Recently we have had a spate of spinners on PitchVision Academy worrying about their accuracy. From around the world, the same messages come through, "I bowl too full", "I bowl too many short balls", "I get taken off by the captain for bowling down the leg side".
Trials are unique: The feeling of nervousness on arrival, the pressure of your first delivery and - hopefully -the feeling of excitement as they crunch a pull shot from the “big lad”.
Here are a few tips. They may not revolutionise your stats at the end of the season, but will install a game plan, or a little structure to your trial. Possibly taking you from a player who just missed out, to the one that snuck in the back door.
Let me ask you something; how much better a bowler would you be if you could hit a perfect line and length?
It's a challenge that takes a lifetime to master, and a road that is littered with distractions. Yet the simplicity is appealing: Put the ball on the spot, hit the seam again and again and watch the wickets tumble.
You don't need to be quick. You don't need to rip it square. You don't need to swing it round corners or even have a clever mystery variation. Those things are nice, but accuracy... accuracy is within reaching distance.
It's so tantalisingly close that you can almost taste the success it will bring.
Has your coach ever said something to you that you don't quite get?
Don't you feel like you are missing out because you can't decode it?
You are not alone.
Alistair Cook called England all-rounder Moeen Ali the fastest learner that he has ever played with. England's spinning sensation has gone from barely-used in his debut to take 19 wickets in the series against India.
So what exactly is it that Moeen has learnt?
I'll cut to the chase; there is a simple change to your bowling action that is a big hitter in fault correction.
Straighten your run up.
You see, when it comes to technique, so much that goes wrong can be traced back to an earlier point. That's why batting coaches focus on the grip and stance first, and it's why your bowling coach should look at your run up before he starts with the "business end" of the action.
Of course, a straighter run up will not fix everything, and there are exceptions to the rule. That said, there is plenty that can be done without ever worrying about 6 months of corrective drills and rebuilding your action.
So, spinner or seamer, Here are some of the things a straighter run up can correct:
In the 2nd Test against England, Dhoni stood back to the spinner.
It's a tactic regularly employed in lower standard games where the keeper doesn't have the confidence to stand up. In short, it's village cricket.
But there was a method in the madness.
This article is part of the Cricket Fitness Workouts series. For the full list, click here.
Like all cricketers, to be a good spinner you need a base of fitness, especially in strength and power. Maybe it's not the same as smashing sixes and bowling bouncers, but a ripping ball is equally destructive.
But spin also need a lot of time bowling spin, which leaves you with the gym as a secondary concern. You want to get in, get it done and get out so you can go back to bowling.
You want as much as you can get in as little time as possible.
Bowling leg breaks to a batsman with a weak spot on his legs?
Don't just go the obvious route and pitch every ball outside of leg stump.
The batsman will know what is going on and just pad you safely away. Instead, work him over by getting him to come forward, then surprising him with a big turner outside leg.
This article is part of the “Streetwise Bowling” series from PitchVision Academy. To view the full list of tactics click here.
Bowling at leg stump has a bad rap. It's seen as defensive and, by many, as almost against the spirit of cricket. So much so that in many formats, the leg side wide has all but killed the tactic.
But in the right situation, this plan is an excellent variation to the usual line for a left arm bowler. The batsman is not used to the lines. More importantly, there are few gaps in the field meaning the batsman is going to have to do something unusual to get you away.
As such, it can be used in both attacking and defensive roles.