Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Leg Spin Bowling - The Basics - What is a Leg Break?

Wrist-spin bowling 'The Leg-Break'


The Leg-Break, known to most as Leg-Spin. This is the Wrist Spinners main ball, this is the ball most of us bowl 95% of the time and therefore is known as our "Stock Ball". Having said that there are sub variations, but we'll come to that later in the post. If you're totally new to Wrist Spinning and you want to get some sense of what it's all about you should check out some of the videos linked at the end of this post.

1. Basics; As mentioned in the paragraph above your 'Leg Break' is known as your 'Stock Ball'. This basically means this is the delivery you use most of the time and therefore have to be totally in control of, as Terry Jenner would say... "This is your go to ball, the one that will get you overs and the one that will get you wickets or dry up the runs".

This is the ball that you practice the most, this is the ball that you have to be able to spin hard and land in a relatively small area of your choice, again quoting Jenner... "Your bread and butter ball".

On the point of being the ball you practice the most, you have to realise that this is the most difficult of all cricket disciplines, this is recognised by everyone that plays cricket even though they have never tried it, they simply know though having seen and read about Wrist-Spinners at all levels... this is not easy. Most reckon that it'll take you four years of constant practice and if you're looking to do it at a high level you might be looking at 10 years! Needless to say there are those that have natural ability and the basics may come quickly.

Described as Slow Bowling, the approach to the crease is generally off of a short run up and the speed at which you would bowl if playing professionally is around the 45-55mph speed. Primarily you would bowl over the stumps landing the ball 4-5 metres in front of the stumps attacking the stumps (The impression from the batsman's perspective is that the ball will go on to hit the stumps line B) if left forcing the batsman to play the ball. The ball on pitching 'Breaks' (C) towards the off-side of the pitch looking strike the edge of the batsman's bat producing a catching chance for the keeper or slips fielder. (D - red dotted line is the line that the ball would be perceived to travel along if left and not deviated off of the pitch). The ball in this illustration is angled at 45 degrees - this has elements of both side and top-spin.


Grip  Most people use pretty much the same orthodox grip, often described as the two up two down grip the ball sits in the palm of the hand as below (Wrist-spinners grip #1). The thumb for the most part plays very little part, only perhaps supporting the ball in some vague way. The two 'Up' fingers are secondary to the two 'Down' fingers, especially the 3rd finger (Your ring finger). The 3rd finger which is the one which is resting on the seam of the ball in this image is where all the action is happening, this is the finger that puts the revs on the ball, accompanied by the flick of the wrist. Watch the first few seconds of the video here and see the role the 3rd finger plays.
This next image here (below)  illustrates the grip further by viewing it from above. Again see the 3rd finger position - snug against the seam of the ball.
The image above (Basic Wrist-spin grip) shows the grip from another angle. Dependent on how big or small your hand is it should look similar to this. With regards to the grip Peter Philpott writes...

You may like to experiment with the way you hold the ball - the grip. I have seen so many leg-spinners grip the ball differently, yet still bowl the it effectively, the most important factor is that the grip is comfortable and suits you.
       Even so, it is always sensible to understand the orthodox method. For 'the orthodox' simply means the way that suits most people. Whether you eventually choose to use the orthodox method or not, you should understand it, and experiment with it.

Peter Philpott, page 21, The Art of Wrist-Spin Bowling.

Grip it hard or soft? Again different people say different things, Warne for one says to grip it softly and Richie Benuad differs in that he suggests that you grip the ball quite firmly. Have a look at the clip here at 2:40 where he describes his grip and the firmness of the grip.
Benaud's grip is slightly different to that of Warne's, but having tried it, I'd say that it's worth experimenting with as your fingers might wrap around the ball in a different way and it may just feel like a far better method for you? Inevitably it'll probably be the case that you'll try and number of different ways before you settle on the one that works for you, but it's impossible to say to someone... "Hold it loose" simply because your idea of loose is probably very different to mine. It then means you're going to have to try this basic aspect of your bowling in numerous ways before you establish a way that suits you. I still have to say to myself when I'm bowing "Ridiculously loose, ridiculously loose", over and over again to force myself to bowl with an exceptionally loose grip, as through recent experimentation I've noted that the exceptionally loose grip works so much better for me. Having said that and also having looked at the Warne description of his grip here, I've noted that they both have their fingers either side of the middle finger spread very wide, so I myself may have a go at this in the nets in the coming months and see if it creates any significant difference in my bowling. It's this trial and re-trial process that a lot of us will have to go through over a period of a few years before we feel as though we're at a level that we're happy with.

Boogie Spinner has just said...

"Just reading your blog Dave, I'm reminded of some early commentary on Warne from Benaud. I couldn't possibly say exactly when but I distinctly remember Benaud exclaiming that Warne would 'spin it on glass' and more importantly that he wished he'd known about Warne's loose grip on the ball when he was bowling, because he gripped the ball tightly simply through a belief that it was preferable at the time".Again further reinforcement of the need to work through the various methods to establish what will work for you. Warne himself says...

"The actual pressure of the grip is something you have to feel comfortable with. What I do... and what I do is not necessarily right for you, but it is right for me, remember it's got to be right for you, as long as you're getting the basics right. A lot of people are taught to grip the ball really tight, really squeeze it and spread these fingers out. (The 2 up fingers). The reason I don't like that is that, already everything is tight and tense when you come to the wicket, you're already tense and everything is getting hard. I don't like that, I want to come to the wicket feeling relaxed, if I feel relaxed, I feel like I'm going to be able to do what I want with the ball.

 So I have a loose grip, fingers are probably a little bit close together... but that works for me, the fingers are loose - two fingers up, two fingers down and the thumb just resting on the ball, that works for me".
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kM4ASXrv5ic Shane Warne talking to Mark Nicholas.



