Saturday, April 27, 2013

Some T20 Bowling Recipes

For bowlers who are hoping to make it big in T20 formats here are some areas to work on. Bowling in T20 games is the biggest challenge and it's something that all good, skilful and big hearted bowlers would love to do. One over, can change the game, and that's how critical bowling can get in this format.

1) Learn to hold your delivery until the last moment. This comes naturally to those who fall into a good rhythm quickly and who understand the biomechanics and process of bowling, But there are far too many bowlers who merely run up and bowl and have no clue where the ball is going to land. Such bowlers need to first figure this out. Running in with more control, working on the action, release and follow through can give this control and you can soon graduate to 'pitching it in the right areas'. Once you have it, it gives you that much more control over the delivery and where it is pitching. By this you can hold yourself one second longer and improvise your length in small ways. Not the way the spinners are doing it but more like how Steyn does.

2) Swing, Cut. Swing, cut, seam are traditional weapons to bamboozle batsmen and make them uncomfortable. Whatever happens do not be predictable. Never allow them the luxury of being able to hit through the line i.e. develop some lateral movement, cut etc. Rajat Bhatia uses the leg cutter well and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar makes the ball talk at lesser pace with his unpredictable swing.

3) Change of pace. One slower one could get too predictable so its better that one has two or more variations of slower balls. Balaji is an expert at bowling those slow balls, slow bouncers and just watching him can be a revelation. England used the slow bouncers to great effect. Balaji is brilliant and so is Malinga with his slower ones.

4) Yorkers. These are key deliveries and one must be able to bowl them at will. The yorker needs more focus, more practice but its one of those weapons that may not fail you. When you have 10-15 runs to defend, yorkers, bowled well, can keep it down to singles or doubles. Pity that one does not see good yorkers any more. If I was a bowler I'd set myself to bowl 24 yorkers if I could. You cannot beat Malinga when it comes to yorkers and if there is one weapon all T20 bowlers need to develop, it is this.

5) Using the crease. Pollard is using the depth of the crease well by bowling from two yards behind. I find few bowlers changing the sides, using the width of the crease, or even bowling the odd ball from a short run up. Sammy does it once in a while.

6) Cut the angles for the batsmen. It is all about being fully aware to the batsmen and his intent. You know how most batsmen play and you must learn to cut out the angles he is looking for. Giving someone like Dhoni length balls or short balls is suicidal especially in the latter overs when he is going for it but we see so many bowlers still doing it. You may not succeed all the time but you must try to make each ball count.

7) Vary the length. If you can get enough control over your delivery and where you can pich the ball, you will know that just before the ball is delivered there is a spot you can hustle the ball into which cuts many free stroking options out for batsmen. Any batsmen. It is not really the good length, but its a restricting length that one finds based on how the batsmen is winding up. Watch Steyn and Rampaul from behind the bowling arm and mentally figure out the best length for them to bowl to restrict - 90% of the time they are in that area. This comes from knowing the correct length to bowl, lengthening or shortening it at the last moment. Again far too many bowlers bowl without really exercising enough control or thought on the area to pitch the ball and we are talking not just domestic players, we talk internationals too.

8) Create angles, wide of stumps. The lines are marked so you can go as wide of the sumps as you possibly can, which could cut out angles for some more batsmen. Create new angles from between both creases. Surely you can surprise the batsmen for that one crucial delivery if you work enough on that.

9) Experiment with new deliveries. Years ago when I read Dennis Lillee's 'Art of Fast Bowling' I was astounded at the number of variations he mentioned in that book. He had a slew of slower ones - knuckle ball, one finder ball, ball held deep in the palm, back of the hand leg spinner - and so much more. Obviously even in those days, for someone who was known to be a tearaway fast bowler, Lillee worked on ways to deceive the batsmen. Bowlers need to work on the same.

10) Keep your head. At all points don't go in with fixed ideas. The basics will normally work. What you can do well and what you have practiced will certainly work. But don't always think you can bowl six yorkers, six slower ones, six bouncers or six length balls. Flow with the tide and keep your best options open till the last moment. Don't lose your head if one ball or more gets hit out. Even after getting hit for three sixes, you can come back with three dot balls if you keep your head. Again this is something that gets better with practice and experience. Breathe, clear your head and decide to come back stronger.

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