December 19, 2011

In praise of the natural game

Injuries in cricket aren't only because of a heavy workload. There's also something wrong with how young players are being coached
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For a while now, excessive cricket was offered and accepted as the reason for the growing number of injuries to players, but that doesn't hold up so well anymore. With injuries to blossoming talents like Varun Aaron, Pat Cummins, Shaun Marsh, players who have not even worked up a sweat at the international level, we have come to realise that heavy workload is not the cause of all injuries.

It may not be a bad idea for cricket boards to take another look at the training methods employed in the development of young cricketers as they graduate to the international level. Kapil Dev missed just one match in his Test career, and that was because he was dropped by the selectors for playing an indiscreet shot in a game India lost. My fellow studio panelist during the India-West Indies series recently, Courtney Walsh, was not much different. In fact, no fast bowler has bowled more balls in Test cricket than Walsh did, and he had a relatively negligible number of injuries.

Kapil and Walsh had one important common feature: they both had natural bowling actions; actions they stuck with right from the time they were kids to the veterans they became of over a hundred Test matches each.

We often disregard things that come naturally to us; we just don't seem to respect them or value them as much, but what surprises me is that most coaches too seem to be indifferent to nature's gifts when it comes to young cricketers.

In his crucial formative years Walsh grew up under the eye of Michael Holding, one of the most intelligent cricketers I have met, so it's no surprise he retained his natural bowling style. Ramakant Achrekar and AN Sharma, the coaches of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag respectively, were able to mould such phenomenal talents because they did one critical thing right: they mostly kept their mouths shut and let nature take its course.

Modernisation can be wonderful, and I only have to look at my mobile phone to know that, but one of the concerns in cricket today is the number of "modern" coaches bringing in "modern" methods, often at the cost of cricketing common sense. I always regret that the really shrewd cricketing brains in the game, like Imran Khan and Mark Taylor, have not chosen to coach. The game is definitely poorer because of that.

I can't understand the state of affairs in West Indies cricket, where Ottis Gibson, who has played only two Tests, and David Williams (11 Tests), are the coaches who help the captain plan and prepare tactics needed to win Tests. Robert Haynes (eight ODIs), Clyde Butts (seven Tests) and Courtney Browne (20 Tests) are the selectors, men in charge of the destiny of West Indies cricket. And guess who are travelling with the team but not playing roles as influential? Richie Richardson (86 Tests) and Desmond Haynes (116 Tests). I know great cricketers do not necessarily make great coaches and selectors, but the experience of having played the game at the highest level for so long should count for something, shouldn't it?

Cricketers who have had long and successful careers have one thing in common: they always simplified the game for themselves. Isn't that a basic characteristic you desperately need in mentors - the ability to simplify the game for the young and the naïve?

A natural bowling action or a natural batting style is a motion that has the blessing of the individual's body. Over the years the individual develops a certain style because it's what the body's frame is most comfortable with

On a visit to a state academy in India, I saw a junior coach getting all his young fast bowlers to run in to bowl with golf balls in their armpits. This was to get them to run in one prescribed, copybook way. The coach, perhaps, was too absorbed in his coaching manual to realise that the top 10 great fast bowlers all had different styles of running in.

Another cricket academy method of today I am not a big fan of is video analysis, and I am glad a few current stalwarts of the game have felt just as strongly about it when I have brought it up with them. It has become common these days to show a young kid video evidence of where he is going wrong. Seems like a sound concept, but the problem is that any video evidence tends to exaggerate the flaw. There is a great danger of a sensitive, eager young mind getting affected by it and being consumed by the need to rid himself of the flaw, in turn, affecting the areas of his game that are fine.

I shudder to imagine what would have happened to 14-year-old Brian Lara had he been shown a video of how high his back-lift was. A 12-year-old Tendulkar shown a close-up of how his grip was wrong; a freeze-frame of Sehwag's still feet at the time of receiving a delivery. Or a young Kapil shown his extremely side-on bowling action and told how it would surely destroy his lower back in the future unless he changed his bowling action.

Thank god these incredible talents were mostly left alone by their junior coaches. For that the cricketing world shall be ever grateful to them. Let me also add that these players were very smart and would quickly have found the exit door of any academy that tried to make them to change their basic game. But not all young talents are as sharp.

When I watched Aaron the first time I saw so many things to like about him, like the obvious pace and the wrist position every time he delivered the ball, but his bowling action and run-up looked a little manufactured - as if somebody had got hold of him early and put golf balls in his armpits.

A natural bowling action or a natural batting style is a motion that has the blessing of the individual's body. Over the years the individual develops a certain style because it is what the body's frame is most comfortable with. If an unnatural movement is introduced, the body will eventually get somewhat used to it, but reluctantly, so it should come as no surprise when one day it starts to protest.

Coaches have to be mindful of this, and think a thousand times, if not a million, before they decide to change a player's natural style.

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Leggie on December 22, 2011, 12:26 GMT

    Agree with all that is written about natural style, modern coaching techniques etc. However, I feel a wonderful article digresses when it talks about the state of West Indies cricket and their coaches not having played Test cricket. This completely contradicts the entire line of thinking where we say that best coaches need not be best themselves like in Ramakant Achrekar and AN Sharma!! Some of the other finest coaches I can think of are Duncan Fletcher, John Wright and Bob Woolmer who were extremely good in their playing days but were never really "greats". However they achieved this excellence in coaching and they achieved greatness in the coaching arena. On the same lines, some of greats who got into coaching never succeeded - a classic example being Kapil himself!

  • Alexk400 on December 21, 2011, 1:19 GMT

    I am obsessed with india finding real fast bowlers. I think if you can't run fast you can't bowl fast. if you run fast you have sufficient strength in the legs for the upper body. Instead of india finding and looking for bowlers , india should find 100m runners who probably have sufficient strength. It is easy to teach people bowling when they start from scratch. All they need is faster running physique. Then strengthen leg muscle for abrupt stop...because you put lots of energy to stop and ankle and knee buckle if you come at fast speed. Indian bowkers are content with medium level achievement becsuse of economic reasons. Because after certain level success , returns are less.if pakistan can find tons of natural fast bowler , india can also. It is selection policies for bowlers is almost same as batsman in lower levels. You get in if you know someone in cricket circles. Otherwise no one cares. I think india need scouting system like in baseball for finding potential fast bowlers.