Flickers or Rollers? The Wrist-Spinners bowling action is a whole body affair, from the tip of the toes to the tip of the fingers. Getting up on the toes, bracing the leg, pivoting on the toes, rotating the shoulders over one another, rotating the body 180 degrees, high release, 45 degree release, low release, the point at which the ball is released, the flick of the wrist and fingers all combine to send the ball down the wicket in a particular way. At each stage something can go awry that will effect the outcome and one of the key stages is the final stage - what happens with the hand...

One of the conundrums you'll be faced with, especially if you've learned the basics of bowling previously is the one of accuracy over spin. Intuitively you may feel or have learned from your previous bowling experiences that accuracy is an important aspect of your approach and that both accuracy and spinning the ball should be learned side by side with equal importance attached to them. Everyone without exception advocates that first and foremost the thing you need to do above all else is spin the ball really hard. Not hard, but really hard, so hard, that at the start it will mean that you've got to practice so much on your own you're going to wonder why the hell you started. Reason why - you're not going to be able to land the ball on the cut strip all of the time because of the effort you're going to be putting into spinning the ball!

In his book "The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling" Peter Philpott at the start of the chapters where he explains in detail the "Eight Stages of Spin" one of the first ground rules he sets is the Spin it hard rule. He discusses orthodoxy and variations in grip and actions and says that there should be some flexibility in approaching how people bowl. Coaches shouldn't interfere too much unless of course there's some cause for real concern and even then after much observation. But when it comes to the spinning mantra he says...

But if there is one factor in spin bowling which all spinners should accept if they wish to perform to their optimum, it is the concept that the ball should be spun hard.

    Not rolled, not gently turned, but flicked, ripped, fizzed. If young bowlers learn to spin hard from the start and then enough spinning it hard, they can achieve accuracy.
Peter Philpott, page 19, The Art of Wrist-Spin Bowling.


One of the difficulties that you're going to face whether young or older, is the fact that if you go for this 'Spinning it hard' approach which you should, you are going to have to be really thick skinned if you're learning your craft in match situations. In the first few years, you're probably going to be carted all over the shop in matches and other days you'll get a bag full of wickets. There's a mantra that says S**t bowling gets wickets, so in between the days when you see ball after ball go down the legside and the umpire stretching his arms out and shouting "Wide Ball", there will be days when you come away with wickets and some success. A lot of it will be through luck and not design, but you have to grasp these moments and stick in there knowing that in a few years you'll be able to get the ball down the off-side a lot more often than not. But it does take a lot of determination and being very thick skinned, because you will be coming away feeling it was you that lost the team the match.

It helps therefore if you have a supportive captain and it may be an idea to play Sunday cricket or friendly matches as opposed to league cricket where the outcome of the game is subject to different dynamics within the club. I learned under the tuition of a bloke called Neil Samwell who was an exceptionally good Offie for Grays & Chadwell cricket club in Essex. At the time I played under him as captain he held the record for the most wickets taken at the club. But more than that, this bloke gave me a chance, he gave me overs, knowing that the chances were I'd get a ball or two down the legs-ide, so wide they'd be off the cut strip, or I'd bowl 4 wides down the leg-side before getting the ball on the stumps. I went through stages of having the yips almost and still he'd give me 4 or 5 overs and when I was successful, he celebrated my success in a way that enabled me to hang in there and not walk away from my desire to be a wrist spinner, he seemed genuinely interested in my long term goals and I'm extremely grateful for his input and support during my years at Grays and Chadwell.

I think if you have someone at your club that supports you in this manner and you don't feel totally isolated, the chances are in the longer term you'll get there, you'll be able to turn up at games and put the ball in areas that you design to do so and spin the ball and get it to turn off the wicket. How do you get to that place though?

Leg Spin Bowling - Repeatable and Consistent Bowling Action

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, 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. As a consequence of those components being somewhat awkward, the action through the crease was then wrong.

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 too slow through the crease" and "You haven't got a bound" amongst the early observations.

With this criticism, combined with video evidence it was easy to see that they were right, but with little or no coaching it was difficult to come up with a coherent plan to get my bowling back on track. As with many leg spinners in times of disillusion, I like many others turned to looking for a template in someone else's bowling as a solution to the problem and this is discussed in the section in the sidebar 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.

Sorry someone obviously got the hump about this video and has deleted it. I'll write up what he says once the Eng v Pakistan test and one day series is over 4.11.15


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.
 
 



 
 
 

Leg Spin Bowling Practice Drills and Training

Accuracy Drills.

This is one of the accuracy drills that we use that you might want to try. Firstly though I just want to share an observation that I've made in the last couple of years. Over the years I've bought and found balls and have 8o balls that I could use when I practice, bowling one after another. But recently I've stopped doing this and now I use far fewer balls when I practice. I now usually go out with just 6 balls (An overs worth) and I bowl six at a time trying to bowl with the same intensity and focus that I would bowl in a match, trying to ensure that every ball is accurate. I found that when I had 80 balls to use, I was bowling all sorts and didn't do it with any level of seriousness and commitment. I also thought about it and realised that in between the 6 balls in each over, there was a period in most instances of inactivity and that it may be easy to replicate that... bowl six, rest and then bowl six again repetitively as in a spell. The rest period, I replicate by now walking down the wicket and collecting the same six balls, so that kind of emulates that potential to disrupt your rhythm in between overs.

The Drill - We have a piece of mat/carpet that is roughly 3' x 5' see below...


 I've painted two lines on it and the drill involves setting a series of targets and allocated a point score to the outcomes.

