Monday, November 28, 2011

Leg Spin Bowling - Drift

Drift - Leg Spin Bowling (Work in Progress)

Also see this new post here with details and links relating to Top-spin and Drift and the use of scrambled seam -

Update 26th April 2012 - That's not bad this comes up 5th in the Google search for Spin Bowling Drift. Please note that this is work in progress and doesn't at this point include a conclusion. At the moment it is primarily as series of links to videos and articles all looking at and trying to explain Drift. The reason it's here is that I'm trying to come up with an explanation that I'm comfortable with that the layman and the aspiring spinner can grasp without having a degree in Physics.

Strewth! I've been looking through all those physics papers, looking at Laminar flow and the magnus effect, I looked at Pencil Crickets blog where he's put in a massive effort to shed some light on the matter and just now I've looked at Woolmers book "The Art and Science of Cricket". Now... Bob Woolmer was a man with a lot of connections in cricket and there's a pretty extensive list of people that helped him on that book along with a massive bibliography that cites all sorts of sources. But despite this when it comes to both seam bowling and swing and more so in the case of 'Drift' he concludes with the fact that there isn't enough scientific data to actually pin down either of these phenomena and explain fully why they happen.

Dip and the ball staying in the air with back-spin - that's kids stuff, I can't see why anyone would dispute that and it's easy to put into practice and see it happen, but drift, with the ball drifting in the opposite way to the way that it spins... that's just screwed. What doesn't help either - and I don't know if anyone else sees it in the same way as me, but the illustrations in Woolmers book in the spin section seem to completely miss the relevance of the seam with regards to the direction the ball is spinning? So on that note I declare that I've given up on trying to get my head round this whole issue and join the 'Spin hard' brigade and hope that it drifts!;)

Maybe I'll engage with discussions on empirical observations over at One parting glimmer of hope that I'll maintian some interest in this is that - Woolmer in his analysis of Warnes BoC proposes that the ball was spin at almost 90 degrees to the direction of flight and that the axis of the spin was either tilted upwards or downwards which if was the case, kind of ties in with some of the data I found on the effects of laminar flow, but still goes nowhere near explaining drifts direction being opposite to the spin direction.

Read on if you're interested in what I discovered before giving up on this quest...

One of the points of confusion when describing aspects of spin bowling is the direction that the ball seam is pointed in and the method by which we can visualise this aspect. In order to simplify this on the forum I write and comment on I've suggested recently that we talk about the direction in terms of minutes on a clock. This relates to looking down on to the pitch from above. The pitch therefore would run from 0' to 30' Top to bottom.

This is the phenomenon best exemplified here with the famous ‘Ball of the Century’ bowled by Shane Warne. As Warne bowls the ball its initial trajectory sees the ball head off towards Gatting on a conventional straight line, but then towards the end of its flight it veers (Drifts) towards the Leg-side to then ‘Break’ back on to the stumps. It’s this late veering towards the right as the bowler sees it that is Drift. The batsman on the other hand sees the ball veer off to his left as it dips prior to bouncing.

The more you watch videos and read about spin bowling the more frequently you’ll hear about drift and the sense you’ll get from commentators and protagonists’ is that it’s an attribute that you should have as a part of your bowling. But, there’s a universal problem, all of these people mention it and comment on it, but no-one really seems to pin it down, no-one really says - 'this is what you do in order to make the ball drift' apart from the basic 'Spin it hard'. If you start looking a little deeper and changing your search criteria you get the other side of the coin and that's the Heavy on the Physics approach. Dig a little deeper still, and you then end up with Baseball. The reason for this seems to be that they (The Yanks) seem to take far more interest in the technicalities of their sports, maybe its that whole 'Jocks v Geeks' thing that we seem to get fed as a generalisation about the USA? It could be that, if you're not that clever academically you then seek a route through education studying sports science and playing sport at college? As a consequence, it seems as though there's a lot more information over there on the subject of spinning sphere's - specifically baseballs. But what they seem to do slightly better than us is find a middle ground between the 'Spin it hard' explanations and the 'Magnus effect/Physics' explanations. So hopefully I'm going to be able to come up with a good explanation.

