Commonwealth Bank Series 2011-12

Wasim Akram reveals Starc advice

Daniel Brettig

February 7, 2012

Comments: 116 | Text size: A | A

Mitchell Starc had Gautam Gambhir caught behind, Australia v India, CB Series, 1st ODI, Melbourne, February 5, 2012
Mitchell Starc's half-hour chat to Wasim Akram has brought another dimension to his bowling © Getty Images

Mitchell Starc's presently irresistible blend of swing, speed and direction is all in the wrist - the result of a fiendishly simple piece of advice from Wasim Akram.

Since a brief meeting with Wasim at the SCG nets during the New Year's Test against India, Starc has plucked 14 wickets at 13.42 in all competitions, finding the rhythm to test the very best batsmen.

Twice he has removed Sachin Tendulkar, lbw to a ball curling back in the Perth Test, then pouched in the gully as he stretched to cover a Starc delivery snaking across him in Sunday's Melbourne ODI. That dismissal was largely the result of the batsman's knowledge that he could just as easily received a delivery that swung back: exactly the sort of doubt a left-arm bowler must create.

Watching it all from the commentary box has been Wasim, who said his words to Starc had focused on sending the ball down with a snap or flick of the wrist at the point of delivery, a gambit known to enhance swing. It appears to have done the trick for Starc, who turned heads when he next appeared in the Twenty20 Big Bash League before returning to the national side.

"One thing I like about him is he's got the in-swinger going to the right-hander, he's got the pace, he's tall and he's fit," Wasim told ESPNcricinfo. "When I saw him in the nets we just mainly spoke about the swing bowling and wrist positioning.

"I told him when he comes in to bowl to the right-handers like he does normally, to flick his wrist at the last moment to gain the most swing - the snap. On these wickets [in Australia] if he learns to do that he will get a lot more wickets.

"If he's done well after talking to me for half an hour, the credit goes to him. He's picked it up so well, he's a nice guy and I've told him next time I'm around, I'm here for the one dayers so if he wants to come up to me I would like to have a word to him about reverse swing as well."

Wasim's advice, which also covered how to use the variation from around the wicket to pose more questions for batsmen when the ball lost its shine, was delivered with a healthy helping of encouragement, for the former Pakistan captain liked plenty of what he saw in Starc even before he had seen him bowl in the flesh.

"It is a very simple, beautiful action, an easy action, upright, wrist is straight, everything is very natural to him, so that is a plus," Wasim said. "He's got a bright future. I had a very quick arm action, but his action is very beautiful, nice and smooth. Now he is flicking the wrist he'll be more dangerous and over the next three to four months he is only going to get better. With his action there is less chance of injuries, that's for sure and a good sign for him."

While Starc has benefited from Wasim's empathy for left-arm bowlers, the older man said he was also impressed by the way the Australian attack has been harnessed by a former international foe, Craig McDermott.

"He has a very good coach in Craig McDermott, who has been there and done it himself and he knows the psyche," Wasim said. "I have a problem with coaches who've never played cricket at that level. First-class level, fine, but that level is different. You need to be able to explain it to a youngster that 'look, I have done it' and that's how they pick things up very quickly."

Starc is not the only left-armer Wasim is hoping to aid during his time in Australia he is also open to working with Mitchell Johnson during his rehabilitation from foot surgery. Their paths may yet cross in Perth this week while the triangular series visits the west.

"Being a left-arm bowler I can explain much more to left-armers than right-armers. The wrist positioning, angle, the crease," Wasim said. "I remember seeing Johnson three years ago in South Africa, he was bringing the ball back in, he was getting wickets left, right and centre, but after that series it was gone.

"Being a left-arm bowler at this level if you don't have the in-swing you'll be struggling, you're not going to get many wickets. I can work with him and if he can get in touch I would love to help him - he's a very talented cricketer, and he has a future as well, as long as he can get his in-swing back."

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

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Posted by   on (February 10, 2012, 17:04 GMT)

Completely agree with many of the comments posted. Wasim should get out there and coach more. As for India, they need to get their act together in a multitude of ways, not just coaching, though having Wasim as a bowling coach would be a dream come true!

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (February 10, 2012, 14:40 GMT)

Dennis Lillee's MRF Pace Foundation should be scrapped. He is screwing up Indian's youngsters. I strongly feel that's what he is happening to our young pacers in India. His action was aweful (career threatening injury). Same applies to Waqar and Shane Bond. Lillee had to change his action to survive. Compare that to natural pacers like Wasim, Holding, Kapil, Garner, Marshall, Imran, Roberts, Allan Donald - pure pace poetry in motion - injury free backs for their entire careers.

Posted by Number_5 on (February 8, 2012, 23:18 GMT)

@SirEngland apologies for not understanding paid work doesn't count as "help". Although by the tone of it all i doubt any response would count. Great to see past legends of the game helping up and coming players, paid or not.

Posted by Peterincanada on (February 8, 2012, 22:01 GMT)

Two greatest left armers were Wasim and Davidson. They were totally different in their actions and approach. Davidson's action was classic. Wasim had a very short delivery stride and hence used more arm and shoulder. But it shows that there is more than one way to bowl in order to be great.

My favorite memory of Wasim was the1992 world cup final. Pakistan batted first on a flat pitch, with little movement which was very batsman friendly. Then Wasim came onto bowl and it was as if they had changed pitches during the interval. The ball was suddenly rising sharply and dangerously when just short of a length or swinging around corners when pitched up. It was a man against boys with predictable results.

Posted by adnan_rifat84 on (February 8, 2012, 20:06 GMT)

The time when Wasim used to bowl I always wished may he not get retire from Pakistan Team, I had lot respect for him as a bowler but as far as far as coaching concern he have double standard, e.g: PCB try to hire him many times but he always said he is unavailable for coaching and he can't go to (PAKISTANI) youngsters by himself to teach them how to swing the bowl, they have to come towards me by them self (tell me Mr. Wasim since you get retire how much time you spend in your own country and foreign countries (India & Australia). You always have time for Indian & Aussies to coach them, you always go by yourself to grounds on NET PRACTICE sessions and teach both team bowlers how to swing the bowl but you don't have time for your own country !!! May be its the big cricket boards and big money there for you. We have Aqib Javed & Waqar Younis (both could take much wickets than you but because of your politics both bowlers end up there career very soon) better than you.

Posted by PiyushD on (February 8, 2012, 13:30 GMT)

Problem with Indian board and bowlers is their ego that does not allow them to accept that they lack something, they think they are the best, eric simmons is surely not upto the point but all in the world except Indian board can see, even if they get Donald or Wasim as coach it will not do wonders unless that advice is taken seriously and the shortcoming removed by hard work.

Posted by SirEngland on (February 8, 2012, 10:49 GMT)

@Number_5, I don't need to do any research mate. Dennis Lillee was employed. He wouldn't give free advice.

Posted by Number_5 on (February 8, 2012, 9:33 GMT)

@SirEngland, do some research on the work Dennis Lillee has done with his MRF pace bowling academy in India.

Posted by Arun_sambasivam on (February 8, 2012, 3:47 GMT)

@insightfulcricketer- you r correct,Wasim openly offered to coach Indian seamers.but,Pakistan wanted one thing from india which is unacceptable by indians. AFTER RETIREMENT S.R.TENDULKAR have to coach Pakistan batsmans.

Posted by   on (February 8, 2012, 2:06 GMT)

Completely agree with many of the comments posted. Wasim should get out there and coach more. As for India, they need to get their act together in a multitude of ways, not just coaching, though having Wasim as a bowling coach would be a dream come true!

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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