Thursday, June 18, 2009

Flipper variations

Over the last few months on one of the cricket forums me and couple of blokes (one from Malta and the other from Australia) have been sifting through some of the classic books on the great spinners or written by the great spinners. One bloke in particular Macca (The Aussie) has been going so far as to research newspapers at his local libray and email the likes of Terry Jenner and Ashley Mallett and ask them direct questions relating to some of the more obscure variations of Wrist Spin. Ashley Mallett of course met, interviewed and bowled with the great Clarrie Grimmett at least once and was told to give up bowling and take up batting as he was far better at that than bowling.

The particular ball that Macca has been looking at and investigating is the Flipper and it's variations. Through his research he's found that many of the great wrist spinners of the last 50 years seem to be in denial of Clarrie Grimmetts legacy and some such as the slimey Richie Benaud have even tried to lay claim to inventing the Flipper.

My own interest in the Flipper stems from the fact that I learned the bog standard Flipper in a matter of days and then read that Richie Benuad had toiled for 4 years perfecting it before he used it in a game. Further research on the internet - Cricinfo for instance has articles where eminent cricket commentators go as so far as to say that the Flipper doesn't exist and that it's just a commentators excuse for not understanding the delivery that was just bowled. My interest in the delivery was further enhanced when practicing one day I realised that I could bowl the Flipper out of the back of my hand like a Googly and produce a big turning Leg Break A kind of Googly-Flipper and so The Gipper was born. I was further surprised by the fact that I couldn't find anyone else that bowled The Flipper let alone think in terms of The Flipper having it's own variations and in discovering The Gipper found myself in the position of potentially having invented a new delivery?

The truth is that Clarrie Grimmett invented The Flipper way back in the 1930's and over 12 years in total isolation messed around with all of the possible variations of the Flipper. Through Macca's research he's concluded that Grimmetts own preferred version of the Flipper is the completely lost to History 'Flicker' which unlike Warne, Jenner and Benauds back-spinning 'Bog standard Flipper' is a top-spinner. The Flicker uses the same finger and thumb snap to impart the spin but like all wrist spin variations the wrist is turned 180 degrees so that as you turn your arm over you flick the ball towards yourself creating massive over-spin.

Looking back through the history books we've discovered that my 'Gipper' was experimented with and Grimmett saw too that it looked like a Wrong Un but turned like a Leg Break and he christened it 'The Wrong Wrong Un'. He spent many years working with this ball but then seemingly dropped it to go on to bowl his 4 finger version of the Bog Standard Flipper and the Flicker.

Between us over the months we've been pondering the potential of the Flicker. Macca has emailed Jenner as part of his research and Jenner wrote back saying that he thought the over-spinning Flipper was impossible to bowl over 22 yards and that he'd demonstrated it to kids before but had only been able to get the ball half way down the track.

I'd already looked at the potential for bowling The Flipper with the wrist rotated so that the palm of the hand faced the batsman - theoretically this would create an off-break ball. But the experiments didn't work that well and it felt like an incredibly difficult ball to bowl and I left it. Then discovering Macca and his knowledge of Grimmett and his investigations into the Flipper history he began to unearth Grimmetts 'Mystery ball' and this it turns out is the Flicker. Macca speculated having found images of Grimmett bowling it (see plate) that it was a Flipper delivery and eventually he discovered more references to it.....

Don Bradman confirmed in one of his books that it was a Top-spinner. So with that info Macca was onto something and he described the ball to us all. I tried it and again like the 'Off-break Flipper' out of the front of the hand it was really awkward. I couldn't get any distance with it and the line was impossible but the main problem was the fact that it strained you wrist badly in trying to flick the ball inwards in a really awkward manner. Eventually I pulled a muscle in my arm and gave up on it saying that I might look at it again in the off season.

In the meantime another of our number on the Forum Gandalf posted some ropey video clips of himself bowling it into his garage but it was difficult to see what was happening but the thing is he was bowling it and describing it as Macca had.

So having re-discovered my leg break I've been flicking the ball in a completely new way when I'm just hanging around the house and as a result my wrist has become more supple and I'm able to spin the ball in new ways and directions and for the last week or so I've been flicking the ball over the top of my hand Flipper style rather than under the hand.

Realising that this was Grimmetts msytery method last night I threw a few and they went okay. Tonight I went back to it again this time over a longer distance and it worked really well. So later Joe and I went over to our practice wicket and I bowled 3 or 4 the full distance and they worked.

So tonigh on the forum I came to these conclusions -

I've just had another 1/2 an hour bowling 'The Flicker' but also bowling the other variations of the Flipper. I reckon I've got it down to 5 distinctly different variations all of which I reckon have got applications in the game and most of which I could actually use in a game. So here they are going round the loop

(1). Your "bog standard" Flipper as demo'd by Messr's Warne and Jenner on the internet, using index and middle finger and Thumb to put backspin on the ball.
(2). Your Clarrie Grimmett Flipper which is much the same ball but you use 4 fingers and the thumb. This ball because I think you have much firmer grip on the ball you can bowl faster with more spin and you get a lot of swing with it (In Swing to RH bat).
(3). Now twist the wrist 90 degrees so that the palm of the hand is facing the bat. This then spins out of the hand spinning clockwise and is an off-break ball.
(4) . Turn the wrist another 90 degrees so that your little finger is closer to the bat and your thumb is pointing to your face. This is the 'Over-spinning' Grimmett secret ball that everyone is in denial of - This is 'The Flicker' and it looks like a killer of a delivery!
(5) Now rotate the hand 270 degrees anti-clockwise (You have to twist your arm) and you have 'The Gipper'. Which is like a Leg Break.

Again I have to credit so much to the fact that I've been clicking the ball in my hand over the top all week and this has just given me a real feel for the delivery and made it so that my wrist it seems is far more supple, the version (3) delivery which I've never been able to do well tonight was working exceptionally well, just because of the ease at which it came out of the hand with the flick. I'm staggered at how good all these deliveries are and especially 'The Flicker'. I reckon with a few more weeks working on The Flicker it is going to be a killer ball used in conjunction with my Leg Break!