Today I was bowling Leg breaks, so the key thing was getting the right length and the right area, so this not ridiculously difficult and therefore difficult to draw some positives from, so as long as the ball is on the mat you score yourself points. There's several differing opinions that relate to where the ball lands, people like Benaud and Grimmett advocate accuracy, talking about landing the ball on an area the size of a handkerchief. Yeah perhaps if you're a pro with your stock ball once you've been bowling for 5 years or so, but in the short term for you as a club player, think in terms of Terry Jenner's advice (Remember Jenner was Warne's mentor) see this video here and listen to the points he makes here at 3 minutes relating to the areas in which you should be bowling. Jenner talks about it being a 'Big Target - inviting the batsman to drive'...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA7YC7SF71Q

So don't be put off in your early days if your bowling is a little wayward, work towards getting the ball onto the big target with loads of revs. In the video Jenner talks about getting revs on the ball and spinning the ball up. If the ball has been spun hard in addition to landing in this area (On the mat) the balls going to be...
(1). Above the eye-line and therefore difficult to predict as to its length.
(2). If you're spinning it hard, there is a chance that it's going to 'Drift' e.g. mover sideways whilst in the air away from its original trajectory.
(3). If it's got any over-spin it'll also dip and fall shorter than expected.

So any concerns about your accuracy, can be readily offset and negated by ensuring your leg-break is bowled with loads of revs.

The key goal was to bowl and land it on the 'C' part of the mat, so if I managed that I gave myself 3 points, the middle part 2 and the 'A' section only 1. If the ball went on to hit the stumps from A or B I gave myself a bonus point. So the main intention is to attain 18 point from the 6 balls e.g. land the ball on 'C' with every ball. So for each over I was trying to beat the previous score.

If you have access to SKY tv or any coverage of cricket games where the bowling is analysed in any depth, look out for the pitch maps that they show. Reinforcing the point Jenner makes above look at the image below here showing Shane Warnes placement of his balls when bowling...

Here's another that shows an even bigger area. Note of caution though and this does apply to both example above and below. Bowling anywhere that is legside is a high risk strategy especially when you're starting out. If you're going to be bowling leg-side, you've got to be turning the ball a lot and getting the ball to bounce and drift. You'll need your best catching fielders that are ready to run and take catches on the boundary otherwise you're bowling figures are going to be getting you taken off. 
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Leg Spin Bowling - Variations and Sub Variations

Wrist Spin Bowling - Top-Spinner
The Top-Spinner.(updated 1st April 2015)

The Top-Spinner or 'Over-Spinner' is one of the variations bowled by Wrist Spinners. The ball is flicked out of the hand using a combination of wrist and fingers to impart the spin, the seam of the ball is released so that it's upright, as per the diagram below seen from above.


 
The grip is the exactly the *same as the Leg Break ...2 fingers up, 2 fingers down as described by both Jenner and Warne the view that the batsman would see would be as in the image below (fig 1). This I would describe as an orthodox wrist spinners grip with the ball cupped in the hand and the 3rd finger (ring finger) rested on the seam.
The thumb plays little or no part in the release generally, the 3rd finger is rested on the seam highlighted here below in fig 4. This finger on the seam is the means by which the spin is imparted, combined with the flick of the wrist.
 
 
 Characteristics

Delivered as nears as possible in the same way as your stock ball, the wrist position is changed so that the side spin on the ball is negated, the seam rotates over itself aimed directly down the wicket. The harder the ball is spun, the more the ball will be effected by the Magnus Force making the ball dip as it reaches the batsman. The impression from the batsman's perspective would be that the ball is going to be a lot fuller, landing a lot close to his position in the crease. With the top-spin, the ball would then dip late in its trajectory dropping short, the result is that often the batsman would play the shot timing it incorrectly resulting in the ball spooning up in the air.

The flight of the ball would appear based on its release height and speed to be a much fuller ball (Indicated by the white line), but with the top-spin the ball would suddenly drop short as indicated by the red line. One of the better descriptions of the Top-Spinner can be found on Pencil Crickets blog, he writes...

Wrist-spin Applications #1: The Top-spinnerI've started with the top-spinner rather than the stock legbreak as this is by far the easier delivery to describe, so it's a good starting point. I'm assuming it's a "pure" top-spinner, i.e. that the seam is vertically upright and pointing down the wicket.

Essentially, all you have to do to work out what the Magnus effect will do with this ball is take the golf ball and turn it upside down, so that instead of pushing the ball up it pulls it down instead.

Now here, for once, I have to take issue with Peter Philpott. In his otherwise flawless book "The Art of Wrist-Spin Bowling" he describes the effect of top-spin (he calls it overspin) saying that "overspin increases the effect of gravity", a bit of sloppy science that will have all the physics teachers rolling their eyes. The effect of gravity is unchanged throughout - what top-spin does is add an additional effect which accelerates the ball in the same direction. So the ball has the downward acceleration due to gravity AND some more downward acceleration due to the Magnus effect on top of that.

So as the batsman sees the ball come out of the bowler's hand, he will judge the speed and angle and intuitively estimate where the ball will pitch based on downward acceleration due to gravity alone. Thereafter the Magnus effect will make the ball dip faster in the air, and bounce further away from the batsman than he originally thought it would. That's not all, however. Because the ball has dipped it will now hit the ground at a steeper angle, and therefore it will bounce higher.

Now anyone who has ever spun a ball onto the floor in front of them will find this last part counter-intuitive. If you gently chuck a top-spinning ball onto the floor in front of you the traction as it lands will accelerate it away from you, making the angle it bounces up at shallower. Likewise a back-spun ball will seem to sit up, and if you give it a really good rip you can even get it to bounce right back towards you despite its original momentum. However - and spinners need to get their heads round this - at any significant speed the Magnus effect's ability to make the ball hit the ground at a steeper angle and thus bounce harder and higher far outweighs this effect. It's not that the effect doesn't exist, after all it's the same force that makes a leg-break turn, it's just that it is dwarfed by a counter-acting force in this situation.

So the Magnus effect will make a top-spun ball dip more during flight, meaning it will pitch shorter than anticipated, and hit the ground at a steeper angle, making it bounce higher.


http://pencilcricket.blogspot.co.uk/p/magnus-effect-in-leg-spin-bowling.html

Relatively easy to bowl if you have a high arm action as opposed to a low action. A lower 'Round Arm' action requires a potentially more difficult wrist position if you're looking to bowl the delivery making it indistinguishable from your stock Leg Break.

