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Old May 22, 2005, 09:44 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Default A reservoir thread of articles on cricket's technical issues

The thread title is self-explanatory. Here is the first article. I will post more.

The art of Dravid
December 20, 2003

In Adelaide this week, a serene batsman turned Australia's cricketing summer on its head. Rohit Brijnath spoke to Rahul Dravid about how it was done.

Dusk descended gently and soon a scoreboard that told an improbable tale would be obscured. Seagulls loitered as sprinklers hiccuped. The team bus had gone home and the Adelaide Oval echoed with silence. But inside the dressing room, amidst the detritus of empty Gatorade bottles and sandwich wrappers, he was still there, tired smile on drawn face, cold beer in limp hand, the hero contemplating his finest moment.

Above him, as he craned to look, high on the wall hung a whiteboard, on which the names of travellers who had taken five wickets or scored a century were inscribed. His name had not been written yet, the 233 beside it, but his eyes told you he could already read it. Maybe Rahul Dravid just wanted to slowly inhale the last remaining scent of victory, take one last look at this foreign place where he and his team had imprinted its greatness. His team had owned this stadium briefly, and he was not ready to leave just yet.

It wasn’t unusual for him, this lingering, it is part of why he plays. "I do that quite often," he says. "I like the warmth of the dressing room. After you’ve done five days of battle it feels like home, to share so many emotions with so many different people, it’s fantastic to stay and soak it in."

Those innings in Adelaide, the 233 and the 72 not out, were essays in concentration, studies in craftsmanship, treatises in courage. They were the most compelling advertisement of the truth that he is one of finest batsmen of his generation. They are also, not wholly but partially, an education in him as player and man.

Last month in Wisden Asia Cricket, he wrote an article on books. He remembered his days as a young player, curled up on the wooden bunk as the train rattled its way to another match, soaking in To Kill a Mockingbird. In Adelaide, Racers , the story of the dramatic 1996 formula one season, rested on his table.

But there is one book he identifies with powerfully, perhaps because the tale has some of him in it. David Halberstam’s The Amateurs studies in detail the quest of American rowers for Olympic selection, dissecting their pain, their rage, the obsession of their journey. Down the phone from Hobart, Dravid explains: "It shows you true passion and true drive. It’s what sport is about for people who play it. It’s not about the accolades or the money, but about the personal battles, the sacrifice. It’s about the process, and I enjoy that."

His process, as in Adelaide, commences in the morning. The silent warrior awakes, then in his room he visualises — the portrait of an artist in boxer shorts. As his batting suggests, this man prefers method to chance. He will see the bowler in his mind, envision his action, and then barefoot, with bat in hand, take stance and meet the imaginary ball.

In the first innings, he is there in total for 594 minutes, searching for harmony between mind and feet, discovering a way to stay in concentration’s embrace. He does not care for statistics, he is not distracted by his nation spellbound, for he says "you can’t be thinking, 'What if I fail?'".

"You can’t concentrate for 10 hours, you switch on and off, you push yourself, your mind wanders, you bring it back, you steel yourself. That’s the real beauty, when you win the battle against yourself," he explains.

This is the essence of Dravid, waging his silent, private war. He is occasionally bewildered that after he is done, the pleasure of what he has accomplished is not that powerful; for him, "more joy" is found while completing the task.

He is in an inward-looking player, an analyser, constantly scrutinising his art, dismembering his innings and emotions into pieces for study. Predictably, he is too intelligent to be at ease with this hero business; he finds it discomforting, exaggerated. He says: "I don’t really feel like a hero, my only qualification is that I come on television more than a nurse or a soldier or a teacher. Anyway, I don’t think sportsmen can really be considered heroes."

At the crease in Adelaide, his brain will register heat, applause, scoreboard, partner, but it is the specific bowler of the moment that he is attuned to. That this is Gillespie running in, hair askew, awakens the warrior in him. "The Australians always come hard at you, you’re always in a contest and this makes it easier to concentrate. In fact, when change bowlers like (Simon) Katich come on, you have to focus harder."

His second innings, India chasing 230, is more valuable, more arduous; the pressure is stifling and his fine form of earlier days initially deserts him. "I didn’t feel in much control, I had to fight through periods, refocus, reminding myself of what I wanted to achieve. My goal was to not get out, to make it as difficult as I could."

He is both calm and desperate, driven by emotion yet aware it is dangerous. "I’ve been playing for seven years and we’ve lost a lot of games, and I was just fed up, and during many periods on Tuesday I kept telling myself I didn’t want to go through that again."

His batting is evidence of a careful work ethic, of a player who shares a comfortable companionship with discipline. After the Test, his captain Sourav Ganguly will say on television: "He’s the best role model you can have, because he works so hard, thinks so much." But this is also genetics, this willfulness written into some invisible chromosome. He says his mother, an artist, "is a very determined woman, when she sets her mind to something she does it". Mother does her doctorate in art in her mid-50s and the son takes photographs at her ceremony; of these innings, mother would approve.

In the first innings, he plays 446 balls, in the second, 170, so many just watched and left as if unworthy of his bat’s attention. Monks are less circumspect than him, and indeed when he plays it appears he is delivering a sermon on batsmanship. Yet his carefully calibrated approach has a powerful reason. "As much as I get confidence from playing shots, I also sometimes gain confidence from leaving balls, because it gives me an idea of where my off stump is."

His batting is not, for some, immediately appealing; it is like a painting, it requires a second look, a considered appreciation. Soon its beauty is revealed, its simple elegance, its clean, classical lines, its divorce from awkwardness, its stylish symmetry. He plays to his own wondrous sheet music. He is owner of more shots than some believe, he is merely fastidious about what to play, but when he delivers, in Adelaide, cover drives of such precise sophistication, it is worth any wait.

Polished, fussy, batsmen like him are often eclipsed by the quicker scorers, those with flair and flourish. It scarcely bothers him. "People like to come and watch great shots, and players playing attractively. That’s natural, so would I."

But this unpretentious, engaging man is an owner of different virtues, just as precious. As he says: "I don’t have some of the gifts of a Tendulkar or a Lara, but I have other things. I’d like very much to be respected as someone who is courageous and fights and does his best. I enjoy an innings (like the 233 and 72), for it brings out different facets of my character that are dear to me — commitment and discipline and courage." But he knows gifts themselves mean little, in themselves they are inadequate.

"The challenge," he says, "is making the best of the gifts you have got. I have learnt this from Tendulkar, who has worked extremely hard to make best use of his gifts."

All his life, even when belittled, Dravid has stayed faithful to these gifts. Years ago, when considered unfit for the one-day team, even told to sandpaper his off spin because it might help selection — a time of great humiliation for him — his response was classic. Then, he told me, he could have either moped and moaned and believed the world was against him, or he could go to the nets and find a way to get better. He chose well.
But let us not believe he is all seriousness, some swotting student with no time to look and smell life, because that is not him. Mostly, in fact, if you meet him for dinner, there is a charm and roundness to him that is appealing.

Indeed, of all the moments at Adelaide, the one he enjoys more than most points to a man who delights at cricket’s charming surprises.

It came around tea on the third day. He had begun the day at 43, V.V.S.Laxman on 55, yet late in the day when he looked at the scoreboard, he noticed with amusement that he, impossibly, had outpaced his usually more fluent friend. You don’t need to see the grin on his face, because he is laughing down the phone when he talks of this: "Yeah, jeez, not a bad effort for a blocker, huh?"

No, not bad at all.
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Old May 22, 2005, 09:46 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Secrets of Batting Champions
Greg Chappell

When watching international cricket it is easy to be mistaken into thinking that there is an unlimited number of initial movements that work because each player seems to have a unique method. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

I know that I tried a number of initial movements during my cricket career but the one with which I achieved the most success was a slight movement across the crease in which I shifted the weight onto the ball of the back foot to enable me to move forward easily. During the World Series Cricket revolution in the late 70’s the rise of the great West Indian fast bowling quartet provoked me into changing this movement.

Because I was not getting many balls pitched up I changed the method to putting the weight onto the ball of the front foot to allow me to get ready to play back. What followed was one of the leanest periods of my career. It was only when I reverted to my original method that I began to feel comfortable again and what followed was a very successful series against the West Indies in the Caribbean. I never considered changing my method again.

The thing that I noticed during my career was that most of the better-performed players had a similar initial movement pattern to mine. No one, including myself, could explain why this was so.

The batting stars of the modern era are no more able to explain why they do it either but they are all doing exactly the same thing as the champions of the past. It just looks different because of their physiological and psychological make-up. Brian Lara has an extravagant initial movement compared with Sachin Tendulkar while Virender Sehwag is different again, but they all finish up in a similar position at the moment when the bowler prepares to release the ball.

The reason that they do this is that they have found through years of experience that this active, but neutral, position allows for the widest range of responses to any type of delivery that comes their way. The movement is no different whether they are facing fast or slow bowlers but the timing of when they start the movement is.

Through the years of playing and, especially, during my coaching career I have heard a number of theories about what is the best method of preparation for a batsman. These have ranged from pre-cocked backlifts and so-called ‘ready’ positions that have a batsman planted on one foot or the other before the ball is bowled. None of the proponents could give me an explanation that made much sense to me. None of the methods appeared to give a very wide range of post-delivery options to the player.

A few years ago I was reintroduced to a former first-class cricketer, Ian Frazer. Ian had represented Victoria and subsequently had gone on to work and study in different fields including sports science. Ian was then coaching juniors and was as frustrated as I with some of the theories that were passing as fact in the cricket community. We decided to get together and do some research on the best players of the past and present.

When Ian and I sat down to watch the film of the best batsmen of the past 50 years, from Bradman to the current champions, Tendulkar, Lara, Ponting, Hayden and Gilchrist we saw a pattern begin to emerge. All but a few of them had exactly the same initial movement pattern. Sure, each had their own idiosyncratic way of doing it but the basic pattern was the same.

As the bowler loaded up into the delivery each of them levered the bat to a position parallel to the ground, toe pointing toward the slip cordon with the face of the bat slightly inclined to the off side with arms relaxed and slightly bent. At the same time they shifted their weight onto the ball of the back foot and inclined the body toward the bowler with the front foot hovering above the ground or lightly brushing the ground.

This was fascinating. Maybe we were onto something! What was it that caused all of these champion players to do the same thing? Then it occurred to us. They all must have had the same intention. If that was the case, then what was that intention? That too became obvious when we thought about it. They all intended to move toward the ball. How, you might ask, did we know that?

All movement patterns are organised by the unconscious brain. Once we intend to move in a certain direction, the brain automatically arranges the body so that the most efficient movements occur in an orderly, fluid fashion. If we change our mind about the direction in mid movement, the brain automatically makes the necessary adjustments. We do not have to think about each step in the chain.

The same process takes place when we are batting. Having an intention to move in one direction or the other is enough to trigger the brain to arrange the movements that are required to match the intention.

Try it for yourself. Stand with your weight evenly distributed on both feet with a magazine on the floor immediately to your left. Now move to step over the magazine to your left and observe what this intention triggers in the brain to allow this to happen. Now step back over the magazine to your right and observe once again.

What you should have noticed is that as you intended to move to the left the brain organised for a subtle shift of weight from the left foot onto the ball of the right foot with a slight bending of the right knee to allow you to push off to the left. The reverse will have happened as you went back to the starting position.

These same actions are taking place unconsciously all day long whether you are walking, gardening, stepping over puddles or playing sport. Your intention to move is enough to trigger the brain into action. You do not have to control each movement. In fact if you are thinking about each action you will actually interfere with the process.

So why do the best batters intend to move forward rather than prepare to play back? Wouldn’t it be just as efficient to prepare to play back as I tried against the West Indian fast bowlers? The answer is an emphatic no!

Why it works best to intend to play forward until you are forced back is because the first point of release from the bowler’s hand will be a full-pitched ball. If you prepare for the full ball you will still have time to adjust and push back if the ball stays in the hand longer and is short. In fact, the subconscious brain will begin to adjust before you are consciously aware that the ball will be short.

If you prepare for the short ball first you will not have enough time to adjust if the ball comes out of the hand early. In fact, you will most probably miss the ball coming out of the hand because the brain will be focussing on the expected later point of release.

This then is the ‘Secret of the batting Champions.

If, as coaches, we can encourage this mind set in our players this movement pattern will occur naturally. What a player thinks about will decide how efficient the movement patterns are, so the correct thought processes are critical to a player’s chance of success. This is why as coaches we cannot afford to cause our players to be focussed on their own movements. They must be focussed on the ball with a clear intention to play forward and let the brain do the rest.
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Old May 22, 2005, 09:48 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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At the end of their recent Test series in South Africa, West Indies captain Brian Lara cited his team’s failure to cope with pressure as one of the principal reasons for the 3-0 defeat.

“If you can’t handle pressure situations things go wrong and I feel most of the time, the pressure situations are what caused the lapses in many departments of our game.”

DR. RUDI WEBSTER, head of the West Indies Shell Cricket Academy at St. George’s University, a former performance enhancer with the West Indies team and author of “Winning Ways” an award-winning book on the subject, explains what is pressure and how best to manage it.

In 1976, Clive Lloyd and I sat in a pub in Melbourne and attempted to drown our sorrows and dejection with Australia’s most famous beer.

We had just been beaten 5-1 by Australia in a series of battles that left us mortally wounded - or so I thought.

As we drank, our gloom started to disappear and our mood improved. After two hours of fluid intake, Clive looked at me and said: “We are going to be the best cricket team in the world for the next ten years.”

Not unreasonably, I asked how he proposed to do that, given the outcome of the contest that had just ended.

Clive thought for a while, then observed that the West Indies had dropped over 50 catches in the six Tests and noted that they wouldn’t win matches if they didn’t hold their catches.

He was adamant that he would see to it that the West Indies became the best fielding team in the world. In future, he said, he wanted only players who could take up any position in the field.

Clive noted how uncomfortable the Australians were against the two young West Indies’ fast bowlers, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts, in Perth where the West Indies won their only Test by an innings.

His point was that he wanted two more bowlers like Holding and Roberts to compromise a four pronged attack that would put the opposition under constant pressure and give them no quarter.

But there was more.

“We must become tougher mentally, to outthink and outplay our opponents,” he said.

Clive had taken a lot of flak for the defeat, even more than losing captains usually do, but he insisted that he intended to become the “most successful captain in the game”.

These were some powerful goals and the way he articulated them dispelled my doubts about his original statement. Suddenly, I was able to see those outcomes in my mind.

The rest, as they say, is history. Clive Lloyd achieved all his goals and the West Indies team dominated cricket, not for 10, but for 17 years.

A famous Russian scientist once said that performance is influenced by a combination of history or past experiences and goals and plans formulating the future.

Clive understood West Indies cricket history. He was conscious of the culture, experiences and style of play that brought success to the teams led by Frank Worrell and Garry Sobers.

It was from that platform that he launched his team towards his clear and powerful goals and created the future that he articulated so eloquently in a Melbourne pub.

To return to those heady days, almost 20 years after Clive Lloyd played his last test, West Indies cricket needs to go back to its roots and establish solid foundations at youth, school and club levels, on which we can build later on.

In the early stages, it must ensure that players (and coaches) understand the importance of the areas outlined above and those itemised below and that they get adequate exposure to them.

Sir Garry Sobers once said to me that, while having a clear picture of what you want to achieve and a strong belief that you can achieve it do not guarantee success, they give you a 70% chance of having success.

The first lesson to be learned from these examples is that we ignore our history at our peril.

We cannot replace our cricket culture and style of play with transplants and insensitive personnel from other countries and expect to get the best out of our systems or players.

What we can do is adapt our systems and style of play, where necessary, to meet the demands and challenges in today’s cricket environment.

We must have a clear vision of what we want to achieve and where we want to be in the future. Having done that we must set long-term and short-term goals and priorities, and formulate plans to achieve those goals with clear standards and expectations.

Everyone involved in performance enhancement must be able to see, understand and believe in those goals, abandoning the disturbing modern feature of attempting to “intellectualise” sport.

The parts of the brain that deal with sport, music, dancing and art are different from those areas that deal with intellectual and academic activities.

Most development and performance improvement programmes in sport revolve around four areas identified by the great track and field athlete, Michael Johnson, in a BBC television interview.

The first is fitness, conditioning and the prevention of injury (strength, power, endurance, flexibility, speed, agility, coordination, balance and stability).

The second is technique (mastery of the basics of technique), the third, tactics and strategy (how to compete, how to score, how to outthink, outplan and outplay the opponents) and the fourth, the mental skills (self-discipline, how to think, concentrate, cope with pressure and play a good inner ‘game’).

Priorities in these four areas differ from sport to sport, but all of them are necessary for success.

In golf, and other sports, players are always searching for that magic tip or magic move to transform their game and just about every year a new fad takes root. Cricket is now going down a similar path.

The new fad in cricket is biomechanics.

It is an important science but, like any other specialty, it must be put in its rightful place in the performance equation.

Its main objectives are to improve the efficiency of movement (technique) and to prevent injury. It is a relative newcomer to cricket and, assuming that it is being used correctly, one has to ponder whether it is achieving its goals.

Regarding technique, all great batsmen have certain things in common. They see the ball very early and, from its trajectory, determine its line, length and bounce. That helps them to get into position early.

Their other attribute is their placement of the ball. In some cases the actual mechanics of batting vary considerably. Just look at Sobers and Viv Richards, Lara and Hayden, Tendulkar and Steve Waugh.

Instead of just focusing on body movements (biomechanics) when teaching batting technique, coaches would be well advised to spend more time improving the two areas I just mentioned. After all, they are the strengths of the great players.

Those obsessed with biomechanics should ponder the following verse:

A centipede was happy and quiet until a toad in fun

Asked, “Pray, which leg comes after which?”

This set his mind in such a pitch

He lay distracted in the ditch

Thinking how to run.

This is a classic case of paralysis by analysis.

Sir Garry once told me that the proper use of the mind is the one thing that separates champions from merely good players. He said that he had come across lots of players who had more natural skill than some of the great players but they never made it, because they couldn’t think clearly and sensibly. He stressed that top players know how to think, how to concentrate and what to do in tough situations.

When I ask players what percentage the mind plays in competition and performance, most say about 50 to 80 percent. But when I ask them how much training time they spend on the mental aspects of their game, the answer is less than five percent.

Considering that the mental condition can be trained just as much as the physical condition, why is there such a discrepancy in what the players say and what they do?

In every game, the player has two opponents, one on the outside and one on the inside.

The outer opponent is the other team and conditions in the game they must overcome.

The inner opponent is very cunning. It will play all sorts of tricks to upset your game. He knows exactly how to upset you, break your concentration and diminish your confidence.

