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Old May 23, 2005, 07:04 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Join Date: June 20, 2002
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General Coaching Tips
Bob Woolmer
19 Dec 2002

Dennis Amiss once told me that you only really start learning to bat after you get a hundred! Graeme Pollock is quoted as saying that batting is 70% in the mind! Sir Donald Bradman once said that, "When the bowler lets go of the ball it will eventually reach you!" Three fairly simple statements but all very meaningful, they happen to come from three of the better batters of their eras. In the next few pages I will record some of the disciplines that batsmen need to have in order to succeed at the crease.

1. The Basics

Everyone talks about sticking to the basics but what is meant by "The basics"? After much study, thought and practice I have come to believe that there are five basic principles to batting, which are caste in stone (Adhered to forever). Although the methods of attaining these basics might differ, they are the cornerstone to batting technique. They are: - (a) Watch the ball (b) Keep your head still on release of that ball (be balanced) (c) Judge length accurately (d) Put your feet into the correct position (e) Select the correct shot

2. Technique

Preparation and practice are vital to hone technique and therefore care in practice is vital. Sir Richard Hadlee once said that only "perfect practice made perfect". This is an important point. Practicing poor technique will make you worse. The higher the standard of the game the more incorrect technique is exposed. It is vital for the coach to understand technique and apply it differently to each subject. No two people are the same and coaching methods have to change for each player.

3. Rhythm Movement/Trigger movements

Most batsmen at the highest level develop a rhythm movement. Many top players have said that batting is about rhythm, being in tune with the bowler adapting to conditions and so on. So we need to understand what Rhythm and batting means. I often ask the question to young cricketers why do you go back and across and they actually do not know the answer. Rhythm, involves feet movements and bat-swing (back lift). There are a few varieties and if we study players of yesterday and today it would seem that batsmen have had success and failure with a variety of movements even if it is in just the way they lift the bat up. Against great pace there is little time to judge the length and then move forwards or backwards properly, so it has become the norm to adopt an early position (say back and across to the off stump) and then if the ball is short you are already in position to play and if the ball is up to you then you just have to get forward. There are a number of rhythm movements that players adopt such as the forward press on the front foot, back and across with the back foot to the off stump, and a number of variations on those themes. Whatever movement you adopt you must understand why? And how? And when? The key is when - If you are not sure look at the five principles to give you the answer. Balance is the key word, moving late will cause problems as the foot will move one way and the ball having already been released may well be on a different line causing you to fall over or reach for the ball. This is an important aspect of batting and need to be understood thoroughly.

4. Hitting area & Timing

An often misunderstood subject, what then is the correct hitting area? A simple way of finding out how timing and the optimum hitting area combine is simply by getting a bat and ball and bouncing the ball on the bat. Timing is the art of making the bat meet the ball at the correct point so that it will bounce under control and can be repeated easily. How then do we interpret this into the game of cricket, especially when we need to use both hands? To discover the optimum hitting area it is important to understand how the hands work together. A simple method is to hold the bat in two hands and simply let the bat hang down. You will quickly notice that the bat hangs under your eyes; in an ideal world this then is the optimum area. In order to gain maximum force and timing the arms should be almost if not completely straight when hitting the ball (not always possible, but games like Golf show you the reasons why) and the transference of weight from back to front foot or vice versa will complete the equation. Interestingly the co-ordination of all these factors is determined by your brain and the first signals to the brain are the signals that your eyes see. Vision enhancing techniques are now making it possible to improve co-ordination and timing. We spend many hours training the muscles of our body but very little on training the muscles around the eyes. New studies are proving a great success and as part of technical training vision should be part of a batsmen's daily routine. It follows therefore that if the first signal to the brain is from the eyes then the better they are working the better the information gets relayed through to the feet. Consider then your foot movements onto front and back foot if you wait for the ball to arrive under your eyes you will have a better chance of hitting the ball and at the same time you will be playing it late which is a sign of all great batsmen. This is something that you will come to understand the more it happens. Talented sportspersons can improvise where and when they hit the ball because they are able to watch the ball (concentrate) for longer and use their hands through better co-ordination. The less talented player can train these skills by repetition. Hence the fact that the so called average player has succeeded at the highest level.

5. Balance

Not only should you be balanced in your stance, but also you should be balanced in the shots that you choose. For example when going onto the back foot you must transfer your weight onto the back foot, similarly when going onto the front foot your weight (balance) must be on the front foot. Too often when the weight is not transferred properly the hitting area is not attained nor do we adjust and wait for the ball, we tend to push away from our bodies at the ball, leaning back and thereby causing an error. Transferring the weight is an extremely important factor in good technique. Bradman said that all batsmen should take up bal-room dancing so that they learnt to move their feet in a balanced way. Batsmen often get caught in the wrong position because the timing of their movements is poor.

6. Relaxation

Part of batting which is often forgotten is the art of controlling the nerves and getting rid of tenseness. Colin Cowdrey once said to me that a batsman should be like a wrestler quick on his feet and have a relaxed upper body until contact, this allowed him to move and react quickly when attacked. The tenser he is the harder it was for him to move. OK you say face Brett lee or Allan Donald without feeling tense! Well believe it here is one of the great lessons of playing against quick bowling, you must be relaxed. Deep breathing exercise or just breathing exercise as in all the yoga manuals will teach you how to relax. There again is a balance, too relaxed can also be bad. Psychologists tend to call it the IPS (Ideal performance state). This leads me into the mental preparation

7. Mental Preparation

Slowly but surely we are beginning to understand that the mind can be a reat asset and above all controlling the mind. Great players of the past have had a natural gift to control their mind again we must cite Bradman for his ability to get so many big scores. Geoffrey Boycott too made the most of his ability by strength of mind. There are many examples, there are many examples of cricketers letting themselves down and not being able to control this part of the game. The mind/brain is an area that can be improved. Coaches are reticent to use psychologists, players think they are shrinks and Administrators consider it as a weakness in the coach if he has to bring in outside help! Yet it is a fascinating area of why certain players are better than others. Mental preparation starts with practice, the attitude one takes to a net practice is an all important factor in improving one's game. Training the mind comes a lot from within, sports psychologists can give us techniques to assist, in the end it is up to the player to make it happen. Visualisation is part of mental training and as you go to the nets before a game it is now that you have to practice the art of concentration (remember perfect practice makes perfect). Train the body to play the shot correctly. As you see a golfer have a practice swing so as a batsman should you get your body shapes as you image those shots. Just as you would practice attacking so you have to practice a defensive technique. Reaching the IPS must start with your preparation. Of course different people require different methods of doing this. I was taught to use a white sheet method. Turn my mind into a white sheet, close out all external problems (Going bankrupt, wife leaving you etc) and just imagine the ball coming out of that white sheet, make it bigger in your mind slow its velocity down and understand the trajectory, make it the sole object of your mind. There may be may other methods but this one helped me. This advice was passed on to me by Mike Denness the former Kent and England captain. It really hit home and helped me enormously, when I used it. Of course this is the crux, developing a routine to use the advice. At the different levels of the game, nerves start at different times. I remember when a boy I used to wake up on Saturday morning and before the curtains were drawn I would have butterflies in my stomach! My life used to turn to dust if it was raining. However when the sun shone it was a day of high expectancy. Later when I became a test player, I remember not being able to sleep before a big game and really feeling tired before I got to the ground when the adrenalin rush took over and I was awake for days. The old - fashioned rest day was a relief on Saturday night and a nightmare on Sunday night. It reminded me of having to go back to boarding school on a Sunday evening having spent a day at home. The key to handling all these was I believe my love for the game, my desire to compete, when confronted by a fast bowler or when I finally got to the middle in the heat of the battle, I had no nerves just an intense desire to conquer the opposition. So mentally I had changed from a nervous wreck to a mighty warrior. I found it difficult to lose graciously but because defeat and victory are both impostors companions, one has to learn to live with them. The great thing about any sport is that after defeat and after victory there are wonderful lessons to be learnt for the next encounter. What I did find was that I might spend more time working on my weaknesses and those of the opposition, which made it possible for me not to be defeated too often! Finally as a coach I remember getting really nervous the night before the game worrying if I had covered all eventualities! I knew I could not do anything when on the pitch; it was now up to the players to perform and believe in themselves. And it was this fact belief that led to my coaching values as to help and assist as opposed to hinder and destroy a player, which had very much been the vogue in the sixties and seventies. So if we do not believe that mental preparation is important think again. I also believe firmly that success and failure are like a big circle. For example: Runs = success = confidence = runs - Lack of runs = failure = loss of confidence = no runs.
Like wise poor technique = no runs and good technique = runs. My conclusion is that they are intrinsically entwined.

8. Technical Appreciation

It is important as a player to understand real technique from body position to how the hands work. Shot making can be both rustic and precise, the higher the level the better the technique has to be. Bat paths relative to the body should resemble straight railway lines, the body being on the one track and the hands meeting the ball on the other track. Problems occur when the two tracks cross (playing across the line) and cross again (playing in to out). Don't be lulled into the easy way out you thinking that you mustn't be too technical, the faster or better the bowler and the greater the pressure of the game, the more technique will be exposed and crumble if not good enough. It is in precisely these situations that you will need good technique. By practicing good technique the more natural it will become. A recent study has said that for any movement to become second nature it needs to be practiced over 13000 times! Importantly most shot bases resemble the hull of an old 19th century Man of war boat. The Bat swing towards the stumps resembles the high bridge and Captains cabin. The hitting area resembles the flattened bottom of the hull and the follow through resemble the point of the boat. Illustrated here: - The bottom of the bat should follow the illustration as much as possible so that the hitting area (The straight line - bottom of the hull) is as long as possible. One of Cricket's greatest problems is in how terminology can make such a difference to understanding. If the hitting the ball is a science (Biomechanics) then the art of coaching is getting it across to the student! We have all been taught the Cricket is a sideways game and the batting is a top-handed game, yet the coach will shout at his pupil from any distance that you are using too much bottom hand! Your are confused so am I! It was this confusion that led to my personal quest to understand what the message really was, my current conclusion is that both hands are as important, that the top hand creates the start of the bat swing and that the bottom hand concludes it. In fact, the reality is far greater. In my research, I found that the bottom hand was responsible for power, timing, and all the mistakes that creep into a particular shot. The top hand indeed was vital because if it was not used properly then the bottom hand came into the shot too soon.. Further research led me to an understanding that the hands had to be working as a unit for perfect timing and that hand eye co-ordination was easier when playing the ball under the eyes. This evaluation of technique was born out by studying great players and not so great players when they were hitting the cricket ball well. While none of this is or should be new to anyone, it explained why so many young players do not have the basic skills. The actual methods of hitting a ball were not being explained correctly. Going back into coaching books of yesteryear it became even clearer that the initial teachings were slowly and inexorably being embellished or left out for convenience, maybe lack of understanding, so that over time the actual basics being taught became muddled. Even extremely diligent coaches were making costly mistakes, unaware that they were doing so.

9. Some Guidelines

The following guidelines are worth remembering when you go into the Multi day disciplines as opposed to one-day disciplines. Game plans are important for success. The fact is that you can get out any ball; the challenge then is to deal with the delivery you are facing.

Building an innings: 1-3 batters

*Practice before the game in a way that suits you after the team warm up. If you require a short net against a specific type of bowler then get that organised well in advance.

*Practice by making your feet move forward and back. Too often a batsman gets out because his feet are in the toilet (together) and the hands move away from the body.

*No two players are the same or very rarely!

*Use visualisation techniques to prepare yourself against the new ball.

*Playing higher because of extra bounce.

*Develop a set up routine (As golfers do)

*Clear your mind of all external thoughts.


*Remember the first ball is the most important (to survive) and then the next ball!

*You can only deal with one ball at a time.

