Monday, 13 January 2014

"Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage"

So sayeth Confucius, and as with many of his sayings, it's both plainly, unarguably true, and at the same time something of a personal challenge to one's self.*

I mentioned a few posts back an end of season conversation with a senior player at the club, where my grumbles about not, in my view, getting a fair crack of the whip were wisely redirected into a conversation about where I need to improve next year and what aspects of my bowling are good and bad. With the start of pre-season approaching I'm starting to revisit this conversation so I'm properly focused on what I need to do.

The chicken and egg situation I have found myself in is that because I have often been given only very short spells in which to perform, I have gone all-out to achieve all I want to achieve in that short space of time. By attacking too much in search of quick wickets I have bowled expensively, at least in terms of economy rate. By having a poor economy rate I have put myself in the position where I only get short spells. Because I have only been given short spell in which to perform... You see where this goes, don't you? I can moan until I'm fully convinced I'm the most persecuted man since the Christians where thrown to the lions, but it doesn't get me a bowl, I don't gain experience, and my bowling doesn't progress.

So, my number one, chief goal for 2014 must be to do everything I can to remove all barriers to the captain having confidence in my bowling. I could have just said "I need to bowl more economically", but I think that economy rate is just a superficial indication of a deeper truth.
So the first question is: What sort of bowling will inspire confidence in my captain?

And the second, slightly trickier, but nonetheless essential question is: Which answers to the above question will move me closer to my own intended destination, and which would lead me astray?

There's no doubt what type of bowling a captain at our level is most confident dealing with: seam-up, fast and accurate, with perhaps some swing and/or cutters thrown in as variation. Stick them on, set a field, leave them to it. Job done. But that answer to the first question reveals why the second question is necessary. I can't become that kind of bowler, nor would I want to if I could, and there are many other ways in which pandering too much to the templates of others could lead me to methods I find unsatisfying. And if I'm not playing for my own satisfaction, then what am I playing for, exactly?

So, some happy medium must be found, and it has much to do with mindset. I have to find a way to bowl that still brings wickets but without the happy-go-lucky run-fest. Curiously for one who takes his game as seriously as I do (probably more seriously than anyone else in the 4th team), I have somehow found myself bowling with an incredibly cavalier attitude towards runs scored. There's a certain bravado I think leg-spinners are particularly prone to in being "able to take punishment", which in layman's terms translates to sticking stubbornly to your game plan even when the batsmen are giving you some tap. It's not an entirely useless quality to have, but if, as it seems I have, it leads you to self-indulgently bowl at maximum attack at all times even when the batsmen are on top it doesn't do the team much good. I think I need to be a bit more flexible, a bit more savvy.

If that's the mindset, how does this manifest itself in technical terms? Well lets confront one major heffalump trap straight away: it does not involve simply pinging the ball in as fast as possible for the cost of spin. Some leg-spinners bowl like this, and it isn't of itself a bad way to bowl, but it is a very different style of bowling to mine and simply doesn't suit me. My one attribute that separates me from most other bowlers is that I spin the ball a lot and get lots of turn, and to lose this would be the very definition of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I need to gain speed, for sure - 30mph simply isn't fast enough to defeat a decent batsman even at our level - but I need to do so in such a way that my spin remains.

I think this will probably involve much more effort on my part in my bowling action, to get much more energy going towards the wicket while slightly recalibrating the way I release the ball so the spin remains. I need, as an absolutely cast-iron rule, to avoid the temptation to slow my bowling down to increase my accuracy, something I know I've succumbed to in previous pre-seasons. It is this particular weakness that lead me to the title of this post - yes, bowling faster will mean I have to work harder each delivery, and put more practise in until my accuracy at a higher speed is acceptable, but it has to be done, so taking the easy option of slowing down is simply a lack of courage.

Perhaps a change of run-up is in order. I have tried a longer run-up before and managed to up my speed to where I think it should be, but found it either left me off balance or too front-on. However, this video shows my great hero Arthur Mailey bowling (go to 1:58) and I have a feeling his sideways skip just before delivery should help matters if I can manage it without banging my feet together, which has happened in previous tries. If nothing else, I'd quite enjoy learning to mimic him!

Anyway, that's enough for one post. Part 2 coming soon...

*Well, except for when he said "never give a sword to a man who can't dance." In the words of Kanye, that shit cray.

1 comment:

SLA said...

The singular objective of any bowler is to identify the best means of improving their team's chance of winning the game, and implement a plan accordingly. Most spin bowlers bowl too slow and too short. The ball turns significant amounts and impresses the crowd, but no good batsman will ever be troubled. The optimum amount of turn is enough to beat the bat but not enough to beat off stump as well.

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