In fact, many times when he is finished with you, you are half way to defeat before you meet your opponent on the field.

To win the game on the field, players must first win the game in their head. If they don’t cope with their inner opponent, the outer one will cause them even more problems.

Perhaps the best example I can give of mental toughness and winning the inner game is an experience Desmond Haynes and I shared on a golf course in Hampshire with Malcolm Marshall in the last few months of his life.

At that time, Malcolm’s body was ravaged by cancer. He was weak, frail and suffering excruciating pain. He played very badly because he could hardly hit the ball.

On several occasions we asked him if he wanted to abandon the game but he refused to quit. On the 14th tee he said, “What am I doing out here? I can’t even hit the ball,” to which Desmond replied, “Stop complaining and take your lashes like a man.”

Malcolm went silent for a while. He then turned to us and declared rather confidently that he was going to win the last five holes. We laughed, told him he was dreaming, and then tried to lift our own games.

Almost miraculously, Malcolm’s swing and ball striking improved and his will to win became evident as new energy appeared in his movements and body language. He won the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th holes and only a lucky chip by Desmond on the last hole prevented him from winning.

I was dumfounded. I suddenly realized that I had just seen a triumph of mind and spirit over body, physical limitations and extreme pain.

When I asked him how he did it he told me that in spite of his problems he knew he could beat us. He said that he saw the victory in his mind very clearly and it was just a matter of carrying it out on the course.

Later that evening, I remembered the words of the famous NBA champion Bill Russell about courage in champions. He said: “Heart in champions has to do with the depth of their motivation and persistence, how well their mind and body react to pressure. It is concentration – that is being able to do the best under maximum stress, fatigue and pain.”

One final thought.

The team that wins the Cable and Wireless series between England and West Indies will most likely be the one that executes the basics better and uses its head more sensibly.
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Old May 22, 2005, 09:51 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Bradman’s secret: all done with leverage
Phillip Derriman
April 28, 2000

The British sports scientists who have begun analysing Don Bradman’s technique in the hope that it may contain the secrets of success for future English batsman apparently believe they have stolen a march on the rest of the cricketing world.

Not so. Among certain Australian coaches, too, there has been a growing realisation that what Bradman did was mechanically correct, however unorthodox it may have seemed at the time, and should be used as a model for young batsman.

Greg Chappell, Australia’s most successful batsman since Bradman, is one such coach. For some years Chappell, now South Australian coach, has taken a special interest in Bradman’s ‘unorthodox” backlift and is convinced that it had a lot to do with his phenomenal success.

Bradman’s backlift is also the main focus of the new research in Britain. Biomechanists at Liverpool John Moores University have produced three-dimensional computer images that seem to show that a Bradman-type backlift gives the batsman a fraction longer to play the ball and automatically puts the batsman on his toes.

Bradman did not place his bat behind his back toe and lift it straight behind him in the classical fashion. Rather he placed it between his feet and raised it, baseball-style, in front of his body so that the blade was pointing upwards towards gully.

Chappell has studied the Bradman method on newsreel footage and experimented with it at length. This is his conclusion:

“Basically Bradman didn’t lift the bat at all - he levered it up. He just pushed down with his top hand and used the thumb and forefinger of his bottom hand as a fulcrum. There was no lifting as such: it was a pure lever action. The result was that the batsman weighed nothing because it was pointing straight up.

The need for a backlift is a fallacy. You don’t need a backlift. All you need to do is get the bat into a neutral position so you can move quickly to play the ball, both forwards and back.

Once he had levered the bat up, Bradman’s hands were in the middle of the body and his balance was perfect. The reason he’s the best player ever is that he was the best balanced player ever. He was a bit like a boxer who carries his hands low, like Muhammad Ali. He was on the balls of his feet, light as a feather. He never took the bat out of the perimeter of his feet.”

In Chappell’s view, this was the other big advantage of the Bradman method:

“The weight of his bat and arms was over his feet rather then projected behind him beyond his centre of gravity. This avoided the shift in weight to the back foot produced by a straighter backlift.

Bradman was just so loose. Because he had levered the bat up, it was almost weightless, so it didn’t take much effort to hold it. His arms, hands, everything was very relaxed. If you try to lift the bat straight back, all of a sudden you are using a lot of muscles in your hands, forearms, upper arms, chest, and once you engage those muscles, it requires effort from your legs to keep you balanced.”

Chappell’s research suggests that, regardless of what the textbook says, most good players over the years have tended towards the Bradman pickup, although none has done it quite as he did. The closest to it that Chappell has seen is India’s Sachin Tendulkar, a short man like Bradman.

According to Chappell, tall batsman find it harder to pick up the bat like Bradman.

“The taller you are, the harder it is to get into the position of balance that he was in. I would’ve had to stand straight up to be in the same position. I didn’t do that - I did what everyone else did: learnt over and tapped that bat on the ground. If I was starting out now, I’d probably adopt a more upright stance.”
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Old May 22, 2005, 09:53 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Greg Chappell

Unweighting is the act of accessing the ground forces effectively and efficiently.

It describes the act of the ground pushing back the weight that has been applied to it. As more weight, either through total mass or through the velocity of the movement (mass/time), is applied to the ground the more the ground pushes back. This describes how humans walk, run and jump. It also describes how batsmen must act to use their feet to move into position to strike the ball.

To be able to jump to the left or the right the human body must be unweighted by loading one foot or the other. If you want to jump to the left you must load the right foot by shifting weight over the right leg onto the ball of the foot. Should you wish to jump to the right the weight of the body must be unweighted by loading onto the left leg in the same manner. If both feet are carrying significant weight, movement becomes laboured and difficult.

The timing of any movement is critical to its effectiveness. What is forgotten is that the ground only pushes back at the time of the exposure to the weight. After that point it takes considerable strength and energy to push out of a set position. This explains the problem with total mass plants that are taught by many cricket coaches. These initial movements often weight the ground over a long period of time. To move quickly the body must be unloaded and reloaded quickly at the critical time.

Forces are generated in the vertical, horizontal and rotation planes. Ideally we want to unweight as much into the vertical plane while remaining on balance. Interestingly by loading the unweighting leg vertically we also allow the leg to be loaded rotationally. This same technique is used by ice skaters. These forces are then passed up through the body to set up the top half.

A batsman can do a mini dance on the balls of the feet as the bowler approaches, (have a look at the effect on the bat load as the weight shifts occur. Players like Border even Tendulkar (above) who move around pre ball have to time the bat loading and reloading. It’s another complexity that players often struggle with), as long as at the time for movement the batsman is in a position to push into the ground with the appropriate loading. That is the key! For cricket this requires we push off one leg to set up the other. The simpler it is kept the easier it is for most.

The simplest way to start the movement is with the top hand take away of the bat, to load it, triggering the unweighting onto one foot for push off. For most players it is best to load the back leg as the ball is leaving the bowlers hand to be in position to push forward if the ball is pitched up. The front foot is carrying no weight at this point and is virtually hovering above the ground. If the delivery is too short to push forward to comfortably, then the front foot can be planted onto the ball of the foot to push the body back into the best position to access the ball.
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Old May 22, 2005, 09:55 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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The Mystery of the Wrist Cock in Batting
Greg Chappell

Perhaps no other area in sport has been discussed or analyzed as thoroughly as the golf swing. Just about everyone who plays golf can carry on a reasonable conversation about the mechanics of the swing. Golf is a very precise and demanding game and minor mistakes often result in major disasters.

One of the moves most talked about in golf is the cocking of the wrist. In the last few years, this has been receiving more and more attention in cricket and is now part of the batting lingo.

In the right handed golfer, proper cocking of the left wrist is a key move in the golf swing. Cocking the wrist correctly and getting the clubface in a good position at the top of the backswing enable the top golfers to move freely, smoothly and correctly into the downswing. This helps them to get good contact with the ball and to control its flight, direction and distance. This is also the case in cricket.

But, cocking of the wrist in the backswing is one of the most misunderstood and poorly executed parts of the golf swing and bat swing. When you ask golfers or batsmen to cock their wrist and hold their position at the top of the backswing, invariably you will notice that their wrist is not cocked at all. Instead, it is extended - the back of the hand is closer to the forearm and forms an angle of just over 90 degrees.

What does the wrist look like when it is cocked?

Place the palm of your hand, fingers and forearm on a flat surface and move your hand from side to side (radial and ulnar deviation). Now move your hand in the direction of the thumb and hold it in that position. Your wrist is now in the cocked position – radial deviation.

In this position you will notice that there is a slight backward bend (slight extension) or no backward bend of your wrist. The line along back of your forearm and the back of your hand is either straight or forms a gentle backward curve. You will also notice a gentle concave curve between the radius, wrist and thumb and three or four fine converging lines or wrinkles intersecting that curve.

Keep your hand and forearm flat on the surface and then bend your wrist backward so that the back of your hand moves towards your forearm (extension). Take it back as far as it will go. You will notice a tighter curve between the back of the hand and forearm and large wrinkles across the back of the wrist. This position of extension is often mistaken for the cocking of the wrist.

When a weighted object like a bat or golf club is swung to the top of the backswing, its weight and the generated forces tend to bend the wrist backward into extension rather than into radial deviation. In that extended position, the grip pressure in the last two fingers might decrease and the club handle might move away from the palm of the hand. This can cause problems in the downswing.

I have noticed that batsmen who are taught to cock their wrist invariably end up with the wrist quite extended at the top of the backswing. As the top hand grip loosens, the bottom hand frequently compensates by gripping the handle tighter. If the power grip (palm grip) is maintained in the top hand throughout the backswing with constant pressure between the palm and the last three fingers, this is unlikely to happen. When the backswing ends incorrectly, the downswing is likely to start incorrectly.

Anatomists will tell you that cocking of the wrist or radial deviation – the creation of a gentle concave curve between the thumb and radius - and ulnar deviation are easiest and most effective when the wrist is in a neutral flexion/extension position – when the back of the hand and forearm are in line or form a slight backward curve with each other. Cocking the wrist becomes more difficult and less effective as extension of the wrist increases and the backward curve gets tighter. That is why good golfers are so careful, almost obsessive, about keeping their wrist in a neutral flexion/extension position at the top of the backswing.

Many amateur golfers spend countless hours with their coaches, and at practice, learning how to cock their wrist. Alas, not many of them succeed in doing so correctly or consistently, particularly under pressure.

Years ago, I did some mental work with Greg Norman, the great Australian golfer, who became the number one golfer in the world. Sometimes we spoke about technique and about how it is affected by the mind. There were two technical points that I stressed to him. In putting, he should feel as though his fingers were making gentle love to the club handle. That was to encourage him to use the precision grip and to get a better feel and awareness for the movement of the putter. The second was the cocking of the wrist. I asked him to take his normal grip, start his backswing by making a fist with his top hand, and feel the pressure between the palm of his hand and the last three fingers. He was to maintain that fist at least to the top of the backswing.

Why did I ask him to make a fist? When you do so, your wrist automatically goes into the cocked position. Try it and see. Make a fist and feel the pressure between the palm and the last three fingers. In this position, your hand will deviate to the side of the thumb to make a gentle concave curve with the radius, small converging wrinkles will intersect that curve, and the wrist will go into a neutral flexion/extension position

What does the correct wrist cock feel like in the backswing? Place your right hand behind your back and swing the bat or club with your left arm to the top of the backswing and stop. Now make a fist. Your wrist is now cocked.

Another way to feel this sensation in the backswing is to make a fist around an imaginary bat handle and swing your left fist and arm backward to the top of the backswing a few times. A third way is to place your right hand behind your back, take a power grip on the bat handle with the left hand, make a fist, and swing the bat backwards a few times to get the feel and awareness of the wrist cock. As you cock your wrist in both of the above exercises notice how the weight of your body tends to shift towards the ball of your right foot.

Cocking the wrist is one of the fundamentals of batting. Cricket coaches should emphasize it and explain it plainly to their batsmen. They should then show them how to do so correctly and how to get the right feel of it. In addition, they should encourage them to pay attention to what is happening to the weight on the bottom of their feet during the backswing. They will then be in a better position to enhance batting performance.
Edited on, May 23, 2005, 2:57 AM GMT, by Arnab.
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Old May 22, 2005, 09:59 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Tempo, the Forgotten Factor
Rudi V. Webster
May 13, 2005

During the Clive Lloyd and Gary Sobers eras, West Indies cricketers thrilled cricket lovers around the world with their natural, exciting and often reflexive style of cricket. The purists of the day often complained that the players’ mechanics or techniques were wrong. And yet, under Lloyd and Viv Richards, the West Indies team dominated cricket for seventeen consecutive years, consistently outscoring and outplaying all opponents.

In the case of the batsmen, these critics, like many of today’s cricket coaches, were so preoccupied with body positions and the conscious control of those positions that they missed one of the most important fundamentals of the sport - tempo. While those West Indies players had different and distinctive techniques, they all shared good tempo (timing) and rhythm. The body positions that these coaches espouse are the effects of a good bat swing and not the cause of it. And conscious control of body positions during the very short time between the start of the backswing and the impact of bat with ball is very difficult. It is not only difficult; it can distract the player from watching and hitting the ball.

If you are a player with reasonably sound mechanics, good tempo will take you to a higher level of performance. With good tempo, you won’t have to worry about the mechanics of the swing. They will happen instinctively and reflexively. Hardly any of today’s cricket coaches focus on tempo. Conventional coaching therefore ignores one of the most important fundamentals of the game.

In his book, “I Can’t Accept Not Trying” Michael Jordan the basketball player stressed: “The fundamentals are the basic building blocks or principles that make everything work. I don’t care what you’re doing or trying to accomplish: you can’t skip the fundamentals if you want to be the best.”

Tom Watson, the great golfer, once said that good tempo lets your mechanics work for you during the swing. He added that good tempo could compensate to some extent for poor mechanics since it allows your movements to take place in the correct sequence. He stressed that one of the first casualties of poor tempo is balance. And when your balance goes, you automatically lose your ability to strike the ball well.

The word paradigm has become quite common. But what does it mean? It can be regarded as a set of rules that defines boundaries and tells you how to behave within those boundaries in order to be successful.

When teaching batting skills, today’s coaches often break down batting into its constituent parts and try to improve each component. Once this is done they assume that the individual parts will blend automatically to produce a more efficient whole. But, this is not altogether a rational assumption. That is the paradigm that most of today’s coaches employ. I believe that it is time for coaches and players to look at a different paradigm because in batting the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Let’s consider the metaphor of the bicycle and the frog. You can break down a bicycle into its parts, clean and oil them and then put them back together to produce a well functioning bicycle. When you remove a part of the frog, the rest of the body might compensate to keep the frog alive. However, if you remove other parts the frog will lose its life force and die, and no matter how well you put back those parts in the body, the frog will not live again. The difference is that the bicycle is an inanimate object and the frog is a living organism.

The golf swing and the bat swing are not inanimate. Like the frog, they are complex living systems. Good tempo gives life to the swing. It is the force that blends the component parts of the swing into a cohesive, flowing, efficient and living whole.

What is tempo? How can it be learnt?

Cricket can learn a lot from other sports. Bismarck when discussing military strategy once said: “Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit from other peoples’ experience.” He probably said this because soldiers often don’t get a second chance to learn from their experiences.

John Novosel, an American sports writer, recently did extensive research on the tempo of professional golfers and he claims that there are two parts to tempo in golf.

1. The time it takes the club to travel from the start of the backswing to the impact of the club head with the ball. In good players this time varied between 1.06 seconds and 1.20 seconds and in less skilled players 1.3 to 3.0 seconds;

2. The ratio of the time it takes to execute the backswing to the time it takes to execute the downswing to the point of impact. He found that regardless of style or form this ratio was 3 to 1 in professional golfers. In other words, the backswing took three times as long as the downswing. Less skilled players usually have a different ratio. But even among professionals, poor shots resulted whenever that 3 to 1 ratio changed.

Perhaps researchers should do similar studies on the best batsmen in cricket. The demands and circumstances might be different from those in golf but the findings could help us to better understand and improve tempo in batting.

In golf, the club head strikes a stationary ball. But, in cricket, the batsman reacts to the bowler and the movement of the ball as it leaves his hand. His bat swing is triggered by his visual, cognitive and perceptual skills, which also help him to judge the line, length, bounce, spin and speed of the ball.

Good tempo is one of the first casualties of tension, anxiety, loss of confidence, pressure, and poor concentration. Effective management of the mental skills is therefore critical in preserving good tempo.

I have my own ideas about how tempo can be learned in cricket. But, I wish to engage the reader in generating his own ideas and finding his own solutions to this important but forgotten factor in the game.
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:03 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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India holds its breath every time Sachin Tendulkar walks to the crease. It prays for yet another century, a flood of fours and a shower of sixers, even dropped catches. The heart is in the throat as the ball climbs towards the clouds and, when it crashes on the stands, there is a surge of pride. Why is Sachin so compelling? Here is an observation of his life by Dr Harish Shetty, a psychiatrist in Mumbai, who talked to the cricketer's close friends and acquaintances to trace the dominant influences on his mind.

Sachin's psyche
Dr Harish Shetty

In an era of painful social change Sachin Tendulkar's persona has an inspiring incandescence: it lends hope and meaning in life for millions of Indians who rejoice in his triumphs and console themselves, whenever he fails, that he would surely do better next time. It is a cathartic experience for them.

All attempts to understand Sachin's 'being' would be woefully incomplete without his cathartic sharing. Since I have had no occasion for that, this article is an attempt to explain the essential characteristics of a young man from my interaction with his friends and neighbours at Sahitya Sahawas.

Sachin as a child explored the environment around him unlike today's children who live in structured surroundings most of the time. He had uninhibited access to homes, trees and playgrounds, and the freedom was tempered by the intellectual culture at Sahitya Sahawas Colony, his home in Bandra, Mumbai.

Sachin, photographer Avinash Gowariker and contractor Sunil Harshe were a terrible trio of uncontrollable energy at Sahitya Sahawas two decades ago. "One Sunday while everyone was watching the movie Guide Sachin and I found each other on the same branch of a mango tree," says Sunil. "It broke sending us down with a thud, which alerted an elderly neighbour, and we ran for our lives."

During summer vacations the trio was irrepressible from early morning till late night, playing cricket and a host of other games like viti dandi and shigrupi. Sachin lay
in wait for the kill while playing hide-and-seek: he would hide when it was his turn to seek, waiting for the others to come out, so he could catch them.

Sahitya Sahawas was still being built those days and the boys delighted in making booby-traps in the heaps of sand and bricks lying around. They also flitted around on a rented bicycle but there were still extra calories to be burnt. And this Sachin did with physical fights: whenever he was introduced to a new friend Sachin would challenge him to beat him. Few could.

