The sun beats down from a cloudless sky as you examine the wicket before play.
It's flat and grassless and looks like slab of baked concrete. Just as you think it can't get any worse you notice one end has a sloping run up and the wind is blowing down the hill.
You already know what the captain is going to say, but your heart sinks when he says it:
"Can you do this end please mate?" Another long spell uphill into the wind beckons.
How you react to the news goes a long way to making you a good into the wind bowler.
Do you need to?
The first question is; should you be bowling from the difficult end in the first place?
Someone has to of course, but if you are super quick and the best bowler in the team then perhaps not.
Why would the captain do such a thing?
- He wants to give a less experienced bowler the advantage.
- You historically bowl better from that end.
- The pitch conditions are different at each end, and the end you are bowling from is to your advantage.
- The other bowler is more senior or more of a prima donna (or both) and you get that end by default.
If you disagree with the logic of the decision then talk to the captain about it. If you make a good case then he or she might change his or her mind.
Most of the time he won't.
Take one for the team
So you have the ball in your hand and the gale in your face. Nothing feels right and every step is like wading through glue to get to the crease.
In short, it's a nightmare.
But doing it well means putting in a solid performance for the sake of the team.
Some bowlers react by using it as an excuse; they can't possibly bowl well when everything is against them. They go through the motions but it's nothing like their best. When they fail they say "I told you so".
Good bowlers see it as a challenge to their skills; a selfless act that if done well will lead to them being able to chose their end.
(Good bowlers also see it as an opportunity to be the fittest player who practices the hardest in the team, or club too).
After all, the skills don't change. You still need to be fast and accurate. You still need a repeatable action. You still need a plan B if all else fails.
So if it's not technical or tactical, it's that psychological difference that separates the best bowlers from the average ones.
Most people will play well when conditions are to their advantage, but if you can learn to play well by reacting positively to negative circumstances you will stand out as a bowler.
That's not really so bad after all.