Where is Australian Cricket at? Part 4 “The Way Forward” – Spin Bowling

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Once again, thanks for all the great feedback on Part 3; I really appreciate it and am glad it created a lot of discussion. Thanks also to all the parents that have written to me, tweeted me and stopped me to say that they loved the idea of 30/30 cricket for both school and club cricket.

I hope that Cricket Australia (CA) liked my suggestions for 14 and under cricket as well as the suggested changes for 15-18 year olds. Many of you also thought my suggestion about domestic players visiting local schools as part of a school cricket initiative was a great idea. For the real young boys and girls, CA should take a close look at Oz Kick, a superb program that is run in conjunction with the AFL.

Quick thoughts on the test series in India after 2 days into the second test match.

I thought Australia had an opportunity to put themselves into a winning position in the 1st test, but the boys just couldn’t quite make the most of the chances they had. What can we learn from the defeat?

Enriques on debut was fantastic and maybe the step up to International Cricket brings out the best in him; he was quite simply outstanding with the bat and showed a real maturity. Michael Clarke (what would we do without him?) is the best all-round batsmen in the world and James Pattinson is surely a future star for Australia; he has a big heart, oozes talent with the ball, has good pace and will only get better.

The Aussies really struggled for the first two days in Hyderabad. The batsmen, with the exception of Wade and Clarke, showed little application but they must find a way to build partnerships and I hope they will in the second innings.

Our bowlers didn’t look threatening in the conditions and I’m hopeful Day 3 can be a day for the bowlers or the test match is only going one way – another win for India.

Moving swiftly on…

State of Spin Bowling in Australia…

We have to start picking the correct spinners, that’s the first thing.

I think the problem lies in what we expect from our young spin bowlers and the way they are handled at domestic level by their captains and coaches. The attitude should always be about taking wickets and not about economy rates: 4/100 off 25 overs is a good result and better than 2/60 off 25 overs.

I believe the expectations are too high and the young spinners are put under a lot of pressure to be both attacking wicket takers as well as tight economical bowlers, which is very hard to do.

My guidelines on what to look for in a young spinner is pretty simple; someone who can spin the ball.  Any fast bowler that can swing or make the ball move has a chance to take wickets; if they bowl straight they will struggle. The same criteria applies for spin bowling; straight = struggle, spin the ball = wickets.

They also have to play under a captain who is prepared to back the spinner and play them in all 10-shield games not just in Adelaide or Sydney where the ball spins.  This way, the spinner gets experience in all the different conditions and the good spinners will adapt and find a way to be successful. The more a captain can put a young spinner, and the team for that matter, in situations where they have to learn how to win a game for the team or help contribute to a win, the faster the jar of experience strengthens along with their confidence.

Nothing beats knowing the captain has faith in you and will back you, as Alan Border did with me when I started. It means a lot, eases your mindset and boosts your confidence.

It’s like the young footballers in the AFL who need 30-40 games under their belts to understand what it takes to win at the top level, while gaining a vitally important understanding of themselves. They need to do both, individually and from a team perspective, to be successful in all conditions and situations.

Yeah sure, 20/20 and 50 over cricket are a hindrance in the development of a young spinner as you have to bowl differently in those forms; with so many $’s involved in the various 20/20 competitions around the world, it’s not an easy situation. This is where the responsibility falls upon the player; if the young spinner wants to play test cricket for Australia, then maybe they have to back themselves to learn how to bowl before taking up the options available to them around the world in the shorter forms of the game.

Easy to say, I know, but I believe we should identify our top four spinners and put them on a decent contract and have them play nothing but first class cricket for twelve months and then take a view and re-asses.

The other crucial element is the state of the pitches in Australia. I think it’s great we are seeing a contest between bat and ball on Days 1 & 2 by leaving more grass on the pitch. But the wickets have to deteriorate so the spinners can then come into the game.

Here is a suggestion from left field that will help spin bowlers, in fact all bowlers for that matter, as everything is in favour of the batsmen: Make the stumps a bit wider and a bit taller. This will help in the battle between bat and ball as there will be more bowled and LBW’s.

We are very lucky in Australia at the moment that we have a lot of quality fast bowlers around, meaning that the spinner’s role does not have to be one of taking bag fulls of wickets but rather to play his role and when the opportunity arises, seize his day in the sun.  In short, spin bowling is about sticking your chest out, wanting the ball in your hand and imposing your will onto the contest.

We have to look at the programs we have in place too and examine the coaching and advice they are receiving through the ranks; we need a proper program with one person in charge, who is accountable.

Question – Is the bowling coach at the Cricket Academy meant to know everything about all forms of bowling or do we have specific bowling coaches for quicks, swing bowling and spin?

Without doubt, the one thing we need to look for in all our selections is simple; a lot of ticker and someone who is up for it no matter what, these players will always get runs or wickets when it’s tough.

Thanks again for taking the time to read Part 4, looking forward to hearing your feedback.