The contents for our book ‘A Leading Edge for Captains’ came about through our personal observations of events in school and club cricket, with the catalyst for writing coming from a session where it became apparent that an U15 boy had no idea of where he should place his fielders.
Today at training, it became apparent that some of our U14 age bowlers were struggling to adjust to find the right line. ‘But it would have hit the stumps, sir’, was the general response to the leg stump in-swingers that the batters easily tucked into the leg side for what would, in a game situation, be frustrating strike rotating singles.
In asking the bowlers to hit the top of off stump, unsurprisingly, this becomes the area of focus for them and although the ball leaves the hand on the right line, the bowler is not allowing for the movement they (often unknowingly) get through the air. The result, in the case of the left arm over seam bowler in question today, was that he constantly saw the ball thud into the thigh bad or disappear down towards fine leg.
In practice sessions, it is so important that the bowler tinkers and make small adjustments in his or her technique, assessing the results to find out how they can further improve their competencies. For example, a seamer who adjusts how far forward the ball is held in the fingers and how tightly the fingers grip the ball will find difference in what happens to the delivery. It is a matter of trial and error, and if they try enough, the will hit on something that works for them.
In finding the correct line, the bowler needs to appreciate how much the ball is moving in the air. When the movement is understood, a suitable target at the far end can be located and the ball set off on this line allowing the ball to swing to end up on or around off stump. In the case of the left arm over bowler today, in releasing the ball on off stump, the delivery was hitting or just missing leg stump at the far end. The adjustment necessary is made based on this information, and with the ball and conditions today, the bowler settled on a target of the wicket keeper’s right glove (to a right handed batter).
On another day and with another ball, there may be more or less movement. In identifying the difference between where you are aiming and where the ball ends up, you can quickly find a suitable target. When located, put the stumps and batter out of your mind and set the ball off aiming at the identified target, allowing the ball to end up on off stump where, ultimately, you will cause the most problems.