  • Alexk400 on December 21, 2011, 1:07 GMT

    I am not sure it is good article or pearls of wisdom..just timely article to aware of why bowlers get injured often. Anyone who uses less energy and get more output are the efficient bowler. But that does n't mean great bowler just he reached his max potential. To be great bowler , you need a good bone gene and muscles at right place. Proper gym weight lifting exercize that can target joint muscle improvement. There is one thing in my mind , what happen to all tall people in west indies? Did they all switch to athletics and Baseball? Seems like it. For indian bowler concern , you can't be even a decent bowler without good protein diet. if you do not eat meat and fish , you should n't be fast bowler. You can't excel. You will stuck in one gear. Tall bowler like ishant sharma is not doing two things , not hitting the gym especially leg exercizes. Gym helps you to stablize your body. Every time you put force on joint , the muscles goes away. You must rejunevate or will get injured often

  • on December 20, 2011, 22:24 GMT

    What a wonderful perspective. Impressive and noteworthy at the same time. Kind of agree that natural way of doing things should not be suppressed- Kapil being the prime example ofcourse.

  • on December 20, 2011, 20:10 GMT

    but you also have guys like Waqar Younis, he kept his natural slingy action all through his career and suffered any injuries through it

  • BellCurve on December 20, 2011, 19:08 GMT

    Poor Sanjay. Maybe he could have scored more than 4 Test centuries if some random junior coach had not corrupted his natural batting technique. Maybe he could have averaged more than 37 in Test cricket. Now we will never know the extent of his natural ability and true greatness.

  • on December 20, 2011, 17:59 GMT

    the problem lies in the fact that coaches are getting paid for all these nonsense, and to keep hold of their positions, they continuously have to 'look busy' with players, and that's where these naive 'techniques' come in.

  • on December 20, 2011, 17:53 GMT

    very sane and I totally agree with you Sanjay

  • Kratos2waR on December 20, 2011, 15:49 GMT

    Sanjay, no disrespect to your point of view, but it is impossible to accuse coaches trying to induce things to change the way a bowler bowls, which leads to injury. Yes you do have the greats that bowled with their natural actions and rarely were injured. But then you also have bowlers who could've been potential greats, but their natural actions broke them down. Shoaib Akhtar, Flintoff, Tait, Malinga, Bishop to name a few. They were all unique in their own way, but suffered because of their natural actions. Then you have bowlers like Lee and Zaheer Khan, who have smooth flowing bowing actions that were never tampered with, but they too break down. Bottom line, some athletes could use the help in their developing years, but who is tell if a unique bowling action or a coached one is going to cause injuries. Everyone's body is different, if it breaks down, so be it. No one is to blame, not the bowler's natural action nor the coach.

  • IndTheBest on December 20, 2011, 15:03 GMT

    Sanjay, you raised points about fitness and coaching experience. Mr. Achrekar does not have experience of playing test cricket but he was a good coach. So coaching and paying are two different skills. Sachin is a legend of the game but he may not be a good coach/leader. So I do not agree on your this point. Even take your example, you are a journalist (now) has no coaching experience but can easily dare to question coaches' ability. Right? Second point about player's fitness - yes I agree that it's a concern. Tendulkar ad sehwag both are the batsman (not the bowler who has more fitness issues) and changed their action when they were kids. It's okay to evaluate the technology to raise your game but you also need to introduce professional fitness coaches who understand your body and suggest the right exercise to sustain at highest level. Technology and strategy helps your team win, you can't ignore this. Every individual has a responsibility to maintain their fitness.

  • Leggie on December 22, 2011, 12:26 GMT

    Agree with all that is written about natural style, modern coaching techniques etc. However, I feel a wonderful article digresses when it talks about the state of West Indies cricket and their coaches not having played Test cricket. This completely contradicts the entire line of thinking where we say that best coaches need not be best themselves like in Ramakant Achrekar and AN Sharma!! Some of the other finest coaches I can think of are Duncan Fletcher, John Wright and Bob Woolmer who were extremely good in their playing days but were never really "greats". However they achieved this excellence in coaching and they achieved greatness in the coaching arena. On the same lines, some of greats who got into coaching never succeeded - a classic example being Kapil himself!

  • Alexk400 on December 21, 2011, 1:19 GMT

    I am obsessed with india finding real fast bowlers. I think if you can't run fast you can't bowl fast. if you run fast you have sufficient strength in the legs for the upper body. Instead of india finding and looking for bowlers , india should find 100m runners who probably have sufficient strength. It is easy to teach people bowling when they start from scratch. All they need is faster running physique. Then strengthen leg muscle for abrupt stop...because you put lots of energy to stop and ankle and knee buckle if you come at fast speed. Indian bowkers are content with medium level achievement becsuse of economic reasons. Because after certain level success , returns are less.if pakistan can find tons of natural fast bowler , india can also. It is selection policies for bowlers is almost same as batsman in lower levels. You get in if you know someone in cricket circles. Otherwise no one cares. I think india need scouting system like in baseball for finding potential fast bowlers.

  • Alexk400 on December 21, 2011, 1:07 GMT

    I am not sure it is good article or pearls of wisdom..just timely article to aware of why bowlers get injured often. Anyone who uses less energy and get more output are the efficient bowler. But that does n't mean great bowler just he reached his max potential. To be great bowler , you need a good bone gene and muscles at right place. Proper gym weight lifting exercize that can target joint muscle improvement. There is one thing in my mind , what happen to all tall people in west indies? Did they all switch to athletics and Baseball? Seems like it. For indian bowler concern , you can't be even a decent bowler without good protein diet. if you do not eat meat and fish , you should n't be fast bowler. You can't excel. You will stuck in one gear. Tall bowler like ishant sharma is not doing two things , not hitting the gym especially leg exercizes. Gym helps you to stablize your body. Every time you put force on joint , the muscles goes away. You must rejunevate or will get injured often

  • on December 20, 2011, 22:24 GMT

    What a wonderful perspective. Impressive and noteworthy at the same time. Kind of agree that natural way of doing things should not be suppressed- Kapil being the prime example ofcourse.

  • on December 20, 2011, 20:10 GMT

    but you also have guys like Waqar Younis, he kept his natural slingy action all through his career and suffered any injuries through it

  • BellCurve on December 20, 2011, 19:08 GMT

    Poor Sanjay. Maybe he could have scored more than 4 Test centuries if some random junior coach had not corrupted his natural batting technique. Maybe he could have averaged more than 37 in Test cricket. Now we will never know the extent of his natural ability and true greatness.

