Friday, May 30, 2014

Where are the yorkers?

MSD has forever been saying that he wants his bowlers to bowl yorkers in the death. It's a known, tried and tested theory that the toe crusher is probably the hardest ball to hit. It is also the hardest to bowl because the margin for error is so small that a full toss can disappear for a six or a full length ball can be dispatched over the long on fence. But that is precisely the reason why bowlers who want to be good at the death in T20s, should practice the yorker until its perfect. So perfect that they can bowl 24 on 24.

If Malinga can get it right at will, he must be doing something right. The yorker requires long hours of practice because one needs to sharpen all of one's focus into a single spot that is not more than two inches in dia. While bowling any other ball, bowlers can afford to go into a wide area, or a box, of almost 2 feet a side. (Most bowlers can't get even that right - you'd be surprised at how many will miss the box or how they will miss all three open stumps. Remember how many bowlers missed hitting the three stumps in the first T20 World Cup shoot out?). But with a yorker, the bowler picks the spot, I normally pick the spot midway up the batsman's shin facing me, and look to hit that spot bang on. Now the spot cannot be more than two inches in dia and requires great concentration, loads of practice to get it right at will. That's all. Loads of practice and you can bowl it 24 balls out of 24. Give or take a 10% off the mark, you're still in good space.

MSD brought back old war horse Nehra for CSK and I saw how he bowled a set batsman like Kohli and the dangerous AB de Villers with straight yorkers. In fact the De Villiers ball was not even a perfect yorker. Instead of keeping it simple, I find that these huge think tanks of coaches and mentors are confusing the hell out of bowlers who now have no clue where there are bowling. Bowling as wide as the return crease, bowling full tosses on the hips, bowling length balls, badly directed slow balls - getting repeatedly hit for sixes - shows the confusion and lack of clarity, thought process and certainly skill. And then you see the clarity and precision of Nehra's yorkers and see the difference. Nehra can do it all day, bowling from a two step run up.

A whole season Waqar Younis, one of the greatest exponents of yorkers, spent with the Sunrisers and I don't see their bowling being any better for it. Can't blame him, the coaching unit needs to think up the strategy well. Nor do I find the KKR which has the other great exponent of yorkers, Wasim Akram, among its coaching line up, doing anything with that toe crushing match winning delivery (though Umesh Yadav showed how destructive he could be in the qualifier against Punjab). Again, can't blame Akram, because he can teach if they are willing to see and use it as a weapon.

I put this confusion and bad death bowling down to a case of having too many mentors, too little clarity, bad strategy and even lesser focus on development of skill. I do believe that games can be won mostly with good bowlers who can defend even six or seven runs in an over. I'd like to see more of that happening too.

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