How to use it? I've seen it used in a variety of ways, especially effectively by older bowlers who've got very good control over their line, length and speed. If you've got that kind of accuracy and you're bowling against tail-enders or someone who's desperate to stay in for whatever reason, this ball can tie an end down, dry up runs and put pressure on the other batsman.

But generally you can vary it with the afore-mentioned aspects - line, length, flight/speed, more or less spin. Mixed in with your Leg-Breaks - to suddenly bowl one, when the batsman is looking to play the break off the wicket, the fact that it's straight will potentially cause problems and with the extra bounce the ball may come off the gloves, bat handle or the shoulder of the bat to be caught behind.

New Batsman in.  On SKY during a break in a test match in 2012/13 Warne did a piece where he discussed his initial approach to bowling to a new batsman using the crease. (See the link above). This is kind of reliant on your ability to bowl a decent line and length, but he advised to bowl from different positions on the crease, either side of the stumps for the most part attacking the stumps. There are further thing you have to consider, field placement for one. Because it's a new batsman you have to consider when you've been brought on and how you faired in the previous over if you've already been bowling. But if you've done okay in the previous overs, this'll be your licence to go on the attack. Bring the field up and right from the outset give the impression something is going to happen.

Warne's exact order or approach I've not revisited or replicated here, but I've adapted it for my own use, but it was pretty simple, something along the lines of...

1. Over the wicket, Stock Ball, off-stump line coming off of a normal position on the popping crease, close to the stumps. The ball is delivered attacking an off-stump line (C), with the expectation that the ball will break off the wicket (B). In the first over your tactic could be to hold back the Top-Spinner which would take the red dotted line route (D) hitting middle and off.

2. Over the wicket, Stock Ball, off-stump line, but go wider on the wicket further from the stumps. Again your targeting the stumps forcing the batsman to play a shot, all the time creating chances with your leg break turning it away from the edge of the bat.

3. Over the wicket, Stock Ball, but wide of the stumps on the off-side, going back to the close to the stumps delivery approach. This is useful to see how much the batsman moves his feet, giving some indication as to how confident they are. Again all of these balls are reliant on the consistency of your stock ball, if your moving around on the crease, but bowling a regular pace and flight, there'll be a growing confidence in some aspect of the batsman own perception of what is happening. He maybe thinking at this stage "Right... this bloke is moving his position on the crease, but the flight and pace are pretty much consistent"... Which is pretty much what you want him to be doing?
If he's not that good, he may not move his feet at all and may swing at the ball, or lean out to hit it, again all potentially clues to how well he's going to play the ball once you get going.

4. Over the stumps, Stock Ball, wide on the crease, but a leg stump line. This is where you'll start to see if the batsman is strong off his legs. I find this a riskier line along with the final two approaches which see me go around the wicket attacking the leg-stump.


5. Around the stumps, Stock Ball, close to the stumps, leg-stump line. Now really mess with his head and your team mates if you don't rearrange your field! Go around the stumps attacking the leg-stump, again don't forget you're still bowling your stock ball leg break, so you're turning it into the batsman, but forcing them to play the ball because you're attacking the stumps. I find this the riskier of all the tactics so far, as often the batsman will come after you if they've got any real confidence with the bat, but alternatively, you might find that bowling around is a loophole that you can definitely look to exploit? But set your field accordingly - again how you do this either supports your own sense of confidence or indicates some concern, so again I go with giving the impression that something is going to happen for me, rather than giving the impression that the batsman is going to smack you over the boundary. Maybe bring blokes over from the off-side and have close in fielders, I have a bloke in my team who loves fielding at silly midwicket, so he'd be brought in to that position and be right under the batsman's nose.

6. Around the stumps, Stock Ball, wide of the stumps, wide of leg stump. Again change your line go wide on the crease away from the stumps, if you have just been hit over the boundary, take this line but do something additional - you've already bowled 5 stock deliveries - maybe change the pace as well as the angle? Or stick with what you've been doing ready to deliver the sucker punch in the next over?

Having now bowled a whole over of Stock Ball leg breaks and seen the response, go back to the approach that looked the most promising, chuck a couple up and see what happens and then bring in the Top-Spinner. Hopefully the delivery will be so different with extra dip and bounce, added to the fact that you've discovered the best line of attack, the Top-Spinner might be the ball that gets you the wicket?

The amount of variations that can be bowled, simply by moving around on the crease and bowling different lines, lengths, pace gives the batsman something to think about. I think Warne also suggests supporting this probing approach with also tweaking the field settings, moving a bloke a few paces here and there, again to give the impression that you know what you're up to and you're putting a plan together. Again with the field settings added to the fact that you're attacking from different positions on the crease, this all adds up to adding potential pressure to the batsman.

This idea of moving around so much on the crease is that (1). It has the potential to not allow the batsman to feel as though he's in control. (2). You're exploring real options, one of these approaches might give some indication early on that there's a weakness that you can exploit in the batsman's technique. Once you've had a look and there does seem to be a particular approach that looks as to be an attacking option that might bring a wicket, in your next over explore that option and vary your stock ball and then bung in the Top-Spinner as a variation?

The ball is generally used sparingly amongst the stock leg-break with the intention that the characteristics of the delivery catch the batsman out.

Other Factors None of this is easy, but one thing you do need to have in place before you're able to put these plans into place is a good degree of control over your leg break. First and foremost almost everyone will tell you, you have to master the leg break before moving on with any conviction with the variations. If you can try and get your coach or club to lend you a copy of the ECB's video 'Wings to Fly' and have a listen to Warne's coach Terry Jenner. Similarly check out all of the videos on-line that feature Jenner talking about wrist/leg spin bowling.

