Can Hard Work Really Make You Fail? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Can Hard Work Really Make You Fail?

This is part 4 of and autobiographical training guide Steffan Jones, professional fast bowler. For part one click here.

In 2002 I learned that hard work wasn't the secret to success.

My gym work was spot on. I was training harder and better than ever. I could see no room to improve (remember this was a few years back, and at the time you could not have found a better programme or a more motivated trainer).

Brett Lee was bowling express pace at the time and I was desperate to copy his action. I foolishly thought that if it works for him it must work for me! All I had to do was to work hard and emulate my hero.

How wrong could I be?

During the summer of 2001 John Buchannan, Australian coach at the time wrote that I was the hardest working fast bowler they had seen on tour. I believed I could use this hard work to enhance my performance by making technical changes to my bowling action. I believed my limiting factor was my action and it was holding me back in my quest to bowl consistently 90mph.

Bowling technique

My current action had too many moving parts. I wasted energy with my bowling arm circle being fully circle as opposed to a 'reverse figure of 6'.

What I tried to do was drop the bowling arm straight down by my side, like Brett Lee, and replicate a javelin throwing position.

I did bowl really quickly that winter. But it wasn't my action that scuppered my plans.

The cost of missing training

On April 14th 2002 I got injured in a pre match fielding drill through no fault of my own. This effectively ended my 1st stint on the staff at Somerset CCC. I was not the same bowler for at least another 3 winters.


My injury meant I couldn't bowl for 3 weeks during a phase where I would have built my repetitions up and made my new action automatic. After I changed my action, I had to think about every ball I bowled. I was totally confused, with no time to break the confusion and settle into my new action.

I take full responsibility for my failings as I didn't bowl enough during the winter and ended up having to re learn my new action in a short space of time. It just didn't work.

For the next 3 years I battled with my performances. Due to my technical modifications I was no longer "Mr Consistent". I regularly bowled too wide and missed the seam 3-4 balls every over.

This meant that our swing bowlers had a roughed up ball when they tried to bowl. My whole team was suffering.

I had my moments of success, but the 2003 season was to be my last at Somerset for some years. In the winter of 2004 I signed for Northamptonshire CCC and began my journey to rebuild my career.

I had learned my lessons the hard way. You can benefit from my experience by learning these lessons before you make the same mistakes.

Remember that your action is crucial, but not everyone has the body and mind of Brett Lee or Mitchell Johnson. Take ideas from those guys but don't copy mindlessly.

Know that if you are making changes you need plenty of time, and you can just rely on your natural strength to help you.

Train hard, of course, but also train smart by being aware of your body and the time you need to make changes.

Find out what happened in the next instalment on PitchVision Academy. Get the free newsletter to stay right up to date.

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