  • on December 20, 2011, 17:59 GMT

    the problem lies in the fact that coaches are getting paid for all these nonsense, and to keep hold of their positions, they continuously have to 'look busy' with players, and that's where these naive 'techniques' come in.

  • on December 20, 2011, 17:53 GMT

    very sane and I totally agree with you Sanjay

  • Kratos2waR on December 20, 2011, 15:49 GMT

    Sanjay, no disrespect to your point of view, but it is impossible to accuse coaches trying to induce things to change the way a bowler bowls, which leads to injury. Yes you do have the greats that bowled with their natural actions and rarely were injured. But then you also have bowlers who could've been potential greats, but their natural actions broke them down. Shoaib Akhtar, Flintoff, Tait, Malinga, Bishop to name a few. They were all unique in their own way, but suffered because of their natural actions. Then you have bowlers like Lee and Zaheer Khan, who have smooth flowing bowing actions that were never tampered with, but they too break down. Bottom line, some athletes could use the help in their developing years, but who is tell if a unique bowling action or a coached one is going to cause injuries. Everyone's body is different, if it breaks down, so be it. No one is to blame, not the bowler's natural action nor the coach.

  • IndTheBest on December 20, 2011, 15:03 GMT

    Sanjay, you raised points about fitness and coaching experience. Mr. Achrekar does not have experience of playing test cricket but he was a good coach. So coaching and paying are two different skills. Sachin is a legend of the game but he may not be a good coach/leader. So I do not agree on your this point. Even take your example, you are a journalist (now) has no coaching experience but can easily dare to question coaches' ability. Right? Second point about player's fitness - yes I agree that it's a concern. Tendulkar ad sehwag both are the batsman (not the bowler who has more fitness issues) and changed their action when they were kids. It's okay to evaluate the technology to raise your game but you also need to introduce professional fitness coaches who understand your body and suggest the right exercise to sustain at highest level. Technology and strategy helps your team win, you can't ignore this. Every individual has a responsibility to maintain their fitness.

  • rob_damn on December 20, 2011, 14:47 GMT

    @RandyOZ... Mate, r u talking about rickey ponting.... if so then i guess you are right.... As far as Tendulkar is concerned, he is still better than ur whole team combined....

  • on December 20, 2011, 14:42 GMT

    why bowlers like praveen,munaf,srisanth,nehra who neither bowl express pace nor play too much cricket get injured so repeatedly

  • DaisonGarvasis on December 20, 2011, 12:23 GMT

    I am no expert but if there are flaws in one's action coach can rectify it. i.e., if the coach knows one cant swing the ball with a particular wrist position it has to be rectified. but yeah, those examples by Sanjay are so true and at the same time they come once in millions. I mean, how can one Sehwag come in and make everybody say, "he doesnt move his feet, all he's got is 'hand eye coordination" and then slam two tripple hundreds average more than 50 and make opposition captains think ten times before going for a "sporting declartion" in a test - JUST HAND EYE COORDINATION!!! I would say those examples are the exceptions to the rules. However there should be a balance on to how much "tweeking" should be natural action of a player while rectifying the flaws.

  • reach2arif on December 20, 2011, 11:55 GMT

    The article comes from one of the mature minds in cricket... Seldom, coaches fail to realize the importance of natural instinct... If Arjuna Ranatunga was made to shed his weight by half to make it to the team, we might not have witnessed Sri Lanka lifting the WC... I feel, It has something to do with the food habits as well... The era of Holding, Walsh, Kapil, Imran, Botham and Lilly had no control over food... They ate whatever interested them. They traded it to their working ethics !!! That day is not far, where a cricketer will be rested after each game... !!!

  • 2929paul on December 20, 2011, 9:50 GMT

    Coaches - good ones at least - coach the player, not the manual. It is wrong of the "oldies" to assume that modern coaches want everyone to bowl with the same actions, or bat in the same way. Far from it, they are looking for players with something a little different, someone to give them the edge. Bowling injuries in early life, whilst the body is still developing, stem from over bowling and from dangerous, mixed actions i.e. where the hips and shoulders are not aligned. A "classic" side on action is perfectly safe as the hips and shoulder align down the pitch towards the batsman. It used to be considered the best way to bowl and swing the ball and coaches do not coach it out of bowlers today. Gym sessions for fast bowlers are not concentrated on upper body strength but on core strength in the lower back, speed training, stamina and leg strength. Chris Tremlett has improved his bowling and fitness since he stopped concentrating on upper body and started working on the correct elements

  • sweetspot on December 20, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    Sanjay, you brought up a very good question. While on the subject of bowlers breaking down, very few of today's fast bowlers after Makhaya Ntini are natural runners. They cannot run 10 kilometres in one go. 95% of a fast bowler's work is running. If you are not able to do the most natural of athletic actions like running very well, you won't last very long as a bowler. Kapil almost never went to the gym. Kris Srikkanth used to smoke AND run a lot! Makhaya Ntini ran 10 km hard every day - that was his workout! And boy, was he fit! Weight training is good only if weight adds to the most natural workouts in the right proportion. But bulking up is not going to make anyone fitter. Stronger yes, in certain places, but not fitter. I can guarantee Dale Steyn is not going to get bigger. A lot of running at a young age can make one fit for many years. Think Munaf Patel ever went running? I mean, seriously? Has he ever been FIT? Fitness takes painstaking work. Who is up for it?

  • RandyOZ on December 20, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    A shame tendulkar doesn't just retire 'naturally' because naturally he's no good anymore!

  • Mark00 on December 20, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    Weight training is the real reason for the injuries as well as loss of pace. Bowling and throwing (baseball) require a coordinated movement of muscles and tendons that can only be done safely when there's a certain balance of strength and stretchiness between all those body parts. Training certain muscles to become proficient at lifting a weight (up and down movement isolated from other muscles groups) disrupts that balance. If you look at the best bowlers and pitchers (baseball), you will see that they all have only their natural musculature. Bulking up in the gym results in injuries and loss of pace.

  • bouncer3459 on December 20, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    Sanjay you sure are not far behind Holding, Chappell as a great thinker of the Game.

  • johnathonjosephs on December 20, 2011, 4:34 GMT

    It has nothing to do with heavy workload, it has to do with extremely spoiled fast bowlers nowadays. Agreed that certain fast bowlers like Malinga, Bond, Tait, and Akhtar bowl with such an action and such a speed that it does put effect on body. But players like Zaheer, Broad, Anderson, and spin bowlers have really no excuse. They're not bowling enough in the nets and simple hamstring strains and "groin strains" are pathetic really. When have strains turned into "injuries"? Last time I checked, when somebody gets a muscle sprained, you walk it off or continue: it was just a little pain that you had to deal with. Bowlers in the 80's, i'm sure, had these "sprains and aches" so many times, but they still played with it.

