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Simple answers to common cricketing problems

Do you have a cricket-related question? Email me here and I'll publish it along with my answer - Wello

Wello's Q & As

From manee:

What in your opinion is the correct sequence in an action for a left arm fast bowler? E.g. run in, left leg into air, right leg into air, land, right arm goes up...etc...

The best way to bowl is with the body in balance. Thus if you're left arm is forward your right arm should be back, much the same as walking. The simplest method for left arm quicks is to take off on their right foot and land on their left as they bowl and I would suggest Ryan Sidebottom's action as a good role model.

My main problem in terms of getting pace is that my jump is mainly up and not forward enough, when I attempt to jump forward, the action is rushed and the ball comes out slower. I feel the problem is with my back leg not powering through enough, do you have any tips or drills to help with this?

Many pace bowlers do this. Try to jump up and forward at the same time. The projection of your front arm is crucial here since if you take it directly up, your forward momentum will be slowed. Alan Donald was brilliant at getting through the crease by jumping up and forward at the same time. When trying your new method, give yourself that extra fraction of a second 'hang time' so you don't feel rushed.

How does one become a Level 3 coach? I have heard that for Level 2, you have to be able to bowl an out-swinger and in-swinger for demonstrations among other things, what must one do for Level 3?

Level III is a tough proposition but not an impossible one. I did mine 7 years ago with a host of international coaches so I can't tell you what they do now but it did involve looking at the whole package of creating a good cricketer, not just batting, bowling and fielding skills.

What muscles are most important for fast bowling?

I would not advise developing any particular muscles to the detriment of others but in terms of assisting an easily repeatable action that has a good chance of remaining injury free (the most important thing in bowling fast), I would pay specific attention to these areas:

  1. Lower back
  2. Hamstrings
  3. Groin
  4. Latissimus Dorsi (side muscles)
  5. Triceps and shoulder muscles

Flexibility is absolutely fundamental - without it you will struggle to remain injury free.

From rob84:

Does having a side on or open chested bowling action make a difference to swing bowling? Which is the best for accurate bowling?

I don't believe it has any great difference and if you look at bowlers like Malcolm Marshall and Simon Jones, you'll see that open chested or midway actions can still produce superb swing bowling. The key to swing bowling is your wrist position, nothing else.

In terms of accuracy, the 2 most accurate bowlers of the last 20 years are probably Curtley Ambrose and Glenn McGrath, both of whom had their back foot pointing more down the wicket whereas 2 very accurate medium pacers such as Terry Alderman and Angus Fraser were side on bowlers. If you want an action to copy, I would look at McGrath and you can see that Stuart Broad is trying to do just that.

From simbazz:

When batting, I defend with a waved bat. It's successful a lot of the time but I keep getting told to go in with a very straight bat, like Vaughan, is this the best way?

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by a waved bat. The best defensive shots look like a wall of wood and the best defensive players have an incredibly broad look to their defensive play - Jacques Kallis is a very good example.

If you want to know further, my defence is a little like Kevin Pietersen's, where he swings his bat across.

I think Pietersen has an excellent defensive technique because he meets the ball with a full blade with his head right behind the ball.

From sean:

When batting, I struggle to score quickly.

Early in the innings, I try and just get my eye in by blocking, and seeing how things go, but after I get my eye in, I just keep blocking. I don't know whether it's that I'm scared to have a go at wide balls because I might go out, or I'm just a really defensive player.

I've batted many times, and I only get like 5-10 runs from 10-20 overs. My highest score is just 13.

In the nets, I can hit the ball fine, but when I get out to the middle, I've got no idea why I just block.

Many cricketers have struggles with this problem with is part mental, part technical. If you go into bat with the mindset just to block, that's exactly what you'll do and importantly, your backswing is likely to follow suit in that it will be restricted and tight meaning any scoring opportunities that do present themselves will be harder to take advantage of.

If you watch Ricky Ponting, he picks that bat up from the word go with the toe of the bat always pointing to the sky. That gives him tremendous leverage to create the required bat speed to hit the ball hard and is also a subconscious statement of intent - he's going in there to hit the ball.

You also need to remove the fear factor of getting out, which is inhibiting your strokeplay. Next time you bat, pick an appropriate stroke to the type of bowler you're facing and when he bowls a ball in that area, commit yourself 100% to the shot. For an example, you might be facing an off-spinner landing the ball consistently with the field up, preventing you pinching singles. Wait for a full or flighted ball and use your feet to hit him back over his head.

If successful, your calculated risk will result in a fielding change creating more gaps in the field enabling you to take more singles. It's all about the intent you have when you go out there - don't worry about getting out as it will hold you back.

From timed out:

I tend to struggle with length on my bowling. What drills can I do to make sure I can hit where I want? I bowl right arm medium fast.

Length is more important than line when bowling seam. The best bowlers are the ones who land the ball in a consistent place making it difficult for the batsman to score. Work out which is your ideal length - if you're a swing bowler it will be fuller than if you're a hit the deck seamer - and tape an A3 piece of paper to it. Then keeping things as simple as possible, use your full run up and aim at that spot ball after ball until it becomes your natural length. The best bowlers in the world still do this.