*Don't over react should you misjudge a particular delivery no two balls are exactly the same

*Develop a technique, which helps you play the ball straight as opposed to square on off-side or leg side a method to help might be to get the back-foot get into line with the off stump fractionally before the ball is released.

*Getting to off stump helps you play wicket to wicket.

*Choose which shots you are going to use during the first period of the game. (What does that mean?) Are you going to hook or cut? Inadvisable. Are you going to cover drive? Inadvisable. Limit your shots to straight in the "V" between mid on and mid-off until you get used to the conditions (Pace of the wicket, bounce, swing, seam). Remember that the ball may only start swinging after the initial sheen has been knocked off the ball.

*Keep your head still when the ball is released and maintain a balance, which allows you to go forward or to go back. Early on you will find it quite difficult to do both especially against real pace.

*"Finding the off stump" is terminology used by coaches to develop the theme knowing where you're off stump is. This allows you to leave more. Especially if you adopt the technique of defending back down the wicket.

*Learn to play with a firm top hand and a soft bottom hand. (What does that mean?) The bottom hand should initially be held in the defensive shot by the first finger and thumb and you should imagine you are holding a baby bird.

*Against genuine pace restrict your back lift in order to have more time to make contact with the ball.
Never believe you are in until you have spent 3-4 hours at the crease.

*During that period choose carefully which shots you can use to expand your scoring range.

*Remember your role is to see off the new ball and the new ball bowlers.

*Opening and batting at three are the toughest roles, the most challenging and often the most productive.
Don't be worried by having to come in with half an hour to go. See that job in a positive light. I can get 10/15 runs and I will still be there tomorrow.

*Remember also that the new ball bowler is going to beat the bat occasionally so just treat that as part of the game. The more you play and miss (outside the off stump) early on, the more likely you are too survive. If you nick it its shower time.

*Practice against the new ball as well as the old.
The Key to batting is to be able to pick length early and accurately and then to play the correct shot, and apply that well.

*Pre-meditation (loss of focus - Loss of concentration), will often mean playing shots that are unnecessary.


*In addition to the above. Be prepared to spend time at the crease again 4 hours is the target. Quite often you will come in under pressure, remember 1 wicket can lead to another. Your role is to create a new partnership.

*Study the bowlers you are likely to face before you go in. Keep relaxed and every now and then while you are waiting to bat go and do some exercise to unwind.

*A good method is to hit a table tennis bal against a wall for a bit do some stretching of Achilles, calves, hamstrings and groins, do some deep breathing exercises and general stretching. Think twice about reading if you are next in; rather do some eye exercises such as looking at an object 3 meters away and 20 meters away. Keep calm and control any butterflies (nerves) that you have.

*I equate it to surfing try and stay on top of the wave.

*Very important not to let external factors break your concentration until a break in play (Drinks, Lunch Tea, rain). However be prepared to switch on again immediately.

*Sometimes dressing rooms relax especially when the batters get on top in the middle. This could have an adverse effect and relax you too much, which could mean a short visit to the middle.

*Work on methods and means of scoring against bowlers who you might be likely to face. For example against spin decide if you are going to come down the wicket or sweep or play him off the back-foot - maybe all three but make a conscious decision, and when in the middle have the courage of your convictions.

*Do not change your mind as the ball is on its way down.

*Be prepared to rotate the strike and work out with your fellow batter where this can happen. Treat a long innings as a one-day innings when it comes to running between the wickets with one important proviso. Don't take unnecessary risks. But do the basics well. Calling make eye contact with your partner will prevent run outs.

*Unless you are in a run chase run outs are a heinous crime in the longer distance game.

*If the ball is turning remember if you are in to shield the strike away from the new batter till he feels a little more comfortable at the crease.


*Remember the Psychologist's IPS (The ideal performance state). It is also referred to in the trade as the "Zone" or the "Bubble" you may even have your own terminology. This state of mindset is attainable every time you go out to bat. There are probably many ways in which you can get there and other players like Waugh, Pollock, Richards (B and V) managed to concentrate so hard and so effectively.

*A way in which some players have managed to create the state was by visualising a plain white sheet with only the ball coming down. (Assuming it is a red ball!). Switching the mind off to any other distractions. Like chirping, crowds, intervals, milestones (50's % 100"s). I recently hear another method passed on by Basil D'Oliveira that of imagining a table set for a party with salt, pepper, tomato sauce flowers and all, "Clear the table so that you can only see the ball". These two and other methods will help you to be able to stick to the five principles of batting. Interestingly Michael Burns (Warwickshire and Somerset used to talk of a little man on his shoulder saying, "Go on hit the ball for four"!) Often he would be too impetuous and get out just as he was beginning to play well.

*Develop a method of switching on and switching off when batting. You might have noticed many players walking around the crease. .Alan Knott used to touch the off bail, other batsman scratch another mark on the edge of the pitch often annoying the grounds man! In order to bat for long periods you have to develop methods of being patient for upwards of four hours if you are to make a hundred or more.

*Goal setting while batting is easier if you set survival or scoring in 5's or 10"s. These are attainable goals. Colin Cowdrey used to call it, "Build five bricks at a time".

*Remember 4/5 hours batting leads you to a hundred; sometimes it can be shorter and sometimes longer.
IF you have the responsibility of batting in the first six then these are the targets you have to set.


*If you have a break from the strike don't become frustrated discuss the situation.

*During the game there are different situation, during your innings there will be different pressures. Feeling those situations and dealing with them is vital. What are they: - Wickets falling at the other end, you run out a partner, you get of to a flying start, you get to 49, you get to the 90's, you can't get it off the square, you don't know where the next run comes from, incessant sledging. These are some of the pressures that you will face. You must have the presence of mind to realise what is happening and to remain calm stick to the basics trying to keep yourself in the IPS state, play every ball on its merits, and do not premeditate.

*Maidens create pressure so try to rotate the strike.

*There may be times when you have to take a risk to get out of a stranglehold and it is then that you have a clear plan as to how you are going to attack. Don't be scared too however.

*When chasing a target remember your basic one- day values and use them to put the opposition under pressure. However if chasing a large total then setting up large partnerships is a pre-requisite.

*The beauty of the game is being able to adjust to the situation.

*Bat with authority, don't show fear or pressure, try and smile through adversity and always try to relax your shoulders and arms so that you can hit the ball cleanly. The tenser you are the worse it will get.

*Beware of playing "half-shots". Push drives are particularly dangerous if you play square of the wickets. Learn to defend or attack.

*Wherever you bat in the order your runs will count. Even bowlers should practice their batting.

*The real challenge is to score a hundred every 4 innings and a fifty every 3 innings.


1. Watch the ball all the way down 2. Head still when the ball is released 3. Judge length as accurately as possible 4. Make Positive and if possible correct feet movements 5. Choose the correct shot


Bowling is as much a mental battle as it is physical
and technical.

It is vital that a bowler should understand the emotions and thoughts of a batsman in order to be able to first get him out and then restrict his scoring so that the batsman gets himself out.

All opening batsman are essentially nervous and the majority will struggle with their foot movements. In particular getting forward. One of the most effective early deliveries therefore is a swinging Yorker/long half volley (first innings).

In addition a lot of players find the first half hour of their innings their most vulnerable (Sunil Gavaskar used to say "The first hour belongs to the bowler and then the rest belong to me!").

Therefore it is vital that a new ball bowler is ready to bowl. Dennis Lillee in a Test Match would be sweating before he bowled the first ball) so few bowlers now are ready to bowl the first ball fast and accurately.
There is no doubt however that the modern game has been tilted heavily in favour of the batsman. Therefore the correct mind set for a bowler is to walk on the park saying "I have no divine right to take a stackful of wickets today! Yet his mental strength should also tell him that if it goes his way he can easily take five wickets plus.

Aggression is a key word and should be very much part of a bowler's make up whether he is a spinner or a seamer. What exactly does it mean? For me it was summed up by John Snow when he said that you should run in as though you are going to bowl a bouncer every ball yet still be able to bowl in control, whatever ball you wanted. Aggression he felt made the feet stay in the toilet (explanation; the feet should move when the ball is up but cannot if they are stuck in a small toilet bowl).

There are a variety of simple sayings when a bowler is spoken to and for them to work the bowler first has to understand what they mean. For example: I just want you to bowl line and length (The captain is basically saying please keep it quiet). In essence Line and length mean that each player has an area that will keep him quiet (Length) and also the line has now been changed to keep it in the corridor of uncertainty (Line). Now these areas change from player to player from surface to surface and on the condition of the ball. Therefore the accuracy levels of the bowler and his skill factor have to be able to deal with all these factors. Question: - Do Bowlers practice hard enough at their skill levels?

Probably not is the current day answer as he is playing too much! It is important to have a base level of anaerobic fitness as well as aerobic fitness for stamina and plenty of strength to prevent injury. Yet the only real way one can condition the body for bowling is through bowling. Now net practice for a bowler can often be very tedious and very boring, nothing is better than bowling in the middle and this should be encouraged.

It was Ray Illingworth who said that a good bowler is able to go past both sides of the bat; he was not only referring to spinners but to seamers as well. So a basic criterion is to be able to swing the ball both ways and also to change the pace both subtly and in one-day cricket in an extreme way. Allan Donald will take of nearly 11 mph off a delivery. But on occasions especially in the four-day game a 2mph change can make a difference. It is this ability that sorts the good bowlers out from the rest. Being able to bowl Yorkers and Bouncers at different paces and to create variation with out giving it away that makes the bowler better.

On long hot afternoons bowlers have to learn to be patient and bowl in sets three out swingers and an in swinger might be 'a set'. Two whole overs might be 'a set'. A West Indian fast bowler Russell Ramnarace used to bowl consistently one out swinger one in swinger but just subtly change length and line. A lot of bowlers will bowl three consecutive short balls and then pitch one up.

An old but often used method of dismissal was the: -
Bouncer then Yorker. Sometimes it may work and others it may not. The great thing about bowling is that you never know what is going to work and what isn't. I remember bowling really well and having an analysis of 0-74 off 19 overs. Then bowling a rank long hop first ball after tea and the batsman holing out at mid-wicket and suddenly I took four wicket for the addition of only two runs! And there is no common sense reason why. That is why a bowler should always have an open mind.

Remember then one can lead to two and that at milestones and intervals batsmen are at their most vulnerable. Patience perseverance and practice are three key elements. Some of the great bowlers practiced patience by bowling in Sets. For example a set might be three away swingers and one in swinger or vice-versa. Sometimes three overs of straight balls followed by a full away swinger slightly wider hoping for an injudicious drive and a nick. This means keeping the batsman at your end preventing him from rotating the strike. The importance of bowling to your field is never more exemplified when you are trying to work a batter out. A spinner might try to buy a wicket by tossing the ball higher into the air after firing in a succession of quicker deliveries. The great bowlers have been particularly adept at doing this it is called "working the batter out"

However the more pressure you and your partner can create and I stress partner then the more likelihood that a batsman will make a mistake. Bowlers like batters should operate in pairs and it is often the skill of Captaincy to find the right pairing.

Rhythm is vital to a bowler and if this is out then every method needed has to be found to regain that rhythm. More often than not it comes from running in too quickly or too slowly and this can be caused by a number of factors. Soft ground, sloped grounds, windy conditions and it as these times where a bowler has to be at his most patient. Indeed recognising what may be causing the problem makes it much easier to deal with it. This might come from experience.

The longer the game the more the dice is loaded in the batsman's favour as it will be the bowler who is more tired after 4 hours than the batsman. Fitness therefore is a huge criteria and I believe that a bowler has to reach the same levels as a tri-athlete or pretty close to that.

Use of the crease helps change the angle and may put the batsman off Andy Roberts the West Indian fast bowler had a marvellous delivery from wide of the crease. More recently too, Glen McGrath has had real success coming around the wicket to the left-handers. Nothing to stop the right handed quickie coming round to the right-handed batter as well. On 'no-swing' days, every method in the book has to be employed.

