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April 9, 2012

England in Sri Lanka 2011-12

Grabbing spin nuggets off Swanny

Jarrod Kimber
Graeme Swann inspects a ball during practice, Colombo, March 23, 2011
After eavesdropping on Swann and Randiv's nerd spin talk, who wouldn't want to hit the nets and turn their arm over?  © AFP
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The last day of a Test Match is often like a town that has lost its main industry. The structure is still the same, but the town has that eerie walking-dead feel to it. There are many reasons why people don't come, but they're all nonsense. It's massively underpopulated, better seats are available, you don't have to line up for food as long, it’s cheaper and you're guaranteed to see the end of the match. I've been lucky over the years, I've seen a Warne hat-trick, an incredible Kallis hundred, and Freddie Flintoff bowl Australia out in one match and throw them out in another.

The best part is often not even the cricket. The last day is your chance to see a carnival atmosphere at a Test match. Everyone from the players to the security guards are more relaxed. Things are being packed up, players mingle with fans and weirdness can happen.

On day five at Galle, I ended up being given a beer by the president of the SLC, was cheered on for my suits by the Sri Lankan support staff and walked past the trucks that were clearing out the toilets.

On day five at the P Sara, I listened to a conversation.

Now I'm well aware that this conversation may not have interested everyone, but when Suraj Randiv and Graeme Swann found each other out on the ground, I knew what they were talking about. You could tell by their hands that it was nerd spin talk.

To get close enough to hear I had to push through the crowd who were holding up English kit that had been thrown to them by the players, police officers who were standing there without really doing anything and the throng of people trying to take photos of Swann. I got as close to Randiv and Swann as the massive English security officer would let me. Then I had to block out the many fans who were planning to get something signed the minute the conversation ended.

The first bits I heard where Swann talking about wrist position. My persistence had paid off. For the next three minutes I was listening to a spin bowling masterclass. Randiv had clearly asked Swann about his action and whether he imparted too much over-spin on the ball. Swann explained his own action, and suggested that too much over-spin wasn't a problem for Randiv as he still ragged it.

Wrists, fingers, arm height and follow through were all discussed as Randiv, and I, listened intently. Randiv, Swanny's Padawan learner, and me, the lucky eavesdropper.

The conversation ended with Swanny being very complimentary to Randiv about his bowling. He never said ‘attaboy’, but it was one of those sorts of conversations. I assume it boosted Randiv; even I was ready to hit the nets and try a few offies to see if Swann's words could help me. And I'm a leggie.

The last day of a Test, whether it be the third, fourth or fifth day, can contain a nugget or two of magic, on or off the pitch, during or after the game.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Migara on (April 11, 2012, 14:43 GMT)

It's nice for spinners to have a talk. But as "growtiger" points out Randiv doesn't need half of spin as Swann to get wickets. He just needs to beat batsmen off the length. At the moment Randiv's deliveries bounce so much, bats,men tend to play him on back foot even on good length deliveries. What he needs is a straight ball that will keep low and rush towards left handers and a off break that keeps low as well. Both can be done by letting the shiny side of the ball to hit the pitch. his will make playing on the back foot risky and Randiv's bounce become much more important when batsmen play on the front foot. I am puzzled why SL coaches fail to point this out

Posted by SDHoneymonster on (April 10, 2012, 23:12 GMT)

Growltiger - I'm pretty sure the doosra has something to do with it. It seems to me that a couple of young spinners coming through - Randiv and Ashwin to be precise - have spent as much, if not more time, perfecting the doosra before thinking about their stock off-break, and their stock ball seems to have suffered because of it.

Posted by ihateipl on (April 10, 2012, 10:23 GMT)

we need more characters like Swann in world cricket. Off-spin being made too complicated by the current bunch of Asian bowlers, just to take benefit of the ICC's inaction on chucking. Follow Swann, how a traditional and clean action can buy you bucketful of wickets

Posted by James on (April 10, 2012, 7:51 GMT)

Great stuff, Kimber you always do a great job. My only regret is that you were not around to cover the Series in the UAE.

Posted by Samuel on (April 10, 2012, 1:26 GMT)

Good to see that Swann isn't afraid to give tips to a player from another team. Spinners are a bit like guitarists, they always love to share their tricks and secrets!

Posted by Andyzaltzmannshair on (April 9, 2012, 22:26 GMT)

Yeah, but he's no Saeed Ajmal is he...

Posted by growltiger on (April 9, 2012, 6:52 GMT)

That's real reporting. Fantastic. I'm sure Randiv will take something away from this awesome pep-talk. But he will never spin the ball half as much as Swann unless he completely changes his action, to get that wonderful sweep of the arm, which is where most of the revs must come from (Swann's action is the nearest thing you could find to the 1953 film of Jim Laker, taken from mid-wicket at the Oval). Randiv tip-toes to the wicket and gives it a rather genteel twirl. Another thing about Swann is that he seems to get much more thumb into the actual spinning of the ball than most off-break bowlers.

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