Pitch Conditions - These have to be considered in relation to how and what you bowl, but this comes with experience. If the wicket is bouncy or has irregular bounce your away and this should produce successful outcomes. If the wicket is a batting wicket and there's no variation in it and the bounce is true and consistent, you might have to look to another plan.

Stage of the game - I tend to come on after about 20 - 25 overs, if the openers are still there, they're generally well set and seeing the ball well. In which case a different approach might be needed? The ideal situation is to bowl to the new batsman and you need to work with your team to get the new bloke on strike, set the field and bowl your stock delivery to allow the 'Set' batsman to run a single, getting the new bloke on strike. But, there is the caveat that if your 'Set' batsman looks to be struggling, then implement your bowling plan against him as well as the new bloke.

Sub Variations - Having posted this blog entry and discussing variations on-line here, one of the forum contributors posted this Youtube video of Warne's releases/deliveries recorded in slow motion. Included amongst the deliveries is one that is particularly interesting in that it features a Top-Spinner that is released with a slightly scrambled seam. Watch the video, it's in two sections, the latter footage is slower than the initial footage. At 1.39 seconds the Top-Spinner is released and you can see that the seam doesn't rotate perfectly and there's an element of the seam being scrambled. In the latter stage of the drop at about 1.49 seconds the ball 'Drifts' dramatically towards the leg-side and then hits the ground and goes on as a Top-Spinner should.

As a diagram it would look something like this.
For me as someone that doesn't get the ball to drift that much, I've been led to believe that in order that the ball drifts there has to be a combination of over-spin (Top-spin) and side spin. I've always assumed that the side spin needs to be 'Clean' as opposed to scrambled, so this video footage is a bit of a revelation, meaning that this coming season I'll be looking at trying out Top-Spinners with a scrambled seam looking for the Holy Grail that is 'Drift'.

 
*Grip Variations - One of the things that Philpott warns against in his book The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling Is the notion that the grip has to be one way or another. I've introduced the idea that the images above represent an orthodox approach to gripping the ball to produce the Top-Spinner, it maybe the case that for most of us this works fine? I've found that, no matter how hard I try and get my wrist so that it produces a perfect top - spinner, the 'Orthodox' approach as described above still breaks a little towards the off-side.
 
Recently looking to get the ball to bounce straight with no break and increased dip, I experimented with a slightly different grip. I've developed a release that looks pretty much the same as the grip in the image (Figure 1) when bowled.


 

But when looked at more closely (Image A) you'll see that the ball doesn't sit so deep and cupped in the hand as in the case of the orthodox grip. This approach feels a lot more "fingery" and uses the middle finger as opposed to the 3rd (ring) finger to impart the spin (see below)...
The flick of the wrist is imparted in a slightly different way to the leg break because the wrist has to maintain the 'straightness' aspect to get the ball to over-spin. Instead of the wrist being cocked down and inwards, I cock my wrist backwards and the wrist flick as in the diagram here below is as indicated by the arrow, and this combined with the finger action helps to put the spin on the ball. It does require a certain level of dexterity and suppleness of the wrist.
The finger action is also very different to the orthodox method and uses all of the fingers to put the spin on the ball.
You can see the thumb has a big role to play in this method, the thumb and fingers combined with the flick of the wrist twists the ball; the thumb rolls under the ball and all four fingers roll around the ball over the top imparting the top spin. It'll probably feel ridiculously hard to do this initially but with practice it'll come. This is a classic case of requiring the approach that Philpott advocates - spin anything, any where at any time... Sitting watching the television? Pick up an apple and rip the apple from hand to hand using this method and bit by bit you'll feel it coming together and you'll soon see that you're able to impart a fair bit of spin on the ball using this technique.
 
I'm writing this pre-season and I've used this method in its early stages of development against a number of different batsmen in the nets with very promising results. I'm hoping that going forwards with more practice this is going to be a very useful ball, I've also noticed that with a little angling of the wrist, I can also get it to come in to the right handed batsman for a little Googly, which is potentially very useful too.
 
Bibliography

The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling - Peter Philpott, The Crowood Press, 2006
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM9UpUV3fHM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfZgFi9Q9gc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFwhAsoax7w
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFwhAsoax7w
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFfcCsQyqpw

Leg spin bowling - Shane Warne as a template for your own bowling

Should I copy anyone else's style? (working on this currently)

Prior to Warne's appearance on the cricket scene, Wrist-Spinning was all but dead. Over the 70's and 80's pace bowling had totally dominated across the world and many thought they'd never see the return of Wrist Spin in particular. As we all know Warne announced the end of that idea with his 'Ball of the century' to Mike Gatting and almost single-handedly resurrected spin-bowling in both forms.

One of the consequences of that was that Warne then kind of offered a template for anyone else that liked the idea of becoming a Wrist-Spinner. Warne was my introduction to cricket, cricket had kind of by-passed me despite the efforts of a bloke I worked with during the Botham era to get me watching it. But, one evening in the 1990's I turned on the tele with a beer in my hand watching the Ashes highlights and watched in amazement as this fat Aussie bloke with a mullet haircut, ripped through the England batting line up bowling the ball ridiculously slow! I'd only ever watched cricket for short periods as a kid with my Dad, he didn't know what was happening, so was never able to explain to me what was going on, so I never saw or understood the nuances of the game, so to suddenly be introduced to slow bowling by an exponent that was effective and devastating was mesmerising and I was hooked!

I then made sure that I saw every game I could on the tele that featured the Aussies, just so that I could watch weave his magic. Then when my kids were old enough and one of them had an accident that meant that we couldn't play football I turned to cricket. I was the bowler and at the age of 47 I was Shane Warne and at last cricket suddenly made total sense to me! I walked in off of 8 steps and bowled leg-breaks and got my kids out. (Okay so they were only 7 and 9 years old, but it was a start)! Another Dad got involved and this blog was started soon after.