Field placings too are absolutely vital and pressurising batters by bowling to a good field can quite often manufacture a wicket. You may often have heard the expression the spinner is looking to but a wicket by throwing the ball higher and wider. Sometimes by increasing the scoring rate and the adrenalin levels in the batsman he lose control and gets himself out. A dangerous method because you could lose control but certainly one I saw work at Old Trafford when Stewart and Atherton had got stuck in and we needed to move them and started bouncing them and getting them to hook. I saw the same ploy repeated in Cape Town and England went from 220-2 to 234 all out!

There are many ways to skin a cat and there are many ways to get rid of the batsman, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. His concentration is so fierce that nothing will disturb him. Hence the introduction of sledging. That too has a limited success ratio.

Patience applies even more to the spin bowler and not only that he must every now and then be expected to be hit out of the attack. He must be mentally strong know exactly what sort of field he needs and remember it only takes one ball.

The longer the game the more the dice is loaded in the batsman's favour as it will be the bowler who is more tired after 4 hours than the batsman. Fitness therefore is a huge criteria and I believe that a bowler has to reach the same levels as a tri-athlete or pretty close to that.

Use of the crease helps change the angle and may put the batsman off Andy Roberts the West Indian fast bowler had a marvellous delivery from wide of the crease. More recently too, Glen McGrath has had real success coming around the wicket to the left-handers. Nothing to stop the right handed quickie coming round to the right-handed batter as well. On 'no-swing' days, every method in the book has to be employed.

In Conclusion: -

There is a saying currently being used which applies to all teams in the field, "String the dots together and they will bring a wicket"! Normally the dice is loaded in favour of the batsman! But it only takes one ball to get him out. Mentally a bowler must expect wickets every ball but realise too that sometimes it's not your day. That does not stop you from doing a really good job for the team. Find the line and length suitable to the moment persevere & try like hell and always look positive and aggressive. I hate to see the heads go down because that is when surrender has taken place.


Levels of fielding have improved dramatically due in the main to one-day cricket but even more so when it has been recognised as an integral part of the bowler's strategy. There are three areas that a fielder has to cover I have divided them thus: -

1. The Close catching ring

This has become a true specialist area, there are far too many examples of catches being put down in the slip cordon and the game being lost. I cite the prime example when South Africa had Australia on the ropes at Adelaide and dropped 10 catches and could only draw the game, the series as lost 1-0 and the team criticised heavily. It is difficult to pin point sometimes why this happens as we had practiced long and hard every day. However that is the way it has to be. To really improve technique using a tennis ball and tennis racket can certainly help by teaching the catcher to give with the ball. It is interesting to experience catching a cricket ball after doing some tennis ball work. Intense concentration is needed as sometimes very few chances come during a day. Lots of reaction work and vision enhancement techniques will improve the success ratio. Diving and one-hand catching practice is also essential.

2. The inner ring

Speed off the mark a flexible body, good hands (catching) an accurate throw and diving on the run are or should be the skills needed by those who occupy the inner ring. The bowler depends on these players preventing wherever possible the single and the opportunity for the batters to rotate the strike. I suppose the fielder in the ring would resemble a cat about to catch its prey. He would stay close to the ground and be ready to pounce on the ball. Jonty Rhodes has made this position an art form and any player wishing to do well in this area should watch study and copy his methods specifically the two handed pounce dive which is his trade mark and the reason why he is so successful.

3. The Outer Ring

Great throwing arm, speed around the boundary, flexibility, able to judge a high ball on the run and an ability to watch the Captain at all times as the external focus of crowds and other entertainment is always available. It is important to work on technique in order to get the ball in quickly following the pick up. It is worth watching baseball outfielders in this regard as their throwing arms are quite incredible. It is an area where cricket can improve. General: - All fielders should always pay attention to bowler and captain at all times. Nothing is worse that a captain having to shout in order to gain the fielders attention. All fielders must ensure that their body language is excellent, for example when a bowler gets hit for four no fielder should stand shaking his head or getting upset. Conversely a bowler should not be shouting at this team when they make a mistake in the field. Fielders should always be captaining the side in their heads and trying to read what a batsman is trying to do (pinching runs for example) and also what the bowler is trying to do. He should be aware of any team signals and what they might mean and know the rules of the game, especially when there is a runner for an injured player.


Undoubtedly the most important player on the field. It is the keeper who dictates the energy and enthusiasm of the fielding side. He has to tidy up the throws encourage the bowler, be a confidant for the Captain as regards tactics and to encourage the bowlers. Technically he has to work extremely hard both on standing up and on diving techniques standing back. Physically he has to be the fittest member of the squad, certainly the most flexible and he has to know how to protect his fingers. Losing a keeper during a game is tough on any side. During a season the keeper's hands will take a lot of punishment and it is worth having a spare keeper or using a baseball mitts to protect his hands. He should be able to tell how his hands are feeling. Mentally the keeper needs to be more of an optimist but also deal in realities as well. Generally the life and soul of the party.
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Old May 23, 2005, 09:01 AM
oracle oracle is offline
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good idea. Could you pass the links (U2U or post it) when you have time. Take your time.

btw - i don't need the Woolmer and Chappel links, just the first few you posted. thanks
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Old May 23, 2005, 09:55 AM
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pagol-chagol pagol-chagol is offline
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Thanks. Its a goldmine.
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Old May 24, 2005, 03:27 AM
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good job arnab - can't wait for summer to come
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Old October 18, 2005, 12:36 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Hitting The Ball: When batsmen don't need to keep their eye on the ball

In most sports, which involve hitting a ball, the coach's advice is to 'keep your eye on the ball'. However, when a ball moves very fast, this strategy may not always be possible or even appropriate. And now a fascinating new study carried out at Oxford University has revealed that, in fact, cricket batsmen do not watch the ball continuously but operate a distinct eye movement strategy of viewing it at crucial moments during its flight.

Researchers Michael Land and Peter McLeod measured the eye movements and field of gaze during batting of three batsmen with head-mounted eye cameras as they faced balls delivered at 25m per second from a bowling machine. The batsmen, selected for their widely varying abilities were: Mark, a professional cricketer who has opened the batting for Warwickshire; Charlie, a successful amateur who plays Minor Counties cricket for Oxfordshire, and Richard, described as an 'enthusiastic but incompetent amateur', who plays low-level club cricket.

Despite their widely varying skills, Mark, Charlie and Richard's overall visual strategy was observed to be similar: they fixed on the ball as it was delivered, switched their gaze to the anticipated bounce point before the ball got there, then tracked its trajectory for 100-200 milliseconds (MS) after the bounce.

However, within this common strategy, there were differences that seemed to reflect their abilities. Mark, the best batsmen, used more pre-bounce pursuit tracking than Charlie or Richard. Richard, the least-skilled batsman, was slower to respond to the appearance of the ball and to anticipate the bounce point, and the researchers concluded that he would have been unable to manage faster deliveries. By comparison, even with very short balls, Mark and Charlie reached the bounce point with their eyes 100m before the ball.

'In comparing the good (Mark and Charlie) and the poor (Richard) batsmen,' comment the researchers, 'we suggest that the main aspect of oculo-motor behaviour that is related to batting performance is the speed and variability of the initial saccade [a brief rapid eye movement between fixation points].

'The skill difference between the expert batsman (Mark) and the good batsman (Charlie) is possibly due to Mark's subtle combination of pursuit tracking and saccadic movement as he locates the bounce point. There seemed to be no systematic differences in the way the three batsmen tracked the ball after the bounce.'

Nat Neurosci 2000 Dec;3(12):1340-5

Isabel Walker
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Old October 18, 2005, 12:37 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Physio's fear for fast bowlers
By Martin Gough

To lose one fast bowler may be considered a misfortune, losing two could be considered careless.

But to lose an entire pace attack to injury points to a major problem.

England got through seven fast bowlers during last winter's Ashes series, and Andrew Flintoff did not even manage to get on the field of play.

And Australia go into a one-day series in India while Glenn McGrath (ankle), Jason Gillespie (side) and Brett Lee (stomach and ankle) all nurse injuries at home.

Sheer weight of cricket seems to be the biggest reason for the problem.

Between 1 October 2002 and the same date this year, Australia played 14 Tests and 31 one-day internationals.

Ten years ago they played only six fewer ODIs in a year than included an England tour and a World Cup, but just half the number of Test matches.

I don't know how long Brett Lee is going to be able to bowl the way he does
Leading physio Craig Smith
Former South Africa physiotherapist Craig Smith believes injuries are bound to occur to pace bowlers with the amount of cricket that is being played worldwide.

"Countries pay their players a lot of money and in return they're trying to get their pound of flesh," he told the BBC Sport website.

"There has been a trend of increasing games over the last five or 10 years.

"Players have adapted quite well but there's always going to be a situation where injuries are going to occur."

After a season in county cricket with Lancashire, Smith believes there is a massive difference between first-class and Test cricket.

And he says one-day internationals are another step up again, producing up to three times as many injuries.

Spine - stress fractures or disc-related injuries
Ankle - chronic breakdown in the front foot
Skeletal - Lower leg, trunk muscles, knee joints
"The pressure, the duration of the game and the quality of the opposition means what they players put their bodies through [in international cricket] is greater," Smith explains.

"One-day cricket is a lot more intense - you've got three hours of intense, fast sprint-type activity - whereas in Test cricket it's a lot more drawn out."

South African research shows bowling more than 800 overs a year increases the risk of injury.

In Shaun Pollock's first season in county cricket he bowled more than 1200, although central contracts worldwide now tend to cut that workload.

Smith believes the best solution would be for the ICC to draw together research from around the world, especially in Australia and South Africa, for general benefit.

"The ICC are allowing countries to play against each other so much on the basis of producing income.

"But they're not doing the research to ensure players are strong enough, fit enough and avoiding injury," he argues.

Glenn McGrath (Aus)
Domestic: 172.2 overs
Tests: 370.5
ODIs: 177
Total: 720.1
Shaun Pollock (SA)
Domestic: 7*
Tests: 377.3
ODIs: 262.1
Total: 646.4
Stephen Harmison (Eng)
Domestic: 161.1
Tests: 320.4
ODIs: 41.4
Total: 523.1
Matches from 1/10/02 - 1/10/03 * SA first-class season shortened for World Cup
"You do not want a Brett Lee or a Shoaib Akhtar or a Makhaya Ntini or a James Anderson out of the game. You want them playing, fit and strong."

In the meantime, there are steps teams can take to try to cut down the risks.

On tour in Bangladesh, England have joined the growing number of sides employing ice baths at the end of play and gym sessions to strengthen supporting muscles.

"You look at the Australians and they really are solid, powerful blokes," says Smith.

"Glenn McGrath's morphological state changed from when he was 22 or 23 to now in his early 30s - he's better developed."

But McGrath and Pollock are an example of what a player can do to help himself.

"When Shaun was 22 or 23 and just coming into the South Africa team he was young, mobile, flexible and he just wanted to run in and bowl fast," Smith goes on.

"As he's grown older and stiffened up a little bit, maybe weakened a little, he's modified and become a really wily bowler, like Glenn McGrath."

But as McGrath has found, even an emphasis on brain-work is not a comprehensive insurance against spending time on the sidelines.
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Old October 18, 2005, 12:40 PM
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Reading The Game

While lesser mortals grind out victories with their patient shots, eliminating risks and playing the percentages, the truly gifted seem to conjure with time. They bring an unhurried genius to their game that allows them to play shots with an audacity that sometimes surprises even them.

Or at least this is how it appears to the spectator in the stands. But is there anything in the notion that some players are blessed with infinite time? That some genetic advantage allows a few lucky individuals to react as if the rest of the world were moving in slow motion?