From jaztheman:

Now I have found my accuracy what is the best way to get the pace or speed up?

It's not easy to go from medium pace to fast but rhythm and timing are the keys. Some bowlers use power to generate speed - Andrew Flintoff for instance- but for most bowlers developing a good rhythm is the answer.

Improving your overall fitness will help but one tip I would add from personal experience is the technique of 'loading up low' with your bowling arm, in the manner of Brett Lee or Simon Jones. Most bowlers will put the ball in their bowling arm next to their head or chin as they gather to bowl. Try keeping it just above your hip instead - right hip for right arm bowlers and vice versa. Brett Lee does that and I tried it 3 years ago and found it did help me bowl quicker.

From Left_Hander:

How do I play spin without popping the ball up?

Lunging at the ball with your front pad is the biggest cause of this. Watch Kevin Pietersen play spin defensively and you will see him place his foot in the desired position and play with soft hands rather than pushing both hands and feet at the same time. You also need to make sure your bat face is pointing down at an angle of about 70 degrees.

How do I read spin better?

Watching the wrist and fingers of a spin bowler gives a batsman an enormous amount of information concerning what delivery is being bowled. To read spin better, ask a spinner to bowl some balls at you and call out what he's bowled before the ball pitches - you don't even need a bat for this and can stand at the side of the net.

What can I do to make me better at being aggressive towards spin bowling and not popping it up every second ball?

Work out what shots you play best against spin, integrate them into your game plan then positively look for those scoring opportunities when they present themselves. I've written some methods of scoring against spin bowling below:

  • Sweeping
  • Moving down the wicket to drive
  • Hitting over the top from the crease
  • Dummying to make a spinner drop short
  • Working the ball around the wicket for singles

From Dikon:

What do you think about middling bats? (Made by Fusion, basically narrow coaching bats which are made to retain a normal weight)

I haven't used them that much but England batter Ian Bell swears by them. They certainly concentrate the mind into playing with a full face.

I've seen some of the England players use them and they have said very positive things about them. Do you think a batsman would have a significant improvement in their game by using one?

I think that if you have the opportunity to use one in practice then take it and it will undoubtedly help your batting.

From Charlie_123

How do I bat on a horrible wicket where the ball is moving off the seam a lot and there is a variation of bounce?

A very common predicament in the UK. You have to be realistic in your outlook and accept the fact that the wicket is not a shirt front and you won't be able to score as quickly as you might like. Work out what a par total on that wicket is if batting first or be there at the end if batting second and you will do well.

Your defence will need to be good and I would look to play forward because the danger ball is the straight delivery which keeps low. Look to hit any half-volleys or full tosses, place a premium on running between the wickets and be patient.

From deer:

I have a question regarding off spin. I can play leg spin very well but I am puzzled against off spinners. I am a right hand top order batsman.

The ball turning into you presents different challenges to the one that goes away. Practice will be your best instructor and if you have a colleague who can bowl off spin or anybody who can throw it to you, a few good nets will help you work things out.

From Mike111:

I'm a part time leg spin bowler and I want to improve my bowling. What would be the best line and lengths to bowl at and how to I improve my accuracy?

Leg spin is hard work but immensely rewarding. The best bowling practice is done away from batsman and flying balls. Get 6 balls and bowl over after over on your own in the nets (or better still to a keeper out in the middle) until you find an easily repeatable stock delivery.

I always feel that leg spinners should threaten the stumps and risk being driven. Bowling short is the real killer for leggies so avoid that at all costs. If you can get hold of the ECB Wings To Fly 2 DVD that would help you an enormous amount.

From djinn:

What's the best way to overcome pressure? How can I, as a cricket player, control my game without getting pressurized?

Pressure is the biggest single factor in reducing performance in cricket. There are many ways to help you control pressure but some simple methods would be:

  1. Practice at the same intensity that you play in the nets or during fielding
  2. Work out your gameplan
  3. Decide upon your role in the side
  4. Keep breathing in a relaxed manner when things get tight. Poor and shallow breathing increases tension in the body resulting in an effect on physical performance.

When batting, keep a cool head when you feel the need to do something rash because you feel you're not scoring quickly enough. Work out a way to get 1 or decide on a 'get out of jail shot' which is a good boundary option for the way you play.

From perks:

When batting right handed do you think it is easier to bat to a right of left armer?

I have no doubt that the hardest seam bowling to play for right hand batsmen is left arm inswing. Most professionals of the past 20 years will say Wasim Akram was their nightmare bowler. Good left arm inswing, even at medium pace, will always get wickets because quite simply, batsmen miss straight balls.

From skateboarder:

Do you think the weather and pitch conditions matter as much as professionals and commentators say, or do you think that factor is overestimated to cover over a poor performance from a team?

They definitely do have an effect but if that were always the case, the Australian team of the last 15 years would not have done as well as they have. Steve Waugh used to be asked whether he would have liked to bat/bowl on losing what seemed to be a crucial toss in a test match. His standard response was:

'I'm not fussed. Whichever side plays the best cricket will win the game.'

I agree with him 100%.

Peter Wellings December 2007 PWCCE 2007

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