He has always been positively aggressive, raring to spar with a mightier opponent all the time, but never displaying a destructive trait. He was mischievous but capable of deep affection, says Laxmibai Gije, his nanny for 11 years. He enjoyed every minute of his childhood, and his family and friends provided him with security which probably is the sole factor behind his sense of freedom at the crease.

He could be tough but not insensitive. Sunil gives an instance of the abundant caring quality in him: "Playing 'dummy' on a summer evening in Sachin's house we were hiding under blankets and he was to identify us by touch. He wouldn't let us switch on the fan even though it was very hot. He was afraid that the pigeons in the nest there would get hurt."
A year ago while the Indian team was practising at the Wankhede Stadium, Sachin spent much time bowling underarm to a child who was suffering from a fatal illness. "His last wish was to play with Sachin," says Prof. Ratnakar Shetty, secretary of the Mumbai Cricket Association. Sports journalist Makarand Waingankar recently invited Sachin to be the chief guest at an under-14 Elf tournament. He turned up half an hour early, and was extremely friendly with the kids. "Not many cricketers would do that," says Waingankar.

Sachin's toughness emanates from the training by his coach Ramakant Achrekar: it is an attitude practised over the years and now it is a part of him. He is at his best when he is natural and free of all shackles. He does not have to grimace, stare or shout but just be what he is, enjoying every moment, and that is what the people view as toughness. He is toughest when he is enjoying the most.

For him toughness means fulfilment, fun, shouldering responsibility and not being reckless. It indicates the inner peace he enjoys as a result of fulfilling relationships with friends, teammates and family.
Family support and values have contributed much to the making of Sachin. "He is realistic, simple and sincere. Money has not gone to his head. He is caring and jealously guards his private life," says a very close relative. Even after Sachin became a legend his father continued his association with his old cultural associations, and his mother retained her job with the LIC. The family has practised a value system with rigour.

When someone asked Sachin why he did not move from the middle-class Sahitya Sahawas, he replied that it was where he grew up and where he could be close to his family. Sahitya Sahawas also affords him the freedom to move around in shorts without being mobbed; here he can have his private emotional space and feel secure. His wife Anjali attends all functions in Sahitya Sahawas and daughter Sara's first birthday on October 12 drew all the children and their mothers in the colony to the Tendulkar home.

Sachin's parents gave a room to a family friend in their small house for a whole year as he had no place to live at that time. There are many such instances which reveal the family's sound value system which has had a deep impact on Sachin. Even today when he comes to play table tennis, he waits for his turn; and while playing cricket in the colony he is prepared to field and bowl with the kids there.

This was one kid who was really determined. As Sahitya Sahawas was a writers' colony there was a strong temptation to keep him away from cricket. But by the time he was 10 he had a cricket bag bigger than him and he would start for his practice at 6 a.m. When he was 11 he moved in with his paternal uncle to concentrate on cricket. The commitment to the game never weakened. "Last May he practised alone at the nets for three days to prepare for a match against a team of the calibre of Bangladesh," says Shetty.

Faith is central to Sachin's psyche. A firm believer in himself and in God, he frequents the Shivaji Park Ganesh mandir, and his cricketing kit has an embossed image of the Lord. "After we had done badly in Sri Lanka Sachin and I had planned to visit the Ganapati Temple at the G.S.B. Hall at Wadala," says Shetty. "As he had to go to Toronto to play against Pakistan I visited the temple on our behalf. When India won 4-0 Sachin called up from Canada and thanked me for visiting the temple."

Sachin's faith in India is there for all to see. He is the only cricketer who sports the tricolour on his helmet and he wants all others to do so. He was terribly upset when someone inverted the tricolour during the Asia Cup at Colombo. He touches the soul of India. He is our best anti-depressant.

It is his faith in values, God and the country that makes him a clean cricketer untouched by controversies. It is one reason why he is reluctant to appear on liquor ads. He stands apart, giving of his best. And the best of his contributions is being a national unifier at a time when cynicism and divisive mentality are gaining ground. He acts as a great binder, a superglue.

With his flair on the field Sachin reminds us of our self-esteem. Each century of his proves his conviction that Indians are no way inferior to anyone. When riches are becoming the only mark of success in a country that has cherished austerity, he shows that wealth and good values can co-exist.

He offers solace through his innocence, talent and ability to take on the world's best. He is warm yet aggressive, friendly but fiercely competitive, enlightened but approachable. He may not love to debate about Amartya Sen but he is emotionally intelligent. His state of being is more powerful than the tallest intellectuals of the country.

He learnt art of poise from the other little master. At age 14 when Sachin was disappointed on not getting the prize of the best school cricketer of the year, Sunil Gavaskar soothed him with a letter whose gist was, 'When you see the records of cricketers who have won the prize, you will see one name is missing, one who has proved everybody wrong. Hence do not worry.' He has not forgotten the lesson and never makes a mistake twice.

A constant learner, Sachin is also a good guide. Amit Pagnis, who captained the under-19 team for the World Cup 1997, says, "Sachin clarifies our doubts gently as an equal and not from a pedestal." Veteran cricketer Hemant Kanitkar relates how his son Hrishikesh found Sachin inspiring: "Sachin kept saying, 'We can do it, and we will do it,' after Pakistan had scored 313 against India at a one-dayer in Dhaka."

Most achievers build their cerebral software early in life and do not greatly modify it later. Sachin is a constant learner, who does not hesitate to change the chips. He competes with himself all the time, teasing and quarrelling with Sachin of the previous day.

Early in life he learnt the importance of being human. The dehumanising environment that envelops celebrities has had little impact on him as he is surrounded by people who are equally human. He is himself in their presence: he can be vulnerable before them, shed tears and replenish his emotional energy bank.

Sachin does not carry the burden of being politically correct. This is not because he is a genius but because he is genuine. It is not part of his cerebral software. Though courteous, he focuses his energies on the chosen field of activity and allows records to tumble on their own. Like Arjun, he only sees the eye of the fish.
Edited on, May 23, 2005, 3:03 AM GMT, by Arnab.
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:09 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Technique is variable
Vijay Lokapally

Indian cricket continues to revolve around him. Sachin Tendulkar, even if not at the helm, raises hopes among the younger lot of providing clean cricket. The youngsters look up to him and the master too believes in the youth - the strength of the Indian team.

The latest scandals have saddened him, but the motivation to excel comes from within as Tendulkar sets himself goals and looks ahead with a lot of expectations from a team which is going through a transition phase.

In this exclusive interview to The Sportstar, Tendulkar speaks on the various aspects of his cricket, particularly his batting.

How much are you enjoying your batting today?

I am enjoying it really well. There are new challenges in the sense that you learn a few tricks about batting everytime you go to the middle. I feel the destination never changes, but you tend to discover more avenues to reach the same destination. That is getting to be interesting. It has always been a challenge, where I wanted to go out and score big runs. I am focussed on this aspect.

Why do you feel this challenge at this stage of your career?

Batting has always been a challenge. Always. The bowler is trying to get me out and I am trying to score runs. It has been like that for nearly 11 years now. It's always been great fun. To put it short I am enjoying it thoroughly.

We get the impression that you are not focussing hard enough. How would you look at it?

It's not true. I am focussing hard. I was very focussed in Dhaka in the Test against Bangladesh. If it was a stronger opposition the focus would have been much harder. I have always wanted to score runs against all opposition. I was very determined to score runs against Bangladesh and the concentration required there was immense.

Why was your effort to focus so hard against Bangladesh?

When it comes to top bowling attacks you are naturally determined to score runs. You are always on your toes, but then Bangladesh was, in comparison, a weaker opposition, playing its first Test. Everyone was expecting India to thrash Bangladesh and that was the time to pull up your socks and tell yourself that the runs were not going to come easily. It takes one good ball to end your dreams. I felt at that stage that it was important to focus hard and concentrate more on what I had to do in that game.

Your best runs have come against the best of attacks. Is there a sense of complacency when you play against weaker teams?

No, I don't think there is any sense of complacency at all. I will score runs sometimes and get out cheaply sometimes. I don't think that means I am complacent. It just happens. I don't think the level of my concentration has come down. Whoever is thinking in these terms is surely wrong.

These days you seem to be curbing your attacking instincts?

I think it (the approach) keeps changing. I am not going to be the same player for 15-20 years, whatever I play. It's going to keep changing. As long as I develop changes for the good I am happy. Batsmanship is not mechanical, that you set it in motion and it keeps going forever. It's a matter of body language and coordination of several movements. There will be a marginal difference in two or three years from now. There is bound to be a difference.

What kind of changes do you foresee?

The stance may change a little bit, the backlift may change a little bit, the feet movement might change. I don't think there has been a fast bowler who would have started and finished his career with the same kind of action. I am talking of great fast bowlers, great spinners for that matter. It's the same with great batsmen I think. Even players like Sunil Gavaskar, Vivian Richards, who have been my heroes, must have changed a lot of things compared to the time they played their first Test. Compare that with things at the halfway stage and maybe 15 years after they made their debut, I am sure things would have changed, and changed for the better. We got to accept that certain things will change and hope they change for the good.

Your range of strokes may not have reduced, but the frequency of playing them has come down. Would you agree?

Maybe. The way I study the opposition, the opposition also studies me. It's very simple.

Do you believe your game has changed because others are doing well to sort of ease the pressure on you?

Sourav (Ganguly) is doing a good job. Rahul (Dravid) is doing a good job. There are eight other players in the team who are doing well. I don't think it has made any difference to my style of play. Maybe 80 yards away from the stumps it looks a little different, but as far as I am concerned I have always gone to the middle to score runs and I'll continue to do that. If the others are performing they are contributing towards the team's success. From my side I am also trying to contribute towards the team's success. Even if others are doing well I'll also try to do well, come what may. I have to contribute always. I have not changed my attitude.

Has scoring runs become a difficult job in international cricket now?

I wouldn't say it was ever an easy job. I am someone who wouldn't want to make tall claims. The best option is to keep quiet and let the bat do the talking. I am not the one to sit on top and make sweeping statements. I think even if someone is scoring runs or not, you must remember that it takes just one ball to dismiss you. It is important that when you are in good form you make the most of it. When you are not, you want to overcome those obstacles as early as possible. Scoring runs has never been easy. It has always been hard work. It requires a lot of concentration, dedication and application.

So the bowlers have become more skilful...

I feel as the opposition gets to know you it becomes slightly more difficult. In a similar manner I would say the player also gets to know the opposition. We are both working at each other's game. Things become more and more competitive I feel.

With so much technical inputs available these days, does it help in improving your line of tactics?

I am sure it does. The bowlers have always been studying batsmen. These days it is something you can actually see on the screen, analyse, see the graph, express yourself in a better manner to explain a few things. Earlier it used to be imaginary when we would plan with fielders at this point and at that point. All these modern equipment do help improve the game.

But all this seems to help the bowlers more than batsmen?

I am sure it would help both equally. It might help the bowler a little more than the batsman. Technology does help the bowler in identifying the strong points of a batsman, identifying the area where he scores more runs. The batsman can also study the bowler and identify the area where he lands the ball strongly. I think it is 60-40 in favour of bowlers.

How long does it take to adapt?

It's all about analysing the game and you can do that even without the computers. I always analyse and I haven't needed a computer. Presence of mind counts a lot. You may face a planned line of attack outside the off stump and then you begin to assess to counter that line. You can't wait for the computer to help you always.

Do you feel you have a lot to contribute? You have been taking your bowling also seriously...

If you have seen, in the last 11 years, I have always been bowling in the 'nets'. Even though I had back problems I would still bowl in the 'nets'. I have always enjoyed it and it is one way to remain fit. I am doing something all the time. Why not, if it helps the team I should. Now I am bowling 10 overs in limited overs matches. It's a great feeling.

Are you looking at developing yourself into an all-rounder?

I am close to getting 100 wickets in one-dayers. I think I do fit in as an all-rounder in one-dayers, if not Test cricket. The odd break-through in Tests is fine, but I don't think I am good enough to bowl 25 overs in a Test match.

You have often gone out of the way to guide the newcomers in the team. You always make inquiries about good players around. What motivates you to do this?

It excites me. If I can contribute, why not. I feel it thrills me to share a few ideas with my colleagues if it can help. It is up to him to accept my ideas and suggestions. By talking about cricket one can only broaden one's knowledge. It only helps.

How will you react if a newcomer comes and makes a suggestion to you?

Why not? I will always welcome such suggestions. If someone can figure out something wrong I am open to it. Knock on my door and tell me if I am going wrong.

How do you look at the batting trends in the last decade and how have you been analysing it?

I have learnt to analyse the game better. That probably happens with time. We all know time is the greatest healer, and it teaches you so much. I used to be aggresive earlier, but not so good at analysing the game. I am not saying that I am very good, but I am better than I was five years back. That helps the most.

How can we prepare our batsmen to be good on all kinds of pitches?

By playing on good pitches. I have always said in the past we have to play our domestic cricket on good tracks. There should be help for seamers early on, the batsmen should be able to play their shots and then the spinners take over. That is what I call a sporting wicket. We have to have good tracks and not dusty tracks.

What is it that fires you? That charge you gave Glenn McGrath at Nairobi. It was a very different Tendulkar we saw that day...

That particular innings, I felt the wicket had a lot of bounce and dampness. If I had not adopted an aggressive approach it would have been a different story. That innings I think I took them by surprise. They didn't expect me to do that at all. This will tell you about how the pitch was. McGrath didn't have a mid-on to start with. He had a square-leg, a fine-leg, mid-off, point, three slips and a gully and a third man. It reflects on the state of the pitch for a one-day game. If I had tried to hang around he would have attacked at the same spot and I didn't want them to be at the top. Counter-attack was the best thing. Scoring runs was important and not killing time on that pitch.

There was another similar innings you played at Port of Spain against the West Indies. Wet pitch and fiery attack and you gave them the charge...

There also I felt the same. I didn't start off in the first over. In the second over also they attacked outside the off-stump. I realised hanging around was no good. The odd ball was bound to do some damage. I felt the same way against Australia that day at Nairobi.

How do you assess the state of Indian cricket today? The recent scandals and also the fact that the team is going through a transition period?

It's a very tricky situation. We are just getting back on the right track. Whatever has happened was not in good taste, not just for the public but the cricketers too. We have played with the same guys.

What about the youngsters who have come into the team this season?

These youngsters have shown a lot of promise. It is nice to see them display a lot of aggression and positive energy. It is all so important and naturally lifts the team and that is what one expects from the youngsters who give a good feeling to the team and the spectators. I think Indian cricket is heading in the right direction and we need support from all quarters.
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:11 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Inside the mind of the world’s leading batsman
Greg Baum
12 July 1997

Just before Australia embarked for England, Steve Waugh completed two years as the No.1 batsman in the world on the Coopers and Lybrand ratings, by far the longest tenure for anyone in the 10 years since their inception.

It was a modest milestone, likely to have been celebrated only by the fanatics who submit to the “Steve Waugh is God” page to the Internet and converse in “Steve-isms” as they roam blissfully about in “Stevedom”.

But if there were doubters still that Waugh deserved to be acclaimed as World’s best, the third test was surely their road to Damascus.

Few batsman in the world could have made Waugh’s first innings century, and he alone could have made another in the second innings with his right hand so badly bruised that he was still wearing a bandage on it the day after the match. It was the ultimate Waugh wound.

Intrinsically, each hundred was a worthy achievement. In their wider context, they were masterpieces. In the first innings, the pitch was so spiteful that both sides estimated 200 would be a good team score. In both innings, Australia was in deep trouble upon Waugh’s entrance.

Further, England had made intricate plans for Waugh. For a start, it was particularly and pointedly quiet when he was batting. It was not the silence of reverence, but of a concerted effort to unnerve him. England knew too well how he thrived on confrontation.

“I think they had a team meeting and said not to fire me up in this series. They haven’t said a word to me out there,” he said.

England also made a point of pitching up to Waugh, with two purposes in mind. One was deny him his favourite cut shot: Waugh scarcely played one in either innings. The other was to draw him into an error on the front foot, such as his first ball LBW trying to work a full delivery to mid wicket in the second Test at Lords.

Waugh, of course, was ready. He would play his minimalist’s game. He had already tailored it to meet the circumstances. He had spent two weeks in the nets with coach Geoff Marsh on playing in the “V”. A feature of both innings was his on-driving.

“You’ve got to adapt your game to how they’re bowling. I think I can play all the shots,” he said.

“It’s a matter of pulling them out when they are needed or where they are bowling to you.”

As for the silence, Waugh closed his mind to it as he had learned to close it to all other provocation.

“You can fire up for a minute, but you can’t cross that line where you are out of control”, he said. “When the next ball is bowled, you’ve got to be in control. If you can’t handle it, it can wreck your game.”

Australia can never have had a cricketer like Waugh. He spans the ages, from a time when he and Australia were, if not amateurish – and it showed in their results – to a time when they are polished, professional and the best in the World.

In the beginning he was not even his own man, for he was really aboy. He had no design, no method, no vision.

“I played a lot more shots, and really didn’t play to a plan”, he said. “If it happened, it happened. I used to go out to bat not sure whether I was going to do well or not. Now I’m more sure that I’m going to do well.”

Now he is not only his own man, but all things to all men in this team and coterie. To Mark Taylor, he is tactical adviser and co-conspirator. To the other senior players he is friend and confidante (not to mention brother). To the junior batsman, he is counsellor. To the bowlers, he is batting coach.

To them all, he is shop steward. To his family, he is husband and father, even on tour, for one of the advances he has agitated for and won is to have them with him on his nearly constant travel.

He finds their company reassuring rather than disruptive and in the case of almost-one-year-old daughter Rosalie, probably no less infantile than some of his roommates over the years. Cherubic Rosalie awoke three times on the night before the third Test. Waugh, far from disturbed, made a century the next day.

Two days later, with another vital innings in the offing, wife Lynette offered to move to another room. Waugh would not have it. “You’ve got to make life as normal as you can,” he said. Next day, he made another century.

To himself, he is a broader person for availing himself of the opportunities of cricket has given him to explore the world and not merely it’s golf courses, to further his knowledge and appreciation of cricket history, and latterly to give voice to another side of his personality as a diarist.

“I like to check everything out and see what’s happening. I like to get away from cricket, too,” he said. “It’s a big help to my game to forget about cricket and do something else. You can’t be immersed in cricket all the time. If it doesn’t go well you become a mess.”

Above all, Waugh is to all an inspiration as a cricketer, for by mastering his own game he has mastered the greater game, or at least learned enough of it to know that it cannot ever be mastered wholly, and so to seek ways to stay constantly ahead of it and its vicissitudes.