'You would think there would have to be something innate in the make-up of a person like a McEnroe because a lot of the population could practise as much as he did, yet never reach his level of performance,' says Bruce Abernethy, a sports psychologist at the University of Queensland in Australia. 'But it's not easy to say what it is that makes the difference. It's not likely to be any one simple answer but a mixture of factors.' While sports psychologists may not have a ready explanation for sporting genius, they are beginning to turn up a few clues - and also a few surprises.

One surprise has been that raw reaction times do not appear to be the answer. When top athletes take standard reaction time tests - such as hitting a switch as soon as it lights up they are no faster than average.

'There is surprisingly little difference between top-class athletes and good, fit ordinary people,' says Peter McLeod of the University of Oxford's Department of Experimental Psychology. 'In laboratory tests of reactions using unskilled tasks, most people show much the same reaction time of about a fifth of a second. So top-class athletes don't appear to be tapping into some generalised superiority,' says McLeod.

Even more surprising for those expecting an explanation in terms of a speedier nervous system, other research has shown that it takes nearly half a second for our minds to become properly conscious of fast-moving events. Measurements of the brain's electrical activity indicate it takes only about 20 milliseconds for nerve impulses to travel the distance between the sense organs and the brain. However, reaction-time tests show that it takes a minimum of 100 milliseconds before the brain can produce even the simplest action and nearer 200 milliseconds to make the more complex judgement involved in hitting a light switch. But research by Benjamin Libet, a physiologist at the University of California at Berkeley, suggests that becoming conscious of an event takes even longer.

His experiments show that it takes between 400 and 500 milliseconds for the brain to complete all the filtering and recognition processes needed to produce a subjective experience. This suggests that consciousness lags behind reality by up to half a second. So any rapid reactions shown by athletes must be achieved by subconscious processing.

A cricket or tennis player has about S milliseconds to hit a fast-moving ball - any sooner or later with the swing and the player will miss the ball. So the mystery is not that some people are so skilful but that anyone ever manages to strike a ball at all.

The advantage of an expert eye

To investigate the source of the top performer's advantage, sports psychologists begin by making a distinction between input and output - between perceptual and motor processes. The researchers assume that the gifted either manage to make sense of what they are seeing more quickly, or else they are able to unleash a more reliable and smoothly coordinated response - or both. So top performers are not faster than the rest of us in their raw reaction times - scores vary by about 25 milliseconds and there is no significant clustering of the skilled at the top of this range. But equally there is plenty of evidence that gifted players do use anticipation to quicken their responses and that they have a superior ability to read the game.

The advantage of an expert eye was first demonstrated away from the sports pitch in intellectual games such as chess. Research showed that grandmasters seem able to sum up a board at a glance. Given five seconds to look at a complex position, top players remembered the arrangement of 90 per cent of the pieces, compared with good club players who could manage only 50 per cent. It seems that grandmasters could 'chunk' their perception of the board - breaking what they saw into a small number of meaningful units - so increasing the apparent bandwidth of their processing.

But if the position of the chess pieces was random, not taken from a real game, the performance of both groups fell to the same level. Over the past decade, sports psychologists have taken games such as hockey, basketball and soccer, testing players with slides of meaningful and random field positions, and found the same perceptual chunking process at work. It seems that while information may not enter the brain of top performers significantly faster, where the novice experiences only a blur of details, the expert sees a well-ordered set of possibilities.

Such an ability to read the game allows the expert to anticipate and so bridge the split-second gap that exists between reality and the brain's perceptual processes. Abernethy says studies have shown that top performers are skilled at anticipating what their opponents are about to do. For example, a group of novice and professional badminton players were compared to see how quickly they could detect which way an opponent was about to flick a shuttle. While novices had to wait until they saw the racket head start to move, the experts could guess much earlier from preliminary movements of the body and arm.

'Experts do a good mechanical analysis of their opponent' s playing action and can tell whether a shot is going cross-court or down the line. Sometimes the cue may be no more than movements in the large muscles of the chest,' Abernethy says.

The same early response is true of tennis, where top players can tell from a server' s action whether the ball will land on their forehand or backhand, and of cricket, where a first-class bat will have decided whether to play off the back foot or front foot at least 100 milliseconds before a fast bowler has released the ball.

The interesting thing about such anticipation, says Abernethy, is that players seem to go by a gut feeling - a subconscious recognition - and the only way to discover the cues they are actually using is to film the bowler's or server's action and then see what is happening in the frame where the expert guess is made. 'You can't teach people anticipation by saying look at point A or point B. It just has to come with practice and players may never really know what they are reacting to,' says Abernethy.

Anticipating the unexpected

Top athletes become so good at anticipation that their responses can seem almost instantaneous, as if no reaction gap existed. However, players can be cruelly exposed whenever a ball or opponent does something unexpected. McLeod carried out one of the best-known experiments to demonstrate the 'incompressibility' of the blindspot in human reactions.

McLeod got three England batsmen, Allan Lamb, Wayne Larkins and Peter Willey, to face a bowling machine on a special matting pitch. Under the matting he placed a number of dowel rods to make the ball seam unpredictably. What McLeod found was that if the ball bounced sharply sideways closer than 200 milliseconds to the bat, then the batsmen would misplay the ball every time. No correction was possible.

Anticipation studies seem to suggest that the superior reactions of top performers are due largely to learning rather than any innate factor. But, as Abernethy says, many people practise long and hard, yet few turn into a McEnroe or a Gascoigne. So it could be that the genetic component at play is a greater 'trainability' of the nervous system.

For example, some players might find it easier to develop anticipation skills because they have been born with better visuo-spatial and pattern-recognition abilities. Certainly, one of the distinguishing features of both McEnroe and Gascoigne appears to be their imagination - their ability to visualise more possibilities in a given situation.

But part of the impression that gifted athletes give of having infinite time also comes from the silky smoothness of the way they make their shots. Again, some sports psychologists suspect that the genetic component of such motor skill may not lie in some pure measure of coordination but in the trainability of a person's nervous system.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that in learning a skill, whether it is playing tennis, driving a car or unscrewing a bottle cap, there is a progression from crude, conscious control of the action to smooth, automatic performance. Medical scanners that can track brain blood flows are providing neurological evidence of this progression.

In the early stages of learning a skill, the higher conscious parts of the brain - the cortex and basal ganglia - are most active. But as the skill is mastered, these areas drop out of the picture and control is taken over by the cerebellum, the brain's specialised movement centre, says John Stein, a physiologist at the University of Oxford.

The cerebellum used to be thought of as just a memory store for motor routines - a blind, inanimate warehouse which produced stereotyped responses when triggered by a command from higher consciousness. However, there is evidence to show that the cerebellum has considerable - albeit unconscious - intelligence. The cortex may set the global goals but the cerebellum can improvise to meet them.

Stein says support for this view comes from the discovery that there are two routes by which sensations reach the cerebellum. There is a cortical route where sensations are mapped first on the cortex (forming a conscious picture) and then passed down to the cerebellum. But there is also a direct route from the eyes to the cerebellum, bypassing the cortex. This route quickly delivers the information needed to control subconscious skills.

A 'high-IQ' cerebellum?

The tempting conclusion is that gifted athletes may simply be born with a 'high-lQ' cerebellum. They may have a specialised motor genius that allows them to be more creative and agile in executing shots. While it is too early to rule out such a 'raw advantage' hypothesis, sports psychologists such as John Fazey of the University College of North Wales at Bangor believe the explanation could be more subtle. Fazey says that it might simply be that some people are better at automating skills. Something in their make-up may allow them to download more of a complicated sporting action from clumsy conscious control to smooth subconscious performance. Whatever produces a skilled cerebellum, the difference is obvious. Top tennis and cricket players never seem to have to remind themselves to move their feet or turn their shoulders because these preparatory movements appear to be so automatic. Their bodies snap into position, leaving them poised to strike a clean shot. But weekend amateurs find themselves forever wrestling with their own limbs, mechanically trying to get all the parts in the right place, then finding they are forced to make a cramped swipe because the ball is already upon them.

Somewhat unkindly, sports psychologists describe the amateur's plight as one of near skeletomuscular anarchy. Yet measurements of muscle and nerve activity show this to be an apt description. Where the nervous system of a skilled performer delivers small, accurate bursts of instructions to the limbs, producing a smooth response, that of the unskilled fires off blasts of often contradictory messages, creating a jerky, awkward movement as opposing muscles end up pushing and pulling at the same time.

Putting all this evidence together, sports science still cannot say precisely what makes a McEnroe or a Maradona, or an Agassi. It is obvious that years of dedicated training play a huge part. Also, differences in childhood stimulation may be important - Agassi, for instance, was taught to bat a dangling balloon while still in his highchair. Such stories are typical of great athletes. Then there is the contribution of genes, although the likelihood is that the genetic component of exceptional skill has more to do with a capacity to benefit from training than with a set of raw ingredients such as reaction speed.

But it seems that gifted performers are better at using anticipation to cover for a lagging brain. By reading their opponent' s game, the skilled prime themselves to react to what they imagine will happen rather than waiting until it does. They create a 'virtual reality' which allows them to act as if consciousness was indeed instantaneous.

Coupled to this perceptual priming is a smooth and intelligent execution of body movement. The gifted player's brain not only knows what it should do, it also has the automated skills to carry out the actions with a minimum of fuss and maximum of accuracy.

So the spectator is right after all. The gifted are conjurors of time. They buy extra time with anticipation and avoid losing time by automating their responses. The irony is that if a McEnroe or a Gascoigne wants to appreciate their own skills then, like any other spectator, they will have to wait the split-second or so it takes for their conscious awareness to catch up with the shots their subconscious processes have just chosen to play. And any feeling they might have had of being there at the time was just an illusion.

John McCrone (This article first appeared in New Scientist)
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Old October 18, 2005, 12:42 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Athletes who throw things should alternate between heavy and light

Athletes who throw a cricket ball, a baseball, a football, a javelin, a discus, a hammer, or some other object, often train by hurling things which are heavier than their normal ball or implement in hopes of fortifying the muscles involved in throwing, but research concerning the effectiveness of this training strategy has yielded mixed results. In fact, as we reported in our November 1994 issue, such throwing is sometimes less effective than routine strength training at improving throwing prowess.

However, the failure of such 'heavy-object workouts' can probably be attributed to a lack of specificity of training sessions; when athletes fail to throw the heavier-than-normal ball or implement with the same technique they use during their actual sport, any gains in strength which are attained don't 'carry over' into their sport. Supporting the idea of heavy-ball training, several different studies HAVE shown that baseball players who train by throwing a heavy baseball can indeed improve their pitching velocity - as long as the practice throwing motion is similar to real-live pitching. Such training is the most specific, useful form of weight training which an athlete can conduct.

However, some scientists and trainers are now sug gesting that athletes who throw things should propel both heavier AND lighter-than-normal objects during their training. Taking into account the fact that high throwing velocities are the result of both excellent muscle power and coordination, this idea makes pretty good sense. As mentioned, throwing a heavier object improves muscle power during the actual act of throwing, while casting the lighter ball improves coordination during quicker-than-usual arm movements and helps an athlete recruit and utilize fast-twitch muscle cells during the throwing motion. These two benefits should combine synergistically to dramatically boost throwing velocity.

But how should one carry out the heavy - and light- ball workouts? Research completed in Russia suggests that it might be advisable to go through a preliminary penod of heavy-implement training, followed by the lighter work. The idea is to build basic shoulder strength before subjecting the shoulder joint and muscles to the high forces involved in whipping the arm forward at higher-than-usual speeds.

To evaluate the benefits of 'heavy-first and then light-ball training' versus simultaneous heavy and light throwing, scientists at the University of Hawaii recently asked 45 high school and 180 university baseball pitchers to participate in a 10-week training programme which included three workouts per week. A control group utilized only a standard-weight (five-ounce) baseball, a second group trained with both a standard and heavy (six-ounce) baseball for five weeks, followed by five weeks with only a standard and light (four-ounce) ball. The final group worked out with standard, heavy, and light balls simultaneously throughout the 10-week period.

