Menno Gazendam is author of the popular Spin Bowling Project.
The first thing you should do when you arrive at the field is check the wind.
Not the pitch, but the wind.
Yes, the pitch matters, but there is not much you can do about its condition. You just have to deal with what you get. Whereas the wind direction will leave you with a decision to make:
Which side to bowl from?
The wind will tell you tell which side you should bowl from: information that you need to give to your captain at the start of play (as he might be thinking other things, or not even aware that the wind is important to you).
Why does the wind direction matter?
Because you want to bowl into the wind, and help your ball drift and dip more. Bowling into the breeze holds the ball up in the air longer and allows it to drift more and dip sharper.
This can feel a bit strange. Many young spin bowlers do not like this as they feel it allows the batsman to hit them with a breeze.
The truth is that the benefit from having the ball dip sharply on the batsman far outweighs the advantage he have of hitting you with the wind.
And the opposite is also true; bowling with the wind will make your flight very flat and work against the quick dip you are trying to generate.
Beat the batsmen in the air
Remember, as you a spin bowler you first try and beat the batsmen in the air before you beat them off the pitch. And this is where wind will help you.
What if it blows across the pitch?
If the wind is blowing across the pitch, then you need to pick the side that will help your drift. So, an offie wants the wind to blow from leg side to off side, and a leggie wants it to blow from off to leg.
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