The reason I'm trying to get this across in a different manner is in part due to the fact that I'm whats called a Kinaesthetic Learner and understanding complex stuff like this requires a connection with the actual practice, I can't just read it and fully comprehend it and the process has to include tactile experiences. In addition I find my level of comprehension to be enhanced by connecting the reading with the physical and then explaining it in my terms and this is what this blog entry is - a part of the process of comprehending.

To those of us with an enquiring mind including me, this vagueness "Spin it Hard" isn’t good enough, I want to know how and why, what, when and who? How do you make the ball drift and can I ‘turn the drift on’ and can I ‘turn the drift off again’ at will? Surely, if you can have that degree of control you’re moving towards becoming a master of your craft?

So, with these unanswered questions and the whole vagueness issue, I set about looking at what is out there by way of explanation and trying make sense of it and ascertain if it is possible or even desirable to produce drift on demand and what is it you need to do to produce it.

The 'Spin it Hard' section.

Here's a few starting with Terry Jenner - the interesting details in this account are the fact that he focuses primarily on aspects associated with body actions and position - shoulder rotation and side on alignment. He mentions that Top-Spin wont produce drift, as that creates dip and he says that seam alignment needs to be side ways. In this video here (Cloverdale series) he simplifies it, stripping it down to 'If you spin the ball hard it can drift in to the RH batsmans leg stump and spin away sharply towards leg stump'. (1:44 seconds into the vid).

This site here compiled by Julian Fountain is another useful one. It's interesting in that at the start of this website he too questions the lack of understanding associated with Drift and the Magnus Affect, which is the scientific explanation. I find his simple scientific explanation still difficult to grasp in relation to drift. I can see how it works with Top-Spin with the seam aligned between 30 and 60 minutes, but once I try and get my head around the seam aligned at somewhere between 45' and 55' I can comprehend this would still produce the dip that we need, but why it veers off course away towards the Leg-side (drift) I'm still unclear and his explanation doesn't clarify it for me. There's a video on the site here, but I've got to say I think this is too much, yeah maybe the students that compiled the video can make some sense of it and explain it, but to the layman all that maths is way over the heads of most people and serves no useful purpose to the majority of us. One of the more interesting aspects of the video is the sequence at 2:35 where the kid kicks the ball and it's shown in slow motion. There's virtually no spin on the ball at all and yet the ball appears to initially veer slightly to our left as we view it and then finally very late in its flight sharply to its right! I'll return to this point a little later. But for me that's a very basic contradiction "Spin the ball hard and it'll drift". Er, this ball barely spins and yet it drifts at the end of its flight?

This video looks at Warnes ability to spin the ball and to get it to drift it doesn't get that technical, but there's some good footage of his release in slow motion and Jenner talks about his drift in rudimentary terms.

Going back to the application of basic spin e.g. Top Spin or Back - Spin this science video has an excellent demo on the affects of back-spin and the magnus affect and how it makes the spinning object stay in the air, but still for me has no bearing on diagonal spin and how this makes an object move laterally through the air. *Edit - I've just sussed a visual explanation that satifies me and could be up-loaded as a very basic video explanation!

The saving grace is that at the end he reverts back to the standard advice -

Spin bowlers use the magnus effect, perhaps sometimes unknowingly, to create drift & turn. They do it by imparting revolutions onto the ball; the more revolutions the bowler can make the ball do in flight, will directly affect how much drift (and consequently turn once the revolving ball hits the pitch) is achieved. So it basically boils down to making the ball rotate in the air. The more efficiently the ball rotates, the better. Also, the ball will behave differently depending how the seam is presented; i.e. if the ball is spun across seam, as opposed to down seam, it will cause a difference in the air pressure waves.

I've also written this which will need to be incorporated and edited , but in the short term might be worth a look at.

To put it simply as Menno Gazendum says "The technical term for this is called the “Magnus Effect” but all you need to know is that the harder you spin the ball and the more flight you give the ball the more it will drift".

