Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Epiphany (Again)?

Yep, I’ve just had one of those seemingly epiphanal events. I hadn’t had a bowl in a few days and having rolled the wicket (the first opportunity since February when we last had a good drop of rain) I wanted to take advantage of its flatness to see if I could extract some turn off it. First hour or so bowling 36 balls at a time out of a bucket and retrieving them again and again, it wasn’t looking too clever for a range of reasons……

(1). What not to do when you’re 51 and got ropey knee ligaments
and therefore a newly re-injured knee.
(2). No rhythm.
(3). Indecision with regards rolling or flicking.
(4). Loads of Leg-side crap.
(5). A bunch of youths were sitting outside the paddock mucking about and not allowing me to do the total focus thing.

So having bowled pies for an hour and not getting anywhere, the kids left and I thought about what I was doing and set about getting things right. First up, I loosened my grip using the big flick method and straight away the ball turned off the pitch far better. Thinking things through, I remembered ‘Spin it up’ and tried releasing the ball marginally earlier and again this seemed to make a substantial difference for a short while, but then it started to fall apart again. Reviewing it once more I focussed on what it was in the last 36 or so balls that had made the biggest improvements and concluded it was the slightly earlier release and the more relaxed grip and this had a direct relation to something I do in between bowling the balls. I’ve mentioned before either here or on the Spin forum
that in between bowling I go through the arm action and release the ball over my head and spin upwards so that I see the seam rotation and catch the ball. This gives me a sense of what I’m trying to achieve when I next bowl the ball forwards with the bowling action and it usually makes a difference on the next ball. For some reason it occurred to me that, perhaps as I bowl the next ball instead of looking down the wicket at where I’m bowling I’ll look up and watch what happens with my fingers, hand and wrist. Again if you’re a regular reader of this blog you may have read my thoughts on fine motor actions and the fact that in the bowling action, I perceive that I’m wholly un-aware of what happens to my fingers, hand and wrist as the ball is released whilst looking down the wicket. I’m pretty convinced that I don’t actually do what I’m trying to do and that this is a consequence of having gone through the googly syndrome and still not having recovered.

So this evening I bowled the ball and watched what I was doing with my hands, observing where all the components were. I watched as the ball came out of the hand spinning perfectly as per the description in Bob Woolmer’s book describing Warne’s ball of the century. The ball pitched and turned ridiculously at 45 degrees off of a slow delivery with lots of loopy flight. 36 balls later I collected 95% of the balls from a position very wide of the off-stump line having landed 90% on a good length and line with varying degrees of turn. Another bucket of 36 went down with very similar results. Weirdly, even though this meant that as I was bowling, I was having to take my eye off of where I wanted the ball to go, in order to watch what was happening to the hand, my accuracy seemed to be better? But, watching the hand meant for some reason I was able to maintain perfect seam presentation and flick the ball ridiculously hard, but it required a different level of emphasis in the delivery as I was grunting like a pig in my efforts to get the ball spinning hard in the way that I wanted?

With these epiphanal moments I have to be wary as I find the next session I’m unable to replicate the same outcome and that’s a bit depressing. But hopefully remembering to use a loose grip and releasing a smidge earlier and watching the ball again I might be able to produce the same results. The conclusion seems to be that I’ve confirmed my belief that I’m not actually doing what I think I am. Despite all my best efforts it now seems obvious that my usual bowling action for some reason or other is still far more like a ropey top-spinner than a Leg Break most of the time. This seems to be down to this bad connection between my brain and the physical action and I’m convinced that this is connected to the Googly Syndrome and the fact that bowling Wrong Un’s in the way that I did in order to learn the delivery completely re-writes the programming and makes a full recovery very difficult.

Hopefully if I’m able to repeat what happened tonight the longer term prospects will be that if I carry on bowling like this….

(a). I’ll be able to bowl Faster.
(b). I’ll get some drift.
(c). Bit by bit I’ll have to look up less and the action will be learned without the necessity to watch the hand?