Fast bowlers are supposed to snarl and prowl. So what do you do if you have the physical attributes but not the mean, glaring attitude?
English fast bowler Chris Tremlett knows it’s not enough to be able to bowl with pace and accuracy. Fast bowling is also about putting the batsman in two minds.
You need to make the batsman think, “Does he really want to hurt me?”
When he has that doubt in his mind he plays nervously and you get a wicket through poor footwork.
But you can’t fake the snarl.
That’s why Tremlett couldn’t break into the England team. He came across as indifferent, uncaring, an emotionless bowler. The batsmen saw weakness and ignored his height and bounce.
Then he turned it around. First in the 2010-11 Ashes; then against Sri Lanka in 2011, where he tore through 4 top order batsmen and helped England to an innings win.
He had become the terrifying fast bowler.
Here is how to follow in Tremlett’s rather large footsteps.
You would think that a good fast bowler is also good with the words. A play and miss is followed by the bowler spitting out something like “put a bell on it”.
That just doesn’t work.
Intimidation is not about what you say. It’s about standing and catching the batsman’s eye after a good ball. You are telling him you are on top without saying a word.
Harness your stare. Believe it’s a matter of time. Make the batsman look away first and then walk back to your mark.
Find your niche
Confidence comes from knowing your job in the side. You do better when you feel the team are behind you.
If you are fast your job is probably to take wickets rather than hold up an end. That gives you the freedom to go after wickets at the expense of runs.
You need to do your job well, so others can do theirs. As soon as you are doing that you become part of a well-oiled machine and your confidence soars.
Talk to the captain, find out what he wants.
Then bowl fast and accurate with good variations.
Find a way
Tremlett is on record as saying the biggest piece of advice he got from Shane Warne was to “just find a way”.
As the big bowler himself put it: “Don't look for excuses, keep going and somehow find a way to get the job done”.
For me, that means practicing better than anyone else. Putting in the effort when things are going badly and look for ways to solve your problems.
That takes commitment and motivation beyond the ordinary, but it is nicely summed up by the mantra “just find a way”.
If you only say one thing to yourself every day in your quest to become a lion of a bowler, make it that.
That way you will be like Tremlett and go from intimidated to intimidator: Mouse to lion.