Does it seem a bit old fashioned to say "pitch it up, hit the stumps"?
In these days of slower ball bouncers, enforcers and bowling dry outside off stump you might think so. Actually, it's still an effective way to bowl in most situations.
Swing bowler on a slow English pitch in May? Yes.
Spinner on a Bunsen burner? Absolutely.
Fast bowler on a flat deck? Without doubt.
One of the features of this Ashes series will be the battle between spinner and batters as the rough patches develop rapidly through each Test match. The weather in the UK has been (relatively) dry for months. The pitches are drier than usual for this time of year.
The Australian left arm seamers will help the rough patches to degrade at an accelerated rate outside the right handed batters off stump. This shall bring Moeen Ali and Nathan Lyon into the game earlier as attacking forces. It is likely that the Stokes, Anderson, Broad and Wood will bowl some overs around the wicket at David Warner, if he stays in long enough. This will also add wear and tear to that rough area.
The developing rough isn't just a problem for the batter. It also creates challenges for the keeper and the bowler as well. I know what you're saying; "Test match spinners shouldn't be challenged by the rough? It should be all their dreams come true!"
For bowlers such as Murali or Warne the rough represented opportunity. For most spinners, the developing footholds can represent a threat.
This threat is the pressure of expectation.
Sam Lavery has been thinking about a good line and length, and he's not happy with the term. Read on for his solution.
"Just hit good areas".
That's a phrase I hear almost every day as coach. Whether it's bowlers, batsmen or coaches, "good areas" is a term used widely used but often blindly.
There is a world of difference between bowling in practice, and bowling under match pressure. If you are going ot be a good bowler, you need to be able to handle the latter. So, here's a simple drill you can do to add pressure to your net sessions.
Here's the video so you can see it in action:
If you can't view it above, click here.
Even today, where there are a hundred different types of ball, good old-fashioned line and length bowling is an incredibly effective way to bowl: Hit the spot, do a bit off the pitch or in the air, take wickets. Simple.
Yet it's also a world of pain to do consistently.
Sure, you bowl in nets as much as you can. You put up with slogging batsmen and you take time to work on your action.
Then you get out into a game and bowl two four balls every over, wondering where it all went wrong.
What's going on?
It's not the puzzle you think, but it does take some work on your part. It's easy improve your accuracy (and pace at the same time) with a simple process.
"He approaches the wicket and releases the ball. I'm about to find out what it's really like to face a top class bowler.It hangs there in the air.
If someone bowled a ball like this to me in a Baldwin match, I'd probably stop it with my glove, sling it back to the bowler and tell him, 'Never mind, have another go...' In fact, I might say it anyway, once it's been retrieved from the far stands.
Perhaps age has caught up with the Indian master. Or perhaps he was never quite as good as we all thought. Perhaps none of them are.
But then something inexplicable occurs. The ball, having seemed suspended in the air from some invisible string with the words 'Hit Me' on it, suddenly dips and loops at the last second. It pitches just short of a length, spits like a cobra and climbs at a scientifically unfeasible angle. Striking the outside edge of my bat it balloons gently into the air and is caught with pathetic ease by the wicketkeeper."
You won't find many better descriptions of a master spinner totally deceiving a batsman than that. The great Bishan Bedi at work.
Mastery of flight or loop can take many years. However you can speed up the process with some simple practice methods that can be done alone.
Yorkers are game changing balls.
Any bowler. On any pitch. At any time. You turn an innings around with the use of a good yorker or two. Ian Pont thinks they are so important that mastering one gives you a blank cheque for the IPL. But it's not just at the end of a Twenty20 game where they are destructive.
A yorker is a difficult ball to negotiate, even for well set batsman. You can bring it any time you want to upset the guy at the other end. You can use it to break a big partnership in longer games just as effectively as you can keep runs down at the death.
So if they are so useful, why don't we see them used more often?
Nets are used poorly by bowlers.
The net is the "Swiss Army knife" of cricket training: Players who stick to just using the knife are ignoring the screwdriver, corkscrew and bottle opener at their cost. With the right drills, nets develop technical, tactical and mental skills as a bowler.
But it doesn't happen by magic. If you turn up to nets, wait for your chance to bowl and fire a few balls down for the batsman to slog you won't get better at bowling. In fact, the best you can hope for is just to stop from getting worse.
So don't waste net sessions. Use the right tool for the job.
Here's the next cricket coaching video filmed recently at Millfield School. This time it's all about the spinners.
I know you love a drill, so here is one from one of our recent coaching additions at Millfield School, Dan Helesfay. Dan has recently been shortlisted for the ECB Young Coach of the Year and has made a really strong impact within our programme since joining us in the 1st week of the January.
Dan took the drill from another ex-work colleague of mine, Ross Dewar. Ross is the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Worcestershire. Dan adapted it and worked it into a session that was concentrating on the role of the hips within a spin bowling action.
You may recall a recent article which featured the research taken from the ECB's Spin bowling department. This drill is a good way of building a bowling action which promotes increased body rotation, increased revolutions on the ball and a more advanced release position: All good things for a spinner to have in their technical tool box.