During a typical workout, the pitchers threw about 66 pitches. For the control group, each pitch was made with a standard ball. The group which simultaneously used standard, heavy, and light balls would throw (in order) 11 times with the regular ball, 22 times with the heavy, 22 times with the light, and then 11 times with the standard baseball. The heavy-first and then-light group sandwiched 11 standard throws around 44 heavy throws during the heavy, five-week period and 11 standard throws around 44 light ones during the final, five- week light period.

After 10 weeks, the control group failed to improve pitching velocity, but the other two groups raised throwing velocities by a similar amount - about 6-8 per cent. It appears that the use of underweighted and over- weighted balls during training can indeed increase throwing velocity. However, it's not necessary to stagger the ball usage; heavy and light balls can be used simultaneously throughout a training period in order to achieve the best-possible gain in speed. The Hawaii scientists recommend using balls or objects which are 20-per cent heavier and lighter than normal. None of the athletes became injured during the study, suggesting that the use of reasonably over- and underweighted balls is safe.

(Effects of Under- and Overweighted Implement
Training on Pitching Velocity, ' Joumal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 8(4), pp. 24 7-250, 1994)
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Old October 18, 2005, 01:07 PM
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I have a new level of respect for you Arnab. Extreme dedication and love for the game can only produce a thread like this.

All I can say is "wow".
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Old October 19, 2005, 05:53 AM
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It should be compiled, translated and send to the players of bnagladesh. One of the best thread of this site. But with so little respond from the bloggers show how shallow we became or should I say, it is difficult to comment on real things. I do not know which one is true. Three Cheers to Arnab

Edited on, October 19, 2005, 10:54 AM GMT, by thebest.
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Old October 19, 2005, 06:08 AM
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take a break have a "crick- bat"

u will c its much better than reading articles.
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Old October 19, 2005, 11:58 AM
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Arnab -

Just wanted to let you know: have been following this thread from the time it was created, but never really had a chance to thank you on opening something like this. It's by far the best thread on BC in my time.
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Old October 19, 2005, 02:52 PM
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deleted: duplicate post.

Edited on, October 19, 2005, 7:54 PM GMT, by Cats_eye.
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Old October 19, 2005, 02:53 PM
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Originally posted by Cats_eye
For many it would be hard to read the whole thread. I would like to point out few things that can teach everyone what is the meaning of the longer version of the game.

General Coaching Tips
- Building an innings: 1-3 batters

This is in first post on the second page in the middle area.

Those of you have read this part can easily identify the fault of our top class batsmen and why we are failing.
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Old October 19, 2005, 11:34 PM
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Default re: A \'high-IQ\' cerebellum?

Eventhough I didn't read the whole article but that article caught my eyes. I could swear that while reading about some materials for my class, I was thinking of writing an article titled something like "why Ashraful got better brain than Einstein"... I thought it would be very original

It would have taken a while to write it but now I lost the moytivation. I would have probably never written it but at least certain desire was there ... now no more

Edited on, October 20, 2005, 4:36 AM GMT, by Orpheus.
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Old October 23, 2005, 02:56 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Thanks everybody who thanked me. Although I am doing nothing original here: Just searching, archiving and sharing. It just so happens that I enjoy doing these three activities when it comes to my favorite things.

By no means this is a one-man-show thread. If you think there's an article that reasonably fits the flavor of this thread, post it. I might have missed some good articles still floating on the web.
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Old October 23, 2005, 02:59 AM
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Originally posted by Cats_eye
For many it would be hard to read the whole thread.
I agree. I am thinking about posting a list of all the articles posted with accompanying post URLs in the first post of the thread. That way one can easily jump to the article he wants to read.
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Old October 23, 2005, 05:05 AM
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The Magnus Effect
Or "Why do cricket balls swing and curve balls curve?"

This page on the Magnus or Robin's Effect was born out
of a seminar I presented circa 1987 as a potential topic for my Master's Thesis in Mechanical Engineering.(Actually I was going to investigate the Reverse Magnus Effect :-) My advisor at the time, Dr.
Robert G. Watts
has numerous papers and a popular book
on the physics of baseball
and he is considered an authority on the

Seeing the spate of recent posts on rec.sport.cricket
on this topic, gave me the motivation to dig up all my old references and
start writing something that will be more than just speculation. This page
will focus on cricket ball aerodynamics(at least in the beginning) and
will soon include discussions of the "other" sports.

Disclaimer: This contains no original work of mine. All information

is from the references listed at the end.(Some wordings and phrases are
borrowed literally with no fear of Copyright violations :-) Heck, I am
not making any money out of this and I am certainly not asking for glory!!

I am continuing to work on writing to provide more information and grow
this section to include more related topics (baseball and golf balls).
I am not very happy with the figures I have created. I will hopefully have
more meaningful and better looking diagrams/graphs up soon. I welcome all
comments/corrections/suggestions from you. Send them to mak@b-bop.com
or krishna.achutarao@laitram.com

A brief history of scientific studies of the "Magnus Effect":

Newton in 1672(Did this guy have something to say about everything?) noted
how a tennis ball's flight was affected by spin. In 1742, Robins showed
that a transverse aerodynamic force could be detected on a rotating sphere.
(Hence it is also referred to sometimes as the "Robin's Effect"). The first
explanation of the lateral deflection of a spinning ball is credited by
Lord Rayleigh to Magnus,
from which the phenomenon derives its name, the "Magnus Effect". Rayleigh
also gave a simple analysis for a "frictionless fluid," which showed that
the side force was proportional to the free stream velocity and the rotational
speed. This was all before the introduction of the boundary-layer concept
by Prandtl in 1904.

The commonly accepted explanation is that a spinning object creates
a sort of whirlpool of rotating air about itself. On the side where the
motion of the whirlpool is in the same direction as that of the windstream
to which the object is exposed, the velocity will be enhanced. On the opposite
side, where the motions are opposed, the velocity will be decreased. According
to Bernoulli's principle, the pressure is lower on the side where the velocity
is greater, and consequently there is an unbalanced force at right angles
to the wind. This is the magnus force.

The more recent studies agree that the magnus force results from the
asymmetric distortion of the boundary layer displacement thickness caused
by the combined spinning and flow past the spherer. In the case of a sphere(or
cylinder), the so-called whirlpool, or more accurately the circulation,
does not consist of air set into rotation by friction with a spinning object.
Actually an object such as a sphere or a cylinder can impart a spinning
motion to only a very thin layer next to the surface. The motion imparted
to this layer affects the manner in which the flow separates from the surface
in the rear. Boundary layer separation is delayed on the side of the spinning
object that is moving in the same direction as the free stream flow, while
the separation occurs prematurely on the side moving against the free stream
flow. The wake then shifts toward the side moving against the free stream
flow. As a result, flow past the object is deflected, and the resulting
change in momentum flux causes a force in the opposite direction(upwards
in the case shown in figure 1).

Figure 1. (Flow from right to left)

This phenomenon is influenced by the conditions in the thin layer next
to the body, known as the boundary layer, and there may arise certain anomalies
in the force if the spin of the body introduces anomalies in the layer,
such as making the flow turbulent on one side and not the other. One such
is the reverse Magnus effect which may occur for smooth spheres. Rough
balls such as cricket balls, baseballs, golf balls and tennis balls, do
not show this anomalous effect. 

Aerodynamics of Cricket Balls:

A cricket ball has six rows of prominent stitching, with typically 60-80
stitches in each row(primary seam). The seam is along the "equator" of
the two hemisphere ball. Better quality balls are made of 4 pieces of leather
so that each hemisphere has a line of internal stitching forming the "secondary
seam". The secondary seams of the two hemispheres are at right angles to
each other.

Fast bowlers make judicious use of the primary seam to swing the ball.
The ball is released into the air flow with the seam at a slight angle.
(When bowled right)The seam trips the laminar boundary layer into turbulence
on one side of the ball. This turbulent boundary layer by virtue of its
increased energy, separates relatively late compared to the boundary layer
on the nonseam side, which separates in a laminar state. The asymmetric
boundary layer separation results in an asymmetric pressure distribution
that produces the side force responsible for the swing. When a ball is
bowled, with a round arm action as rules insist, there will always be some

backspin imparted to it. The ball being held alung the seam, the backspin
is also imparted along the seam. So the asymmetry of the boundary layer
separation is maintained. A prominent seam obviously helps the laminar
to turbulence transition process, whereas a smooth and polished surface
on the nonseam side helps maintain a laminar boundary layer. Mehta
has a really nice Wind tunnel Smoke photograph of flow over a cricket ball.
A schematic is in figure 2.

Figure 2.

Mehta goes on to report a lot of results from wind-tunnel tests and
also compares them with results obtained by Barton(1982)
and Bentley et al.(1982)

To come to the crux of their observations:

The two piece ball is in general found to have better swing properties
than the four piece ball. The secondary seam serves as an effective roughness
that helps to cause transition of the laminar boundary layer on the nonseam

Barton concluded that the ball with a more pronounced seam than average
(> 1mm) swung more. Bentley et al. could not corroborate that as they found
that there was no correlation of swing with seam size or shape.

Bentley et al. found that the seam on all new balls is efficient at
tripping the boundary layer in the speed range 15 < U < 30 m/s (i.e
54 < U < 108 Km/hr). The swing properties obviously deteriorate with
age as the seam is worn and the surface scarred. For that matter the spin
or rotation of the ball is not theoretically necessary for swing! [Note
to non-cricket savvy people:
the ball in cricket is only replaced after
a minimum fixed number of overs(deliveries if you will) have been bowled.
So the wear and tear is a natural consequence of the game. Only "natural"
sources like spit and saliva may be used in maintaining the shine on the
ball - usually achieved by polishing the ball on clothing . No means of
scuffing the ball may be used. Rolling the ball on the ground is legal.]

Figure 3. (The general shape of the curve for side force measurements
on a cricket ball at seam angle zero. 30 m/s would correspond to a Reynolds
number of approximately 150000.)

The two parameters that a bowler can control to some extent are the
ball seam angle and the spin rate.

The optimum seam angle for U = 30 m/s is about 20 degrees. At lower
speeds (especially for U < 15 m/s) a bowler should select a larger seam
angle than 30 degrees, so that by the time the flow accelerates around
the seam, the critical speed has been reached. It is better not to trip
the boundary layer too early(low angle), since the turbulent boundary layer
grows at a faster rate and will therefore separate relaively early(compared
with a later tripping). At the same time, the seam angle should not be
so large that the boundary layer separates before reaching the seam, since
this would result in symmetrical separation on the ball and hence zero
size force. In a case like this, if transition occurs in the boundary layer
upstream of the seam, then the effect of the seam will be to act as a boundary-layer
"fence" that thickens the boundary layer even further. This asymmetry would
lead to a negative side force for postcritical Reynolds numbers. This effect
can be produced even at low seam angles by inducing early transition of
the laminar boundary layer through an increase of the free-stream turbulence.
(Note: Could this be an explanaion for the reverse swing achieved by Wasim
Akhram and Waquar Younis? It seems unlikely that they get up in the Reynolds
number range required for that.........)

Spin on the ball helps stabilize the ball's seam orientation. Too much
spin is detrimental since the effective roughness on the ball's surface
is increased. This is more relevant at higher speeds (U > 25m/s). Barton's
results indicate that the optimal spin rate is 5 rev/s, whereas Bentley
et al.'s results indicate a much higher rate of 11 rev/s. These anomalies
are considered to be due to differences in experimental setups. In practice,
a bowler can impart upto 14 rev/s though it is not very easy to control. 

Effect of weather conditions:

This has got to be one of the most discussed aspects of cricket. It is
believed that humid or damp days are more conducive to swing bowling, but
there is no scientific proof of this!

The flow pattern around the cricket ball depends on the properties of
the air and the ball itself. The only properties of air affected by weather
conditions are density and viscosity. These will influence the Reynolds
number. However, Bentley et al. found that the average changes in temperature
and humidity encountered in a day only affect the Reynolds number to the
tune of 2%. Several measurements have been made of the effect of humidity,
and even wetness of the ball (due to condensation etc.) and no significant
changes have been measured under laboratory conditions. Does the dampness
make the ball tackier and hence enable the bowler to impart a better spin
rate? This was the untested hypothesis of Bentley et al. This aspect of
cricket ball aerodynamics remains a mystery. 


Print Journal Resources.

  1. "Aerodynamics of sports balls", Rabindra
    D. Mehta, in Annual Reviews of Fluid Mechanics, 1985. 17: pp. 151-189.

  2. "On the swing of a cricket ball in flight",
    N. G. Barton, Proc. R. Soc. of London. Ser. A, 1982. 379 pp. 109-31.

  3. "An experimental study of cricket ball swing",
    Bentley, K., Varty, P., Proudlove, M., Mehta, R. D., Aero. Tech. Note 82-106,
    Imperial College, London, England, 1982.

  4. "The effect of humidity on the swing of cricket balls", Binnie,
    A. M., International Journal of Mechanical Sciences. 18: pp.497-499, 1976.

  5. "The swing of a cricket ball", Horlock, J. H., in "Mechanics
    and sport", ed. J. L. Bleustein, pp. 293-303. New York, ASME 1973.

  6. "The swing of a cricket ball", Imbrosciano, A., Project Report
    810714, Newcastle College of Advanced Education., Newcastle, Australia.

  7. "The swing of a cricket ball", Lyttleton, R. A., Discovery,
    18: pp.186-191. 1957.

  8. "Aerodynamics of the cricket ball", Mehta, R. D., Wood, D.
    H., New Scientist, 87: pp.442-447, 1980

  9. "Factors affecting cricket ball swing", Mehta, R. D., Bentley,
    K., Proudlove, M., Varty, P., Nature, 303: pp. 787-788, 1983.

  10. "Aerodynamics of a cricket ball", Sherwin, K., Sproston,
    J. L., Int. J. Mech. Educ. 10: pp. 71-79. 1982.

  11. "The Aerodynamics of a cricket ball", BSc dissertation. Dept
    Mech Eng. Univ. of Newcastle, England. 1983.

  12. "Effect of spin and speed on the lateral deflection(curve) of a Baseball;
    and the Magnus effect for smooth Spheres"
    , Lyman J. Briggs , American
    Journal of Physics 27:pp. 589-596. 1959.

  13. "Magnus effect on spinning bodies of revolution", H. L. Power,
    J. D. Iverson, AIAA Journal Vol. 11, No. 4, pp.417-418, April 1973.

  14. "A Magnus Theory", H. R. Vaughn and G. E. Reis, AIAA Journal,
    Vol. 11(?) No. 10 (?), pp.1396-1403, October 1973.

  15. "The aerodynamics of Golf balls", John M. Davies, Journal
    of Applied Physics, Vol. 20, No. 9, September 1949.

  16. "The Magnus or Robins effect on Rotating Spheres", H. M.
    Barkla and L. J. Auchterlonie, Fluid Mech. vol. 47, part 3, pp. 437-447,

  17. "A boundary layer theorem, with applications to rotating cylinders",
    M. B. Glauert, (I can't find the journal name on the paper, but it looks
    like Journal of Fluid Mechanics circa 1956 or 1957, pp. 89-99)

  18. "Aerodynamics of a knuckleball", Watts, R. G., Sawyer, E.,
    American Journal of Physics, 43: pp.960-963. 1975.

  19. "Keep your eye on the ball: The science and folklore
    of baseball"
    , Robert G. Watts, A. Terry Bahill. W. H. Freeman(publisher)
    New York 1990.

  20. "On the irregular flight of a tennis ball",
    Lord Rayleigh, Scientific Papers I, 344(1869-1881)

  21. "On the derivation of projectiles; and on a
    remarkable phenomenon of rotating bodies."
    G. Magnus, Memoirs of
    the Royal Academy, Berlin(1852). English translation in Scientific Memoirs,
    London (1853)., p. 210. Edited by John Tyndall and William Francis.

Information Available on the Web.

  1. http://www.planetary.caltech.edu/~ew....html</a></li>
  2. http://www.hw.ac.uk/scifest/sport.htm

  3. http://www.geom.umn.edu/docs/snell/c....html</a></li>
  4. http://oscar.teclink.net/~crogers/knobler.html

  5. http://hookem.com/htm/sports/april/0...h.htm</a></li>
  6. http://math.gmu.edu/~vle3/proj2/top.html

  7. Lift Hey! Somebody
    references my page!!

  8. The Swing
    of a Cricket Ball

  9. Dr. Duane Knudson's Magnus Effect Lab

  10. The Curve with Top Spin

  11. Magnus Effect???

  12. Curve

Originally posted here
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Old October 23, 2005, 07:25 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Concentration is the key
Gundappa Viswanath interviews Bob Taylor, former England Wicketkeeper.

The legendary England wicketkeeper Godfrey Evans regarded Alan Knott, Bob Taylor and Rodney Marsh as outstanding wicketkeepers of the 1970s and 80s. Taylor was one of Evans' favourites. Taylor even gave up the captaincy of Derbyshire to improve his 'keeping. "The game of cricket has some basic and simple techniques. Cricket is a simple game and keep it simple and be your natural self," said the 61-year-old Taylor at the conclusion of a three-day clinic for wicketkeepers organised by the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai.

Taylor (57 Tests, 167 catches, 7 stumpings) said that the second most important player in the team is the wicketkeeper, but as he said: "I don't think Parthiv is confident enough to go up to Sourav Ganguly and advice him. He has still some time to go. But I won't go for a wicketkeeper captain."

Excerpts from an interview:

Question: Your impressions on the three-day clinic and the quality of wicketkeepers who took advantage of it ?

Answer: Very good. They were all excellent. But you cannot really judge them by their performance in the nets. They looked good in the nets, but they've got to transfer that ability into the middle. Even experts and senior players like me cannot judge totally. When it comes to a match situation, it could be different over a long period of time.

Did you pay particular attention to a couple of them (Parthiv Patel and Deep Dasgupta) who have already played for India ?

There were some 15-year-olds and other juniors too; they were all of very high standard. I think Parthiv Patel knew that there's lot of ability out there and they are all fighting for his place. Everybody wants to play for his country, that's the ultimate. I told the boys it would take a lot of hard work and practice and also a lot of success in the middle to take Parthiv's place.

What do you make of Parthiv? Nasser Hussain said at Nottingham that he looked like a 12-year-old and that it was a fantastic thing to happen for world cricket and also it was a great sight to see Steve Harmison bowling to Patel?

Well, he (Patel) did very well there at Nottingham. It's typical of the sub-continent, India and Pakistan, they pick very young players, don't they? I think it's tremendous, India is looking ahead and to the future and that's why players like Patel are in international cricket.

India has not had real consistency since Farokh Engineer and Syed Kirmani. They were the last of the consistent wicketkeepers. I am not taking anything away from Kiran More and Nayan Mongia. They were good wicketkeepers. But they were a little bit inconsistent. Now, India might have a regular wicketkeeper provided he's (Patel) got the temperament over a long period of time. Only time will tell.

You focussed on the fundamentals, keeping it very simple. India's coach John Wright has maintained right through that cricket is all about doing the right things in a straight and simple manner?

Basically, the first quality of a wicketkeeper is concentration. You can have the best pair of hands in the world, but if you don't concentrate, don't stay focussed on what you are doing, then you miss chances. The priority should be always on concentration. That's what I did for three days. It's easy for me to tell an individual, whether he is 16 or 25 years old, about concentration.

Concentrate, it's just a word. But I got to put it over to them in a practical way. And the only practical way I know is that every time the batsman plays the ball, the wicketkeeper has got to go through the motions of having taken it. He should not look where the ball is going. Before he does that he has to go through the motions.

We've all seen wicketkeepers miss chances, miss stumpings when the batsman has gone out of the crease to a spin bowler. He has danced down the wicket and has gone to hit it over the top and he misses the ball. The wicketkeeper makes two mistakes. First from the crouched position he comes up and his hands come up. If the ball keeps low, there's no chance of getting down. What he should do is come up slowly from the crouched position, leaving his arms dangling so that his hands are below his knees. This will enable him to take the ball should it keep low and should it bounce, it is easier to come up with the ball.

The second mistake he makes, which I think is equally crucial, is looking at the direction of the shot. Now, should the batsman miss it, the ball comes through and goes for four byes or hits the wicketkeeper's pad and bounces down. And by the time he scrambles the ball around and whips the bails off, the batsman has had the time to get back into his crease. So he misses a stumping. That's why a wicketkeeper must go through the motions of taking the ball.

I tell these wicketkeepers what it's like to keep wicket in a Test match. I was the 'keeper when Mudassar Nazar scored the slowest Test hundred some years ago in Lahore. I was out there for almost three days. So concentration is important and for a long period of time. The sooner one loses concentration and focus, something will happen.

So I always tell these young wicketkeepers, try and envisage, not particularly anticipate, the batsman nicking the ball or the batsman going out of his crease. If you are reading the game, you can feel the batsman itching to get out of the crease to a spinner. The reason wicketkeepers miss chances is because they are surprised, whereas they should be expecting it. Talk to yourself and concentrate. Sunil Gavaskar always used to talk to himself..concentrate...concentrate, especially when facing Derek Underwood and John Emburey. That's why he scored 10,000 plus runs.

Your impressions on the modern wicketkeepers like Adam Gilchrist and Mark Boucher. They bat well, too. Would you say that these two have set new trends, although in the past there have been 'keepers who scored many runs...

They are a different breed, aren't they? I think they are more sort of one-day wicketkeepers. Well, Adam Gilchrist comes in at No. 7 in a Test match... he 's the time to recover. Mark Boucher comes at No. 7. I don't think they are perhaps as good as their predecessors, Ian Healy and Dave Richardson. Gilchrist is a better batsman than Healy and Boucher is a better batsman than Richardson. Alec (Stewart) bats higher and has done a very good job.

Godfrey Evans has gone on record that "Alan Knott, Bob Taylor and Rodney Marsh can be discussed in the same breath".

That's a compliment to be put in that position, to be classed with them. Ian Healy has got the record number of Test dismissals, then I think Rodney Marsh and Alan Knott...I come much lower because I only played 57 Tests.

You and Knott together had well over 400 victims...that says a lot about your performances...some said you were a better wicketkeeper and that Knott was a better batsman?

I got frustrated, but you cannot do much about that. You have got to be philosophical. I was one of 16 best players on a touring team and there's only one wicketkeeper in the XI like only one goalkeeper in a football team. So somebody had to play second fiddle. I always remember Bill Lawry, the Australian captain. I don't know, but I liked Bill. I don't know if he's trying to draw me, but he used to say: "Bobby, if I was reincarnated, I would love to be a second wicketkeeper." Now I knew what he meant, there's no pressures of playing Test cricket. But that's exactly opposite. I wanted to be playing. What he meant was there's no pressures doing 12th man duties. Everybody wants to be on the field. "I said, Bill, you wouldn't want to be a second wicketkeeper."

Well, Alan Knott was the No. 1 'keeper and I had to play second fiddle. But as long as I play against South Australia in Australia or South Zone in India and keep doing a good job, I am putting the pressure on Alan Knott to do better because he knows I am challenging his position in the team. That's what the art of reserves is all about. That's what I have told Patel and the other players.

I have seen Patel at Trent Bridge and in a few highlights of the Mumbai and Chennai Tests. I felt watching him at the clinic that he was really trying. He had just played a Test match, had a lot pressure and took a couple of good catches. After that he comes here and he did well. He concentrated.

