'The role of the captain is vital' August 27, 2007

Spinners should be introduced earlier - Dipak Patel

'The problem with many captains is that they tend to use spinners either too attackingly as too defensively' - Patel © Siddhartha Vaidyanathan

Spin bowlers should be encouraged to bowl more in the early overs of one-day games, says Dipak Patel, the former New Zealand offspinner who famously opened the bowling in the 1992 World Cup.

Patel's comments come in the wake of Rahul Dravid's comments about the Powerplay rule, saying an extra fielder outside the circle would encourage spinners during that phase of the game.

"The problem with many captains is that they tend to use spinners either too attackingly as too defensively," said Patel when asked about the modification. "Spinners need to be used smartly, with inside out-fields. You need to attack and defend at the same time."

Martin Crowe, the former captain, and Warren Lees, the former New Zealand wicketkeeper who was appointed coach, came up with a plan to open the bowling with Patel in the 1992 World Cup. On small grounds with fielding restrictions in operation, Patel ended with eight wickets in as many games with an economy-rate as impressive as 3.10.

"The role of the captain is vital. I was lucky to have Martin leading me and he knew exactly where to place the fielders when I was bowling," said Patel, currently in England doing research on spinners for the High Performance wing of the New Zealand board. "He always used to tell me, 'We're going to keep the runs down at the other end. So you throw it up and try to get them out. They'll try and hit you and give their wickets.' And that's exactly what happened."

But how easy is it for a spinner to be bowling with a hard, white ball? "It's great, especially with such a prominent seam. It helps your grip and turns enough to beat the bat. I sometimes think spinners look for too much turn these days. You just need an inch or so."

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is assistant editor of Cricinfo