He has done it by harnessing the power of the mind like few cricketers before him, so much that he has become an evangelist for the cause of mental training.

“It’s something that is definitely underdone in cricket. Everyone’s going for fitness work these days, but something that hasn’t really been touched on is the mental side,” he said.

“It’s strange because everyone says cricket’s a mental game, yet you don’t get any coaching for it. Everyone says cricket is 95 per cent mental. Yet you do 95 per cent physical skills work.”

For a guy who prides himself on mental indomitability, Waugh often expresses suprising paranoia about security of his place in the team. This, he says, is not a contradiction.

“I think it’s pretty healthy to say it rather than keep it all in. I don’t mind saying that sometimes I’m fragile,” he said. “It’s no big worry for my ego. Some blokes keep it in and it builds up and gets too much for them.

“I tell young guys that. Before every game, I feel nervous and edgy and a bit fragile. I don’t feel 100 per cent sure of myself every game.”

It’s the sort of advice he could once have used himself. He was a precocious talent, picked for NSW at 19 and Australia at 20. It was a selection that was three-quarters desperation and a quarter inspiration, downtrodden Australia giving youth its head but not much else by way of guidance or support.

He was bold enough to win Australia a World Cup,, and brazen enough to bowl three successive bumpers to Viv Richards at their first meeting. He was called the Iceman, but within he was often at rage.

Without understanding his game declined and at length he was dropped for more than a year.

It was a watershed of his career. Within months of his recall, he began a run of form to compare with few others in history.

Since (and including) Australia’s last tour of England, he has averaged more than 72 in Test cricket and scored 10 of his 14 Test hundreds. His average in England is 84, second only to Bradman in all Test cricket in this country.

Waugh's transformation, he said, was more about maturity and evolution than sudden and blinding insight. “It’s all about concentration in the middle”, he said. “Just block everything out and watch the next ball. It is really simple, but it’s hard to keep doing.

“It’s easy to be distracted for one ball, and when you do, you’re out. You talk to batsman, 95 per cent of the times they get out, it’s because they’re thinking of something else and not the next ball.”

Waugh says he did not watch himself on videotape, preferring instinct to analysis. “I know my own game pretty well. It’s more that you’ve got to get out there and do it, and when you do it right, it gives you the confidence to keep doing it”, he said.

“If you’re going badly, you get worse. But if you just get a bit of confidence from somewhere – maybe just one shot – you blossom from there. That’s what happened in my cricket. I started to play OK and I thought: “I can play this OK. It went from there”

Even in the West Indies in 1995, when Australia became World Champion largely on the strength of Waugh’s brilliant batting, he had to conquer himself as well as them.

“I had doubts about facing four quicks on bouncy wickets. I didn’t go over there thinking I was going to do really well,” he said. “I think sometimes you build players up to be better than they are.

“When I got there, I thought: “It's not that hard after all. If I dig in, I’m going to score runs”. It’s self-belief, that’s what it is.”

This four-year outpouring of runs has coincided with a decline in his workload as a bowler. Waugh says it is incidental and notes that although he has bowled less, it has been with more effect. Before 1993, he took 49 wickets at 45: since he has taken 31 at 19.

He says he would like to bowl more even now, but accepts that as injuries turn his body brittle, he will not.

It is probably because of all this legacy of Waugh as notional all-rounder that he has always batted down the list for Australia. His stature as a batsman and Australia’s need for a No.3 to succeed David Boon have grown apace for nearly 2 years. Waugh famously thrives on challenges. Yet he would and will not be budged from No.5.

He sees no incongruity. Whoever first insisted that the best batsman in the side ought to bat at No.3 was probably himself a No.3, said Waugh. He sees himself as a specialist lower-order batsman. “I don’t think it’s valid to say you haven’t made it unless you bat in the top three,” he said

“The top three probably wouldn’t score as many runs batting five or six, because they would prefer to face the new ball, they don’t like waiting around and they might not like coming into bat when the field is set and bowlers have had time to get their rhythm.”

Waugh dares not look to far into the future, since the future is coming towards him at a rush anyway.

“I don’t know if four years of continuous cricket will be too much or if I’m still going to be scoring runs in four years. I mightn’t be scoring runs in four weeks,” he said.

“While I’m really enjoying the competitive side of it, I’m going to keep going. I get a thrill out of playing a Test match and putting myself up against the best bowlers and seeing whether I can beat them.”

As they say on the Internet: “May the Steve be with you.”
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:13 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Facing the West Indian Pace Attack
Greg Chappell

The biggest thing to come to grips with facing an awesome quartet of pace bowlers such as the West Indies boasted in the second half of my career was that it was going to take a long time to make runs. On average, they bowled around 12 overs per hour with a high percentage of balls being short of a length, often head high. If you faced half the balls bowled and half of those were difficult to score from you were effectively facing 3 overs per hour. This made it difficult to build up any momentum with your innings. Even with the best will in the world it was hard to force the pace and get on top of the attack.

I decided that if I was going to score runs against them then I had to be prepared to bat all day and not get distracted by the frustration of not being able to score quickly. To achieve this I had to develop my mental techniques to give support to my physical techniques.

I had always prided myself on my ability to concentrate for long periods but I had to take it to a higher level during the period of World Series Cricket in the late 70's. What I learnt at this time was that to develop a mental routine I had to have a strict physical routine. Similar to a golfers pre shot routine I found it important to have a consistent routine between balls and between overs. This helped me to mentally relax between balls to conserve my mental and emotional energy. It also provided me with check points so that I knew I was concentrating before I faced each ball.
My routine allowed me to switch in and out of the different levels of concentration. I developed three levels of concentration. The first being the level of


Awareness was the state of being aware of what was happening around you but not being acutely focussed on any one thing. It was used while waiting to go into bat, in between balls and in between overs.


I switched from awareness to fine focus when the bowler reached the top of his bowling mark. At this point I switched my focus to the bowlers face which gave me an insight into his emotional state as well as his body language via my peripheral vision. All of this helped give me valuable information and cues from the bowler. As the bowler reached his delivery point I switched my focus to the point from which the ball would be delivered and I narrowed my visual field as I switched to fierce focus.


Fierce Focus was only used for the shortest time possible because it required a lot of mental energy. As the ball left the bowlers hand all I saw was the ball and the bowlers hand. This gave me all the cues I needed to gauge the line, length and type of delivery. Once that play was finished I looked to the crowd momentarily to give my mind a rest as I switched to the state of awareness. This was important to conserve mental energy. The cue to bring my mind back to the game was to count the fielders then switch to the bowlers face as he reached his mark as I cycled through to the state of fine focus.

I went through this process for every ball I faced because if I didn't it was possible to get stuck at one level and either use up too much energy too quickly or face balls without being properly focussed. Each time I got back to the strikers end having been away from strike I remarked my crease as a signal to my brain to begin the cycle once again. These physical actions triggered signals to my brain that it was time to start the process over again. They were also check points for me to know that I was in the necessary state of mind to give me the best chance of success.

Each time I went through a lean period in my career I was able to trace it back to the fact that I had got away from this routine. As soon as I got back to the routine my output of runs increased. What I learnt early in my career was that 99 time out of 100 I would get myself out. It may have been contributed to by the pressure built up by the bowlers but it was a mental error that invariably brought about my dismissal. I also realised that no matter how good my technique this ratio would never change. What I decided was that I had to improve my mental skills so that I could delay the inevitable for as long as possible to give me a greater chance of making runs.
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:18 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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We’re talking about mind games in cricket here. Champions know how to think clearly, respond to situations and stimulate themselves mentally to just the right levels.

Dr.Rudi Webster talks to Rahul Bhattacharya - Wisden Asian Cricket March 2003

The Art of Arousal

Dr Rudi Webster is best known as the sports psychologist who has influenced the careers of such players as Viv Richards, Greg Chappell, Brian Lara and a host of champions from other sports, most notably Greg Norman. Not many are aware, however that Dr Webster himself had a sparkling First Class career worth 272 wickets at 19.44, most taken for Warwickshire in the early 1960’s. Dr Webster is also the author of the acclaimed book “Winning Ways”, a study of champions mind through interviews and observations, a modified version of which is to be reissued later this year. He has served West Indian cricket in several roles -as manager in the late 1970’s, intermittently as a performance consultant, and now as a full time director of the board’s Shell Cricket Academy in Grenada. The difference between the good and the great is often in the mind, he tells Wisden Asian cricket.

We keep hearing about the mental side of sport. How important is the mind really in physical activities?

Gary Sobers once said to me, “A lot of talented people never make it to the top because they are poor thinkers. The good players can identify the important priorities in the situations they face and can tailor their skills to deal with them. The lesser players don’t know how to do these things.”

To get the best out of yourself on the field you must be able to blend your mind, body and eyes. One without the other is no good. During competition, the mental skills - thinking, concentration, visualisation, self confidence, making decisions, coping with pressure, self control etc - determine how well you express your physical and technical skills. You can have the best technical skills but if your confidence deserts you or your concentration falters during the game your performance is likely to suffer. Consider the importance of mental skills it is surprising that most players spend less than 10% of their time practising them.

Greg Chappell knew this well. He told me, “My technique is not as good as that of many other players, but I outperformed them because I learnt how to concentrate really well and maintain it under pressure.”

There’s a school of thought that cricket is probably the most mental sport of all.....

Yes, cricket does present special challenges. Like golf, it goes on for a long time and there are many periods of waiting and inactivity. So the mind has a lot of time to get up to mischief and creates all sorts of negative thoughts and images that sabotage performance. Cricket is a great mind game because the bowler is always trying to outthink, outwit, deceive, intimidate and dismiss the batsman who counters with his own plan of attack or defence. In many respects its a game of psychological warfare against your opponents and alas against yourself.

Can you give us a tour of the champion’s mind?

Champions are proud and talented people who are highly motivated to be the best. They have great confidence, think clearly, and have wonderful visions of what they want to achieve. They concentrate well and maintain their focus under great pressure when the others around them are losing theirs.

I’m just watching Shane Bond bowl at 150kph and the batsman facing him has much less than a second to respond. Sixty or seventy percent of that time is used in picking up the line and length of the ball. Then the correct movements need to be made and the bat needs to be swung. This is a lot of work, and mentally you have to not complicate things.

Champions control their thinking, emotions and actions and make good decisions when their opponents are struggling to do so. Importantly, they keep things simple and do not turn the game of cricket into an academic or intellectual exercise.

Mastery of the basics is one of their most important priorities because they know that the basics form the fabric of their performance. Champions can see things as they really are without distorting or magnifying them. When lesser players are challenged they often magnify the difficulty of the task or the reputation of their opponent and at the same time put themselves down and underestimate their ability to cope. This type of perceptual distortion creates pressure.

One of the things that champions do well during competition is to keep their concentration in the present on the task at hand. Less talented players allow their minds to wonder into the future, to imaginary difficulties and failures. Or they allow their minds to return to the past to previous mistakes and setbacks. Instead of staying in the present where the action is they go to the future or past where the action is not. This is one of the most common mental mistakes in cricket. Why do so many batsman get out in the nineties? They do so because they think about the hundred instead of the next ball.

But there are players who say it is the end result that motivates them. Isn’t that looking into the future?

Goals motivate you to action but you must know what action to take and how to take it.

Let me give you an example. If I put a narrow plank on the ground and ask you to walk it, you won’t have any problem doing so. You would just take one step at a time till you reached the end. But if I then place the same plank across to high roofs and ask you to walk it you would have second thoughts because you would start to think of what could go wrong and what might happen to you. Thoughts about falling and injuring, or even killing yourself immediately flash through your mind. Fear and anxiety then sweep in as you become tense and tight. The task in both cases is the same, but in one case you stay in the present and focus on the process and in the other you go into the future and think about the awful things that might happen to you.

One of the things we hear most in today’s sports-speak is the term “positive thinking”. What does this really mean?

Ian Chappell once told me that there are two ways you can think. You can think about the things that can go wrong, the things you fear, or the things you want to avoid. On the other hand you can think about the things you want to happen and the things you want to achieve. The first is negative thinking and the second is positive thinking. He added that far to many dwell on the former.

Negative thinking can be quite damaging, but Ian found a way to deal with it. “Negative thoughts can be very difficult to handle”, he said, “They mess up your concentration. I would often say, “Get rid of them and make them go away”, and they wouldn’t. Later, I adopted another tactic and would say to myself, “Don’t fight them”, but I would fight them harder. After a while I allowed them to come, go through my mind and pass out. I thought, “It is normal to get negative thoughts. No matter what happens, I am always going to get them. Other people have the same problems, so I am not alone.” This approach often got rid of them, I always followed a negative thought with a positive one.”

Yet I was reading in your book, that Dennis Lillee says that he is a negative thinker. And Lillee did fine.

Lillee said that if he had to bowl on a good batting wicket the first thoughts that would go through his mind were; “How can I bowl and get wickets on this perfect batting wicket? I could end up with no wickets for a hundred runs! And if that happens people will criticise me and make fun of me. I can’t let them do that. I must therefore stick to the basics, concentrate on bowling a good line and length and make the batsman earn every run.” Sobers would see the challenge in a different way and adopt a positive attitude. He would say, “This is a great challenge that will separate the men from the boys. The wicket is a good one for batting but I know that I can get seven wickets on it. I will stick to the basics, concentrate on bowling a good line and length and making the batsman earn every run. Psychologists would call Lillee’s actions avoidance behaviour - avoiding failure and ridicule - and Sober’s actions, approaching behaviour - going after success.

But even though Sobers used approaching motivation on the field he sometimes used avoidance motivation off it. He enjoyed dancing and partying and spent a lot of time in nightclubs. He said that when people saw him out until four in the morning they would say, “Look at Sobers. He is partying to four in the morning. How can he expect to play well and give his best?” To avoid this criticism he would apply himself harder during the game.

The other interesting thing that Sobers says that when he was batting he would sometimes get a bit tense - but not nervous. What does he mean by that?

I think he was talking about his “arousal level.” if your engine was idling too fast or too slowly its performance would be substandard. This is also true for the human body. If your arousal level was too low your performance would be substandard because you would be lethargic, bored and poorly motivated. And if your arousal level were too high your performance level would also suffer because you would be over-alert, fearful and anxious. When your arousal level is in the optimal range, you are primed for good performance and might enter a state that people refer to as the “zone”. What Sobers is saying is that he seldom allowed himself to become over-aroused.
The optimal arousal level varies from person to person and from one situation to the next. Players must learn how to detect when their arousal level is outside the optimal range and be able to correct that deviation when it occurs.

I suppose players regulate their arousal levels in different ways. One person may go into a shell and the other might become confrontational.

Yes. Before Gordon Greenidge went in to open the innings he would sit quietly in his own area in the dressing room and go through his preparation routine. He hardly talked to anyone and his colleagues did not talk to him unless it was absolutely necessary. They left him alone to do his own thing. Desmond Haynes, his opening partner, behaved differently. He liked to mix with other players and would talk to anyone who came close to him. If Gordon was forced to go through Desmond’s routine, and Desmond’s Gordon’s, they feel unnecessary pressure. Here are two great players in the same situation, preparing for the same task and challenges and yet they behave in totally different ways.

Greg Chappell, as you say, is one of the people who focussed on the mental side of cricket. Can you tell us a little about him?

In 1971 Greg played poorly in a game for Australia against the Rest of the World. After the match he examined his game and made a firm resolution to improve it. He said that his technique was reasonably sound and that he couldn’t see himself making any major improvements in that area, so he started to look at other things, particularly the mental part of his game. Suddenly he realised that he had to improve and control his concentration. That then became his most important goal. He knew that if he achieved that goal he would become one of the best players in the world. Greg also placed great emphasis on mastery of the basics, physical, technical and mental. He said that to get the best out of yourself you must find out the basics of your game, learn them well, practise them regularly under the same physical and psychological conditions you would face in a game and learn to execute them sensibly. Never go too far away from the basics. If you do your game will fall apart.

Did you ever help Greg?

Yes, with simple things. In the early 1980’s he had a horror run against the West Indies scoring seven ducks in a summer. At that stage he was one of the two best batsmen in the world but he became so despondent and depressed that he considered quitting the game. I went to speak to him at this time and quickly got to the point. I asked him if he was watching the ball out of the bowler’s hand. He said he was. I told him that I thought he was getting out because he was not moving into the correct position to play his shots and that I believed this was happening because he was not seeing the ball early enough in its flight. He said, “You know, I think you could be right. The last few times when I was walking back to the pavilion I realised that I hadn’t seen the ball.” Immediately after the West Indies tour, Australia went to New Zealand and Greg batted exceptionally well. When the reporters ask him what was responsible for his quick and dramatic reversal of form, he told them that a friend had reminded him to watch the ball. I don’t think they believed him; it seemed too simple.

Was Viv Richard’s problem in 1975 in Australia similar to Greg’s?

Yes, in that they were both suffering from anxiety and were ignoring the most important fundamental of batting - watching the ball and getting into position. I showed Viv how to relax and lower his arousal level and taught him how to increase his confidence and focus on the ball. Clive Lloyd recognised this problem and promoted him in the batting order to open the innings. This move helped to relieve some of the pressure.

There is another West Indian player whose mental toughness you rated very highly - Malcolm Marshall

Malcolm was a great champion. During the last World Cup in England Malcolm received devastating news that he had an aggressive cancer in his colon. He had surgery and chemotherapy in Birmingham and then returned to Hampshire to recuperate. At that time he was in excruciating pain, but he never complained. It was in that painful state that he played he played his last game of golf with Desmond Haynes and me. Each time he swung the golf club he was in great pain and you could see the agony on his face. He played terrible, until the 14th hole. On the 14th tee he said, “What am I doing here? I can hardly hit the ball.” Desmond chipped in immediately and said, “Stop complaining and take your lashes like a man. You were never any good at golf anyway.” Malcolm went quiet for a while and then he declared, “I am going to win the next five holes.” We laughed at him and told him he was dreaming. He then proceeded to win the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes. He didn’t win the last on because Desmond had a few lucky shots on that hole. I was astonished by the turn of events and realised that I had just witnessed a major triumph of mind and spirit over body, pain and physical limitation. I then understood why Malcolm was such a fierce warrior and champion.

In a way it is a heightened example of what Lillee says about the mind-body connection. That when you get tired it is your mind that gives in first.

That is true. I try to get athletes to change their interpretation of tiredness. I tell them that when they start to feel the signs of tiredness they still have a lot in reserve. When you get tired the natural reaction is to slow down or stop. But the signs of tiredness should not be seen as an amber light or red light. You should look at it as a green light, which tells you that you are approaching your maximum effort and performance and if you continue, the tiredness will pass. This change in perception can be very effective in improving persistence.