Bibliography/Links 3:18' The Knuckle Ball (Baseball) slow mo footage of Knuckle ball (Wakefield). - Blitzball (reduced drag caused by textured surface a la' Golf Balls. - Curve Ball using Blitzball instructions using Top-Spin - this is interesting in that there's an explanation as to how to increase 'Drift' in a curve ball through the alignment of the seams on a baseball. The ball can be pitched with a 4 seam alignment or a 2 seam alignment, the 4 seam alignment then starts to take on the attributes of a golf ball or a blitz ball in that it has a rougher surface presented to the air causing reduced drag. This is the bloke at The University of Sydney.

This here is one of the seminal pieces on the subject and is definitely worth a look -

Swap golf ball dimples for rough texture on a cricket ball with this one
This is another good article written by my on-line mate 'Pencil Cricket' who has studied Physics - this is more accessibe to the Layman than most. The interesting thing that I've picked up from Pencils article is that he's pretty much convinced that the ball that is spinning at 90 degrees to the direction of flight is the type that is going to produce the most dramatic amount of drift. Yet I recall in Woolmers 'Art and Science of Cricket' he says it's not that simple and that the ball needs to be tilted backwards or forward through the spinning axis. More on this later.

A comprehensive description of the effects of air passing over a spinning ball. Primarily this relates to seam bowling and getting the bowl to swing, but as far as I can make out this may also apply to the spin bowling and be the explanation for why drift occurs In addition take note of the bowlers comments and about the nature of the inconsistency e.g. this is not something that you can produce at will, some days it happens other days it doesn't.

Note to self - Illustrate the Magnus effect turned on its side like the Benuad Flipper with the ball spinning forwards with Top-Spin, video from above and rotate the ball from the Benaud Flipper through to the 52' angled Leg Break. Note observations regarding the RPM of Baseballs in comparison to cricket balls spinning.

Drift thoughts - posted on 26th April 2012 *I've looked at the following material and discovered some contradications, so it's back to the drawing board. Currently I'm looking at this - but to be honest this is all looking to be a bit beyond me.

The section below is nonsense it seems and I'm looking into more research...

So, looking at more vids and reading more I’ve come up with this. One of the universally agreed and tested theories that applies to a sphere and specifically a cricket ball in flight is the laminar flow theory (Link). The majority of the information relates directly to seam bowling and the phenomenon of ‘Swing’. Looking at the link provided which has research conducted at Leeds University, the agreed theory is that the air that passes over the ball in flight and creates ‘Laminar Flow’. As the video shows, the turbulence in the wake of the balls flight has characteristics which then affect the balls direction making it veer either left or right depending on nature of the surface of the ball. A perfectly round smooth ball we would imagine would have straight flight through the air because the turbulence behind the ball would be equal either side, above and below, but a cricket ball becomes worn and the players look to exploit the laminar effect by making one side of the ball rougher than the other. The air passing over the smoother surface initially and then releasing over the rough side in its wake exploits the laminar effect to make the ball ‘Swing’.

It then struck me that these experiments conducted in a wind machine which primarily look at swing bowling omit the inclusion of the ball spinning, so the laminar effect works without spin being a factor. The conclusion I’ve now drawn is that if a ball was mechanically shot out of a machine with no spin, the surface of the ball combined with laminar effect physics would mean that the ball would swing or not swing. Scuff the  rear surface of the ball (Wake side) or present the seam diagonally to the direction of flight and you’ll optimising the laminar effect as the wind passes over the ball and the ball would probably ‘Swing’ left or right. The main point to take from this going forwards is that the ball isn’t spinning.

Seam bowlers it seems, angle the ball slightly in order to have the smooth side of the ball on the leading (Into the wind) side of the ball to facilitate the laminar effect, the slight angle also then brings into the equation the seam, the wind passing over the seam disrupts the air-flow exacerbating the laminar effect. Now think of the perfectly presented spinning seam as bowled by a Wrist Spinner… The ball is projected down the wicket with the seam presented spinning perfectly round its own axis maintaining a regular plane/axis. This would then mean that the air moving over the ball would optimise the laminar effect beautifully meaning that the ball would in effect ‘Swing’ in exactly the same way as a seam bowlers ball would. Interestingly Clarrie Grimmet in his book ‘Taking Wickets’ doesn’t use the term ‘Drift’ using instead "Swerve" which then leads me to question where did the term drift come from and how long has it been around and why the differentiation if the forces on the ball are the same?

