Every club at every level craves a genuinely quick, aggressive fast bowler. They win games.
Some say it’s the luck of the draw: talented young bowlers are born, not made.
No one is born to be a bowler. Every successful fast bowler in history had to learn how to bowl fast and accurately. That means you don’t have to wait for God-given talent to arrive at your club. You can mould the young players you already have into demons.
It all boils down to three simple laws:
Law 1: Fast Bowlers Are Athletes
Every truly great fast bowler was an athlete at the peak of their powers: Holding, Steyn, Waqar Younis, even Botham. They all moved like athletes; their hips and shoulders loose, their core strong and tight, and their movements coordinated.
Injuries were less likely. When they did breakdown their fitness meant it was easier to recover.
When they were bowling they were strong and supple making it easy to produce the huge force needed to bowl fast while getting into good positions to bowl straight. You just can’t do that without athletic prowess developed from a young age.
This is so important it’s vital not to leave these aspects to someone else. Your role is not just to coach cricket but to create all-round athletes.
Apply these principles to every bowler in your care. Teach them how to run, jump and land; show them movements that make them strong so they can produce force and resist injury; develop suppleness at an early age with stretching, mobility drills and foam rolling.
Law 2: Fast Bowlers Are Mentally Strong
A base of movement and athleticism helps you develop a strong bowling action. That action is all but useless without the mental strength to use it.
Consider the idea of walking across a plank of wood.
It’s easy when the plank is 6 inches off the ground. You stroll across. When you put the plank 100 feet in the air it suddenly becomes a lot more serious. The only difference is the mental pressure.
This means your role as coach is to show bowlers how to cope with different situations. Nets are not enough because the plank is only 1 foot off the ground.
Talk to them about the plans they use to cope with pressure and distractions while staying confident. Then raise the plank and put players under real pressure with middle practice and practice matches.
Law 3: Fast Bowlers Manage Through Measurement
We all know a good ball when we see one. How many of us track how many good balls our fast bowlers bowl?
For me this is a no brainer. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Yet so many clubs simple get their young bowlers to bowl up to the ECB guidelines and stop without really knowing how well the player has done in that session.
Fast bowlers need regular practice bowling at a target without a batsman. They also need to track how well they are doing hitting that target so they can see how they are improving.
The easy way to track this is using PitchVision. You get a pitch map, a beehive and your bowling speed is tracked. This allows you to manage the improvements in speed and accuracy your bowlers are making.
It’s really just a development of the very old-fashioned but effective idea of target practice.
With this 3 point strategy in place I can guarantee you will be have a production line of young fast bowlers taking wickets for your team.
The only problem you will have then is hanging onto them!