I know that you have worked closely with Brian Lara. How do you think he compares mentally with Sachin Tendulkar? They are both able to motivate themselves to an extraordinary level but it seems Tendulkar finds it easier to stay there.

I think Tendulkar manages his mental skills a little better. But Lara is more Brilliant and plays many match-winning innings. Being superstars, both players are exposed to great pressure and extremely high expectations. But I think that Lara has to deal with more pressure than Tendulkar. Tendulkar is a great hero in India and is loved, respected, admired and supported by just about everyone there. Furthermore, the press is comparatively kind to him. I suspect that he has a great support network of people around him to help him cope with the pressures of being a superstar.

Brian on the other hand never had a support network. Moreover his people in the Caribbean either love or hate him and he often has to face venomous criticism. Recently there were strong views that he should not have been included in the West Indies World Cup team in South Africa. Having to deal with these off-field pressures has taken a toll on him. But he is a true champion and each time his critic’s think he is down and out he returns to play a great innings. He did so against Australia in the West Indies after his disastrous tour of South Africa and in Sri Lanka after being sidelined by injury. He is now beginning to do the same thing in the World Cup after returning from a chronic and debilitating illness that kept him out of the game for a long time. If he can learn to manage his mental skills better he would rival Tendulkar in the area of consistency.

Let’s talk a bit about India. They have a lot of talent and yet as a team they often less than the sum of their parts. What are the dynamics behind something like this?

West Indies had a similar problem years ago but Lloyd sorted it out and created a team that dominated world cricket for 17 years. I have not seen enough of the Indian team to hazard a guess about the cause of the problem you just describe. Blending individual talent and getting players to work co-operatively to achieve a common purpose or goal can be difficult. Sometimes it requires major changes and restructuring and at other times minor adjustments and interventions.

During Kerry Packer’s World Series in Australia, West Indies went through a mental revolution that transformed the team from a collection of talented individuals to a tight, highly motivated and closely-knit unit that went on to become one of the best teams ever. Early in the series, Clive said that he thought that discipline would be a key factor in that change. We put some simple things in place – to improve discipline off the field, and soon we saw the discipline being transferred to the game. When that happened it started off a process that improved confidence, motivation, commitment, trust, pride and teamwork.

Peter Brock, one of Australia’s most successful race car drivers, reveals the “help your mates” philosophy for team success in my book. Selfishness is the greatest enemy of teamwork, he says. Like a cancer in the human body, it must be prevented or stamped out before it takes root and grows.

How does one get out of a slump?

There are a lot of things that can initiate a slump but in the end it is always due to poor mental functioning. Your confidence and concentration are severely disturbed when you are in a slump. The stress is scientifically proven to effect vision and reflexes. You often do a thorough analysis of your technique and pick it apart bit by bit. But in those people who have had reasonable success, the slump is caused by poor mental skills rather than any great technical fault. To get out of a slump you must clear your mind and think simply, rationally and positively. You must set yourself reasonable goals and go back to the basics of your game. You must sort out your priorities and decide what is important and what is not. You must also be very patient. Too many players try to get back to the top in one great leap. This works occasionally but it is an exception rather than the rule.

So how do you go about helping players to improve their mind skills?

I try to act as a catalyst. My goal is to help them find their own solutions. By the time a player reaches first-class cricket he usually has fairly well developed mental skills. Like his technical skills, there are areas where he is strong and areas where he is weak. I encourage him to capitalise on his strengths and improve on his weaknesses. I then identify the type and pattern of mental mistakes that he makes and situations in which he makes them. I help him to refine his mental techniques and teach him a few new ones to help him cope better. I teach him how to recognise common and destructive emotions like fear, anxiety, impatience and disappointment, and show him how to prevent them and deal with them when they are present. I keep things as simple as I can and avoid making my interventions an academic or intellectual exercise.

There must be several techniques to achieve an improvement.

Yes. There are a wide variety of techniques such as thinking techniques, breathing techniques, relaxation, visualisation, mental rehearsal, meditation, hypnosis and self-hypnosis. But be should be always mindful that these techniques should be our servant not our master. As I said before, I try to act as a catalyst. To develop game fully you must build it on four relaxed pillars: fitness and conditioning, technique and motor skills, tactics and strategy and mental skills. How well you develop and integrate them will determine how well you play.

How does the counselling actually take place? Is it like we see in the movies – sessions on the couch?

[Laughs] No, that rarely happens. Most of the time I just engage the players in conversation and try to explore their thinking. When you have a bit of experience you are able to see the sort of things that could be detrimental to their performance. You have to know what to interfere with and what to leave out. That’s probably the hardest part of my job. Francis Bourke, the Aussie Rules superstar, once said to me, “Doctor you haven’t made me a better player. But you have helped me understand myself better and made me see things more clearly.” It was the greatest compliment of my life.
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:21 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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The Mechanics of Bowling
Greg Chappell and Ian Frazer

Recent research has shown that very few fast bowlers pass the scrutiny of the slow motion camera. In secret tests many leading fast bowlers were filmed while bowling in games and even some who were considered to be ‘squeaky clean’ have failed to come in under the 10% flex of the bowling arm permitted by law.

The laws of physics could have told us this but it is interesting to have it confirmed. I am not really sure what that tells us other than it is difficult, if not impossible, to bowl the ball with a perfectly straight arm.

The sad thing is that much that has passed as good coaching theory in recent times has exacerbated the problem of suspect actions and has not worked to overcome the injury problem that it was designed to do. Some high-profile fast bowlers have had to undergo remedial work on their action in recent years because of reports by match referees. Others may get the tap on the shoulder following the secret filming.

Two bowlers who have undergone remedial work in the past because of referee reports are Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar. Brett Lee is considered to be a front on bowler while Akhtar is very side-on. How is it that they have been accused of having suspect bowling actions?

Brett Lee modified his action some years ago in the hope that he could overcome back problems. He was supposed to have a ‘mixed action’ and the suggested remedy was to keep ‘straight lines’ with the bowling arm, from set-up to the target, and in the process he changed his bowling arm ‘load up’ position to keep the arm closer to, and in front of, his body.

What this did was to cause him to have to use a lot of shoulder strength in his action to generate the same arm speed. With this adjustment came variations in his bowling stride length that in turn changed the point of landing pressure to the heel of his front foot. This has subsequently led to his ankle problems.

To allow for the generation of arm speed it required that he speed up the opening out of his front side in the delivery action. That, in turn, caused a need for the arc of the bowling arm to be shortened so that it could keep up with the fast releasing hips and shoulders, to avoid over-rotation of the body at the point of delivery. The end result of this is that the only way the bowling arm can catch up is for the elbow to bend during the bowling motion.

Shoaib Akhtar has a similar problem but for different reasons. Because he is moving with so much forward momentum from his run-up, his ability to create a timely degree of separation between the hip and shoulder angle in the jump is often compromised. This leads to uncoiling issues out of back foot touchdown from which his rapidly spinning upper torso is often in danger of over-rotating at point of release. This creates the same problem for the bowling arm as it tries to keep up. As with Brett Lee, the only way for it to do so is for the arc to be shortened by flexing the elbow.

So while Brett and Shoaib appear to be very different in style the bowling arm is just an expression of what is occurring with hips and shoulders. Unless these are loaded appropriately in the jump then the body will compensate in some way. For many bowlers the “flexed and rotated spine” at release (the greatest danger to the lumbar spine) may have been modified, but the super intelligence of the human nervous system has achieved this by contravening the laws of cricket!

As Newton pointed out so many years ago, in movement we are an “action/reaction” system. If we set the body up appropriately for the task and let it happen the nervous system will reward you. If, on the other hand, we try to manipulate parts of the “reaction” the nervous system will be forced to modify the ‘action’!

The most efficient bowling actions, such as Glenn McGrath’s, are set up by the run up, leading into the leap. The run up and the leap are the only parts of the action worth training consciously. After that it becomes a series of explosive reactions, so get the run up and leap right, and the rest will follow naturally.

The run up is used to provide momentum. How this momentum is used is then the key. The energy generated must be stored in the body, and this is achieved by coiling the body. The transition from the predominately forward momentum into predominately angular momentum describes this process termed coil.

The coil is similar to the action of wringing a cloth – the body is, in effect, twisted. The shoulders rotate past the line of the hips, to create a degree of separation. Once the body is wound up it can be unwound quickly generating bowling arm and, subsequently, ball speed. This is why small men can hit hard and bowl fast. It is all about coiling and uncoiling with momentum.

In bowling, this act of coiling is best achieved in the leap. The bowling arm drives up to begin the leap.

As the bowler leaves the ground and the bowling arm continues its arc back towards the head the front shoulder comes round towards the bowling arm in response. This sets up the critical degree of separation between shoulders and hips.

The degree of separation in the coil in the leap, set up by Dennis Lillee. Note how the shoulders have rotated more side on than the hips.

As the bowler comes out of the leap, the front arm extends as a balancing mechanism. This is a balancing act, and a reaction to the downward movement of the body as it comes in to land. This is why front arm coaching is a waste of time. It happens instinctively if set up right. If it is inappropriate it is just reflecting the inappropriateness of a previous action!

If the coil hasn’t been achieved in the leap, the bowler will be forced to coil at landing. Landing while the top half is still coiling can cause injuries and this is what is referred to in the ECB coaching manual as a ‘mixed action’ and was what happened to Brett Lee with his original action. If the bowler, such as Glenn McGrath, rotates the shoulders past the hips into a coiled position while in the air, a ‘mixed action’ cannot occur.

The action of the lower half of the body coming around in the jump triggers the top half to begin opening out for back foot touchdown. It is essential that the back foot landing should be on the ball of the foot to further optimise the forces generated through the run-up and coil. The bowler then has the forward momentum to come out of the landing up, over and around his front leg. At touchdown the ground reaction forces add to the drive of the front leg out and the front foot touchdown results in the arm accelerating out to release.

The key to an efficient and safe bowling action is to wind up the body properly in the first place. This is achieved by the setting up of a degree of separation in the leap. The use of the bowling arm in starting the leap is the key. A good running action with sufficient momentum generated into the jump will help the drive upward of the bowling arm as an extension of the arm action in the run up.

One of the fallacious theories on bowling preaches that young bowlers should ‘keep straight lines to their target’ as happened with Brett Lee. It is true that a bowler needs to be square on to the target at release, but they need to get there by rotating the shoulders to the bowling hand side and then opening them, and the hips, to the target as they uncoil. The result is that they end up facing the target.

Even the supposed ‘front on bowlers’ such as Malcolm Marshall and Curtly Ambrose have to create a degree of separation between the shoulders and the hips. Without this rotation a bowler must use shoulder and arm strength to bowl the ball. And no matter how strong they are they will struggle to avoid over rotation! All movement depends on some degree of rotation.

If the front foot plants prematurely because of an inappropriate loading, the bowler will be forced to release the shoulders early by falling away. Another option for the bowler is to bend the elbow to shorten the arc so that the arm can catch up with the quickly rotating torso. Often, bowlers are not even aware this is happening until someone accuses them of ‘chucking’.

Technology and science is an important tool for the betterment of understanding of how we can make bowling more efficient and safe, but it is essential that the science that supports this research is well founded. Without this we are likely to continue to complicate the teaching of the art and fail in our aim of making fast bowling safer for its young and vulnerable practitioners. In fact we are likely to contribute to what we are attempting to avoid!
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:22 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Making the ball talk
S. Dinakar

For Erapalli Prasanna cricket is more than a simple duel. It travels way beyond that, to the game's very soul.

"A bowler has to put some life into the ball to make the batsmen put some life into the bat," he says with a sparkle in his eyes, and these are words loaded with significance.

That wickets and runs do not count unless there is a fair contest. Numbers do not matter, quality does.

Press Prasanna further on the subject and more wisdom gushes out. "Mentally, if a bowler does not know how to convert his art into craft, he will not go far. You got to animate the ball. I could do that. There is some life in the ball when I bowl even today." He is 61 now!

It is not just a battle of skills, but a clash of wits as well, and Prasanna is again candid. "The bowler has the six balls of an over to study a batsman and plot his downfall. Maybe it would take two overs, three overs, four overs or beyond. It is here that the game becomes interesting. Once this feature is missing, it becomes boring."

There was never a dull moment when Prasanna held the cherry, drawing the batsmen out with his flight, and deceiving them with his loop and turn, bounce and nip. More than his 189 victims in 49 Tests, it was the manner in which he first set them up, and then delightfully consumed them, that marked him out as one of the greatest spinners of all-time. His control was awesome.

Not someone to be defeated by the conditions, Prasanna grabbed an astonishing 49 wickets in eight Tests, on the back-to-back tours of Australia and New Zealand in 1967-68, and when the Indians defeated the Kiwis, it was their first away series Test win. In other words, he did not require the dusty home surfaces to cast his spell of magic.

In fact, he could run through sides on a green-top, like when he ambushed the Kiwis in the Auckland Test of 1976-77, with innings figures of eight for 76. "There is a lot that a genuine spinner can do even on a green top."

These days, Prasanna is giving something back to the game as a celebrated coach in Chennai's MAC Spin Foundation. Prasanna was guiding aspirants from the West Indies when The Sportstar
caught up with him..

How did he achieve the loop, such a vital element in deception? Times without number, the batsmen would jump out to him, only to miscue their drives or the pushes. "I was a vicious spinner of the ball, both in the air and off the wicket. And, it is an acceptable theory that more the ball spins in the air, it creates a sort of vacuum around the ball. And it enhances the floating qualities of the ball. It stays in the air longer and once the spin reduces it drops," reveals the wizard from Karnataka.

He elaborates further. "It is the same principle that you see in a frisbee. How does the frisbee work? Once the rotation slows down, it wobbles and falls. Same theory in cricket. If you are a spinner, you got to spin the ball. And when you really spin the ball, things like loop can be achieved, the ball will dip once the spin subsides. But spinning the ball viciously is the bottom-line. The other variations revolve around that."

Naturally, the topic shifts to his famous conquests on the cricket field. "A bowler has to plan his dismissals. No batsman will give his wicket away just like that. The bowler has to set up a trap."

Indeed, he was adept at the mind game, reading the batsman, the situation, and the conditions in a flash and adjusting his game-plan accordingly. He required all this and more to get the better of a formidable Australian, Ian Chappell.

A clash of the titans it certainly was. "It was my first tour of Australia in 1967-68, under Tiger Pataudi. Tiger was not able to play in the opening Test at Adelaide because he had pulled his hamstring. So Borde, the vice-captain led us. Ian came into bat and I realised quickly that here was a batsman who was too intelligent."

Chappell was using his feet to get to the pitch of the ball and smother the spin, and Prasanna knew he was up against a canny customer. "I had to work a way out of this, set up a trap."

Prasanna's razor sharp cricketing mind was at work."I tested Chappell with well flighted deliveries, he used to smother it and suddenly I realised he was ahead of the forward short leg. Now, we had a scenario where forward short-leg became the backward short-leg literally. So, the backward short-leg became superfluous."

He realised an urgent need for a change in the field setting. A request that Borde agreed to rather reluctantly with Prasanna managing to convince his stand-in captain. "So I asked Borde, can I take out the backward short-leg and place him in the short mid-on region. We could get him out that way. Borde was used to the English field placements of forward and backward short-legs, slip, point. He finally said yes. I sent down a delivery that tempted Chappell to cover-drive, the ball had a lot of spin. He tried to drive, and was caught by Borde at short mid-on! Borde couldn't believe his eyes, that I had set a trap and it had worked! He came over and asked me, 'How did you do it?' One of the instances where I trapped Ian Chappell." A gleaming insight into Prasanna's methods.

Ian Chappell, an attacking batsman and a great Australian leader, calls Prasanna the finest off-spinner he ever faced, while the Indian picks Chappell as a great player of spin. The respect is mutual. "I have admiration for the man. Very attractive, very positive," states Prasanna.

Not surprisingly, Prasanna has special memories about castling the legendary Sir Gary Sobers in Barbados. "When I bowled at Sir Gary Sobers, it was only the second Test of my career, and it was on a shining Jamaican wicket. First day, I sent down about 30 odd overs, got four wickets, including that of Rohan Kanhai and Clive Lloyd, and I contained Sir Gary Sobers. The following day though he hit me."

The cricket caravan shifted to Sobers' homeground, Bridgetown, Barbados. And Prasanna had his revenge. "I had Sir Gary Sobers bowled, because he tried to dominate me from where he had left in Jamaica. I brought the ball in from the off-stump on to his middle-stump, choked him a bit. It had worked according to my game-plan. The next morning some newspapers carried the heading, 'Prasanna bowls Sobers.' Why I picked the examples of Ian Chappell and Gary Sobers is that they were supposed to hit me, but I could win over them. You have to induce them to make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. Even they could make mistakes. Being a bowler you have to invite them to go after you."
He indeed was the quintessentially aggressive spinner, who would flight the ball even more if the batsmen were dancing out to him. "If you don't concede the fact that you have to concede runs to take wickets, bowling becomes monotonous. And you will not eventually turn out to be a winner."

With the ball, he loved calling the shots, was seldom intimidated by reputations. When he was parading his skills with Bishan Bedi or Bhagwat Chandrasekar at the other end, it was the ball that dictated the course of play. "I always wanted to bowl, the way in which I wanted them to bat. My line of thinking was 'I have the ball, I have to let go the ball before they attempt to play,' so that 90 to 95 per cent of the times, they played a shot that I wanted them to play. They may play all along the carpet or they may get a few runs, but still, I believed that since I was an attacking bowler, I would attack." Did someone say cricket was a batsman's game?

Even defensive players were often sold the dummy. Ken Barrington, who could frustrate the best of spinners with an iron-clad defence and endless patience, was in ominous form during the tour of the sub-continent with Ted Dexter's side. Prasanna managed to fox the tenacious Englishman. "I got him. He was playing all right, playing down the line. Then, just to change his line of thinking, I bowled a delivery that drifted away, and he was caught trying to cut. He had been tempted into committing an error."

Mike Denness, a more aggressive customer, met with a similar fate, bamboozled by Prasanna's deadly amalgam of mind and skill.

"England was going well in Madras ('72). Denness played forward, completed the shot, the ball dropped, and went through the bat and pad. He had played early, he was deceived in the air. The 'dip' did him in. He was one of the best players of spin."

In fact, Madras was his favourite hunting ground. The crowd adored him, and he responded with glittering displays of his guile and craft. India was 1-2 down in the 1974-75 home series against the West Indies, when Prasanna scalped nine in the fourth Test at Chepauk to level the scores.