Speed is a factor needless to say, but I’ve observed younger and older seam bowlers produce balls that swing very effectively off of relatively slow bowling 40mph + so it’s not essential that the ball travels at great speed in order to be effected by the laminar effect.  So it follows then if you’re a spin bowler and you’re able to bowl the ball with the seam spinning around an angled axis and not wobbling the nature of its flight through the air would mean that the ball would ‘Swing’ because of the physics of laminar flow. The spinning of the ball would then mean the ball turns off the wicket in the ways that we all understand. To me it seems that the key to getting the ball to drift is as follows…

(1). Have the smoother side of the ball facing the direction of flight.
(2). Spin it hard trying to release the ball spinning so that it doesn’t wobble in the air, the more perfect the spinning of the seam around its axis the more the you’ll optimise the laminar effect over the ball.

Maybe it’s the case that the combination of the ball spinning and ‘Swinging’ has become known as drifting in order that when someone talks about the ball ‘Drifting’ we can then assume that it was a spin bowler and not a seam bowler?


Another observation I’ve made which I’ll mention and may complicate things slightly, is that, all of the illustrations appear to depict that these Physics theories applied to the ball from above and below and not from side to side, or possibly more complex – diagonally. The obvious answer seems to be because another import physics theory is that of gravitational pull which is downwards and applied in a vertical plane up and down and not side to side? But, again is illustrates that the whole are can be looked at in a more complex way yet again!

To be continued..............

Check out my other blog here - this is all about Leg-spin bowling and nothing else. Double click on the image below.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lignum Vitae heavy bails

Checking through my kit at the end of the season, I noticed that my set of heavy bails which are made of a wood called Lignum Vitae had a bail missing. Having not found the bail, I decided that I'd get another set and my initial search wasn't successful. I had another look tonight and eventually found that Readers were one of the companies that sold them and after some searching I found an obscure umpires website where they still seem to have a few in stock, so I've placed an order for another set. But, during my search I discovered that the Lignum Vitae which is found in the regions around the Carribean is an endangered and protected tree and is being phased out as an option for cricket bails. There's a new option available for heavy bails, but what it is made of I don't know.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Amol Rajan - The Twirlymen - Flippers

I've had Rajan's book The Twirlymen quite some time now and only read a little of it, but I've currently got a bit of time on my hands and I've been reading it and gradually getting through it. The book has got some really good stuff on The Flipper and its history which is all new to me, and makes complete sense, but the stuff where he explains what a Flipper is and how different people bowl the flipper and who bowled what variations when - hmmm I'm not so sure. I'm making notes on the bits that I think he's got wrong and I'll be cross referencing with Grimmetts info and stuff that Grimmett has discusssed with Ashley Mallett. One bit I had to smile at was his claim that the Off-Spinning Flipper had never been realised even by Grimmett. On page 185 he makes the point that Grimmett didn't invent the Flipper and that a number of other commentators falsely have accredited the delivery to Grimmett. He goes on to make a very reasonable point that the Flipper precedes Grimmet by many decades, but seemingly misses the point or at least fails to emphasise what it is that Grimmett did for the Flipper. The Flipper was introduced to Grimmett by Geroge Simpson Hayward, who I may have said previously elsewhere played for Essex, but I think the story is that Grimmett met him Essex, although I'm not 100% sure about that either. But GSH was one of the last under-arm bowlers and in 'Lob Bowling' spin had been imparted on the ball using the now familiar Flipper Click for decades. Through the discussion with GSH Grimmett saw that there was potential to take the Under-arm Flipper - over arm. Grimmett was an exponent of practicing all of the conventional wrist spin variations under-arm in order to explore the nuances of wrist position and its affect on the ball (Philpotts round the loop). So, seeing the George Simpson Hayward Flipper being bowled in different wrist positions to produce leg, off, stop and back-spin he saw that there was resonance with the conventional wrist spin variations and how they are produced with differing wrist angles.

