Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Acute Leg spin logistics

Most people even with a vague interest in cricket (As with me) know about the Shane Warne ball against Mike Gatting (June 1993). It was a leg spin ball that was pitched wide of leg seemingly so wide that it was safe and as we all know as soon as it landed it deviated off its natural line turning in so acutely that it went round the back of Gattings legs and took his bails off. Here's another example of Warnes bowling but the video quality is a lot better than the Gatting incident (See previous blog entry for that example) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3469032838578228442
The question I have is what are the conditions that are required to facilitate this kind of movement/deviation off of the natural line?

I'd love anyone out there that bowls leg spin - especially if you bowl flippers to comment and share your knowledge as to the combination of variables that enable this to happen. No-ones going to believe this for a second and I'm working on someone recording some footage of me doing it but - I can do this using the Flipper. Explanation of conditions...

Scenario 1. I practice for hours and hours and the flipper is my stock ball. Becuase of the time constraints and where I live etc one of the places I practice is a kids play area with a tarmac surface. The surface is not one of those smooth tramacs (I'll get a picture of it over the next few days) but it's flat and even. The ball I use is a hard plastic ball about the same weight as a cricket ball but the size of a 4.75oz ball (it may even be that weight). It has no seam and it's round, slightly pitted all over and scratched as you'd expect it would be.
I throw it the regulation distance 22 yards pitching it so that it lands 2'-3' wide of leg about 5 or 6 yards short of the stumps. I use a target so that I have a point to aim it at and it sometimes lands spot on target. Doing this - using the flipper not the Leg Spin I can get the ball to deviate off course so acutely that it comes across the face of the stumps and often goes wide of the off stump.

Scenario 2. Just across the way from where I live there's a football pitch and my obsession is such that over the last winter I rolled a section of the pitch flat in order that I can go over there set some stumps up and throw some balls. Rolling it has meant that the grass has been starved of oxygen (Compressed earth) and it is pretty threadbear in the area into which I pitch the ball. The quality of the earth is that it is heavy duty clay and it is rock solid when it dries - not inclined to crumble at all. It's not phenomenally flat, but when you bowl Wrong Uns they turn right and when I bowl my flippers they turn left and the straight balls go fairly straight. Again recently I had a practice session bowling 138 balls on this wicket primarily flippers looking to do the Shane Warne 'Round the legs' ball. Initially the balls did the right thing as in the description above regarding the plastic ball on tarmac, but I put it down to the fact that the wicket is a bit rough. So I tried some Wrong Un's and they turned correctly and then returned to the flippers and I was consistently able to make them turn at acute angles across the face of the stumps, so much so that I had to conclude because of the consistency that it was indeed the spin that was facilitating the deviation and not the luck of hitting lumps otherwise the conistency wouldn't have been there?

Scenario 3 And this is the bit that is devastating. We have another practice wicket that is much smoother, greener with grass growing on it nicely and densely. The field that it was on used to be a wood less than 10 years ago and therefore the make up of the earth is far more loamy and crumbly. For the life of me I cannot make the ball turn like I can on the tramac practice wicket and the clay wicket! This is where we practice in a team and it makes me look like a muppet because the ball wont turn!

So are there any experts out there that can comment on this?

One last thing written by Bob Woolmer...

It is worth understanding why Shane Warne is so good and for that you will have to understand the hours of work he put into his trade. For those who do not understand cricket and its nuances and the intricacies of leg spin bowling, it is the hardest art form of the game, it is extremely difficult to master and indeed to teach. Warne, it would seem, was a natural from a young age but spent his life perfecting the art. Indeed what drove him to become this perfectionist, what gave him the drive to become better than anyone else? Only he knows!