And there are a couple of dismissals that have stayed in his mind. "Bernard Julien was caught and bowled by me in Chennai. It was a floater and I kept the whole on-side open. He played early again, and I waited for him on the follow-through. I knew he would scoop the catch back to me. Then Clive Lloyd was stumped in the second innings. The ball was flighted invitingly, and I held it back. He jumped down, and I could shake hands with him when Engineer whipped off the bails."

In fact, given his tantalising flight and sharp turn, stumpings were a common sight when Prasanna operated. The off-spinner takes another trip down memory lane, to the 1976-77 Test in Bombay against England. "Roger Tolchard was charging at me all the time to pad up or smother the spin. I had planned with Kirmani to have him stumped. The ball drifted through his pads, went on the on-side, and Kiri did the rest."

And there was one team-mate to whom he particularly relished bowling at - the masterly Sunil Gavaskar. Over to Prasanna. "We were playing the Ranji semifinals in '74. He was bowled by a genuine drifter. Pitched on the middle-stump, played down the line. That was the turning point for Karnataka. I will always cherish this as among my top-most wickets. We eventually became champions. In whatever form we used to play, somehow or the other I always used to get Gavaskar's wicket."
An attacking spinner requires the backing of the captain and Prasanna was lucky to have Tiger Pataudi, a fantastic reader of the game, as his skipper. The two jelled wonderfully well, and it was a famous partnership. "Pataudi had a very positive approach that suited me. He was attacking. He could think about my field placements, before I could ask him something. He had a lot of faith in me, because he knew I could rise to any level of excellence. He gave responsibility to me. He knew that what he said, I could do."

Again, Prasanna recalls an incident when Pataudi kept the right man for him at the right place. It's once again the Madras Test of 1974-75 against the West Indies. "He introduced me into the attack when Roy Fredericks and Gordon Greenidge were batting. Within my first two balls, he knew that I would have them. He brought Eknath Solkar to forward short-leg. I made Fredericks come forward. Soon, he walked back, caught Solkar bowled Prasanna. He knew I would do it."

He is frank and forthright about his other captains. "Bishan was attacking, and his line of leadership was good too. Gavaskar might have appeared defensive but he wanted to win. Wadekar was the one who wanted to save and he won the maximum!"

Prasanna has a word of praise for Eknath Solkar, that fearless fielder at short-leg, who plucked catches out of nowhere.

" Solkar was extraordinary. Out of the world. But when we were bowling, he did not get hit even once, despite the fact that we were all supposed to be bowling lollipops, and people expected us to get pulled."

Well, they were not lollipops, but sugar-coated, viciously spinning missiles! Prasanna indeed was the Master of Deception.
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:24 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Mind Games: Think positive – and the rest will follow
Greg Chappell

I was told very early in life practice makes perfect. But I since learnt perfect practice makes perfect.

If you practice the correct techniques often enough, you should matter of course, bring them into operation under the pressure of match conditions.

And as may have heard from time to time, it’s all in the mind. At the top level the physical fitness is very important, but even more important is mental fitness. Anyone who has played international cricket has the physical abiltiies to succeed at that level; the players who excel are those whose mental attitude towards the game and themselves is positive.

Two months before the start of the season is sufficient to reach physical fitness provided the mental approach is right. This will determine how successful your physical preparation will be. And mental preparation should be going on all year round.

There is a reason for everything we do in preparation: Physical fitness to help concentration, net practice to polish the physical skills, and match practice to stimulate game conditions. All of these are wasted though, if the individuals attitude to any one of these facets is wrong.

The physical preparation is pretty simple. Get yourself fit and then practice the fundamentals and physical skills at every opportunity.

Successful innings are built on discipline, footwork, and being able to stay at the crease; the bulk of each session should be spent on these facets. If you perfect these the ability to play scoring shots will come with increased confidence gained by getting through the tough periods with your wicket intact.

Batting is a battle – you against the bowlers and the fielding side. But the biggest battle is on the mental level, and resolves around your approach to your innings.

Think back on all your successful innings and, in each of them, there have been tough periods which, on the average, last from three to ten overs. Then, usually with a bowling change, things become easier.

If you approach each net session with the feeling that it is one of the tough periods, and are determined not to get out in the first three quarters of your stint, you will more easily get through these periods in the middle.

But the most important pre-season preparation is the preparation of the mind. The physical preparation will all but take care of itself if the mental approach is positive.

Much has been written about the powers of positive thinking. But how many of us actually practice the simple technique of thinking success?

If you really want to, and believe you can play as well as the next bloke – and you can – you are halfway towards doing just that. Just to think it would be nice to play as well as the top players is not going to prove successful.

You have to desire that end result with every muscle in your body, and then be prepared to back it up with the physical courage it takes to succeed consistently.

And how do you achieve this state of mind?

The most straight-forward way is to be positive in everything you do and say each day – in all walks of life. This will flow over into your cricket.

Our first target is to discipline your mind, as this is what really controls our destiny. If you can control your mind, and be positive, you are in charge of your success……or failure.

Firstly, write down a list of the things you don’t like about your game, be they mental or mental. Then, list the things with which you would like to replace these faults – and forget about the things you wish to be rid of.

By continually thinking about the negative or bad things you will only make it hard to be rid of them. Concentrate on the positives and correct techniques and you’re well on the way to making them part of your physical make-up.

By writing things down and continually reviewing them , you firmly imprint them on your mind.

Secondly, set aside 10 to 15 minutes a day, either first thing in the morning or last thing at night, somewhere by yourself and start to programme these SUCCESS ideas into your mind.

Try to find a secluded spot where you can relax completely, and imagine yourself doing the things you want to do successfully.

Don’t allow any negative thoughts to enter your mind during this time for, whether you believe it or not, if you think negatively, you will act negatively. Conversely, should you be able to programme yourself positively, you will act positively.

Having written down a list od things to work on pick one of them and, in your daily “preparation” period work on one item at a time for say, three to four days.

For example, if you would like to improve your footwork, spend your 15 minutes a day for four days mentally using your footwork, you want to use. You will then find the physical job of achieving the change far simpler.

If you want to improve your skill against spin bowling, spend your 15minutes for four days imagining yourself playing spin bowling successfully – and your attitude will change.

Whenever you find yourself thinking negatively, stop and spend a few moments thinking about it positively. This will re-endorse your “preparation” period.

Should the negative thought be about something not on your list, write it down, and add it to your list of things to work on.

This may sound a little far fetched but, believe me, if you can adopt these techniques, you will be amazed at the results.

To use this technique to improve your approach to the game requires a lot of self discipline – but that’s exactly what it takes to succeed.

Many of you are probably using some form of this technique already – thus your success. But it’s probably not regular enough. By actually planning your season mentally, you are bound to produce better results more consistently.

If you doubt what I say, think back on your successful days, I’ll be surprised if you weren’t thinking positively at the start of the day. And probably more importantly, think back on your unsuccessful days, I’ll bet the mental attitude was negative.
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:26 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Recognizing The Past In Order to Enhance the Future
Glenn Turner
May 2004

I often hear it said in New Zealand we have a lot of cricket in a short space of time and there are insufficient breaks between matches. Workloads, particularly on bowlers, are often considered to be unreasonable and unsustainable. There will always be debate and varying opinion as to what is, or is not reasonable, but what I can say with certainty is that much more is physically possible than is currently seen as too tough. Historical evidence proves it.

Currently, in New Zealand 1st class cricketers play 42 days of cricket over a period of 13 weeks. In England they are playing 91 days cricket over 22 weeks. As a matter of interest, in the 1970’s in England they played 93 days cricket within 17 weeks.

In comparing current player workloads in both countries, NZ’s 1st class programme represents 46% of England’s. In England their professionals play cricket on 59% of the days in the course of their 22 week season, whereas in NZ our players play on 46% of the days set aside.

It is interesting to look at the workloads of some of the better-known international bowlers down the years. In the 1920’s Maurice Tait bowled around 1500 overs in an English county season and another 600 if he toured with England during their winter. In the early 60’s, Fred Trueman bowled around 1100 overs per county season alone. The South African Mike Proctor, when playing for Gloucestershire in the late 1970’s, bowled 800-900 overs in county cricket and batted at number 4 in the order. In 1981-82 Richard Hadlee bowled 1131 overs. In the 1998-99 season the England Seamers generally had higher workloads than other international players. For example, Andrew Caddick bowled 910 overs and Dean Headley 792. Compare them with Sean Pollock (515); Glen McGrath (740), Courtney Walsh 437 overs for the West Indies and another 600 overs for Gloucestershire. During this period, 1998-99, the most overs by NZ seamers were bowled by Shayne O’Connor (533) and Chris Cairns (497).

Nowadays, with bowlers, it is alleged by many, that their workloads are too high and that more of them are breaking down as a consequence. But is it true?
What evidence is there to say that some of the newly-adopted training methods are reducing injuries and improving performance? Has any research been done to tell us if bowlers of the past spent less, or more time injured, than many of their counterparts today? Moreover, did they have what is now considered to be safer bowling actions? One thing is for certain, training and preparation methods are markedly different today. How well researched and proven are these methods, and how do they compare with past practices?

As for batsmen, who knows what suggestions may come forward soon about their workloads? Although the physical dangers are considered to be less for batsmen than for bowlers, what about psychological damage? Perhaps, expecting a batsman to concentrate for longer than, say, 3hrs is harmful to his psychological well-being? Am I being a smart-arse? Probably, but I think the point of comparison is at a similar level of preciousness.

When preparing cricketers today, there is a much greater emphasis on gym-based work for strength and conditioning with less cardiovascular work. Practice sessions have become less skill specific ( meaning less % of time is devoted to batting, bowling, catching and throwing ), with more time than previously spent on warm-ups, warm-downs and unrelated group games. And time is given over to briefings, debriefings and sports science information.

There are full-time coaches at the elite level who feel it is part of their job description to change bowling actions well formed or otherwise. What research or evidence has been produced on the risks involved in changing well formed bowling actions? Does a bowler bowl with a particular action because it naturally follows a path of least resistance? To make a significant change, what should the timelines be and what are safe workloads in getting back to match fitness? Are egos well in advance of current knowledge and capabilities? What is fact is that bigger and better indoor facilities are available and more extensively used than previously. These surfaces are generally much harder under foot than turf and may well add to wear and tear on the body.

Perceptions that over-use is the root cause of injuries must be causing anxiety amongst bowlers. Perhaps this has created a psychological environment fraught with Hypochondria, which brings an expectation of injury and an over- cautious approach to preparation. Anxieties affect behaviour which, in turn, can seriously affect the nature of players’ performance.

All players are reminded constantly of the need to drink plenty of fluids. It has reached the stage in cricket, whereby the fielding side has drinks brought out at the fall of every wicket, or whenever possible that is, as long as it doesn’t hold up play. Batsmen receive the same treatment. Bowlers have an on going supply of cold drinks and in some cases food, supplied to them at the edge of the boundary where they are fielding. This is all in addition to the traditional drinks break at the mid-point of each session. It had been decided by someone in higher authority, that sweets should be provided to lift the sugar levels of the players. An unforeseen difficulty arose when players argued over whether there was enough of their favourite colour ( flavour ) in the party mix bag. Is this excessive? My experience more than suggests it is.

When I toured the West Indies with NZ in 1972, I spent a lot of time at the crease in two of the hottest places, Jamaica and Guyana. In scoring four double hundreds, on each occasion I spent between nine and eleven and a half hours at the crease. In so doing, I had first hand experience of coping with a number of challenges. Apart from the opposition, I had to overcome mental and physical fatigue in trying conditions. Each innings involved the best part of two days, bringing into play the problems associated with relaxing ( switching off ) one’s mind sufficiently to get enough sleep. In those days little if any attention was paid to hydrating or to the effects of alcohol in this process. During the game, drinks were taken once per 2hr session ( after 1 hr ), although during the middle session ( the hottest part of the day ) two drinks breaks were permitted. At no other stage were drinks brought onto the field, nor did bowlers have refreshments around the edge of the boundary. I’m not suggesting that this was an ideal situation. However, looking at it in retrospect, I think it was a blessing in disguise, or at least it had some advantage. In fighting the odds it made me more determined and forced me to concentrate harder. I knew I had no props to help me and nobody to blame if I failed. I had to solve the problem, be mentally tough enough to overcome adversity in order to succeed.

With the benefit of hindsight I can see that my approach to solving the sleeping problem part way through these innings made my task even more difficult. I had been unsuccessful in relaxing my mind enough to get to sleep, hence, on the second occasion I resorted to drinking alcohol. Although I still got to bed quite early ( around 9.30--10.00pm ), I had consumed enough to be in a state of unconsciousness, rather than sleep. Waking up at 3am, with the dry horrors, did nothing towards improving my physical condition come start-time.

In addition, I proved conclusively that the human body and mind could perform well for a lot longer than many of the spin doctors would have us believe today. It reminds me of what happened during the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur when the NZ race walker Craig Barrett collapsed within sight of a gold medal. It was initially assumed that he had suffered from dehydration, but in fact it was hydration intoxication. He had taken on board too much fluid!

One could argue that players have been given too many things to think about these days, and that some of them distract players from focusing upon what really counts. They have become too dependent, have developed an attitude that someone else will solve their problems for them. If advice doesn’t appear to work for them, it’s not their fault, it’s someone else’s. A blame mentality takes the place of personal responsibility.

My thesis is that there are far more distractions today. Players are apt to be too concerned about, for example: labels (clothing, shoes, sun glasses, cell-phones, watches etc); hair-style (colour ); body piercing, and so on. On match days, drinks (their availability and variety), food (choice and availability ), playing uniform, how much time is allowed for warm-ups when starts are delayed, numbers of complementary tickets, Physio (availability). Others matters might be, food allowance (how much and timing of payments), accommodation (standard and size of rooms ), travel (cars or mini vans and length of journey). It goes on and on. Individually, these examples may appear to be trivial, unimportant. But put them all together and they can have a negative collective effect on the positive attitude needed to be successful. Compare the travel with the English County Cricket scene, where it was not considered a problem to travel all around the country by car during a county season. In fact, it was the accepted norm to make a return journey (a couple of hours away) for a Sunday limited overs game, between days 2 and 3 of a county match.

The difficulty arises convincing players with limited previous experience, from which to form comparisons, to accept that there might be a better way. One hears comments such as, these things haven’t been a problem for me in the past, so isn’t bringing it to my attention creating a problem? Those who played in previous eras can face difficulties in convincing players that some of what is on offer today may be excessive, unhelpful and, at times, counterproductive. One hopes that open minds will accept the logic that the greater the number of distractions the more difficult it is to focus on what makes a good player.

What do I want in a player? Someone who is
* open, honest, principled, dedicated and hard working;
* someone with the mental strength to reproduce their skills in the hotbed of competition. The ability to make decisions, judgments and act on them;
* someone able to deal with adversity and believe that problems are solvable;
* someone who is resilient disciplined and well organized;
* one willing to be personally responsible for their actions;
* one with the courage to express an opinion and argue the case. Having done so, to accept that others or another may be charged with responsibility to make a decision that is contrary to their view;
* one willing to put the team’s good ahead of their personal wishes or ambitions.
* One who understands that their demeanour can infect the whole team in a negative or a positive way.

Many improvements for players that have occurred in recent times are largely comfort rather than performance related. Some of the latter, when used intelligently, are very helpful, particularly the improvements to Video Camera equipment and the development of the computer programme called E-cricket. More money in the game in NZ and better payment to players has also been very helpful, in increasing the amount of cricket played and the paid time for practice. Indoor and outdoor practice facilities have improved; so have the outfields and, to a lesser extent, the pitches. The involvement of the Turf Culture Institute, better covering and modern equipment has made a difference. Other more comfort-related improvements are to changing rooms, hotel/motel accommodation, transport (vehicles, aircraft ), and to a lesser degree, cricket equipment. There was a time in the sixties and earlier, when most 1st class players shared a team kit (i.e bats, pads, gloves, boxes, thigh pads etc., ) and had all their evening meals at the hotel where they were staying. Today a meal allowance is provided for flexibility and lunches at the ground are of a far higher standard.

To look deeper is to realize that not much of this has a lot to do with higher levels of performance. So much more can be done to truly take advantage of advances if procedures for solid research and analysis were established. The money needed to provide more and more material comforts is gobbling up much of what it takes to be a better cricketer. The degree of inconsistency in team performances appears to be greater than ever.

If I may make some comparisons, in general terms, with the past, there is a lack of patience and a bubbling desire to play the brilliant shot, bowl the magic ball, or take the spectacular catch. Attemps at extravagant spontaneous streaks of genius, more often than not, result in erratic and a less effective performance. There is a developing recognition of the need to bat for longer periods of time and to bowl maidens. However, the approach often taken shows itself in an exaggerated form. Batsmen become excessively defensive, almost strokeless, looking to let the ball go as much as possible and bowlers bowl wide of off stump to a packed off-side field to contain their opponent. On the other hand, batsmen, when looking to be aggressive, attack to the point of recklessness, playing high risk shots, and bowlers cut loose with a variety of deliveries that look as if they’ve been plucked out of cricket’s equivalent of a bag of liquorice all sorts.

The ability of batsmen to play boundary shots has certainly improved over the years, but their ability to defend and collect runs has deteriorated. It is as though the art of batting through mastering the basic skills is too boring, not cool and too time consuming. A similar comment can be made about bowlers when it comes to following the fundamental strategy of mastering line and length, and being excited about the challenges that presents. Having achieved that, developing the art of swing and seam can be compared to a batsman being able to manouvre the ball into gaps or space and learning how to precisely weight the ball in order to collect ones and twos with regularity. Ground fielding and throwing have improved considerably, and there is an expectation, that everyone has to work on their fielding skills, irrespective of their status in the team.

In recent years a lot of time money and effort has gone into trying to produce fast bowlers and the pitch conditions to assist. This macho approach has largely failed and is likely to continue to do so unless selective breeding becomes a fashion. Hurting a batsman does not necessarily result in getting him out. One only needs to look at our annual 1st class bowling statistics to realize that.