  • on December 20, 2011, 3:24 GMT

    Excellent article - well thought out, precisely pointing out the maladies of present day cricketers. It is perplexing why so many of them get injured inspite of having so many advances in medical sciences.

  • SouthPaw on December 20, 2011, 3:04 GMT

    Nice article Sanjay! I agree with you - coaches are not sculptors, they shouldn't mold their wards to a finish that they have in mind, like the golf-ball-in-the-armpit variety. In any sport, even with the naturally talented individuals, some "bad habits" creep in over a period. The coach's job is to find out these anomalies and correct them (more "fine tune") without touching the basic framework of the player's natural talent. The coach can also provide insights to improve fitness, mental toughness, training regimen and more importantly, be a mentor and companion while the player is training hard.

  • taemoorkhan on December 20, 2011, 1:46 GMT

    Is it that hard to understand. Increase the sum of money paid to test players such that it defines the prestige of Test cricket. Right now, the most prestigious Tournament aka IPL has nothing to do with solid technique & temperament yet it is the most rewarding. Players will set there priorities according to it and will remain fit for test series and will rather declare themselves unfit or unavailable for IPL, BBL et al.

  • Kutta44 on December 20, 2011, 0:58 GMT

    I have always liked Sanjay Manjrekar's articles but on this one I beg to differ,having witnessed the way Europeans and Americans have been churning Tennis players for decades,I strongly believe that training is a must,though he has a point that an eager,sensitive mind can get a bit self conscious but it is the job of a coach to make his point in such a way that it does not impact the area where a youngster is already good at,there is no substitute for proper coaching and in all the of sports we have seen how countries with all their sports academies and training schools always have excelled.

  • spinkingKK on December 20, 2011, 0:51 GMT

    Well said Sanjay. I also felt that most of the bowlers think that it is abnormal not to get injuerd frequently. It is as if they think they are meant to get injuries. Kapil played his cricket in those days where they only play half of the cricket what the current day cricketers play. But, still to spearhead an attack for that many test matches and not getting injured was a fantastic achievement.

  • on December 19, 2011, 23:54 GMT

    I m impressed with ur thinking , and this arlicle. I never comment but this article forced me .

  • pacesensation on December 19, 2011, 23:17 GMT

    Someone mentioned about that 79s fast bowling competition that their speeds were in 140s. The thing is that their manner of measurement was different at that time. I mean those guys who were bowling in 140s were actually bowling in 150s like jeff thompson bowled 147, but in real by todays standard it was 157kph, and the other ones bowling in 130s were bowling in 140s. As far as fast bowler fitness is concerned, it has an element of luck to be honest. Some people are naturally fit while some have to work hard to be fit. But i think that its because that they had a style that was very injury free. And i think a fast bowler will be better trained and be more fit if he just does lots of running such, bowling, lots of bowling with an effort to bowl the other one faster with lots of natural exercises that increases fast twitch fibres.

  • Nutcutlet on December 19, 2011, 21:43 GMT

    Coaching IMO and limited experience, is all about taking the raw material and tweaking it where and when necessary. Given a basic level of fitness - and young men participating in a range of sports usually have that - it is a made-to-measure business, not a one-size-fits-all. Tinkering with what nature has given a body is asking for stresses, strains, injuries and, in all probability, a consequent loss of confidence and interest, esp. at school level. Above and beyond this discreet tweaking, the coach of a team needs to pass on what can only be called cricketing wisdom because if the brain is not engaged and capable of showing and applying what I call Cricketing Intelligence, then the player will make the fatal mistake that no amount of natural talent can compensate for. One of the criteria for selection for the England test team seems to be is the presence of 'CI'. Some have it to begin with - others, like KP, have had it instilled by the two Andies.

  • Alexk400 on December 19, 2011, 21:23 GMT

    Again people don't mix two things. Success of the field not just bowling fast , it is also how you use your brain. For example tait can bowl furiously fast but he is using 100% effort and there is no control. Bowling fast do not guarantee success in terms of wickets. Bowling fast means you spend tons of energy , does the body can generate that much power without affecting any part of the body. For me key is you bowl fast using leverage. Better the leverage less you will be injury free. if you keep your hands closer to the body you will have better leverage ...if you go away from your center of gravity you spend more energy than your body can handle. Stress develops. Every golfer do not have same swing. Every body has different center of gravity. You have to work around it. When people say natural action means that you must stay and work around your natural center of gravity. if you try to change , you get injured more.

  • njr1330 on December 19, 2011, 21:06 GMT

    Thanks, Sanjay...good article. There is a respected coach in Liverpool UK, called Tony Shillinglaw. Tony has made a lifetime study of Bradman and his batting style, and he has recently written a very interesting book about it...guess what...his conclusion is, that Bradman offended against the coaching book in almost every aspect of his technique! ...In particular, his backlift pointed to 2nd slip...Imagine the runs he'd have made if he batted properly !!

  • VickGower on December 19, 2011, 20:55 GMT

    Hasn't this also happened to Ishant Sharma? Didn't they try to get him to bowl outswingers too? Can we say that he lost the jagging in-cutters he used to bowl as a result? Of course, trying to turn Irfan Pathan into an all-rounder probably falls into this category too.

  • on December 19, 2011, 20:14 GMT

    Great article, a pleasure to read. Probably a great example is Pakistan bowling, every one is natural and not tempered with as an upcoming athlete. Sachin, Sehwag and Lara are the classic examples... Technique can be improved and skills can be enhanced but not at the cost of a players natural ability. Im glad coaches in Pakistan still value the old school approach and hence a lot of talented youngsters are coming up, specially bowlers. I'm sure same is the case in India too...

  • on December 19, 2011, 19:55 GMT

    I dont completely agree to it. Well the natural stance and action is important but if we look at the examples of Javagal Srinath, Wasim Akram, Glenn McGrath .. they all tweaked and changes their action to have a long cricketing career. I think at the end of the day you need to listen to all the advice and it all depends on what suits you. The problem accordingly to me is to much of cricket and small practice net sessions. It is not possible for a bowler who bowls only 30 to 50 balls during the net sessions and then have to bowl 20 to 30 overs during the Test.

