Thursday, September 12, 2013

Personal development

Yesterday I mentioned that the paddock hadn’t been used that much, implying that this season I hadn’t practiced as much as I might have done in previous years. Basically that’s the truth, early in the season I did the usual things where I perceived that I was doing okay and then suddenly the next day I was bowling badly again with no idea of what it was that had happened in the intervening 24 hours. I also felt as though if my own bowling was as bad as it was, who was I to pass comment on other people’s bowling and I ended up feeling like a bit of charlatan on the forums, so started to pull back from that a little, to re-assess where I was at with my own bowling.
One of the key observations I've made over the last couple of years, has been the more relaxed I am the better I bowl, an obvious call and one that is advocated by Peter Philpott in his book. So, the plan was chill out and see what would happen. So I bowled less and limited what it was that I was doing, focusing on the leg break and only toying with the top spinner and the wrong un. I tried a couple of things that contradicted a lot of the info I’d been picking up from different people on the internet and things I’d read in books and they worked out quite well. I watched the kid at our club – Frank Farrington and spoke to him about what he does, this is a kid who’s only 12/13 years old but takes 8 wicket hauls for 9 runs and stuff, bamboozles adults and sends them packing cursing and swearing looking for revenge when they come back to field only to find he’s a half decent bat as well as a damn fine bowler!
Overall, I just felt that I needed stop listening to all the info and trust my own feelings and try and bowl relaxed. Philott makes a big issue of the relaxation aspect of the bowling and Warne advocates it in some of his on-line videos. Sure enough, as soon as I started to implement some of these strategies, my bowling started to come together on a more consistent basis in practice scenarios. Another thing I noticed in games is the neccesity to hydrate, then leaves me with a full bladder when I'm in the field and I become really aware of it and that leads to a sensation of not being fully relaxed and I discovered that when I'm given the nod I now ask if I can go off and have a pee and this leads to far better bowling as I'm more relaxed and not focussed on my bladder.
I''m currently dipping into Brian Wilkins book and noted some interesting stuff. In the Flipper chapter he makes some good observations with regards to written descriptions of the aspects and details of bowling - specifically the Flipper. He makes the point in the chapter that there have been so many attempts at describing the Flipper with very little knowledge of it, that it's muddied the waters as such. But he concedes generally that cricket terminology and descriptions are difficult to grasp when presented as words on a page and this is something I've struggled with too, along with audio descriptions too. One of which that has always flummoxed me is the wrist spinners instructions with regards the shoulder going over one another to generate spin. Terry Jenner demonstrates it quite well in one of his BBC videos on Youtube 1:58 in, with all these tutorials and explanations, it's very easy to let these instructions pass you by, without you realising how integral they are to your bowling.

Another thing that Wilkins gets across through using examples of the experiences of many of the all time greatest wrist spinners is the time factor involved in learning how to bowl wrist spin. He cites Benuad in the flipper section saying that it was two years in the process from discovery to effective use. Whereas this season I was hoping to re-introduce my flipper having not bowled it for the best part of two years only to find I'd lost it. The same with the Wrong Un; having suddenly felt that my Leg Break had come together I've been very wary about bowling the wrong un for fear of messing up my leg break action. The result has been that neither the flipper or the wrong un have come up to scratch, the flipper especially poor and the wrong comes out as a top-spinner.

All of which have helped me find some decent form towards the end of the season, but still relatively wicket-less. The order that these revelations arrived in were...

1. Realising that being relaxed is essential.
2. Bowl with a loose grip*
3. Get side-on and get the shoulders going one over the other.
4. Cock the wrist.

The application of these made dramatic basic improvements, and meant that my stock ball was coming out really well, the addition of things such as getting up on the toes and standing tall, then brought dramatic dip and bounce and more turn off the wicket.

Another thing that's always bothered me is the descriptions of the ball fizzing through the air, I'd never heard my ball fizzing through the air and no-one had ever mentioned it, but I asked Joe to listen half way down the strip and he said that most of them do, so that was a very simple thing that gave me more confidence.

Some of these things need to be written about in isolation and I'll aim to go over them again in some way, but I think reflecting on what's happened and reading about the great bowlers and the time they spend developing different deliveries, the over-riding realisation is that what we do is bloody hard and it does take years and years to do it well.