I used Warne's approach and I tried to copy what he did. Over the intervening years I've changed and adapted my approach, speeded things up, realised that I did this strange skip like Titch Freeman despite the fact that I thought I was bowling like Warne! I then tried a faster approach like Stuart MacGill, all of which made slight differences. Each of these stages was recorded on video and then via forums such as www.bigcricket.com a range of people via youtube would then comment and discuss the bowling action including Stuart MacGill! Other people that populate this particular forum are specialists in bio-mechanics and they amongst some of the more experienced players fed back to me and advised me along with many others about the idea of trying to emulate the bowling actions of other people especially Warne's.

When it comes down to it, Warne's physique is unique and he's able to bowl the way that he does because of his physique and therefore, for most of us to try and replicate what he does is in fact counter-intuitive. Add to the fact that Warne is  built like a shot-put thrower and trains for hours upon hours under supervision of trainers and the likes, to try and do what he does exactly isn't a good method. Moreover, the bio-mechanists say that it can lead to injuries that will curtail your cricket life.

There is a question here that I've often pondered in that where do spin bowlers come from - at what point does a cricket player make the decision to bowl wrist spin?

"The right pace to bowl at is the pace where you gain your maximum spin. Then you vary your pace from there. But you must understand what pace you need to bowl at. That is very important." Terry Jenner

Leg Spin Bowling - Strength, Agility, Fitness and Body

Leg Spin Bowling - Strength, Agility, Fitness and Body

This blog content is free, please support it by clicking on my adverts.


Body and Fitness

I can't remember who said this, but it was on the big cricket forum and it rings true. "You can't fire a cannon ball from a canoe". As soon as I started bowling I started to hear the term 'Core Strength' primarily from people who work with biomechanics and are in the game of training people to be better at their sports. It was a new thing to me, but I listened and read and it made complete sense to me and in essence their point is the one made by the cannon/canoe analogy.

Training, exercise and practice ideas (Mat)

I've now been doing this stuff for more than 8 years now and I'm still nowhere near where I'd like to be with my bowling, but at 54 years old, I've come to this far too late in life to make the kind advances I'd like to see happening, but until health and fitness evades me I'm going to continue practicing and trying to work out what it's all about!

But if you're younger than me like that youngster currently in the IPL who got his break when he was 40 odd years old, you've got the opportunity to make an impact in the games you play. The key thing is to practice all of the time and to maintain and keep your fitness up to enable you to perform at your best.

When I started out I bowled everywhere and anywhere that I could and I bowled almost every day (have a look back through this blog). My wife and most people I knew thought I was nuts and a lot of the time I must have looked like a nutter! I would bowl in playgrounds at night under floodlights using hockey balls, anywhere where there was a bit of flat grass as soon as the ground was hard enough I'd be bowling proper cricket balls. Every opportunity that I could I would bowl and that to some extent still is my mantra, it's just that I've now created a situation that's easier to access and use and I only look like a nutter to the people who live near me! If I could and it's only that my garden is small, I would almost certainly have a couple of wickets in my back yard along with some form of net to practice in daily a la' Clarrie Grimmett.

Fitness - I'm relative fit and lucky in that I'm a mesomorph in terms of body type, so that means that as long as I don't drink or eat excessively it's pretty easy for me to gain muscle prior to the season and get fit again after a few months of resting over the winter here in the UK. I'm not someone that has ever visited a gym and the idea of going to a gym seems bizarre to me when you can work on your fitness easily for free. I've always been interested in fitness and I've always been quite competitive and aware that I've got very good levels of stamina, I think these things have been useful with regards to bowling and playing cricket and put me in good position with regards a starting point. In addition the fact that I've got two sons that are at this point 13 and 16 years old, I have plenty of reason and excuses to do the things I do!

So a year of cricket with regards fitness kind of goes like this...

December; Here in the UK the end of November sees the weather consistently cold, days are short, it rains a lot and the chances of getting outside and even having a knock about in the street are very limited, although at the weekend if the temperature is above 8 degrees or so, me and one of my sons would have half an hour of batting and bowling in the street. But December sees very limited exercise and I have a break from playing.  Over the Christmas holiday we might book a sports hall and have a an hour a week bowling, batting and fielding as well. The only other thing I might do is the occasional 10 press-ups.

January; Nothing happens rarely go out and have a knock about as it's too cold.

February; Winter nets at the club start, so running up to that I might start regular press-ups and I'll do batches of ten throughout the day, meaning I may be doing 30 press-ups a day and I'll do plank exercises in the evening. I also do an exercise that targets the deltoid muscles in the upper arm as these I find are used a lot in my bowling and without this exercise I come away from bowling spells suffering a bit. Since discovering this video this hasn't been an issue and I combine this exercise with my press-ups.

March; Throughout March I just slowly increase the frequency and how many reps I do in each batch. By mid March we're outside in the street bowling again with windballs and therefore running in and pivoting and starting to get some agility and cardio work going and as the weather improves this becomes more frequent. I also do some Yoga and cycling when I can - very limited a 20 minute circuit which involves a very steep hill and I use a single speed fixie type bike with a mid range gear ratio so that the hill is hard work.

I also use a wobble/balance board for my knees/balance and core strength. I do an exercise on my pivot foot similar to this vid here performed by the ballet dancer, I hold my other foot pulled up behind my buttocks while balancing on the ball of my foot and this stretches my quadriceps (See video below...

Quadriceps basic exercise...
I also do this one above without the wobble board and another series of stretches and exercises that help with strengthening the knee. These all increase in frequency as the season approaches, but I do it all pretty sporadically depending on how I feel. I just kind of do it to stay supple and fit and enable me to be able to play a 6 hour game without suffering injuries. The other thing I've learned as well is that, if you're doing any of this - including longer spells of practicing with your bowling - if you get to a point where it's starting to cause pain you're probably best off stopping and resting for a day or so. Watch out especially when you're bowling/throwing for your shoulder muscles especially your Rotator Cuff, it's worth having a little knowledge about this one, as if you over do it when bowling/throwing, the outcome can be that you could finish off your bowling career. This one can be looked after using stretch bands and specific exercises that target that particular muscle set.

