How to Land a Yorker
James Faulkner turned certain loss into monumental victory in the 2nd ODI against England in 2014. He was brilliant but - it has to be said - England were poor in the last gasps of that game.
One TV expert commented in review that "Surely England can’t be practising their yorkers." An easy assumption to make based on the outcome of the game.
However, the bottom line is that all International teams do practice bowling yorkers a lot. So, why couldn't England land them?
I watched the game again and they did land their yorkers at certain points in the game. Ben Stokes delivered 3 in in the 43rd over of the game (score 236-8) when the game was seen as dead and buried.
The next question that came into my head was "why can someone bowl yorkers at will in dead rubber situations yet not access them when under intense pressure?
Then came the ultimate question; "How can we simulate intense pressure in our yorker practices?"
Here are a few options:
1. Fatigue and heart rate
One of the practices that I have seen former England coach Peter Moores do in the past is to simulate pressure by exhausting the body and mind before trying to execute a fine skill.
Peter would get a bowlers heart rate up beyond 150bpm through exercise and then ask them to deliver a yorker.
This is brilliantly relevant. Imagine where Tim Bresnan's heart rate was when delivering those final 3 balls that all went for 4. It was likely to be around 180bpm based on research.
If the only time most bowlers experience this is in matches, then surely we aren’t preparing them optimally?
Have you ever felt and noticed what happens when a doctor takes your pulse or monitors your blood pressure? It's called "white coat syndrome". We get nervous, our heart rate raises and anxiety builds effecting our physiology and therefore, impacting on our cognitive processes.
Regular testing, monitoring, comparing of results - yorker league tables are great - will increase the intensity in practice and simulate the pressure of execution under pressurised conditions.
3. Eye Patch target bowling
Get your bowlers to cover one of their eyes with an eye patch and bowl at a yorker target. See which covered eye has the most detrimental effect on performance. Then get them to practice on a regular basis with that eye covered.
This puts the body into a pressurised mode yet the intention is the same: Hit the Yorker.
We are then building a pressurised situation that leads to the body adapting in order to come up with a solution: Exactly what England weren't able to do in the last 8 overs at the Gabba.
What other ways can we help our fast bowlers to execute Yorkers in highly pressurised situations?
Let me know.