Millfield head to India on Saturday with 30 boys and 15 girls to play in 15 limited over games over 11 days.
Sure, there is going to be a lot of learning about how to play spin but I’m also interested in how our seamers fare in a new cricketing environment.
The challenges of India for a seam bowler includes heat, surfaces with limited seam movement, balls that degrade earlier than in the UK and some serious batters to compete against.
Indians love to bat!
As we are playing 40 and 20 over cricket in the main, one of the skills that Dan Helesfey, our bowling coach, has been promoting in recent weeks has been the ‘sandshoe crusher’, otherwise known as the yorker!
The king of yorkers
One of my childhood heroes watching cricket at Somerset was the West Indies legend, Joel Garner.
The ‘Big Bird’ used to let his yorker go from the top of his bowling height - he stood at over 2 metres - and it speared in with unnerving accuracy. Joel averaged 20 with the ball in Test Matches and 18, yes 18, with the ball in ODI.
Interestingly, the only other bowler who has taken over 100 wickets in ODI cricket with an average under 20 is Australia’s Mitchell Starc. Another fantastic yorker bowler.
So how has Dan been coaching yorkers at Millfield?
Technically speaking, many top class bowlers (including Mitchell Starc) have consciously or subconsciously slightly lowered their bowling arm to shift the trajectory of the ball as it goes through the air towards its intended target.
All of our bowlers have had a good go at this, some of them have found that they prefer to maintain their usual bowling arm slot but a larger number are keen to try this lower arm slot out for real when they head to India.
The slightly lower arm slot that many of the bowlers have enjoyed enables the ball to arrive at a more shallow trajectory into the very full length than a ball bowled from their more usual and more vertical arm-slot.
This means that a bowler can miss the perfect Yorker length by a few centimetres and the delivery still feels like a toe-crusher to the batter.
The most obvious example of this kind of bowler is Lasith Malinga.
Although he bowls every ball from this kind of arm slot.
Darren Gough, Mitchell Starc and Waqar Younis are bowlers who had a tendency to adapt from their usual release position when unleashing their Exocet yorker.
So how has Dan got our guys to practice their yorker skills?
Dan has created a “yorker tunnel” made out of speed hurdles, cardboard and sellotape. Something straight off of TV shows Blue Peter or Art Ninja!
It gives the bowler a visual target to go for, it’s static but very visual. The bowlers love trying to get the ball under the hurdle.
Some have managed to get the through the front hurdle, under the tunnel and out the other side without touching any part of the tunnel.
You guessed it…..the bowlers who achieved this are all guys who have decided to lower their arm slot when bowling a yorker!
Bowlers with a more vertical arm slot can also get the ball under the 1st hurdle but the ball rarely gets through the tunnel without disturbing the structure.
This suggests that the steeper angle gives less margin for error when bowling a Yorker.
It doesn’t mean to say that a vertical arm slot isn’t a good one when bowling yorkers, Joel Garner is proof of that.
But it’s certainly worth asking your bowlers to give the low arm slot a go and build a makeshift yorker tunnel of your own.
It’s been a fascinating watch from the other side of the cricket bubble!
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