Monday, 12 December 2011

Googly/flipper/run-up news

I know there's a post on here somewhere where I boast having bowled my first googly, but the fact is that was a fluke and I haven't managed one since, not that I've been able to bowl since season's end anyway. I think I'm now finally getting to grips with how it's done. I should warn casual readers that what follows may be rather technical and repetitive, and hence rather dull...

Recently I've been doing a lot of the classic "spinning from hand to hand" exercises, also doing some shadow bowling with a full action but no run up and no ball. It emerges that I haven't until now fully understood my bowling action in its totality. It seems that when bowling a leg break my bowling hand rotates in ways I wasn't aware of, starting as it passes my groin with body side on and wrist cocked pointing down the wicket, then rotates round as my arm moves round so that as it comes level with my shoulder it is still cocked and pointing towards Cow Corner, then rotates further round so that just before it unfurls it is pointing in the region of fine leg.

Until now, I had thought that all I needed to change to bowl a googly was to change my wrist position at and immediately before delivery. Now it seems I have to markedly change (i.e. remove) all the rotation mentioned above, keep my wrist cocked and, probably, release the ball a little bit later than normal. It also seems the action at the unfurl is quite different, losing the third-finger whip that puts so much spin on my stock ball and instead seeming to initiate the action with a well-timed nudge from the index finger, then I "hang out" the third finger and let the ball rotate around it. My little finger also seems to be getting in the way rather often, but maybe as I practise it more all these little curiosities will develop into something different.

As well as developing a googly, my experiments may yield a "genuine" seam-up top-spinner, rather than the sort I've bowled before which was essentially a leg-break that bounces a lot and turns but not much. This newly understood arm rotation through the delivery really does seem to be key to my action, and this probably explains why so many of my attempted googlies last season turned out as top-spinners. Oh well, if I can develop a googly it's probably as well that all the other deliveries get a bit of a shake-up so that they all form part of a cohesive whole.

As for the flipper, my fingers continue to develop slowly but surely, and the amount of spin I can generate increases by small increments. It still doesn't feel as if I'm close to a match-ready delivery, but as long as I'm continuing to get closer to that point that's the main thing. Once I can get a good level of spin on the ball I don't foresee too many problems developing variations around the stock flipper.

I'm considering making some important chances to my run-up to incorporate what I call the "Mailey shuffle" - essentially getting side-on a stride early and hoping sideways into the delivery stride, one of the main things I noticed when I found a video of Arthur Mailey's bowling action.This has the benefit not only of making my bowling action look more like my great hero (Mailey), it will also help me to concentrate on the target better as I run in to bowl compared to the more diagonal run-up I have developed in the past.

So I've got a long list of things to work on, and one I haven't mentioned yet is speed. I've acquired a cheapish radar speed gun with which I intend to measure and improve my bowling speed. It's not so important exactly what my speed is, more that I improve it continually and this speed gun should be a useful spur. It's a little unsatisfying and unsettling having to wait until the nets open (still a couple of months away) before I have the chance to test any of this out properly, but I suppose I just have to put up with it. I have tried to bowl the odd ball in junior nets but I won't be able to do any good quality practise until spring.

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