  • Aniruddha_K on December 19, 2011, 19:46 GMT

    A good article... Doesn't quite mention the other side of the coin though. Kapil and Walsh were injury free not just because they retained their actions but because they were superb natural athletes.Also Symonds and Ponting to name a few more. That is why the likes of Sehwag, Flintoff get injured frequently despite being the most natural cricketers. And it's such a fine line...Sachin's coach did in fact try to change his grip at an early age.But later decided to let it be once he realised Sachin wasn't comfortable with it. But all these adjustments need to be made in the formative years and not when you have reached the international stage. That's where a coach needs to be smart. Let the natural talent flourish but no harm in supplementing it with aids like the gym and some other forms of modern coaching.The key is to strike a balance. As Terry Jenner, Warne's mentor said about coaching ,"It's not that what you are doing is bad.It's how you can do it better."

  • londondoc on December 19, 2011, 19:18 GMT

    a brilliant article- well written and full of pearls of wisdom. Hopefully the modern coaches will read this.

  • donda on December 19, 2011, 18:55 GMT

    Every player has a different type of body, some can stay fit for whole life and others have to work hard whole life to stay fit. Kapil did not play T2020 and 300 ODI as well. yes he played 131 test matches but look at Sachin, he has played 180 test, 500 ODI, some 100 T2020 and still playing. He got back problems in 1999 but came back with different batting approach to stay long and long in cricket.

    Every player is not lucky like Sachin and Kapil, luck some times don't favor and give you life long injury in hard sports.

    Training properly before and after the game is key for each individual . Playing football is not bad at all.

  • nachiketajoshi on December 19, 2011, 18:49 GMT

    @Rhonda - I think they play football for mental, rather than physical reasons, i.e., take mind off cricket while "warming up" as you have mentioned.

  • on December 19, 2011, 18:07 GMT

    Nature vs nurture - has always been a debate in sports of every kind.

  • Rahulbose on December 19, 2011, 17:44 GMT

    The way I look at it, all the cricket legends I can think of have a natural style of playing. More often than not their method is unique to them, not just the body movements but also the mental approach to the game. Even the players who people think are coaching manual perfect have idiosyncrasies. Coaching in cricket should focus on mentoring young players, working on their physical development and basic fitness, and guidance on how to build on their natural style. Excessive Gym workouts or wholesale changes in action and batting technique are the best way to destroy a cricketer and damn them to a life of injuries.

  • a1234s on December 19, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    I remember how those jokers at BCCI ruined Agarkar's career by forcing him to bowl outswingers. He had the ability to bowl some crushing in swingers, but suddenly in 2001 - 2002 he started bowling outswingers. He wasn't too good at it and it ruined his line and length completely. He never regained his natural rhythm after that.

    I can only think of Kapil who could have brought in this brilliant idea. Totally devastated one of India's fastest bowlers.

  • Alexk400 on December 19, 2011, 16:43 GMT

    There are two issues. Technical and Management of what you have. People are mixing two things. Technical issue should be corrected early age. We are not talking any technical issue that is causing injury. We talking only people inability to manage their body is the cause of the injury. Why? Lack of success , money (IPL), competition , just lack of discipline in gym. The reason i am writing this because some young aspiring bowler read this and go to gym and work on his legs first. Hope he will become the next malcolm marshall. Mcgrath was a best bowler in terms of wickets. But he was not threatening fast bowler , he was just calculative and apply pressure thorugh constant pressure..We need all out bowler who can take wickets in any condition. We need 150kmph swing bowler. We have n't seen aura in fast bowler who will show that batsman he owns them. Any bowler has more bowled wickets than catch or lbw is great bowler. it shos he is fast and decieved the batsman.

  • on December 19, 2011, 16:33 GMT

    @Exfactor44 - That was in 1979.. Check out the 1975 season records http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283875.html

    Plus speed is something which happens when everything works right on that day. Plus workloads on test matches those days were pretty much on par. Considering many attacks had 4 fast bowlers who bowled long spells it is as much a testament to their fitness regime and natural training. Andy roberts once famously remarked in his playing days that he spent majority of his practice time bowling and supplement remaining time on the gym. These days its the opposite. Best example of how gym culture destroyed a bowler was shane watson. It was only after he gave up weight training he was able to make it back as a bowler.

  • on December 19, 2011, 16:15 GMT

    Add Lasith Maling to that list . Nice read

  • zico123 on December 19, 2011, 16:15 GMT

    good article, fitness training program for modern fast bowlers is concern, they do lot of weight training to build upper body, their upper body becomes stronger than lower body, that will definitely not work for a fast bowler, hence they get injured, old school Kapil Dev never went to gym, did lot of ground running and lot of bowling at nets and he never had any injury through his career, Indian bowlers should learn from him

  • on December 19, 2011, 16:10 GMT

    Spot on sanjay, totally agree with you. Hope coaches read into this.

  • playitstraight on December 19, 2011, 15:51 GMT

    Yadav has a great future ahead of him, the only thing is that he has to be properly managed by the coaching staff. I don't want him to become Zaheer Khan no.2 who constantly breaks down after bowling 10 overs. Zaheer never takes his game seriously, he takes his place in the team for granted. They should drop him like they did to Bhajji, maybe then he will take his fitness seriously.

  • IlMagnifico on December 19, 2011, 15:38 GMT

    Truer words were never said. I may not agree with Mr. Manjrekar, but he has hit the nail on its head with this one.... Technology and pre-set concepts should HELP a coach. They should not be his copybook that's forced upon every kid he comes across.

  • mustufa on December 19, 2011, 15:28 GMT

    The single biggest reason why Pakistan produced and still produces good bowlers is that incidently they don't have a very defined coaching structure, hence bowlers learn on their own more then by tech or by other new methods, they are raw and they do good. The need for tech or coaching or analysis is needed when you want to tkae someone from one level to another, to learn, more for batsmen then for bowlers. Bowlers need to be let go, made to bowl lots of overs. Moderate gym fitness, get strong legs, back and shoulders. Strongdoes not mean big, it just means strong, keep bowling get your muscles use to doing the work they have to do late in a game and more.

  • on December 19, 2011, 15:21 GMT

    Totally agree with this article. I wonder, however, if some of these injuries are not also because of the wrong approach in fitness training. For one, it's become popular to do things like play football matches as a way to warm up or down. The gym is also a big go-to for modern cricketers. As the daughter of a coach, one of observations my father made to me is how little gym work and wrong type of exercise--football for example--can prepare you for the body motion and skills needed for cricket. Good old running around a field will prepare you better than a treadmill. The movements of football, do not help you spot a ball, run in, and settle to take a catch. Is it possible, then, that these youngsters are spending a bit too much time on the wrong activities to facilitate their needed skills, and as a result, are training their bodies to do the wrong things, making them susceptible to injury? Or, is it also a lack of sustained training in these fundamental skills as well?