All of this requires 'Core Strength' and this is one of the key areas I work on all year round in varying degrees and I frequently use this set of reps in the way that these blokes demonstrate here, but I also vary the planks in a number of ways.

These blokes also have some quick work-outs for cardio/stamina which are hard work at the start of the year, but going through March and April I do some of these occasionally.

April; The weather's dry and we're out in the paddock bowling all the time, gradually building our fitness. We at this stage start doing cricket specific drills based around some of the idea you'll see in the book SAQ cricket by Alan Pearson.

These combine stamina and agility drills with catching and fielding skills. Typically one of my sons and I do this after a session of bowling


More content at my may Blog www.mpafirsteleven.blogspot.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRalbzmKIEM  (Stuart MacGill).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsE_emWTP4Q (Stuart MacGill & Shane Warne).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFfcCsQyqpw (Shane Warne tactics and strategies).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA7YC7SF71Q (Terry Jenner).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM9UpUV3fHM (Terry Jenner 5 x grips)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFwhAsoax7w (Shane Warne slo-mo release)
The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling, (Peter Philpott, Crowood Press, Marlborough, 1988).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW1fRPqsa-A - (Richie Benuad grip & hardness).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyHX7GsrMlo - (Shane Warne Grip)
http://www.pitchvision.com/how-to-coach-more-spin-into-spinners#comment-2778800 - (Mark Garraway - Hip rotation).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uC5aElnH4Zk (Shane Warne explaining stuff + slo mo footage of release).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMOzzBgwlNk (Simon Hughes analysing Warne's bowling 2005 ashes test + slow mo footage of top-spinner and leg break).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhnPiWob0QI (Beau Casson guidance).
http://www.britishpathe.com/video/camera-interviews-tich-freeman (Titch Freeman's bowling action.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqxbF4dvQpE - Starters tutorial
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8BwlY9Umdg - Ball by ball Shane Warne Gabba 1994. Worth watching again and again to see how he goes about his work.
http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/22/daniel-goleman-focus-10000-hours-myth/ - training - how long is this going to take aspects.
http://www.bigcricket.com/community/threads/wrist-spin-bowling-part-two.41774/page-10 - (Big Cricket forum). 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFfcCsQyqpw  - SKY TV master class with Shane Warne talking tactics. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGTCtd0ZSLU Big Warnie - psychology
http://adsoftheworld.com/sites/default/files/styles/media_retina/public/images/bigwarnie.jpg?itok=MkUMt972 - Big Warnie adverts/media
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhnPiWob0QI Beau Casson bowling and guidance/tutorial.
http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-cricket-2015/content/story/917767.html - English spinners don't practice enough - Jeetan Patel.

Leg Spin Bowling - Psychology, bowling plans and strategies.

Leg Spin Bowling - Psychology, bowling plans and strategies.

This blog content is free, to keep it alive please click my adverts.

Psyching out the batsman

Being a slow bowler and a leg-spinner at that, there's an expectancy that you're going to be expensive and at the start of your bowling journey the chances are that you will be when you're learning. But if you keep at it and you develop and learn, there'll be a point when it starts to come together and things fall into place. It's at this point you might start to consider the psychological aspects of the game.

The battle between the spin bowler and the batsman involves a fight for supremacy, as a slow bowler even when you're going well, you have to expect better batsmen, especially middle order batsmen, to think that they're Luke Ronchi who have the ability to smack the spin bowler out of the match. I use this example because I've waited years for Adil Rashid to be given a chance and I've always thought that he was thrown into international cricket too early and that could have knocked him psychologically for six and meant the end of his career. It was a massive set back for him, but he picked himself up and with the support of his team and all the people around him he kept spinning for Yorkshire and grew older and wiser and more able to suffer the knocks. In the Edgbaston game against the Kiwis I think he had a pivotal moment when Luke Ronchi like many a middle order batsman strode onto the pitch to make his mark and put Rashid back in his place. In the previous test match series Ronchi had played well against the finger spinners and everyone else and he was riding on that high his success. I sat watching the game and thought this might herald the end of Rashids 2nd coming, but, Rashid had everything in hand. Ronchi thought he had everything in hand too. I sat watching it and had seen a number of overs that preceded it that were primarily stock ball leg breaks. It followed therefore that Ronchi would play for the leg-break, sure enough he did, he went down on his knee to play a massive legside slog sweep Rashid though was one step ahead of him and had bowled a wrong un, Ronchi was bowled out first ball and Rashid went on to take 4 wickets in the match. 

If Ronchi had made contact with the ball and it gone sailing across the boundary for six, being such an aggressive player it may have been the case that Ronchi would have got the upper hand straight away from ball 1. I don't see enough of Rashid to know how he deals with such situations for Yorkshire, but this being integral to his position in the new look young England side, the pressure was on for Rashid and he kept his cool and got his man. It'll be interesting to see Ronchi and Rashid in the remainder of the games in the series.

*****

One of the greatest exponents of the psychological warfare against the batsman was Warney. If you study him and read about him, you'll start to see that he was a master of this aspect of the game and he deployed all kinds of tactics to get under the batsman skin and make them focus on something other than scoring and playing well. Admittedly he had a army of people around him, including the whole of Australia on match days that believed he was was a game changer and the aura that he created around himself permeated through minds of any batsman that had to face him - Michael Atherton being one of the most famous cases. 
One of the most over the top examples of Warne and the Australian team hyping up Warnes ability to single-handedly bowl out England in the Ashes was seen in 2006-07 series where they commissioned an effigy of warne, stuck on the back of a truck and paraded it around London leading up to and promoting the Ashes series.

