Australia news March 4, 2013

Warne's spin on Australian slow bowling


Shane Warne's manifesto for Australian cricket has finally ventured into the area he knows most about: spin bowling. In summing up the underlying reasons for a dreadful dearth in genuinely accomplished spinners around the country, Warne all but acknowledges that his was an impossible act to follow.

While offering the novel suggestion that spin bowlers the world over would benefit from an increase in the height and width of the stumps to compensate for advancements in bats and the reduced size of grounds, Warne's main point revolved around how spinners are viewed in Australia.

He reasoned that spin bowlers are now expected to provide exactly the sort of threat he once did - simultaneously an attacking weapon and defensive bulwark, able to dry up runs then clamber all over an opponent with wickets the moment circumstances changed. This, Warne said, was a commission too great to expect of the vast majority of young slow bowlers.

"I think the problem lies in what we expect from our young spin bowlers and the way they are handled at domestic level by their captains and coaches," Warne wrote. "The attitude should always be about taking wickets and not about economy rates: 4/100 off 25 overs is a good result and better than 2/60 off 25 overs.

"I believe the expectations are too high and the young spinners are put under a lot of pressure to be both attacking wicket takers as well as tight economical bowlers, which is very hard to do.

"My guidelines on what to look for in a young spinner is pretty simple; someone who can spin the ball. Any fast bowler that can swing or make the ball move has a chance to take wickets; if they bowl straight they will struggle. The same criteria applies for spin bowling."

Among the problems faced by young spinners is the expectation, both from themselves and their captains, that they will be capable of bowling equally well across all three formats, when the subtleties and requirements range from first-class matches to Twenty20s is vast.

Warne did not play T20 until his career was entering its twilight - how different might he have turned out if he had been juggling the shortest form with first-class matches and his early Tests in 1992?

"Twenty20 and 50 over cricket are a hindrance in the development of a young spinner as you have to bowl differently in those forms; with so many $'s involved in the various 20/20 competitions around the world, it's not an easy situation," Warne wrote. "This is where the responsibility falls upon the player.

"If the young spinner wants to play Test cricket for Australia, then maybe they have to back themselves to learn how to bowl before taking up the options available to them around the world in the shorter forms of the game.

"Easy to say, I know, but I believe we should identify our top four spinners and put them on a decent contract and have them play nothing but first class cricket for twelve months and then take a view and re-assess."

Lastly, Warne emphasised the importance of a strong, constructive relationship between a spin bowler and his captain. While Michael Clarke has largely set a decent example of this for Australia in recent times, stories are legion of Shield and club captains either misusing their spinners or ignoring them completely.

"They also have to play under a captain who is prepared to back the spinner and play them in all 10-shield games not just in Adelaide or Sydney where the ball spins," Warne wrote. "This way, the spinner gets experience in all the different conditions and the good spinners will adapt and find a way to be successful.

"The more a captain can put a young spinner, and the team for that matter, in situations where they have to learn how to win a game for the team or help contribute to a win, the faster the jar of experience strengthens along with their confidence.

"Nothing beats knowing the captain has faith in you and will back you, as Alan Border did with me when I started. It means a lot, eases your mindset and boosts your confidence."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anupam on March 5, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    @Ozcricketwriter As you say "we need a spin bowling coach" but it whom will be ? Because Lyon is better than warne, murli, gibbs, kumble, saqlain, swann, ajmal, harbhajan, herath, monty. IMO lyon don't need any spin coach & he is the future captain and coach of Aus.

  • j on March 5, 2013, 15:26 GMT

    @ Eight8: Getting a batsman to play on is not a complete victory for a bowler. Just because Tendulkar chopped one back onto to his stumps does not make Lyon spin the ball any more than Ben Hilfenhaus. If you're a fan of spin bowling though, there are years' worth of videos of Swann ripping it square on flat decks to indulge in.

