suspect it's that overall lack of energy running and the lack of 'Explosive energy' through the crease.


So out of this one of the things that I thought may be worth looking at and exploring is the length of the run-up in order to get more speed and vigour into the whole bowling action. At the start of the season in 2014 I did really well with my bowling and that was partly down to the input of a bloke called Mike Blerkom who kept wicket for us for a few games. Normally he'd play in the 2nd XI rather than the 4th. But he made some useful observations about my bowling and one of them was around the issue of an erratic run-up. At the time I was caught between the notion of (a). A short step in like Terry Jenner, which was slow but produced more spin. Or (b). A much longer run-up - but a perception on my part that the ball spun less and if I got it wrong I'd go for runs and getting it wrong was likely to be more frequent, or (c). A compromise between the 2. Mike said - 'Use the faster run-in' and I did and it worked really well for a number of matches till I damaged my Achilles tendon.

So, today having seen this and realising that it kind of looks like the option (c) a compromise between the two methods, I'm now thinking how difficult would it be to add another 2 steps on to the run-up and look to get more dynamism and speed?

But - is it the case because of my age I'm never going to be able to produce the kind of explosive energy speed a younger bloke would be able to produce?

Action Plan

Upload the video's and see if there's any advice on Bigcricket. Then in the meantime while I'm waiting for feedback I'll explore the idea of working with a slightly longer run-up.

I'll also look at trying to extend the delivery stride and video that.
Finally just look at getting the leg through straight at the batsman and not cocked in the 'Dirty Dog' method.

2016 - With only a few weeks now till the start of the season here in the UK, I'm working on the new action increasingly trying to bed in the muscle memory aspect of the delivery. See the two videos below as I start to get it together prior to the first league game in the first week of May...

Update and further analysis March 31st 2016 (Double click the image below).

Again more work April 7th 2016 - in this video there's a pretty detailed analysis of the rotation and getting side on in your action using slow motion sequences. A lot of people talk about rotating your hips and shoulders, this video looks at this and illustrates it. Double click the image for the video

Resources and Links - This is really useful - diagrams and illustrations. - Interesting stuff about closing off

 362 view 8/4/16


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