Inside the IPL with Eric Simons – 12th April 2019

“This is one of the most closely contested IPLs I can remember. Obviously RCB have struggled but they have many match-winners and I would never write them off. If they can lose six in a row, they can certainly win six on the bounce, too. Once again the experience of the senior players was crucial in our last game against the Royals. From 24-4 chasing 152 to win, many teams would panic. But with MS Dhoni at the crease, panic is never an option. It has been a fabulous start for CSK and the focus is now on maintain the winning habit and securing a top-2 finish in the second half of the tournament.”

And now to reply to some questions:

Q – Why is the yorker bowled so seldom these days? It used to be the mainstay for bowlers trying to bowl dot balls
A – “The main reason it isn’t bowled any more, in my opinion, is because bowlers can’t – they don’t have the confidence. When you play darts you can either aim for the bullseye or you can aim for the whole dartboard. One is easier to hit than the other. It is easier to bowl back-of-a-length than hit the blockhole. The last man to consistently bowl the yorker, and to be able to rely on it in crucial situations, was Lasith Malinga. All bowlers are capable of bowling a yorker but they need to be able to rely on their best deliveries under pressure and most can’t rely on their yorker, so they don’t bowl it.

Q – How hard is it bowl the ball where you want it? What is an acceptable percentage?
A – “I believe an international bowler should be able to deliver the ball he wants between 70% and 80% of the time. Unfortunately, I think the reality is more like 50%, or lower, and the reason for that is the way most players and teams train. I use four forms of nets for bowlers:  a) grooving b) learning a new skill c) match simulation and d) detox. The problem is that 95% of the time teams and individuals focus on match simulation instead of concentrating on the process. They are concerned about the result – whether the ball went for four or six rather than on where it landed on the pitch and whether it landed where they wanted it to.

If the ‘wrong’ ball gets a batsman out bowlers still celebrate – and they are disappointed when the ‘right’ ball is edged for a boundary. Practise and training should be about concentrating on bowling the ball in the area you planned to bowl it. The best form of learning is by having a very specific target, if you don’t hit the target you adjust usually subconsciously but if you never begin with a specific target you never learn because you don’t know that you got it wrong.

Q – Are bowlers lagging behind with their variations, considering how many new batting shots we are seeing these days?
A – “When T20 arrived batsman became more and more innovative as the game moved from a “technical game” to an “outcome game”. Years ago you had to look technically good but today if you get the ball to the boundary it doesn’t really matter how you do it. The problem is that it has created flaws in the batsmen techniques. Something similar happened to bowlers. As they tried to combat the innovation of the batsmen, they tried to develop more and more variations. They ended up trying to bowl six different balls per over to six different fields particularly in the death overs. The problem then became too many innovations and not enough specific skills and many lost the ability to simply bowl a consistent line and length and one of the reasons we don’t see many genuine swing bowlers anymore. That is the main reason I have a “detox” session for them after the chaos of a T20 match. In short I’d rather have a bowler who is really good and reliable at bowling four of five deliveries than a bowler who was OK at bowling ten different deliveries. If a captain knows exactly what delivery his bowler is going to bowl, then he can set a field for him. So what you are seeing is not a lack of innovation but rather the lack of the ability to deliver a specific plan.

Q – Should T20 pitches be a bit more bowler-friendly and less ‘flat’?
A – “I don’t think people enjoy watching a 220 vs 210 game or a desperate scramble to score 120. Somewhere in between is fine by me – a good pitch with something to encourage bowlers and a ‘par score’ of between 160 and 180 is good with me.”

Video link: “It was a slightly surreal experience. We were having a middle practise followed by a net session and there was a crowd of a few hundred people outside the stadium to greet the team, as there always is. So the ground authorities decided it would be a nice gesture to open the gates to two of the stands to allow them to watch. Before we knew it, a few hundred people became a few thousand and then the stands were both full in about half an hour. There were easily 10,000 people watching the team having nets and a middle practise. Obviously they couldn’t do it again because there was no security organised to look after a crowd that size.”


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