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Friday, August 27, 2010

Joe finds his Leg Break

My younger son Joe did that thing when he was younger where he just somehow naturally bowled Leg Breaks. That combined with the fact that he bowled accurately, loopy and with varying pace and flight he was very successful against kids of his age that could play a bit of cricket and anyone else (including adults and me) that chose to pick up a bat and face him. There's the time in 2008 when we were on holiday on a campsite with a group of kids that included U11 and U13 club players he took 9 wickets for less than 30 runs. But not long after that he joined his club and was exposed to fast bowling and suffered being batted out of the park by kids that were good with the bat. I think this undermined his belief in slow bowling and he bought into the idea having seen Lasith Malingas 4 wickets in a row in the 2007 world cup, that fast was best and that if you want wickets you're best off bowling fast.

His Richie Benaud vertcial bowling action disappeared as he bowled more and more trying to copy Malinga and bowling faster. In the end I had to stop trying to get him to revert back to bowling wrist spin and let him find his own way and perhaps end up going over to the Darkside with aspirations of being a pace bowler when he's older and bigger.

Fortunately, I think like a lot of brothers he has a sibling rivalry thing going on and his older brother Ben who is primarily a pace bowler doesn't serve the purpose of being someone to aspire to. The net effect is that Joe, no matter how fast he tries to bowl, he can't ever get anywhere near the same speed as Ben because there's a big physical difference across the 2.5 year age gap. But rather than own up to this and recognise the fact that Ben is a better pace bowler, I think Joe has kept trying to bowl straight maybe waiting for it to come right with the speed and has kind of ended up being a slow bowler that doesn't intentionally turn the ball. In the last two seasons his wickets have come through primarily bowling straight, flighting the ball and varying the speed from loopy and very slow, through slow and quite a bit faster.

This has served him well and he's okay with how it's going. I've had to keep a very low profile, hands off and don't say anything approach unless of course it's by way of encouragement. But then over the last couple of months he's drifted into bowling Wrong Uns that turn out of the back of the hand in conjunction with his slightly faster balls. Whether this delivery is used in games or not I don't know - but in practice he uses it to good effect http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUG6g9VLyd8

But tonight playing in the square where I've devised a game to get their batting techniques better he started to bowl ripping Leg Breaks that had me bowled 6 times for 6 runs off of 36 balls! (Yeah I am crap). But the first ball which I just thought had just come out of his hand wrong to produce the Leggie turned perfectly from outside of Leg right across me almost clipping my hands as it passed the off-stump!

"Whoa Joe! That was a Leg Break there"! I said in surprise and he smiled, but then the next ball bowled on a middle stump line I played a straight drive to and it turned away from the edge of the bat just missing it!
"Joe your bowling Leg Breaks"!
"Yeah I know". He answered nonchalently. I asked him what he was doing different and he showed me his grip (2 up 2 down) and how he was flicking his wrist as he bowled. Sure enough the next 36 balls I watched and the majority of them had the seam which is clearly visible rotating perfectly to get the leg-break! But then he started mixing it up bowling top-Spinners and Wrong Uns and down went my wicket again and again.

I was well chuffed and so was he and we played for over an hour and half whereas I'd usually expect a game outside the house to last for 20 - 30 minutes before his enthusiasm waned. Could this mean that Joe after a couple of years in the bowling wilderness has returned to the fold and is once again a Wrist Spinner? Let's hope so eh?
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