So, yes Rajan is correct in that Grimmett never invented the click motion with the fingers, but Grimmett was the bloke that took it over-arm and turned it into the variations we see today. What is interesting in Rajans account on page 185 is the tract of text where he seems to be quoting Grimmett. In the text Grimmett seems to be explaining that he never unleashed any of his Flippers until he had them fully under -control and that the one that he went with, was the Off-Spinning Flipper, primarily it seems in order to negate having to bowl The Wrong Un, which according to Rajan Grimmett felt was physically demanding and likely to cause injury. Additionally Grimmett preferred this Flipper because it came out of the front of the hand like the Leg Break and reduced the potential for the Googly Syndrome.

My understanding from reading 'Getting Wickets' 1930 was that Grimmetts preferred option was in fact the Top-Spinning variation which was noted by Bradman later, but in 1930 at the time of publication all of the Flippers with the exception of the Flying Saucer variation (Benaud) were in development still and it would be a long time before Grimmett used one in first class cricket.

So the question for me is three-fold.........

1. Was the Off-spinning Flipper Grimmetts preferred variation?
2. Was The Top-Spinning variation ever used and is this the one that Bradman recognised and commented on as his Mystery Ball?
3. Who first described the Flying Saucer Flipper?

Note to self - Read Grimmetts 'Tricking the Batsman'.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hashim Amla

I need a pic of Hashim Amla its origins are as above.

Rhythm + Batting

Again another lovely warm and sunny day! 16 Degrees today, sunshine and blue skies and as Joe was off on a birthday do with one of his mates Ben and I went over the Rec and had a knock about.

Instead of using the deserted courts side to side which limits your run (Bens especially) we set up the stumps along the length so that Ben could run in and bowl and it went okay. I reckon my batting may have slightly improved over the last 12 months against faster bowlers and this maybe down to batting against Ben as his bowling as he gets older gets faster. I don't thiink I'll be any better against Offies, but saying that, the last game I had I managed to survive against an Offie, albeit only 4 or 5 balls.

Against faster bowlers I'm only looking to block them when the ball is on the stumps, but if the ball doesn't look threatening I can't seem to capitalise on it because my timing is very poor, how that comes together in the longer term I don't know, but I keep trying with Ben but as yet I have no solutions for getting the ball away for runs.


As well as bowling at Ben in the earlier part of the day I went back later and had a bowl on my own because my run in has changed and I seemed to have lost my rythmn a little. Someone noted on Youtube that my run in had lost its dynamic bound and they were right because the bound was a little heavy and it kind of changed over the summer to become a little more balletic and springy. So I had a look at that this afternoon, looking at whether I could change between the light springy approach and a faster more dynamic apporoach and in the end it kind of proved to be a bit inconclusive as to which was better or worse still which felt better. So that may prove to be a hinderence in the nets in January?

When I turned up at the nets there was a bloke there with his son stumps and everything and he was keeping to him and it turned out that this bloke was a Chinaman bowler. I had a chat with them and it turns out that the Dad was originally from Sri-Lanka and that he has connections with the coaches of the national team and the lad who was 14 but about 5'11" had been practicing with the under 19 national squad. They were also members of Horndon on the Hill CC which is just down the road. I told them about our set up in the tennis courts and suggested they come down for a knock about next Saturday or Sunday, so perhaps we'll have a couple of extra players next week if the weather holds out.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Paddock

The mild weather continues with it being between 14 and 16 degrees today and over-night it's only going to dip to 10 degress meaning that the grass is still growing in the paddock. The good news is that we've had some rain in the last few weeks ending the very long run of dry weather and the process of re-growth is beginning to happen of its own accord. Because of the potential Gyspy invation post Dale Farm I didn't do any pre-winter remedial work in the paddock at all other than rake some dirt back into the area where the batsmen stand, which I did mid October when it was still really dry. Since then I've not been over there and the only people you see in there are the fair weather footballers.......The ones that can't be bothered to run about on a field because it means being fit and leaving their phones more than a metre away from where they are. Or the people that let their Staffordshire Bull Terriers in their so that they can shit everywhere and our kids get it all over their clothes. But, today I went over and had a quick look and was quite surprised at how well it was recovering without any intervention. I'll have to keep and eye on it and see how it goes and maybe in the spring get some seed down early?

