Harbhajan Singh returned to International stardom with 4-12 against England. He was supposed to be a fill-in bowler but he bamboozled English batters.
How did he do it?
He took two cricket clichés and turned them on their heads, using the mantras of accuracy and variety in 24 balls.
Harbhajan spent his time away from the India squad rebuilding his confidence in county cicket, and it showed. He was out of the spotlight and returned to his successful method.
Accuracy with a twist
The spinner was accurate, as yoyu can see from his pitchmap from the Twenty20 clash with England, but that's not all:
Accuracy is a skill all spinners need to possess because the more balls you put on the spot, the more the batsman has to work to score. He is the one feeling the pressure and having to pick a shot to get out of dot ball hell.
But the trouble with accuracy is that it is also predictable.
A good batsman will eventually find a way to score of he knows exactly what you are doing with the ball. He may come down the wicket and hit you straight, he may take a big risk and slog sweep. If you are lucky his gamble will fail.
But why rely on luck?
Harbhajan's return to form was more to do with how the ball arrived than where it landed.
He landed the ball on the same spot but varied:
- pace (10kph difference between the fastest and slowest balls)
- flight and dip
The meant that the batsman could not rely on the ball arriving in the same way every time. They had to be more careful, the pressure built because they had no sure-fire get out shot.
His time bowling to county batsmen has reminded him that a spinner is not just a slow bowler who spears the ball at the stumps.
The skills of spin are three dimensional and if you are not thinking about flight and dip, you are only using a third of your wicket-taking power.
This use of accuracy, flight, dip and turn works in every format, even in Twenty20. As soon as Harbhajan remembered that, he was back to his best.
So learn from India's most passionate spinner, and practice your flight and dip as much as your turn and accuracy.