This was accompanied by an advert that was on the TV in Australia and as it says in this article most of the newspaper at the time covered the story as well ensuring no doubt every English batsman would have  had Warne on their minds before they even got their whites on.

Needless to say, there's no way that you're going to be able to put on a media event like that, but I reckon if you're a kid and you use all the media systems that you can get your hands on - Twitter, youtube, snapchat, blogging and all those kinds of things and just generally big yourself up in someway, there's a chance that if you start out young and persist at it, you might be able to form some kind of awareness locally where other kids your age know about you. I'm very aware that when I take my kids to their matches, if there's a kid that's in the District or Essex juniors team, everyone knows and there's that psychological thing that already plays into the hands of the team with the Essex/District player. What would it take to independently promote yourself so that all the kids in your age group and their managers and coaches knew that you were capable of almost taking out whole teams single-handedly? I know that through my own endeavors on the internet through this blog and my youtube channel, people all around the world know about me from random kids in north east Essex to Australian internationals such as Stuart Macgill who contacted me and spoke about me at a Youtube/marketing conference as an example of someone who had a massive internet presence and yet in the greater scheme of things is actually pretty much just, some bloke called Dave from Essex! 
I now turn up at matches and kids see me and say "Oh my God it's some bloke called Dave off the internet"! Their team mates say 'Who'? Then they say things like 'Mate, it's this bloke who bowls Leg Breaks, Googlies, Top Spinners and Flippers and he's all over the internet. Straight away that's a home goal for his team, because I've now been elevated to some super star status. Whenever that has happened I've done really well because, even if I don't do anything particularly clever and I just bowl basic leg breaks, there's a perception that if I'm on the internet to the point that a kid in their team knows about me and I've got 4-5 variations, I must have something about me and that's the power of psychology.
Bringing things up to-date, in the last couple of years (2013) Warne did this 'Master Class' for SKY here in the UK on having plans, but a key part of this is psychology. He explains in this master class about the tactic of moving your bowling position on the crease. He does it primarily to change the line of attack and to see how the batsman plays him and ascertains strengths and weaknesses in the batsman's technique, but he also say that this moving around the crease also serves to make the batsman think 'Why's he moved there when for this delivery' and Warne says as soon as you've got the batsman thinking about you and what you're doing, his focus has changed and he's now potentially worrying about things that you might be doing as opposed what you are actually doing. When you watch the videos of English players playing Warne, you get the impression that it's a lost cause right from the outset, they just look as though they've walked out to the crease knowing that they're going to be walking back very soon.
At club level, the easiest thing to do is get the support of your team when you are bowling. Again this is wholly reliant on you getting the basics right, if you can bowl your leg break and get it spinning and landing it in the zones discussed previously, you're going to cause problems and you'll be in the game. If you can do this, it's almost a given that your wicket keeper and close in fielders are going to get vocal with oohs and ahs and if you're lucky some 'Go on Warnie's'!

Another really simple thing you can do, happens at the other end. If you are turning the ball, the off-strike batsman can see this and one of the things I do is stand near the off-strike bloke talking to myself spinning the ball from hand to hand really ripping it hard so that it audibly clicks as I flick the ball. I try and get it so that he sees this and I have a running commentary going as I bowl - talking to myself saying things like 'What do I want him to do - right I'll bowl a Flipper' try and get him caught LBW with one that doesn't spin'. Recently I've also taken to shouting down the wicket to the wicket keeper things like 'Mike signal when you want the wrong un'. Basically anything that might re-direct their focus and get them thinking you can  do something other than a leg-break is going to put them in two minds about the way they go about their business.

Another relatively easy thing to do that Warne discusses, is to make tweaks to your field, again he admits that sometimes these are superfluous and the change in position is minimal, but again all he's doing is trying to get the batsman to focus on him, to get in his mind and thinking 'Why's he moved that bloke there'?




More content at my main blog www.mpafirsteleven.blogspot.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRalbzmKIEM  (Stuart MacGill).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsE_emWTP4Q (Stuart MacGill & Shane Warne).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFfcCsQyqpw (Shane Warne tactics and strategies).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA7YC7SF71Q (Terry Jenner).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM9UpUV3fHM (Terry Jenner 5 x grips)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFwhAsoax7w (Shane Warne slo-mo release)
The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling, (Peter Philpott, Crowood Press, Marlborough, 1988).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW1fRPqsa-A - (Richie Benuad grip & hardness).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyHX7GsrMlo - (Shane Warne Grip)
http://www.pitchvision.com/how-to-coach-more-spin-into-spinners#comment-2778800 - (Mark Garraway - Hip rotation).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uC5aElnH4Zk (Shane Warne explaining stuff + slo mo footage of release).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMOzzBgwlNk (Simon Hughes analysing Warne's bowling 2005 ashes test + slow mo footage of top-spinner and leg break).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhnPiWob0QI (Beau Casson guidance).
http://www.britishpathe.com/video/camera-interviews-tich-freeman (Titch Freeman's bowling action.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqxbF4dvQpE - Starters tutorial
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8BwlY9Umdg - Ball by ball Shane Warne Gabba 1994. Worth watching again and again to see how he goes about his work.
http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/22/daniel-goleman-focus-10000-hours-myth/ - training - how long is this going to take aspects.
http://www.bigcricket.com/community/threads/wrist-spin-bowling-part-two.41774/page-10 - (Big Cricket forum). 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFfcCsQyqpw  - SKY TV master class with Shane Warne talking tactics. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGTCtd0ZSLU Big Warnie - psychology
http://adsoftheworld.com/sites/default/files/styles/media_retina/public/images/bigwarnie.jpg?itok=MkUMt972 - Big Warnie adverts/media
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhnPiWob0QI Beau Casson bowling and guidance/tutorial.
http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-cricket-2015/content/story/917767.html - English spinners don't practice enough - Jeetan Patel.