How's it keeping wicket to Botham, Willis and Underwood ? Was Botham an awkward customer?

No, no...they swung the ball. The hardest bowling to 'keep to is standing up to the stumps. That's what wicketkeeping is all about. A slip catcher in Test cricket can put the gloves on and do the job standing back. Graham Gooch and John Crawley have kept wicket. Rahul Dravid has done it for India in one day matches. I hope I am not criticising wrongly. Rahul is not really a wicketkeeper, he is a batsman. I think he should stick to batting.

Somehow the cricket world accepts both the flashy and the undemonstrative wicketkeepers? India has had someone like the flashy Farokh Engineer and before him someone like Naren Tamhane, a sure catcher, quick stumper and not flashy at all?

It all depends on the individual. I have always said that you should always be yourself. Be a natural and don't try to copy somebody, because you always come unstuck. If you are just a calm person, doing your job, it would be unnatural being flashy and diving. I don't like diving. You should use your feet, take the ball with your body behind it; there's no need to dive unless it's very wide. If you are on your toes, then you can take the ball.

You played 57 Tests, but just one Test before the World Series Cricket... but at the end of it all you must have been delighted playing 57 Tests for England?

Oh yes. I think even if you play one Test match, nobody can take it away from you. It will always be Taylor, Derbyshire, England. If you are good you will always succeed.
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Old October 23, 2005, 08:37 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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There is a flip side to the glitter
Amrit Mathu
Sportstar Vol. 25 :: No. 19 :: May 11 - 17, 2002

SPORT transfers a person into another world and a different orbit altogether. Cricket transports a rookie from Jhandewalan to Jorbagh, from a chawl to Colaba in no time, it provides instant stardom, enormous riches and fame. But as always happens, there is a flip side to the dazzling glitter - cricket is extremely frustrating, and terrible failure is a part of the game.

Sometimes, and for some, success itself becomes a problem because such is its intoxication not many are able to retain their balance. But while success affects just a few, failure catches many more in its net; it is as unavoidable and essential to cricket as item songs are to mainstream Hindi films. There is a slight difference however in the sense that failure spreads gloom, creates doubts, erodes confidence, breaks the will of players. Absence of success leaves deep scars, converts toughies into weepies and forces players, in the fashion of a contemporary Devdas, to hit the bottle as if it was a health drink.

Usually, these terrible things happen to batsmen when form disappears and all of a sudden the bat feels as if it has only edges, no middle. An out of form batsman is a person with alarmingly low morale, his distress heightened by the fact that he is deserted by all friends. In this period of trial, bowlers stop bowling half volleys, the umpire raises his finger at the wrong time and fielders, normally asleep at slip, hold blinders. Can anything be worse?

When struck by heaps of bad luck, players, understandably, search for relief but the response to failure varies. The cocky, super confident types put on a brave front and want to ride out the storm, they feel bad luck/ good luck is cyclical, so why worry. These players are students of the Narasimha Rao school of management who believe that postponing a decision is itself a wise decision. If one waits long enough, and does nothing, chances are nothing will be required to be done anyway.

Others, more active and concerned, want to confront reality and take control of their destiny. Seeking instant nirvana these activists get into the net and slog endlessly to iron out defects and concentrate on the basics. In their book the only way out of a batting slump is practise, the only route to success is hard work.

While this is the standard response of struggling batsmen, there exist other non-conventional means as well. Some travel to Shirdi, Vaishno Devi and Tirupati to seek divine assistance, others say silent prayers each day knowing there is a powerful umpire up there who has the final say.

Besides appealing for outside help, obtaining assistance from people close by is also a popular option. The out of form player needs a shoulder to cry on, he needs help and guidance to overcome adversity and, fortunately, there is no shortage of advice. India is undisputed world leader in cricket information technology, we have huge reserves of arm-chair critics and a new breed of TV trained cricket terrorists with PhD's acquired by listening to Navjot Sidhu. Also around, all in abundance, are the asli gurus, the experienced ex- players for whom a mere glance is enough to diagnose the problem.

In their opinion, whenever a batsman runs into bad form the likely reasons are:

Feet not moving but head moving too much.

Bat not straight, back lift from third man.

Playing away from body, reaching for the ball instead of letting it come on.

Bat face opening trying to run balls down to third man.

Batsman watching bowler not the ball.

The following reasons are on the standard checklist for bowling decline:

Hand not straight up during delivery.

No pivot, body too chest-on.

Balls sliding down leg side because of wrong angle of delivery.

Strangely, the ready availability of advice is a problem because people prescribe different medicines, forgetting the truth that cricket is a unique headache which needs different Dispirins for different heads. "Getting tips can be very confusing," admits Sourav. "The problem is not just who to listen to but what to listen to. It is very easy to get thoroughly confused."

"The way out," suggests Rahul Dravid, "is to analyse and understand your own game. You have to be brutally honest with yourself and learn from your experience. Most times you don't need to go to a specialist - you can cure yourself." Sourav, agrees: "Whatever others may think, ultimately players must see what works for them."

Srinath points out another angle about the business of getting advise. "Anyone can come and tell you not to bowl down the legside but the issue is how?" he asks. "There is no easy answer, nobody has a solution, they can't explain what you are doing wrong for the ball to land in the wrong place."

Taking/giving advice is complicated for other reasons also. By and large, and quite correctly, players take advise seriously only when it comes from someone with stature. Indian players have a reputation that they don't listen, or if they do, it is only after checking the past Test record of the person giving gyaan. Two common questions - kitne match khela or kya average hai - rule out anyone not there at the top. In an atmosphere which treats them as superstars who are gifts to the nation the players start believing they know everything but others know little. In defense of players it must be said they are inundated by unwanted advise, and if they did not erect a screening mechanism they'd go crazy trying to handle all that is thrown at them.

But while this is true, it is difficult to see a situation like Australia (with Buchanan as coach) happening in India, there is no chance of an average Ranji player coaching the Test squad. One person who thinks many times before helping out is SMG, as matter of policy he does so only when approached. He thinks there is no need to impose your views on others.
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Old October 23, 2005, 08:41 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Of fielding and catching
Bob Simpson
Sportstar Vol. 24 :: No. 34 :: Aug. 25 - 31, 2001

UNDOUBTEDLY, fielding standards have improved over the last 30 years, but perhaps not by as much as people think it has.

What has changed most dramatically is that it is much more spectacular and more exciting to watch, as players dive and slide all over the place to stop the ball.

The various styles of dives and slides is becoming an art form as players plunge into and through fences and boundary ropes to try and save that extra run, or slide after and past the ball and then try to stand and throw on the turn.

All very spectacular indeed, but how successful is it? Certainly, sliding towards both ropes and fences can save the extra run, but it is also very dangerous and many players have injured themselves badly in this pursuit.

Sliding and throwing on the turn looks good and can make the batsman apprehensive at first, but in reality I have yet to see a fieldsman who can do this and save a run, for the ball comes back much slower as you cannot get a power throw on the turn and generally fall back.

All the wonderful ground fieldsmen of the past have been great angle exponents. In other words they follow the basic principle of the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

Neil Harvey, perhaps the greatest all-round fieldsman I have ever seen, was a great exponent of this and I very seldom saw him dive, believing that while he was on his feet he was in a better position to hit the stumps at either end, and he very seldom missed, and next to Colin Bland he was the most accurate thrower I have seen.

In a demonstration at Lord's which can still be seen today on grainy 16 mm film, he was hitting the stumps on the run from every conceivable position seven or eight out of 10.

It was said of both Harvey and Bland that if they caught you napping by cutting off the ball, you may as well stop running and expanding energy, for they would invariably hit the stumps.

Englishmen Derek Randall and David Gower were also great angle fieldsmen as indeed are Jonty Rhodes and Ricky Ponting. Randall was probably before his time, with his flamboyancy and obvious enjoyment of fielding.

I am all for this and while coaching Australia encouraged the players to enjoy what they were doing and to show off to the crowd. Provided, of course, they didn't overdo it and technically they were still doing it right.

What I don't enjoy is seeing players make a meal of the celebration when they have either got a wicket off a rank bad ball and celebrate with high fives when they should be embarrassed to take a wicket with such a poor ball or sending the ball a mile in the air after taking the easiest catch ever.

Gower and Randall were both excellent cover and square leg fielders, the position where most run-outs emanate from. Randall was always full of energy and enthusiasm and prepared to put in all day. His speed and mobility always kept the batsmen on their toes. Gower, on the other hand, was rather understated, but could still explode into action when he had to.

While I don't think he was aware of it, Gower never walked straight at the batsman when he moved in from cover or square-leg, but rather in a line a couple of yards in front of the batsman.

This to me is the perfect angle to take, for it is much easier to change your angle to the ball than a front or square-on position when you inevitably have to stop before you can take the right line to the ball.

Jonty Rhodes has revolutionised the behind the point fielding position. In an era when batsmen tend to slice and angle the ball in this direction more than in the past, it has become the most important area in one-day cricket.

Most claim that one-day cricket has caused batsmen to angle the ball in this direction, however I believe that faulty batting techniques are to blame.

While Jonty is a brilliant stopper and catcher, I feel that Ricky Ponting hits the stumps more and is thus more dangerous.

But no one has hit the stumps in recent times with such unerring accuracy as Allan Border.

He wasn't particularly quick to the ball, but he was brilliant in positioning himself to be able to throw to the right end in the quickest time. He also always seemed to have that fraction of a second extra to line up his throw.

As all fieldsmen should, he kept his eyes not on the general area of the stumps but a specific spot half way up the middle stump or whatever stump he had to hit from the angle he was on. He always tried to hit the stumps on the full and thus increased his margin of success. To try to drop the ball into the ground short of the stumps is courting disaster and increasing your margin of error, for the ball can bounce left or right of the target and also over the stumps.

Only Viv Richards has matched Allan Border for accuracy and like Border was a wonderful allround fieldsman. Roger Harper was also a magnificent fieldsman in any position. He took one of the finest slip catches I have seen when in the early Nineties he threw himself to the left to take a breath-taking one-handed catch to a ball that Dean Jones tried to turn to square leg. He wouldn't have expected a chance to come his way and indeed would not have glimpsed the ball until it cleared Deano's body. A wonderful take made possible by a superb athlete who didn't assume the ball wasn't coming his way and retained his concentration and focus until the action was completed.

So what about Ashes clashes and great fielders?

While this will sound parochial, I believe that the Aussies have always held the advantage in the field. Much of the reason for this is Australia's year round good weather which allows youngsters to thrive and develop their athleticism.

I first became aware of this on my initial Ashes tour in 1961. We were practising at Lord's in early April and at the same time a coaching session was being run at the other end of the field for 13 and 14-year-old boys.

My lasting impression of that session was just how stiff they all looked compared to lads of a similar age in Australia.

Several years later in the West Indies I realised that the Windies youngsters were even more flexible than the Australians. The weather plays a major role in learning and enjoying fielding.

No one in their right mind can possibly look forward to fielding on a bitterly cold day, when as a slips fieldsman you are sometimes hoping that a stinging catch doesn't come your way or even worse drop short and catches the end of your fingers or wrist.

For all this, England have produced some magnificent fieldsmen and great wicketkeepers, with Alan Knott the best and Godfrey Evans the most exciting to watch.

They have also had some great close catchers. Colin Cowdrey had wonderful soft hands at first slip and Graham Thorpe is also very good. Botham is Botham and was a wonderful catcher and with a brilliant throwing arm. The bespectacled M. J. K. Smith, without any armour at short leg, was as good as any one, as was Tony Greig.

If I have to nominate just one England fieldsman who should have been the best, I would go for Chris Lewis. I had him for two years at Leicester and when the mood took him he had everything, pace to burn, a great throwing arm and hands that made it easy for him to take blinders in any position. What a great pity we didn't really see the best of him.

While Australia have generally been considered the trend-setters in fielding, it was the 1952/53 South African team who toured Australia who set the standard, style and importance of fielding for others to follow and perhaps pass.