In conclusion, we may have gone from a famine to a feast, but has more food meant better food? Might our bellies be getting bigger, making us less efficient? To draw on another analogy, our heads may be filled with more information, but is it clogging our minds? Can we filter out what is really important and do it quickly enough to be more effective? The most rapid improvement an individual and a team can make, is to get their attitude right. Overcoming distractions and adversity can result in a significant psychological edge. It is so important to keep on top of things like poor umpiring decisions, bad pitches and an unsavoury opposition. It pays to remember that an eye for an eye blinds everyone. It is also very helpful for us all to learn from the mistakes of the past, retain what is good and add it to today’s advantages.
Edited on, May 23, 2005, 3:26 AM GMT, by Arnab.
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:29 PM
TheWatcher TheWatcher is offline
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Modern willows make well seasoned bowlers weep

Today's bats are as disposable as Bic razors

Mike Selvey
Saturday May 21, 2005
The Guardian

All old cricketers know the irresistible compulsion. See a bat lying around and you have to just pick it up and knock a ball on it. Barry Richards, the great South African batsman, was in the home dressing room last winter and did just that.

It was a blade belonging to Herschelle Gibbs, and Richards's tentative bounce of the ball off it would have sent that ball shooting into orbit had not the ceiling intervened. He could scarcely believe what he had seen.

Richards, of course, came from an era where you had a favourite bat, played it in and it lasted. Two or three a season maybe, but not more. Gibbs, though, numbers his bats meticulously, just as Pete Townshend did his guitars, and this, said Richards, was number 47. For the year, that is.

For the pros anyway, these bats are not meant to last, they are meant to go like the clappers for a short while and then give up the ghost, as disposable as Bic razors.

Quite how spectacularly efficient they are was rammed home to me a couple of weeks ago by one shot in the thousand upon thousand that I have seen in the past few years. A medium-pacer for a minor county was bowling to the Lancashire batsman Stuart Law, a player from the top drawer. Law leaned into a good-length ball and with little more than a forward prod played it past the bowler. It was nicely timed and deserved a couple, or maybe three on a quick outfield, and a ripple of applause. But this rifled outrageously to the boundary.

Now Law is a supreme timer of the ball but this was reward well beyond the value of the shot. Of course he hits hard but not to that degree (once I saw Clive Lloyd almost decapitate Wayne Daniel in his follow-through, the ball travelling no more than 12 feet from the ground before splintering the sightscreen on the full: that is hitting) and the reason is in the technology of the bat.

Manufacturers have always been attempting innovation: sloping shoulders, scoop back, a sort of mallet with all the wood at the bottom that Viv Richards used. For a brief while the Warwickshire and England opener Dennis Amiss used something called the Run Reaper, with conical holes drilled through the face from the back so that when he played an attacking shot it actually whistled, opening no end of possibilities.

Around that time a lack of properly seasoned caerulea - the cricket bat willow - meant that manufacturers lumped on more weight to achieve the same level of performance and it is a wonder that the truss did not become a standard piece of batting equipment.

Now we are hearing about graphite inserts in the bats of Ricky Ponting, while other blades are hollowed out and filled with cork. Whatever next? Semtex? GSP to help locate the ball? The MCC's recommendation that the bat should be made wholly of a single piece of wood is sound. Last week the International Cricket Council recognised the problem and its cricket committee, meeting in Dubai, opted to set up a sub-committee to look into such things, although sadly not in time for the Ashes.

But this, I think, should be only the starting point, for the modern bat is the equivalent of the trampoline driver that reduces the great golf courses to a pitch-and-putt outing. Ponting's bat is cricket's Big Bertha.

They have to be curbed, not least because as well as club medium-pacers, they are, in my view, hitting the spinner out of the game. In an article in the recent Surrey club magazine the leggie Ian Salisbury states his belief that it is the English ball that is killing his breed. Use a Kookaburra, he says, and the seamers are out of it once it goes soft and loses its shine.

He has a point but surely it is the bat that needs more attention. I would make this two-fold. Firstly, restrict its weight, although oddly, given the apparent size of some of them, this is less an issue. They are generally lighter than once they were. Secondly, I would insist on a minimum pressing significantly more than that currently used.

Back in Richards's day, bats were hard pressed, simply to make them last. Then they were played in: last they did. Nowadays it is the lack of pressing that gives the blade its thickness relative to its weight - less density in other words - and the elasticity that Richards found so pronounced in Gibbs's bat. Some of that rebound needs reining in.

The spinner should feel that if he deceives a batsman into a rash half-hit shot, it could result in a catch for an outfielder rather than a spectator. But in a batsman's game, I fear the worst.
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:30 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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What happens and what makes it happen are two different things
Greg Chappell

"We’ve had extensive discussion about biomechanics, (what is actually happening with successful sprinting) but, this is less important than a discussion of how, when, or even if to “cue” the athlete on what to focus on to MAKE IT HAPPEN.” --- Charlie Francis 2002

Since beginning of time humans have been quite adept at identifying and treating the symptoms, but it has only been the very best in their fields who have recognised and understood cause.

This ability to determine the “What makes it happen” is a distnguishing factor of both renowned coaches and athletes.

The 100 metre sprint is an amazingly complex event. On the outside, along with walking, the most basic of human movements seems pretty simple. The starters gun goes off and the athlete runs as fast as they can. Physiologists now know that no athlete can generate their maximum speed over the whole distance and therefore they have to utilise individual tactical understanding to optimise their performance.

John Smith, head coach of the “High Speed Institute” in America and coach to a stable of athletes made up of the names of Maurice Greene, Ato Boldon, Jon Drummond and Inger Miller writes, “Objectively, we work on the different phases, it’s like in the theatre. You rehearse pieces of stuff and put them back together and see what you have got. Then you go back and critique it. Everyday you make a new discovery.”

The very basic fundamental for sprinting optimisation is each ground contact point and this is the area that the top sprint coaches concentrate on developing first. The key to generating speed is the ability to maximise forces on foot impact and do this very quickly. Sports scientists call this generation of force the “Ground Reaction Forces”. This is the force that is created by the reaction of the ground to the body weight pushing into it.

As humans we rely on these forces to load our bodies for movement and it is the reason footwork is so important in sport.

The knowledge is to understand that as Charlie Francis points out, “Ground Reaction Forces can’t be increased by any voluntary action during ground contact support”.

So what you see happening and what generates the ability for it to happen are two different things.

Michael Johnson (below) was the undisputed superstar of the 200 and 400 metres running events. Michael’s coach Clyde Hart worked with Michael to optimise the creation of the ground reaction forces. He knew that while the striking of the leg against the ground was the force generator it was the positioning and optimisation of the rest of the body pre strike that was the key.

Charlie Francis in his wonderful book “Speed Trap” refers to front side mechanics, that is the maximising of the hip height allowing the swing leg to optomise knee lift, the pulling up of the toe of the swing leg as it passes over the hip of the stance leg allowing the appropriate muscles to be placed on stretch for impact and the maximising of the opposite elbow in front of the body to optimise knee lift and avoid rear side mechanics. What makes it happen cues to ensure that it happens for sprinting.

It is interesting to note that when top sprinters are in the race they have a feeling of moving up and down, not forward and it is this feel that they concentrate on. John Smith, “But when Maurice is racing, he’s not thinking about the separate phases. He’s not thinking about anything at all. He’s feeling”. So even the feel may be different from what is actually happening. A very important point and we need to understand this in our training programs.

Another important learning from John Smith is the point about differences between individuals in physique and background. Here he discusses Boldon and Greene.

“They weigh the same, and they’re the same height but they are completely different. They have different levers. The feet, femur, from ankle to knee, from knee to hip, from hip to shoulder, all different sizes. They have to move different parts of their bodies in order to accomplish the same thing.”

Added to this Boldon played soccer until he was 17 whereas Greene was running since 7. John Smith, “Ato (Boldon) can take a soccer ball and look at the net and he can feel the sweet spot in his foot when he hits it. There’s connection. Maurice can feel the sweet spot when he runs. He can feel the movement under him when he has to explode. And the faster he runs, the more precise he is. Ato is learning that. It takes years.”

I trust that you are now starting to develop an understanding of why I created “The Chappell Way” and the concepts of “Unstructured learning” and the “4 principles”

The shot of me on-driving below [pic not provided here] is a perfect illustration in cricket. I have managed to assume a position which was approprate to the requirements of the situation and I found the gap wide of mid- on for four. The visual indicates an optimisation for my individual characteristics, level of experience and demands of the situation.

However it was the initial setup that was the “What makes it happen”. Working on the Unweighting, Coiling and Lever phases and applying them to different external requirements is the key to developing the “What happens”. But don’t confuse the two!
And remember as the player changes whether it be physically, emotionally, level of competition etc the “What makes it happen” need to be constantly revisited. And as John Smith points out no two people are the same!

Marion Jones (World No 1 100 metre sprinter) summed it up beautifully when she made the comment, “ Eventually, though, if you learn everything there is to know about the physics of what your asking your body to do, it becomes like writing your name.”

And this is the requirement of competition!
Edited on, May 23, 2005, 3:31 AM GMT, by Arnab.
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:45 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Uncovering the secrets of The Don: Bradman reassessed

By Paul Glazier, Keith Davids, Ian Renshaw and & Chris Button

Across the world, sport science support programmes have been set up to help world-class sportsmen
and women develop their skills and surpass the performances of their peers. But how did athletes of
bygone generations cope without this support? What can modern-day athletes, and their coaches, learn
from the early experiences and activities of past greats? In this article, we consider whether or not sport
science can provide some answers to these questions by examining the factors underpinning the unique batting ability of one of the truly great performers of relatively modern times, Sir Donald Bradman. We also consider some of the training
equipment and practice strategies used by today’s leading cricketers, and question whether they are
more advantageous than those of Bradman’s era. In attempting to piece together understanding of the iconic Australian’s cricketing development, we blend a mix of theoretical principles, experimental data and
anecdotal evidence from the sport science and coaching literatures.

Contextualising Bradman’s record-breaking career

Bradman finished his international career with a batting average of 99.94 runs per innings, a record that is still at least 40-50% better than any other batsman in the history of the game. Comparing player performances across eras, however, is fraught with difficulty and answering questions like: ‘How do current Test batsmen measure up to the legends of yesteryear?’ and ‘Can there ever be another Don Bradman?’ provides science with a complex challenge.

Recently, statisticians have attempted cross-generational performance comparisons of legendary sportsmen and women and, in cricket, Dickson et al(1) undertook a statistical analysis of all Test batsmen over a 120-year period between 1877-1997. By plotting the coefficient of variation of batting averages across eras (eg, pre-World War I, pre-World War II, 1946-65, 1965-1979, the 1980s and the 1990s), Dickson et al1 showed that variability had decreased over time and that a modern player would need to average approximately 77 runs per innings to match Bradman’s
career batting average statistically. An analysis of modern players, however, shows that no current Test batsman is able to boast this figure, with the
highest averages currently belonging to Matthew Hayden (Australia) 58.14, Rahul Dravid (India) 58.09 and Sachin Tendulkar (India) 57.39.

Dickson et al(1) invoked the ideas of the eminent evolutionary biologist, Stephen Jay Gould, for interpreting their modelling work. Gould(2) developed the evolutionary theory of punctuated equilibrium to describe how long periods of evolutionary stability for biological organisms are broken by sudden, shorter spurts of dramatic evolutionary change, the latter resulting from external perturbing forces. Gould’s2 theory contrasts with Darwin’s traditional perspective that portrays evolution as a slow, steady process occurring at a relatively constant rate and, as
we note below, is precisely the sort of framework that may be able to explain sudden jumps of 40-50% in
cricket batting performance. Indeed, Gould(2) alluded to the baseball hitting average of 0.400 to exemplify
these theoretical ideas and sport is littered with examples of punctuated equilibrium from Fosbury’s flop technique in the high jump, to Bjorn Borg’s heavy top-spin forehand drive and the double-hitch kick long jump. In the context of this article, these ideas lead to key questions such as: Why was Bradman so much more successful than anyone else? What was his secret? Was he simply a ‘one-off genius’ or is it possible that a cricketer of a future generation could
emulate his amazing achievements?

The modelling of Dickson et al1 raises the question whether or not another Bradman will ever emerge
in the modern era, but reference to the theory of punctuated equilibrium suggests that this possibility is
likely to occur as a result of sudden technical innovations produced by an individual performer. For this reason, it may be useful to gain an insight into Bradman’s own technical development and practice strategies to ascertain what innovative, perturbing
forces were at work.

What made Bradman great?

Since his retirement from the game, many explanations for the Don’s expert batting and vast statistical superiority have been posited in the
‘popular’ press, media and coaching literature, but science is revealing that many of these claims are erroneous or unsubstantiated. For example,
it has often been suggested that Bradman had better eyesight and faster reactions than his nearest
rivals. However, he was discharged prematurely from the Australian Army during World War II for having
defective eyesight – according to Hutchins3, his release was due to fibrositis – and when he submitted
himself for psychophysical tests at the University of Adelaide, it was found that he had a slightly slower reaction time than the average University student4. These facts are unsurprising given the well-documented findings that top-class athletes do not have exceptional perceptual systems and visual reaction times compared to their less accomplished counterparts5. Moreover, it has been reported that high-calibre athletes have the same incidence of visual defects as the normal population; about 10% suffer from problems of short- and longsightedness
and other weaknesses6. Other psychological factors have been implicated in Bradman’s success, such as his supreme powers of concentration and mental toughness, but, although clearly important, these factors alone are unlikely to explain the large gulf between him and other batsmen.

Bradman’s ‘rotary’ technique

Perhaps a more likely explanation for Bradman’s success, gaining favour with top coaches, resides in his ‘unorthodox’ batting technique – a possible disequilibrating perturbation in the sport. Indeed, on the basis of the insights of Bradman himself and eyewitness accounts of keen observers, combined with original film and video footage, and a study
conducted by sport scientists at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, Shillinglaw7 concluded
that the single most important factor underlying Bradman’s outstanding run scoring record was his unique ‘rotary’ technique.

Most coaches emphasise the importance of grip, stance and back-lift as being the foundations for successful batting. Traditional coaching emphasises that the standard grip is one where the bat handle is held with the hands together, with the firmer top hand about 25 mm from the top of the handle. The hands are positioned so that the ‘vees’ formed by the thumb and forefinger of each hand are in line with each other, pointing between the splice and the outside edge of the bat. During the stance, the bat should be placed just behind the back foot. The conventional back-lift should enable the bat to be taken back in a line from wicket to wicket with the top hand taking control. The front arm should be extended backwards to give a wide sweep with minimum flex of the elbow8.

In comparison, the key differences between these basics and Bradman’s batting technique are highlighted by Bradman in his coaching book, The
Art of Cricket(4). Bradman adopted a grip that was not consistent with the coaching manual, having the ‘vee’ of his left hand in line with the splice of the bat. Bradman’s stance was also unconventional, involving closure of the face of the bat and positioning it between his feet. Similar differences were observed in his back-lift as he levered the bat up by pushing down with the top hand, whilst using the bottom hand as a fulcrum. As it neared the top of the back-lift, Bradman manoeuvred the bat through a continuous arc and back towards the plane of the ball during the downswing in preparation for impact.

According to Shillinglaw(7), this technique, which was putatively developed through long hours practicing his childhood game of striking a fast-moving golf ball with
a cricket stump, afforded Bradman superior balance, shorter movement times and enhanced bat speed
through the striking zone than more conventional batting techniques. It is also interesting to note that Sir
Jack Hobbs, arguably the greatest English batsman ever, extensively practiced a similar game during his formative years7. Thus, although the old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ carries some weight in the quest to acquire skill, it seems that what you do during practice counts for far more than merely time serving the long hours needed.

Why did this type of unorthodox practice regime lead to such outstanding success and can talent development programs across the world learn anything from these experiences in developing the
future world-class stars of sports? It seems that creating the right type of practice environment is important for developing the Bradmans of the
future. What does the scientific subdiscipline of motor learning tell us about how to structure and organise
practice environments for efficient and effective learning?

It seems that dynamical systems theory, allied to the insights of the Russian physiologist and biomechanist, Nicolai Bernstein, whose research accounts and stimulating ideas were translated
into English in 1967, are proving invaluable9. His ideas, combined with powerful theoretical paradigms
in science such as chaos theory and the sciences of complexity, have been integrated with concepts and
tools from dynamical systems theory to re-shape our understanding of movement behaviour10.

Dynamical systems are examples of nonlinear systems operating in regions of state space far from equilibrium, providing them with an appropriate amount of metastability. Dynamical systems theory has been successfully applied to the study of coordination in nervous systems and movement
control11,12, movement development13, 14 and skill acquisition15. In particular, the dynamical systems framework has influenced the way that movement scientists view inter- and intra-individual variability in motor performance, as a function of learning and development across the lifespan. Bernstein9 focused attention on processes of movement coordination
and also noted the incredible amount of variability exhibited over performance repetitions as individuals
engaged in even the most repetitive of tasks such as hammering a nail.
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:51 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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continued from above...

The role of constraints in structuring technique variability

Traditionally, the study of motor behaviour has seen a tendency to operationalise variability with measures of variance in motor output (eg, standard deviation around the distribution mean of a dependent variable measured over repeated trials). From a cognitive science perspective, scientists seeking support for the concept of motor invariance provided a narrow interpretation of variability in movement as evidence
of noise or random fluctuations at different levels of the movement system (eg, anatomical, mechanical,

This traditional emphasis led to the idealising of the notion of ‘common optimal movement patterns’ towards which all athletes should aspire, typically a performance model provided by a leading performer of
the day. For example, the search for motor invariance implies that all cricketers should adopt a single optimal batting stance and technique, with the distinct possibility that the precious individualised practice
solution of Bradman would have been ‘coached out’ of his repertoire at an early age.

Rather than being undesirable, variability of technique can be viewed as exemplifying functional adaptive
behaviours of athletes, since a consistent outcome can be achieved by different patterns of joint relations
owing to the dynamics of the joint biomechanical degrees of freedom.

Ideas from chaos theory indicate that a defining feature of a chaotic system is that deterministic processes can drive fluctuations in system output
that apparently seems random. With such a view, noise may have a positive role in preventing a system
from becoming too stable in complex environments so that functional movement solutions may be found.

For example, Bradman has reported adapting his technique when playing defensive strokes from outside the line of ball flight to lessen the chances of edging the ball to the slips against swing and seam
bowlers4. Furthermore, there is growing evidence that the nature of movement variability is driven by the
interaction of the various sources of constraint on action, and this leads to the uniqueness of system dynamics for a particular performer under a specific set of task constraints. This task-specific view may provide a better framework for understanding the role of inter- and intra-individual variability in the provision of
feedback, diagnoses and treatment interventions in human movement by sport medicine specialists16.

Movement scientists have also revealed the important role of perception in shaping and guiding sports techniques. In achieving successful coordination solutions, it is clear that various sources of perceptual information can act as degrees of constraint on the many motor system degrees of freedom. Obviously, the relationship between perceptual degrees of constraint and the motor system degrees of freedom
can change quite dramatically in dynamic sports environments, emphasising how the coupling of information and movement needs to vary functionally during performance.