  • stew on March 5, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    makes you really feel for macgill and what a record he would have had

  • Mat on March 5, 2013, 1:37 GMT

    I think the problem goes much deeper than just the current crop of spinners not receiving the experience and the support they need. I have a 10 year old son who has bowled leg spin since he picked up a cricket ball four years ago. He just has a nack for it but now that's he's older and needing to refine his skill finding specialised spin coaching is just about impossible. At clinics the emphasis is on pace bowling while just lip service is paid to spinners. This has the effect of young spinners not receiving the coaching they require but also our young batsman aren't experiencing what it's like to play a spin bowler. No wonder Phil Hughes and co look like rank amateurs against the Indian spinners. There needs to be more focus on identifying these young players with potential as spinners at the grassroots level so they can develop what is without doubt one of the great arts of this amazing sport.

  • Mark on March 4, 2013, 22:48 GMT

    @DylanBrah, excellent point. For us with more games this shouldn't be a problem in England. Though we seem to have had more games the last year or two heavily dominanted by seam and swing bowling with wetter summers. Hardly helping Swann and Monty replacements in future years. Ok we can't control the climate but we could try more with pitches. Historicaly though haven't Australia traditionally been better at producing a superb leggie every decade or two and not so much re finger spin?

  • Adrian on March 4, 2013, 22:46 GMT

    The only problem is the part where he said, "make the stumps taller and wider". Um, Warne? That is never going to happen. The rest of it is decent and I think that it has to be said. We need a spin bowling coach, not just a bowling coach. And we need to pick a bowler who can spin the ball, not just a bowler who takes wickets. Doherty spins the ball more than any other bowler in Australia, while Steve O'Keefe can barely make the ball move. The next biggest spinner of the ball is probably Steve Smith. The problem is that they aren't nurtured.

  • Mark on March 4, 2013, 22:32 GMT

    I am getting pretty sick of several commentators on here, from all countries and I wish their comments would stop being published on this site if nothing sensible can be said. FFL you are an embarrassment to all English fans. If you knew or understood anything about finger spin bowling you would know generally they don't rip the ball that much relative to Warne. I have been watching this series, all three Ozzie spinners have turned the ball. Unfortunately there isn't enough experience, and in the case of the two in this game a lack of control whilst playing excellent players of spin. As Warne alludes to you don't get presented with good finger spinners after a few first class games. Monty and Swann spent years playing first class cricket before playing for England. Even they have had bad times. BTW have you ever tried bowling finger spin?

  • Sacha on March 4, 2013, 21:41 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge, you must have a lot of time on your hands. Another post banging on about how bad anything to do with Australia is. Would be nice to get a change of theme out of you and actually offer something constructive. Think you've missed the mark with Lyon. He can spin the ball, as witnessed by the one he ripped through Tendulkar's defence (think it is the first time he's ever been bowled by an Australian spinner in his whole career).

    He's green and needs to develop his pace, flight, line and some variations, but his stock standard ball certainly is up there for having enough spin and he does get good dip when he is on song.

    You are obviously too busy penning your next Aussie sledging post to actually watch what is going on. Suggest maybe a little bit of a closer look in your own backyard. Since the start of 2011 (not including the current series of both nations) the respective test records are: Eng: 10 wins, 5 losses (19 tests). Aus: 12 wins, 3 losses (20 tests).

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2013, 18:22 GMT

    warne is best spinner off all time,problem is 20/20 cricket ,why i tell u very simple word .in age 19/20 player dont no he play for country or not he work hard for his game. he wants play for country but he also human ,he think if he w ait for sellectors call play test cricket .in this time so many if but going in his mind. he know these year never came back .he cant wait anymore .he think change the game go for 20/20 .test cricket is diffrent game .where u make a mistake from batsman.then u got wicket .diffrent type of abbilty .like warne, kumlble you need patiances .in20/20 only 4 over u dont need wicket only block run .batsman wants quick run he make mistake then out.bowler wants quick money and why he play test cricket 5 day.he wants play ipl,big bash,bpl,slpl,means 20/20 i say here very strongly in future we never seen player like sachin,lara,ponting warne,kumble,pollock,...exmple gambir good test batsman,now where he is,he got 2 millon ipl now fussssssssssss