  • avijna on December 19, 2011, 15:00 GMT

    Fielding is one thing not considered under this article. Players are laying a lot of emphasis on acrobatic fielding techniques in recent times due to T20. This takes its toll on the body. In the old days fielders didn't have to dive so much and focused on Batting and Bowling more. Hence lesser injuries. Good acrobatic fielding is great and fun to watch. In a T20 game there is much higher chance of getting injured during fielding than any other format, as you can see fielders who really don't have the natural ability, skill or hard work throwing themselves at the ball trying to get a more lucrative contract. Is there a doubt that injuries will follow. Proper strengthening and technique and hard work along with a very calculated schedule should be used, with the Player being honest in his approach.

  • AsherCA on December 19, 2011, 14:34 GMT

    If I remember right, Rohan Gavaskar had said pretty much what Sanjay is saying here as education on how to bat (received from his dad, Sunil Gavaskar) - something along the lines of - Leave Style, Stance, Technique..... to the commentator, connect your bat to the ball in such a way that the ball goes where you as the batsman want it to go. If you do this much right, you will keep getting runs. Let the men with the mike, coaches etc. say whatever they want.

  • Exfactor44 on December 19, 2011, 14:22 GMT

    The other thing I would like to point out is that developments usually build off one and other: better bowling>better batsmen>better pitches> etc.

    From the 'Worlds Fastest Bowler' Competition in the 70s with Lillee, Holding and co. it was found all of them were in fact bowling mid-high 130s and in the case of two; 140s.

    If you think of some bowlers of the last five years there are least 8 names I can think of who have bowled 140 regularly and exceeded 150kph multiple times. So yes, more people are getting injured however a considerably greater number of people are hitting speeds previously considered exceptional. Therefore some aspect of training must have improved (above and beyond the increase in cricket players).

  • on December 19, 2011, 13:56 GMT

    spot on sanjay...Greg chappel knows this better, he deliberately tried to tamper with natural methods adopted by sachin,sehwag during his tenure as indian coach. when sachin was playing from 15 years why there was a requirement of complaining abt his dedication and practice methods? greg cud have spoiled indian gems while trying to bring unnatural methods....cricket is not just abt being strong by body...its combination of mental balance, fitness and maximizing the natural talent... Eg: look at yuvraj sing, he can hit sixes with pure timing..he doesn't have to hit the ball hard...but sadly he suffered form lungs tumor, he is recovering soon... abt bowling...i think bowlers have to find out their rhythm, and bowl around thier comfortable speeds, looks like young bowlers like aron,cummins are trying to bowl too fast to impress...they have to take some tips from Wasim akram and walsh...

  • Exfactor44 on December 19, 2011, 13:51 GMT

    In one sense I agree but in another sense I don't. I am a coach of elite athletes in another sport and I think the problem is not necessarily to do with coaching par se but to do with the knowledgeability of coaching.

    I often see coaches in my sport suggest a solution to solve a problem - often a copy book mantra they have heard off their mate who heard if off their mate etc. However very often they lack the fundamental understanding of what the problem really is - they have never developed to a fuller level of comprehension about what they are doing.

    I have always had a naturally quick bowling action - as soon as I was coached (and was foolish enough to listen) it was totally screwed up and I've never bowled with confidence ever again. In many circumstances that coaching would have been beneficial therefore coaching in and of itself is not necessarily the problem - it is the people coaching lacking a fundamental understanding of the underlying principles of cricket.

  • Q72941 on December 19, 2011, 13:42 GMT

    @ Virendra Kumre : Well Imran did change his action indeed but not to something that was totally foreign to him. Although it was different to his previous action but rather within his natural capacities, a more prominent jump and a little more gyration of arm to add speed. It was not like he changed it from a complete front to side-on.

  • kurups on December 19, 2011, 13:29 GMT

    Great article Sanjay..on a very different but relevant subject. Hope it gets into the ears of all concerned with the sport and not let it just pass through the other ear. This probably is a radical shift that the so-called present day coaches should take...just as you said Brian lara without that natural backlift and style would have been a Boring lara!!

  • on December 19, 2011, 13:29 GMT

    Malinga, Murali, and Paul Adams come to mind when talking of actions. Chanderpaul, Simon katich shuffle at the crease. Mark Waugh was naturally elegant. Similarly fielding. Have you ever seen Gayle run hard? Bevan would never be a Gayle though! Who taught Jonty to dive? Or our own bulky Praveen Amre who was an excellent fielder. All individuals are different - it is their natural tendency that makes them what they are. One can yes make minor corrections - tips to help bowl faster or hit harder. If someone is getting out to a leg spinner, you can ask them to watch the bowlers hand. But how someone reacts to a delivery or bowls an yorker etc cannot be imitated 100% Zaheer bowls with the ball hidden like Akram and his resulting delieveries are good. If somone's natural action or delivery or shot is not good , they were probably never good enough! Somewhat like those with sculpted gym body may not be able to bowl! Football players may not make great bats! Anything unnatural is injurious

  • stormy16 on December 19, 2011, 13:28 GMT

    While I hear what the author is saying the need for proper coaching in the early years is surely without a debate AND sure a few greats got through with a few flaws but its those same flaws which has seen many talented cricketers not succeed at the highest level. I am also not sure if this can be blamed on the injuries but something is horribly wrong with so many injured fast bowlers (mainly) these days. 131 without missing a test - that's a Bradman like record in modern times! Few would go a year without missing a test to injury (bowlers that is).

  • kingcobra85 on December 19, 2011, 13:07 GMT

    Weights are not the way to go forward. Stretching is more important than weights. Today we forgot that and everywhere you look people are doing weights. You might have a six pack but if you cant bend down to touch your toes then you are heading for injuries. Follow our tradition YOGA!!

  • shyjulakshman on December 19, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    Thank god u are not coaching Mr.Manjrekar

  • disco_bob on December 19, 2011, 12:47 GMT

    @azzaman333 "Phil Hughes' natural game is working real well, hey?" Well, it was working real well on debut in South Africa with a pair of tons. However since he's been 'fixed' he seems to have illustrated the article rather well.

  • kw1k on December 19, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    Finally something on which I will completely agree with Sanjay. This can be found everywhere not just in cricket. The way to do things comes naturally to everybody in different manner. Small tweaks are ok but people should think a lot before introducing big changes.

    The problem with human beings is that we are not so good in dealing with differences. If someone knows a good way of doing things then they feel that, that particular way is the only good way and they try to change other people. This is one basic problem with human kind and no wonder we see this in cricket coaching as well.

  • KaZsa on December 19, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    Great and timely article mate...

  • R7B7 on December 19, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    Having played competitive cricket in Bangalore in the 90's, I had the opportunity to play alongside many talented cricketers, some of whom even made it to the national side, but many that didn't because of Karnataka's archaic and obsolete coaching methods. I always thought that KSCA (Karnataka State Cricket Association) had to radically change its M.O. For one, the clubs that produced cricketers were, in Manjrekar's words, manufactured and KSCA selectors at junior and senior levels were representitives of these very clubs. At selection trials, exhibiting unorthodoxy meant automatic disqualification. I am eagerly watching Kumble's leadership at KSCA. An unorthodox cricketer at the helm is probably what the doctor ordered.

  • wrenx on December 19, 2011, 12:25 GMT

    It's worth noting that Imran Khan has said that he spent a year completely restructuring his bowling action so that he could become genuinely fast. Sometimes, changing one's natural game can be a good thing.

  • on December 19, 2011, 12:22 GMT

    IMHO, Coaches should fine tune, not change a players style. Not much of a player myself, to be honest, but I do believe that is the right way to go...

  • RandyOZ on December 19, 2011, 12:21 GMT

    I really like this article from Sanjay. Very wise words, and I cannot agree more about the injuries. Whoever is in charge of the fitness in the Aussie team should be sacked. Get back to learning skills and not training in the gym all day. A cheese toastie and a coke a day didn't work out so badly for Warney did it?

  • Tigg on December 19, 2011, 10:08 GMT

    @zenboomerang I think that was his point. Mcgrath had problems because something was wrong (probably more a 50/50 front/side action that causes an unnatural wrench just prior to delivery than a side on action) so it was corrected. He wasn't made into a clone. Which pitch Mitch is anotehr, when his arm was coached higher he became deadly, but it easily regresses.

    The issue is coaching out things which are not a problem, simply a comfortable individual method of doing things that is the issue. Look at Warne, noone coahced him to have a classical high arm atv the point of delivery.

  • cork123 on December 19, 2011, 10:07 GMT

    Agree with you Sanjay, these days coaches/trainers tend to over do everything and along with tiring schedule of matches, players often get injured. I don't think the coaching has made any difference to players like Sachin, Sehwag etc.. they have thier own natural technique and they thrive on it. Chanderpaul is another example, has a somewhat ugly game, but the guy is successful (even if its boring). Being natural is the way to go...these Naturalists makes the game more entertaining than the copybook players...

  • Indiancricketnut on December 19, 2011, 9:53 GMT

    I had a thought on the Golf and Cricket examples. Could you explain one of the longest drivers in the game John Daly taking his back swing well over his head i.e. suggesting the longer the lever the further the ball goes. And taking a cricket example of Curtley Ambrose's high front and bowling arm start position well over his head. I recall him being the fastest bowler of his time along with Marshal. Any explations on how these long levers of both the golfer and the bowler resulted in amazing speeds? And someone else talked about Johnson and his side arm action, dont we wish it wasnt corrected! He might have been as exciting as Malinga! Its always a tough call though, and coaches have so much to weigh up before taking a life changing decision like that! But the more technical knowledge they have the better it would be.

  • on December 19, 2011, 9:51 GMT

    Its a difficult thing to judge actually. Rahul Dravid has a textbook style batting and I am sure his coach must have experimented with golf balls as well. For some individuals the coaching works, for others it doesnt. One strategy cannot be applied to all.

  • azzaman333 on December 19, 2011, 9:49 GMT

    Phil Hughes' natural game is working real well, hey?

  • Indiancricketnut on December 19, 2011, 9:31 GMT

    What cricket lacks is appropriate technical research. You cannot blame the coaches, as they have been incorrectly taught. The system teaches you to teach what they (the coaching exams/instructors) ask you to teach. What is required is the knowledge and understanding of why something happens technically. A coach yaps away when he doesnt have the knowledge, putting him in a position where he must say something to his student (parents must demand this!). Lets take an example on limited technical understanding. What makes Sehwag successful is the very thing people complain about i.e. his stillness, and contrary to those who do not understand technique, he moves his feet all over the place except when the ball is in a particular location, pitched up and slightly full on the off stump. His pitch maps show he doesnt often drive through mid off (along the ground). Otherwise his feet move like lightning for every other shot he plays, and for the one problem area he manages with his great hands,

  • Alexk400 on December 19, 2011, 9:21 GMT

    Continued...i narrow down to why more injuries happening now. Money and T20 leagues. Young bowlers want to prove to the world they are very good.. for example Pat cummins can fetch 1 million in IPL edition. Easy money for 45days of work. You can retire for life with one season of IPL. :). Most players if they are injured , wanted to skip TEST and ODI and wait for IPL and they will be healthy. My guess is that Ishant sharma wants to play only IPL. He will be healthy come IPL. Injuries can happen for various reasons. But what i see is people are not that enthusiastic to play in TEST and ODI...if even small injury , they rather skip most test and odi and play IPL if possible. There is always going to be freak injuries but most injury happen when you force the issue by putting too much force in some part of the body to get more than what your body can delver..

  • greynicolls on December 19, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    Wise words indeed by an unassuming soul of Indian cricket...well said and professed Sanjay. Alas, should your words be heeded by the lofty idealists, there would be more unemployed added to the growing list, hence the major problem that is afflicting world cricket. The game has gone from the turf to the confines of the boardroom where videos seem to do more of the talking than the actual muscles that count. I cannot agree with you more when you say that the body should take control of the mind in sport because it finds lovely ways to accommodate itself within the rigours of physical extension, yet never failing to express itself. With the mind taking over due to the coaching influx, the body is pushed into areas of confusion where protest is the only form of retribution-INJURY. When will the coaches realise this..time can never tell. But are we not living in a world where freedom of expression is a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT????

  • Vilander on December 19, 2011, 9:14 GMT

    Sanjay you are a critique not worried about a backlash, good but what you can do better is to take into account all possible lines of thought and add them into your articles. That kind of research would truely help cricket, when it couples with your straight forward attitude it would become potent.

