June 20, 2006

A little something for the weekend

A review of The Fast Bowler's Bible, which promises to make you bowl quicker

I'm a simple girl and I don't ask for much: the odd beer and curry and I'm pretty happy. But hang on now, because one man could be about to sweep me right off my feet and make my dreams come true.

It's going to take a bold man. But this man is a bold man with some bold claims. Maybe he's the one. He's certainly confident: this man thinks, nay, believes ... he can make me bowl faster. And you, too, for that matter.

This man is Ian Pont, Essex fast-bowling coach and former first-class player, who has remodelled Darren Gough's action and helped to make Ronnie Irani a World Cup player in 2003. And now he's written a book which claims to reveal the secrets of fast bowling.

The book also touches on reverse swing, bowling the slower ball and, of course, how to bowl bouncers and yorkers. It tells you where speed comes from, and looks at the action, too. But what's most exciting is Pont's promise that you can increase your speed without losing your accuracy.

"I wanted to put in there all the new stuff that people like Flintoff and Harmison and Jones and Hoggard are using up at the ECB Academy at Loughborough," Pont explains. "Advanced biomechanics - how the action works. When bowlers understand their bowling actions, how to bowl straight and fast, they use it naturally."

Pont, a self-styled maverick, has cornered the market here. He's the only one to have written all this stuff down and, while his techniques may not be endorsed by the ECB - "They're about injury prevention, I'm about bowling fast" - they certainly demystify biomechanics and are laid down in a straightforward way.

"It's not a Harry Potter novel," he warns - yet, frankly, thank God for that - "but it is a good read and you can read it in a weekend." Well, it is a long read and you do need patience to wade through the text-heavy pages, although the language - designed to appeal to young Lee wannabes and the, erm, more mature reader who perhaps styles himself on Gus Fraser - is certainly accessible.

It's also a bit clumsy to take a book down to a net and walk through the paces, as Pont advises, but this is not a fashion parade, right?! This is about bowling faster. And there are photographs to help you which, although in old-school black and white, are enough to give you an idea of what to do.

But don't expect instant results. You will need to do thousands of repeats to build up enough muscle memory. And at £12.99 the book's not cheap - but what price success?

Buy it now

Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo