Bowling is exciting when there is pace and power around, but the real work in the club game is done by the medium pace bowler.
It just takes a lot more nous to be able to survive as a bowler when you don’t have speed on your side. But the evidence of Praveen Kumar shows that you can take wickets against some very good batsmen in all forms of the game.
How do you develop skills to take wickets and survive when you can’t use intimidation?
Here are some simple tricks:
Stick at it
When your pace is down you can bowl more overs in a spell. That means you can keep popping the ball on the spot for ball after ball, make the batsman play and force an error.
Your pace will mean it’s hard to get the ball away if you stay accurate and don’t get bored. It’s a battle of wills and you need to make sure it’s the batman who cracks first and tries a loose shot.
So bowl at a target as much as you can so when you are in the middle you are “hitting the cone” every ball.
Then you can laugh as you get a wicket from the pressure of bowling 2 maidens in a row.
Of course, good batsmen will look for ways to score off you. You need to be able to make adjustments to your line and length to counter adaptations like moving down the wicket, going back in the crease or even just swinging with eyes closed.
But, whatever that batsman is trying, sticking at it will get you a bundle of dismissals.
Learn to do a bit
Alongside control of line and length you also need to make sure you can get the ball to move around. With your easy pace, movement is critical.
You don’t need to do much – half a bat width of swing or seam is plenty – but you do need to be doing enough to make the batsman think he has to get it absolutely right. He must know that if he gets ti wrong he will be caught behind or bowled through the gate.
That puts doubt into the mind and doubt is shown in poor footwork or tentative play.
There are many ways to make the ball swing or seam, but one simple way is to make sure you are getting your wrist behind the ball. At slower speeds the ball will swing more easily so a strong wrist allows you to make it move.
Find your ideal pace
It’s important, even at medium pace, to realise that you don’t need to slow down to be accurate.
The ideal is that you bowl as quickly as you can because all batsmen hate pace. That means the faster you bowl the better, even if your top speed is embarrassing compared to the faster boys.
This principle can fall down when you think about getting the ball to swing.
This is because you are trying to get the ball to swing the right amount. When you are at top speed the ball may not swing enough, so you slow down a touch and try again.
When you find the pace that gets the ball moving, stick with it.
This takes experimentation, but it’s no bad thing. The batsman will not be able to get used to the variations in swing as you make adjustments.
In many ways, being a medium bowler is like being a spinner. You are using seam and swing instead of turn, flight and dip, but you are still looking to take wickets through guile and perseverance.
It may not be as sexy as bowling fast or ripping leg breaks, but you still need skill (which is why so many medium pacers are also older players).
Take pride in your work and you will reap the medium paced rewards.