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'The New Zealand Rolls Royce of fast bowling'
Part ten: Allan Donald on the most intimidating bowlers he has watched. This week: Richard Hadlee
Produced by: Gokul Chakravarthy, Suketu Mehta; Interviewer: Nagraj Gollapudi
July 16, 2013
'The New Zealand Rolls Royce of fast bowling'July 16, 2013
I played against Richard Hadlee when Clive Rice was the captain of Nottinghamshire and Richard Hadlee was finishing his last season for Notts. He was the New Zealand Rolls Royce of fast bowlers with over 400 Test wickets, and just cleaned us [Warwickshire] up quietly.
I toured New Zealand in 1994 and bought a video of Richard Hadlee where he spoke about just his overall thinking about bowling and how he paid a lot of attention to the way he trained. He studied his own batsmen very well. He made sure that every net practice he was at, he tried to put himself in a Test match environment all the time by trying to out-think his own batsmen. He used to simulate Test-match intensity in these net practice sessions.
England toured New Zealand [1983-84] and New Zealand turned them over. England never respected New Zealand enough but Hadlee was unbelievable in that series. This was a series where he was criticised for shortening his run-up, which happened as a result of playing county cricket.
Hadlee was brisk pace but he had very good control over the ball. He was quick to understand that he had to be close to the batsmen to study how they moved. To know if they were good back-foot players or front-foot players, how they left the ball… and he taught himself what to do if they are good back-foot players or front-foot players. For a young bowler like me, it was like homework that you've never done before. Now we get all this video material and we get bored of it sometimes, but Hadlee was quick to figure out batsmen.
Hadlee was a nasty piece of work for his time. He was well known for having a chat but he also knew how and when to pick his victims. He was a real smart bowler. If I look at McGrath and I look at Hadlee, they are very similar. Similar in how they were close to the stumps and very over the top, used their wrists real smart, with little tweaks.
Hadlee was the go-to man for New Zealand at that time. He made things happen for them. He could swing the ball both ways. He also had a mean streak about him, as is evident from the video footage available of him hitting batsmen on their head. The nine-for that he took in Brisbane was just phenomenal bowling.
A lot of people would say, why include Richard Hadlee in a list of intimidating bowlers. But it's not all about real out-and-out quick bowlers. He was intimidating because he was so smart about assessing conditions, out-thinking the opponents, and he knew when to pounce on people.
It's fantastic picking his brains. I learnt from him how to out-think batsmen, and that is why I put him in the bracket that I did.
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