They were not a great team, but boy, could they field and they clearly showed that fielding could no longer be ignored and was equally important as batting or bowling.

They were not expected to do well against the remnants of the great 1948 Australians, but they pushed and harassed them all the way with the most spectacular fielding Australia had ever seen.

They didn't beat the Aussies, but made a huge impression on me as a 16-year-old playing in my first Sheffield Shield season.

It roused a passion for fielding which has stayed with me to this day and I hope has helped me to impart to others.

There is no doubt Australia is the best team in the world at present and the finest fielders. Cricketers are much more athletic, fleet of foot and fitter than ever before. These are wonderful ingredients to start with and it has always been my belief that with the right coaching you can turn any one into a good fieldsman and help the talented to be safer and better.

Glenn McGrath is perhaps the perfect example. When he first came into the Aussie team he was pretty ordinary. He couldn't judge high balls and when I hit flat hard drives at fielding practice to him, and there were many hundreds in the early days, I always tried to ensure I hit them just wide of his body for I was concerned if I hit them straight at his body or head he would miss them and injure himself.

With great perseverance, Glenn turned himself into a fine fielder.

The current Australians are a fine fielding team and what makes them so reliable is that they do things correctly. This cuts down the margin of error.

Their stand-out fieldsman is Mark Waugh. He is fit to rank alongside the greats in any position. What makes him so great are his wonderful reflexes, satin smooth movements, great body positioning and the softest, most giving hands in the business.

Just how good his hands are can clearly be seen when he makes even the toughest catch look simple and when they adjust, when he is fielding away from the slips, to the nightmare ball that is driven at speed and lands just short of the fielder.

While others frantically throw themselves behind the ball to just knock it down, the junior Waugh just nonchalantly glides with the ball as it nestles in his hand. No one has ever made fielding look easier. The Aussies have raised the benchmark for fielding, it is now up to the rest of the cricketing world to equal and then raise it even higher.
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Old October 23, 2005, 09:00 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Indian batting miserably exposed
Bob Simpson

NEW ZEALAND's seaming pitches have badly exposed the one-dimension of India's batting.

While the seam bowlers have had the opportunity of using pitches which are obviously too seam bowler friendly, India's tactics have been very na�ve.

Brought up on slow turners the Indian batsmen have become too reliant on playing back too often, knowing that even if the ball deviates they will have time to adjust.

Compounding the problem is their initial movement, the trigger movement we all need _ whether it is to get out of a chair or indeed to get the right balance to move as quickly as possible into the right position whether it be forward or backward has now become an initial commitment.

This means that instead of just moving your foot without transferring your weight to establish your balance so that you can move as quick as possible into the forward or backward position, most of the Indian batsmen whether they are in the top half or the bottom are transferring their weight onto the backfoot and find it difficult to adjust to the correct position quickly or correctly.

In addition many are also going back to leg stump rather than the off.

This poses a three-fold problem.

(i): They find it near impossible to play forward and thus seldom get much past their original position on the crease.

(ii): Anything that seams into them finds them cramped and vulnerable to LBW decisions or bowled off the pads and find it near impossible to open it to work the ball consistently and safely away for runs on the on side.

(iii): With balls on or outside the off stump from their position back and inside the ball, they have to play across the ball and almost never play it with the full face of the bat.

This is easily identified by the number of catches to the slips and how almost exclusively defensive shots end up to or behind point.

This defensive movement means the bat is so open, the batsman plays most of the ball to the off with, at the most, half a bat.

Bowlers thrive against such poor tactical and technical batting.

A seaming wicket is perhaps the most difficult for any batsman to counter.

It is made more difficult by the fact it is impossible to pick which way the ball will seam.

Rodney Hogg, a very fine Australian seamer summed it nicely when asked how to seam the ball.

"I hold the seam upright between my first and second fingers, keep my wrist straight, when I let the ball go. So the seam lands in that position when it lands, if it hits slightly on one side of the seam it will duck in, if it lands on the other it goes away. If and when it seams I then say you beauty."

In other words Rodney like all bowlers hasn't got a clue which way it will seam.

Unlike others, however, Rodney was honest enough to admit it.

What he did have going for him was that he had a wonderful upright wrist at the point of delivery and probably hit the seam more consistently than any bowler I have seen apart from Sir Richard Hadlee.

It is tough scoring runs or even staying in when the ball is seaming all over the place.

However, you can help your own cause if you look to get forward as much as possible, for this will give the ball less time to seam and in addition from the forward position you can more easily judge which ball to leave.

Also from the forward position if the ball seams and hits the bat you are more likely to get the benefit of the doubt.

When using the "push out theory" you are bound to wear a few in the body. That is OK for in my view it is worth the pain and bruising if it helps you to bat longer.

Were the wickets especially prepared for the New Zealand bowlers?

Frankly I don't know. Certainly the weather prior to the Hamilton match didn't help as the pitch was covered before the first day and the first day was washed out.

It was obviously very damp when the New Zealanders won a good toss and sent India in.

The first Test in Wellington saw a similar situation and a seaming track.

Were they prepared to counter the Indian batsmen and have Indian prepared turners for the Indian spinners over the last two decades.

Once again I frankly don't know.

There is a current theory which has been in place for some time that local authorities have the right to prepare the pitches to the advantage of the home side.

I disagree entirely with this. When I coached Lancashire and found out I had the authority to say how a wicket should be prepared, I immediately spoke to the groundsman and told him that it was his job to prepare the best possible track so that matches could last four days and the skill of the players should dictate the result of the game and not the playing surface.

I immediately told the full Lancashire committee what I had done and added, that to do otherwise only brought the game to disrepute and in my view was a form of cheating and I wouldn't be a party to such tactics.

I also added the rider that I felt that one of the reasons for the demise of English cricket was that too much fiddling had gone on to bring a result in the three-day game and this had had a very detrimental affect on both the batting and bowling. India's poor effort in New Zealand may also well represent the same worry.
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Old October 23, 2005, 09:06 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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A game made difficult by coaches
Bob Simpson
Sportstar VOL. 25 :: NO. 29 :: Jul. 20 - 26, 2002

CRICKET (or golf, tennis, baseball, mahjong, snakes & ladders) is a simple game made difficult by coaches.

We've all heard that one often enough and I have even heard coaches arguing which is the most difficult game because that seems to lend it a certain mystique.

I'm also sure some games are more difficult than others and I'm also sure some games are made more difficult than they need be.

However, I cannot honestly say I regard cricket as a simple game to play well. I think that is basically because of the time factor involved.

Cricket shares obvious basics with games like baseball or tennis. But it stands alone in terms of the time a match takes and within that match, the time a player has to dwell on the next move.

The cricketer has time to think - and that does not make the game easier to play. Concentration is not easy to sustain over a six hour day at the crease or in the field.

In fact, it is well-nigh impossible and the ability to distil concentration into the moments it really matters is vital.

That is a skill which can be learned and it is part of a coach's job to look at the mind games as much as the technicalities involved.

The ability to relax between the deliveries, for instance, has always been associated with effective slips fieldsmen, but it applies as much to batsmen and even to bowlers.

There are techniques which help, but they have to be worked on and practised hard if they are to become second nature.

The higher the standard, the more skills are needed and it is one of the ironies of top level sport that people are deceived by how easy they look.

Nobody should assume that cricket is an easy game to play simply because a Test cricketer makes excellence look common place.

That is why I have always had the greatest respect for players who are not blessed with huge talent, but who achieve great standards by their ability to work intelligently hard.

No decent coach wants to undermine the naturalness of players or stifle genuine flair, but neither should he accept the superficial as evidence of talent.

How often do we see players with a pleasing style given preference over players who turn in the performance, but who don't look nearly as polished.

It happens a lot more than it should.

In fact, a flowing style can often disguise a multitude of basic problems which will eventually be exposed.

That's why the game's history is studded with truly elegant players rather than dominated by them.

Such stylists achieve huge public affection, of course, and cricket being a writer's game, becomes lionised in purple prose. However they are the exception rather than the rule.

The modern game has not enjoyed many Greg Chappell's but it has produced effective players - David Boon, Geoff Marsh and Steve Waugh for instance.

You couldn't in all conscience describe them as elegant, even though they have had their moments and played elegant shots.

Other infinitely more elegant batsmen have proved much less productive at the top level. But, boy don't selectors just love to pick them.

Max Walker, Australia's excellent medium pacer of the 70's, was perhaps the most unnaturally gifted bowler of all time.

His run up and delivery had all the appeal of a runway Tarantula.

Max himself once described it as "right arm over left earhole". He bowled chest on, crossed his legs in delivery and bowled off the wrong foot. Just about everything was wrong in text-book terms.

No one could have imagined a bowler of his style - if that is what it was - had any future in the game. But he became a wonderful Test bowler. Basically, I think, this was because he was an intelligent cricketer who looked around him and realised that in what was clearly an era of genuinely fast bowlers, there was an opening for somebody who could swing the ball.

Once he set out his stall to do that and do it well, his extraordinary style worked in favour.

A Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January 1973, will probably be remembered as Max's finest hour.

Pakistan needed only 159 to win, which seemed a formality, so much so that I went into town on business instead of going to the game. Mid afternoon I bumped into Ian Chappell, the Australian captain, who obviously had half a day off. "Got them pretty quickly, did they" I asked. "No" the skipper replied. "We bloody well won. Maxie Walker bowled us to victory".

It was an amazing feat, Max and Dennis Lillee bowled unchanged that day with Max taking a remarkable six for 15, including a spell of five wickets for three runs off 30 deliveries. It was all over in 138 minutes.

Lillee, incidentally, bowled despite a painful back, a typical example of what a fine competitor he was. Max didn't always get a swag of wickets or a lot of publicity. But he was very dangerous once he got a hint.

When the ball was swinging, he could be unplayable; and the lads hated facing him in the nets. Once he had the old inswinger going, they would stand there black and blue, having been hit repeatedly on the thigh, while big Max grinned, nodded and did his best to hit them again.

He was a thinking bowler who made use of every advantage he had. He used his head, planned his strategy and produced a very effective weapon out of one of the clumsiest bowling styles Test cricket has ever seen.

Max Walker was a model in his own way.

Max's equivalent in the Australian team of the 1960s was Neil Hawke, another player who performed miracles with a bowling action which, quite frankly would not have qualified him for first grade club cricket on pure artistic merit.

If anything his style was even less appealing than Max's. He had an ungainly looking approach, a chest on action and his left arm wafted high in the air.

Yet, Neil could swing the ball both ways more consistently than any Test bowler I've seen.

He was the only quick bowler you would consistently back to go around the wicket and get lbw decisions with inswingers to right-handed batsmen.

Neil was a gifted athlete and sportsman, but a very self-made cricketer, his action should not have allowed him to bowl outswingers, yet he did it expertly.

The key, once again was that he thought about his bowling a lot more than a purely natural player might be inclined to do.

Neil was a very intelligent bloke and a great thinker about the game. He was one of the first I am aware of who experimented with different and varied grips to bowl slower balls.

In this modern era where "experts" want to compare cricketers like Walker and Hawke and indeed wrong foot quickie Mike Proctor and the ungainly Merv Hughes, who wouldn't have passed the rigid theories of the biomechanics and attempts would have been made to change their action to conform with modern theories.

What a pity that would have been because their individual styles were a inspiration to all who dared to be different.
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Old October 23, 2005, 09:34 AM
Ahmed_B's Avatar
Ahmed_B Ahmed_B is offline
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Originally posted by Arnab
Thanks everybody who thanked me. Although I am doing nothing original here...
You are doing an awesome job!
This is surely one of the richest threads of the forum...
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Old October 24, 2005, 01:35 AM
fab fab is offline
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Wow! I missed this thread the first time round. It should definitely be a sticky. Loved the article about spin and swing!
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