The other idea I've been toying with and it's one that I'm surprised that B&PCC don't adopt for their nets where the bowlers create a big hole when pivotting, is this Heavy Duty Playground matting.

It comes in 1.5 x 1 metre sections and as you can see you can seed it and the grass grows up through it and eventually a thin layer of earth covers it meaning that the root system for the grass stays intact in amongst and under the mat, so pivoting on the mat only damages the very tips of the grass that are growing through. For the paddock it would be ideal as it would be flush with the surface and allow a good surface to bowl on that wouldn't wear away. I reckon I could get away with getting it fitted over the winter and just simply cover it with earth as it bedded in. I'm just not sure whether once I got the seed I'd need to expose the mat in order for the seed to germinate and grow through the holes, I think at that point the footballers or the dog owners might spot it and have it away despite how many fixings I put in it to secure it. Something I'll have to think about I reckon.

Side Arm

The other interesting thing that I've seen recently was this here, a bloke on big cricket asked how you might be able to make your own bowling machine and one of the coaches on-line suggested this.......

It's a 'Side Arm' and allows with a little bit of practice for the user to bowl the ball with a lot of accuracy and massively enhanced speed. It also enables the thrower to bowl balls that 'Swing' and spin - Leg Breaks and Off-Breaks, so it would be exceptionally useful for me and the kids next season in the paddock. Something we'll look into as a Christmas present I reckon.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Drift project

The drift project has begun! I was looking to start writing up a definitive guide to drift, but with the little research that I'd done so far it became apparent that it wasn't going to be that easy as explaining it requires a degree of understanding of Physics well beyond my very rudimentary knowledge. So I've requested the help of my knowledgable friends on I've instigated a thread where over the next few months or so we're going to try and put together some answers regarding what drift is and how we get it and improve it in our bowling. The forum and discussion is here
and as the info is collated I'll try and form it into a blog. If you know about drift and can add to the discussion - sign up to big cricket and get involved.

Some conclusion have been drawn on this subject and you'll find the results here -

Monday, November 07, 2011

Clock face with minutes for explaining Drift and Spin

This is to be used in conjunction with illustrating descriptions of seam presentation when explaining Spin Bowling. The assumption/premise is that the pitch runs top to bottom so the ball is bowled from the 30' minute end up to the 60' end. The clockface and the inclusion and use of the minutes enables discussion whereby we explain that the seam and direction of the spinning ball is angled towards 52' as in the case of a 'Classic' Leg Break delivery.

Update - have a look at this post here - and the previous one as there's a load of new illustrations that are helpful with regards to explaining how spin bowling works and it's characteristics.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Weather still holding out

The weather is still holding out, the last week has seen the temperature drop and a fair bit of rain, but today and yesterday we managed to get a couple of hours in over at the Rec. The temp on both day was around about 14 degrees, so not exactly cold yet. The result of all this practice is that I've got loads of video footage that I would normally edit and put together as videos showing some of the good bowling and bad batting, but what with having a new computer with windows 7 on it, the new version of Windows Movie maker is about as good as a one legged man in a bum kicking competition, so i'm just accumulating footage.

The overall impact of the practices using the cones as fielders is that the batting does seem to have become a lot more patient and considered. So that's good and it also means we're getting out there and not being lethargic and picking up baisc skills and the boys are seeing the importance of some of the basics - where to put fielders, the affects of bowling leg-side when you've got an off-side set field, the importance of backing up. So it's all good fun.


Back in August I started to write a piece of Spin, Dip and Drift and it was okay, but never got finished. Despite that, the article has been used in conjunction with Guardian Newspapers 'Spin' section in their sports pages and they provoded a link in one of the writers articles where they needed to elaborate on the Drift aspect of bowling. So that was encoraging. Off the back of that I've been researching further and at the moment I'm trying to put together what I'm hoping to be the most comprehensive article on Drift on the internet! I'm currently working on the illustrations, normally I'd do them using photography and Adobe Photoshop, but again because of the new computer I haven't got Photoshop yet.