Owing to the mutually dependent relationship between the perceptual and motor sub-systems, unambiguous
task-specific perceptual variables such as time-to-contact and place-of-contact can act as degrees of constraint and can be used to make fine-grained adjustments; for example, as required during cricket batting strokes17. Even under the most severe spatiotemporal constraints, the formation of perception-movement couplings enables batsmen to get the bat in the right place at the right time to
intercept the flight path of the ball. Acquiring these functional perceptionmovement couplings also enables grip forces to be modulated right up to the
point of bat-ball impact, thus ensuring that the ball is struck at the right speed into gaps in the field18.

Past vs. present: Bradman v. Tendulkar

From this theoretical backdrop, it becomes clear that the specific constraints of his childhood game encouraged Bradman to adopt a technique that enabled the bat to remain highly manoeuvrable, therefore minimising lags in the way that his perceptual-motor system dealt with rapid environmental changes and ensuring that the ball could be played as late as possible.

With this in mind, it may be more useful to compare the technique and style of Bradman with those of modern players. Bradman himself identified Tendulkar as the batsman who resembled him most in technique (ie, his compactness, technique, stroke production). Bradman was renowned for his efficiency of play and was said to pay particular attention to the balance of risk and reward in his shot selection. Given the perceived similarities in the play of Bradman and Tendulkar, it would be of interest to examine the cricketing development of these two so-called ‘child prodigies’.

Despite the generally-held view that both players were great players due to ‘natural talent’, a common feature of both players’ development is their extraordinary emphasis on practice. Although great store is given to the fact that Bradman developed his hand-eye coordination by famously practising with a golf ball and cricket stump against a water tank, he also undertook much realistic cricket practice.

Although he is said to have received no ‘formal’ coaching, Bradman was brought up in a family and community that loved cricket. For example, his parents, particularly his mother, bowled at him from about the age of 9 or 10. Bradman also engaged in other makeshift games as a child, such as playing tennis or soccer against the garage door. He scored his first 100 in a school match aged 12. Interestingly,
from age 15 to 17 Bradman played almost no cricket, concentrating on tennis19. At 17, he became a regular
player in the local Bowral Cricket Club, and his first full season was notable for the 300 he scored in the last game of the season. At 18, the final stage and perhaps the most critical(3) of Bradman’s initial development was completed when he joined St. Georges Cricket Club in Sydney and began to play in a high standard of cricket on turf pitches.
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:54 PM
chinaman chinaman is offline
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Great initiative

You may delete this post - meant to encourage you should you feel bored and / or tired
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:55 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Similar to Bradman, Tendulkar was steeped in cricket from a very early age. At two-and-a-half years of age, he insisted that his nanny throw a plastic ball at him, which he attempted to strike with a dhoka or washing stick20. Interestingly, during these early years
Tendulkar only played cricket with a hard rubber ball.

At age 11, probably the most notable difference in the development of Bradman and Tendulkar took place: Tendulkar was provided with quality coaching from a well-respected coach. The great strength of his coach was that equal emphasis was placed on net practice and match play. Under his guidance Tendulkar was exposed to a quite remarkable level of intensity in his cricketing activities. On a daily basis Tendulkar undertook net practice between 7.30 am and 10 am. The rest of the day was spent in playing up to 13 different games across Mumbai, as the coach shifted him to the adjacent pitch as soon as he got out in one game3. Even this was not enough and on the occasions when Tendulkar was not playing in an organised match, he could often be seen practicing his
strokes inside his house with a ball hung from a small net.

This level of commitment could explain why Tendulkar’s relative development was much faster than that of Bradman. Although they both scored their first centuries at 12 years, Tendulkar scored his initial
first-class century at 1421 and his first Test century at 17. By the age of 21, Tendulkar had scored seven Test
centuries, compared with two from Bradman at the same age.

Both Bradman and Tendulkar shared two important commonalities that may account for their tremendous
achievements. First, both players gripped their bat in an unorthodox manner. In Bradman’s case, there was no coach to interfere or change his preferred style. In Tendulkar’s case, his coach was sensible enough to follow the old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it!”
The very low grip of Tendulkar enabled him to select as his first bat one that his coach considered far too heavy (he still uses a 3lb 2 oz bat when most players use approximately 2lb 8oz-2lb 10oz). Second, and possibly the most important common factor, is the importance attached to demanding practice by both men. They both support the view that natural talent alone is not enough, but that you need to work incredibly hard to fulfil any inherent potential4,22.
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Old May 23, 2005, 06:39 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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The Mental Game of Cricket
by Rob Robson


According to Australian cricket legend, Greg Chappell, international batting is “probably 90 per cent mental effort and 10 percent physical effort… …because you have to be focused on every ball that is bowled”.

Of course, one of the features of cricket is that all players take on multiple roles over a long period of time, even in the one day game (compared to five-day tests). Batsmen have to field, bowlers have to bat; and some players bat, field and bowl. Add the challenge of organisation and motivation that faces the captain, and you can quickly build up a picture of a mentally demanding sport.

Indeed, Greg Chappell also stated, in his interview with Frontline magazine, that he rarely felt physically tired after batting, but often mentally tired. What are the demands on the mind of an international cricketer?


“To make a hundred in a Test match is going to take you between three and four hours. To bat for that length of time, you need to be able to focus, able to relax in between time, and learn to switch on and off so that you conserve your mental energy. Because you can’t focus for six hours on a trot.”

The focus Greg Chappell talks about is required in order to tune in to the subtle cues that a bowler will give – the position of the ball in hand, pace of run, arm position for example – that give him the opportunity to choose his shot in an instant and commit to executing it. Miss those cues and, at international level, you will have to make an educated guess based on your knowledge of the bowler that you face or, at worst, take a shot from your own repertoire which may be hopelessly inadequate for that delivery.

In addition, Chappell talks about the sheer mental drain of switching on and off over a period of time.

Exercises to Improve Concentration for Batters

1). Practice switching your attention.

‘Shuttling’ stops you from getting stuck in what sport psychologist John Syer calls “the middle zone”. You can do this with a partner. First, close your eyes and tune into and describe an internal sensation, such as “Now I am aware of my breathing”, or “Now I am feeling silly”. Next, open your eyes and tune into something outside of yourself such as “Now I am aware of the sun shining”, “Now I am aware of the birds singing”. Shuttle between an internal and external focus for a few minutes, and with each new sensation begin “Now I am aware…”. If you get a bit stuck (in the ‘middle zone’ your partner can provide the cue “Now I am…”. Take turns to do this. When you are comfortable doing this, try it with your eyes open.

In a match you need to be able to shuttle. Become too fixated on the bowler, your own movements, or the movement of the field and you will fail to respond quickly and lose runs or worse, your wicket.

2) Train yourself to make batting decisions with limited information.

Perhaps you could put a screen up that obscures part of the bowler’s delivery (say above a certain height) or part of the field (so that you have to get used to picking your shot without full knowledge). The key here is to build your confidence in making the decision and executing the shot. Another thing that you could do is practice making the decision to run without full knowledge of the fielding positions used.

3) Use a batting routine that tells you that you are back ‘on’.

First, if you are going to switch back on, it is important to switch off by stretching, practicing a swing, anything as long as it is relaxed and easy; and appropriate to whether you are on strike or not. Then, make sure that you are in position before the bowler returns to the back of his approach. Take a deep breath and use an ‘affirmation’ or verbal cue (which may be a more emotional (e.g. “let’s ‘ave it!’”) or task focused (e.g. “quick feet”) that tells you that you are ready.

Of course, focus is not only needed on strike. If you are not on strike you have to be ready for the command to run. Remember the calamitous run-out on the last ball of the semi-final in 1999? South Africa only needed one run off the last ball, the run was there to be taken, but between them Klusener and Donald managed to make a mess of it. This also assumes that the batsman has to be able to clearly and quickly communicate his decision to run, using a predetermined, simple command.

In many ways fielding is similar to batting. The quick decision, the shift in focus, and the ability to switch on and off are important for a full day of fielding under the hot summer sun. The slight change in emphasis is that if you stop the ball without catching the batsman out, you have to be able to quickly scan, take in information and anticipate where the game will be by the time the ball that you are about to throw reaches the wicket. It is essential that you can focus on the most relevant cues to make a quick decision and switch your attention to making an accurate throw.

All of this sounds like a lot. If players are really thinking very deliberately about all decisions, actions and options in a game situation, they are unlikely to perform at their best. In order to cope with all of the information that they handle, the batsman or fielder in question must have practiced the physical skills required until he is able to call upon them and execute them automatically.


Bowling is much more of a closed skill than batting, in that you choose your delivery and stick to it. You may respond differently according to the batman you are facing, but if you pay too much attention to the batsman on your run up, a good batsman can ‘set up’ a bowler to deliver a particular ball – the ball he wants. The emphasis is on intensity (especially in fast bowling), accuracy, and consistency. A bowler also steps in and out of his role, spending the rest of the day out in the field.

It is extremely important to maintain a high standard of bowling. Five good deliveries can undone if the sixth is hit for six runs! Slack bowling can also gift the opposing team runs in the form of ‘extras’.

Some skills or strategies to assist with bowling

1) Set Process Goals with tough targets for line and length, accuracy and consistency.

Work on these in training. Be sure of your definition of ‘good bowling’, and make sure that you perform to those standards. You can’t control the performance of the batsman, but you can make sure that you don’t give him any unnecessary chances to score.

2) Back up your goals with mental rehearsal of your delivery.

If you practice mental rehearsal regularly to back up skills, you will be able to rely on it in a match situation. Like any skill, try to use it, undeveloped, in a match situation and it will falter.

3) Develop a pre-delivery routine that reinforces your process goals and tells you that you are ready to go.

This routing may well include, but not be limited to, your mental rehearsal. This may include a physical routine, using affirmations (as above), and ‘centering’ (using a series of deep breath to bring you back to a physical and mental state of relaxation and readiness). A pre-delivery routing will help you to deliver every ball with the same intensity and effort, and to achieve consistency.


Even from this short article it is clear that the challenges faced by different roles in cricket share important challenges. In batting, it is important to switch on and off, to preserve mental energy and achieve high levels of focus for each swing.


‘Its 90 per cent mental effort’. Frontline Magazine, Volume 17 - Issue 15, July 22 - Aug. 04, 2000

Syer, J., & Connolly, C. (1998) Sporting Body Sporting Mind. Simon and Schuster
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Old May 23, 2005, 06:43 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Lessons from a cricket crisis
By Dr. Rudi Webster

Professor Luria, a famous Russian scientist once said that human behaviour is influenced by goals of the future but is also shaped by history and past experiences. He added that not only does the brain create these goals but it also subordinates all of its activities towards achieving them.

In crisis situations, our brain chemistry is changed. Thinking often becomes negative and combative and our span of concentration is narrowed and locked in to the immediate. Valuable lessons from the past are then lost and once positive visions of the future become vague and hazy.

Almost thirty years ago, world cricket was plunged into crisis when Kerry Packer challenged the cricket establishment, signed fifty of the world's greatest players and started his own World Series competition. The war between these two combatants was fierce and acrimonious. Just about every cricket board joined the battles on the side of the establishment and dropped the Packer players from their teams. The West Indies Team, of which I was manager, was no exception and when the West Indies Board of Control dropped a few of the Packer players, other team members came out in support and withdrew from the team.

In England, Packer players were banned from playing for England and for their counties. Serious court battles then ensued in England. Much to the delight of World Series, the players won those battles when the courts ruled against the establishment for restraint of trade and I believe wrongful dismissal of players. The establishment was then forced to relent and reinstate the banned players.

Last week, the WICB announced that three of its best players, along with four others, will be dropped from the team for the upcoming series against South Africa and Pakistan because of sponsorship disputes. Already, one Caribbean judge has recognised the rights of West Indies players to pursue individual sponsorship. Are we now in danger of having history repeat itself in the West Indies team and in the courts?

Some very positive things happened to the West Indies team during the World Series crisis. Before the start of World Series, West Indies had won the first Cricket World Cup and showed that it had enormous potential.

But, in 1975/76 the team was shattered physically and psychologically by Australia who won the Test Series five games to one. A year later, the team came to World Series. As manager I saw a team with a clear mission and renewed motivation. These were topped up and refined in no small measure by the establishment’s rejection and isolation of the Packer players.

That exiled status challenged and fired up our players to become the best team in the world. Under the skilful leadership of Clive Lloyd, that did not take long. What was viewed by many as a crisis was turned into a unique opportunity by the players.

Our players won a ‘mini-world cup’ in England last year but then went to Australia and did very badly. Like their predecessors, can they use the current crisis as an opportunity and make a quantum leap in performance? I believe they can.

But, coaches and team leaders will have to display their mettle and show their players what is possible and what they (players) are capable of doing in the future. In addition, they must question themselves and ask if they can use their leadership and motivational expertise effectively to help the players create that future.

This change will only happen if the team is allowed to perform in a free, harmonious and creative environment.

Lots of the success of World Series was due to the great wisdom of Kerry Packer. As a sponsor and leader he earned the admiration, trust and respect of all of his players for his fairness, as well as his toughness.

And he achieved this by first showing the players that he trusted and respected them. Unlike most of the sports organisations of that era, Kerry placed the players at the centre of his organisational model. Everything revolved around them, not around management. The ‘master/servant’ relationship did not exist.

I remember an incident in Melbourne when a top manager of World Series asked the wives of some of the West Indies players to leave the VIP area. I reported the incident to Packer who angrily summoned the manager and told him in front of the wives and players that as far as he was concerned the players were the most important people in World Series and that their wives were free to sit wherever they wanted. He then asked the manager to leave the room. By that action, Kerry cemented the players’ love and respect for him.

As the sponsor of World Series, Kerry never lost sight or respect for the wonderful game of cricket and the welfare of his players which he placed ahead of everything else. He never crossed the line between the sponsor and players. He did not get engaged in the dynamics of the team, on or off the field, unless he was asked to do so by the captain and team manager. And he never got involved or interfered with the selection of the team.

Tony Cozier recently said that some of the combatants in the current crisis might not know the difference between George Headley and George III. Well it is now an opportune time for all combatants to take a time out, step back from their entrenched positions, and start taking some serious history lessons about the importance of the great game of cricket to the West Indies and its people.
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Old May 23, 2005, 06:51 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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The Run-up
Bob Woolmer
03 Sep 2004

The basic action will only work if the bowler and his run-up have sufficient momentum and rhythm. For example, take a coin and roll it along its edge; as it slows down, it will start to stall and tip over. The precise force exerted on that coin determines how straight it will run and how long it will stay upright. So the run-up is vital to the success of the bowling action. The run-up will also vary from bowler to bowler. Each bowler must work out what feels right and comfortable for him. His run-up should enable him to release the ball at the moment of maximum momentum, yet while he is still able to control the delivery. If he is going too fast, it will be hard to remain balanced at the moment of delivery, so the ball is likely to spray out of control. Build up your pace while running in ? there is no need to sprint flat-out from the very first stride. You should hit your ideal running speed about three or four strides before delivery.

Just as a long-jumper's approach requires exact measuring, so does a bowler's run-up. Apart from being able to deliver the ball in the correct area, his front foot must cut the popping crease and his back foot must come down inside the return crease. But first, he needs to work out at what point he bowls the fastest, and then work backwards from there.

So, to calculate your optimum run-up, enlist the help of a teammate or friend and then place your self at the popping (batting) crease, with your back to the wicket. The object is to run off into the outfield, and to bowl whenever you feel ready and comfortable. Set off just behind the crease, so that the same foot (it doesn't matter which one, as long as you remember which it is!) hits the crease each time you cross it. Now ask your friend to mark the spot where your front foot landed as you bowled; do this a number of times to ensure that your rhythm is correct. This is now your imaginary bowling crease. Next, work out how many ordinary walking paces there are back to the popping crease --- this is the length your run-up should be. Try this several times, for the sake of certainty; you are now ready to count back from the crease the number of paces you have calculated, and to start running in to the wicket. If you have settled on the correct length, you should not have too much trouble with no balls. In any case, if you are genuinely fast, your coach may advise you not too fret too much about no-balls (with the exception of one-day games!), as this can make a young 'quickie' hesitant. The pace of the run up will vary for a variety of reasons and this may affect rhythm, action and length. For example running into a head wind, up hill soft ground and hard ground, in some cases like Makhaya Ntini, he had to dodge foot holds and his action was affected by this, he grew up jumping away from the target, by practice and sheer hard work, he is probably without question the fittest and strongest bowler in world cricket today, he has managed to conquer and adapt his deficiencies to become an excellent International bowler. So much so that I have to eat my words as I am on record as saying that he would not make it. Clearly I pigeonholed him too early a common mistake among coaches and selectors.

It's worth bearing in mind that although most fast bowlers have an average run-up of around 15 and 30 metres, there is no one ideal length, and there is a great deal of variation among bowlers. Wasim Akram is deadly off a remarkably short run-up; so was Richard Hadlee. (When the latter first shortened his run-up, a journalist complained that New Zealand's heaviest artillery was operating off a pop-gun run-up. But Hadlee had the last laugh, becoming the first bowler ever to take 400 Test wickets.) On the other hand, the run-ups of some of the West Indian speedsters of the 80s, such as Wayne Daniel, started practically on the boundary rope!

Also remember that the length of your run-up is not cast in stone; you might like to experiment with adaptations now and then during your career. Allan Donald made the decision to cut back on his run-up for less significant matches, purely to save wear and tear on his legs --- and found to his amazement, that he was taking more wickets than ever off this abbreviated run-up. Interestingly Allan was the first bowler that I used a stopwatch to time his run up, the reason being that I felt that he was a real rhythm bowler who had an optimum pace that he arrived at the crease, this allowed him to bowl very fast and accurately, when he was bowling at his best I timed him from the moment his lead foot hit the bowling mark to when his front foot hit the batting crease. Allan's optimum time was 2.74 seconds or just within a milli-second of that either way. This allowed him balance at the crease, which enabled him to snap his body through the action creating the searing pace. Because he was balanced at the crease he could bowl out or inswing at will and his length was pretty spot on.
(Dennis Lillee had an unusual approach in that he rehearsed two run-ups; his standard run-up for full-tilt bowling, and another shorter one for those days when he knew his captain would need him for longer spells than usual.)

No matter what the length, the run-up should always be smooth and rhythmical, which means that both feet must start from the same spots at the start of the run-up, and must repeatedly hit the same areas when running in. There must be no "stuttering", and the momentum must be sufficient to drive the action and the ball towards the target accurately.
Edited on, May 23, 2005, 11:51 AM GMT, by Arnab.
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