    Ishant injury is purely the players high headedness. He needs to bulk up and follow what official fitness regimens demand,

  • on December 19, 2011, 9:10 GMT

    There is something wrong in this logic. For every Tendulkar, Lara, Kapil Dev there are hunderds of cricketers needs to be guided. Only few are born with gifted talent. For others if you leave them to their natural talent they won't prosper. I agree there are wrong methods in some of the coaches. But you can't paint all coaches with same yardstick. Even Shewag when he was dropped from Indian team went to his coach to modify his approach. If fast bowlers are not coached and left to their own they will be more injuries and shorter careers.

  • Alexk400 on December 19, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    Great players will not make great coach. Only amateur can. - amateur is the one who likes the process of achieving zenith of his profession but stuck in a loop. He is never satisfied with what he done. There is always space for improvment , Learning never stops , so will be many earratic results. stops.Great players - Professionals - know their weakness and tend repeat the things they know with uncanny consistency. Professionals are selfish. Amateur are unselfish. Sachin - professional. Sehwag - amateur. Sehwag can be great coach , sachin can't. Professionals are like magicians who has power in secrets. They never let anyone know their weakness otherwise they can't be professionals. Sanjay manjerekar , Ian chappell are amateurs. They like the process of learning. Not the end point. Professionals interested only in end points. In sachin case end point is STATS and RECORDS. Every professionals are different. Mcgrath can not be a coach. Warne can. Muralidharan is a professional ..

  • on December 19, 2011, 8:52 GMT

    well Imran Khan change his natural Action

  • zenboomerang on December 19, 2011, 8:32 GMT

    Ahh Sanjay, a coach should never need to change a players natural game?... Even if it is causing him to fail at that sport?... Glen McGrath had a side-on action that was causing him to continually get back fractures... So his coach made him change to bowl front-on... No more back problems & become one of the most iconic & durable bowlers of the last few decades... Michael Johnsons natural bowling action was an around the shoulder sling that makes it impossible to get consistent line & length - when coached to swing over the shoulder he regained L&L but finds it impossible these days to bowl a full innings without going back to his natural wayward action... Natural is not always best...

  • Naresh28 on December 19, 2011, 8:31 GMT

    Each bowling style eventually puts strain on a certain part of the body. Zaheer Khan has a leap just before delivery release. This means his knees and upper leg are taking the strain. Ishant Sharma lands heavy on the ankles. @alexk400 brought up some good valid points. Sanjay has highlighted a point which I have always believed. For example KAPIL could be a selector in charge of pace bowling selections - not Srikant. So the correct selector is not chosen for the job. Then a another point was raised by @ganesh whereby all the best ex-people are making money instead of coaching. BCCI could chnage this if they wanted to. Its time BCCI INVESTED MONEY INTO PACE BOWLING - get a pool of India pace bowlers and look after them.

  • bighit14 on December 19, 2011, 8:19 GMT

    Bang on!!! May be one of the things apart from gym and other training sessions, but cannot be ignored.

  • BillyBlue on December 19, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    Regarding the article itself, its clear, Sanjay has put a lot of thought & research into it. Although nice & well articulated article for an 'Indian' columnist's standard (& before people start going all bonkers, I AM AN INDIAN TOO), the analysis of the subject matter has no insightful or unique outlooks, in other words nothing new to offer & misses to present other effective or alternative solution for the bowlers injuries. That being said, the article is spot on other wise & I enjoyed reading it. The biggest regret I have, as Sanjay points out vaguely, is that no bowlers have tried to write an all encompassing article about this sport-wide epidemic May be there in lies the cause of the epidemic, not enough involvement by the bowlers that matter. Finally about Sanjay, refreshingly, compared to Gavasker, Shastri & even Bhogle (only of late), the quality & subject matter of his articles has been on the rise, albiet slow. Its not the run-of-the-mill BCCI pleasing/pocket-filling variety.

  • on December 19, 2011, 7:33 GMT

    Just another example is VVS Laxman...his technique is extremely unique with good hand eye coordination and wrist work and less emphasis footwork. At a junior level we put too much emphasis on skills and miss on basics like attitude and fitness and this also results in bad lifestyle choices which can make a sportsperson injury prone

  • on December 19, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    I am a student of Development Communication. To me the effects of Modernization are far more consequential in terms of instincts and psychology. More than the framework of so called progressiveness they destroy the fabric of traditions and naturality and technology is one element of it. Nicely Written, I am glad you brought forward this point. There is far more to coaching than a John Buchanan watching his laptops.

  • on December 19, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    RE: "I always regret that the really shrewd cricketing brains in the game, like Imran Khan and Mark Taylor, have not chosen to coach. The game is definitely poorer because of that.".... Mr. Manjrekar, i consider you as a thinker of the game and have sound technical knowledge of the game.. why dont you coach a young team instead of sitting a commentary box???? The reason for the above is very simple. Money. So please, Mr Manjrekar do not talk about this.

  • Alexk400 on December 19, 2011, 7:00 GMT

    Continued... We say in golf , use big muscles to hit the ball for better control. More moving parts more error. Side on delivery bowler is better and less injury prone. if hands are closer the body , better control you will have. better torque. Only Tall bowlers can bowl less effort, because , mere height is an advantage. But they also can't bowl faster because longer limbs move slowly. Very rarely you have agility with big man. ex : shaqueel O neal in NBA had that agility for big men. He had stronger bigger legs that alow him to move easily. perfect height is 6 2" above or below they have to spend more energy or injruy prone. So basically main reason for injury is that people don't know their limits and lack of planning what exercize will suit their goals in the gym. Running helps stamina but also weaken muslcles around joints. So need rejunevate those muscles in gym and protein only diet.

  • Alexk400 on December 19, 2011, 6:51 GMT

    More from Golf swing. If you are hitting the ball , you want to hit as long as possible and accurate as possible but also you have to do the same 18holes. if you spent all l energy in the first par5 then you may not have much energy to play well. Basically you have to find a medium energy level so you play same throughout 18 holes. Samething applies to fast bowling. You really can't bowl faster in the match or in the nets. You increase the speed in the GYM. In match condition , all you do is manage your effort so you get success. You put 100% effort in spurts. All mediocre bowlers don't strengthen their legs in the GYM. Basically that is the main reason for the injury. Stronger the joint muscle faster you can bowl in match condition. You elevate your efficiency in increment level. It is not just speed that is recipe for succces. If you bowl 140kmp with 50% effort , your brain has 50% energy to plot the downfall of batsman. Late release will freeze batsman. continued...

  • yocasi on December 19, 2011, 6:42 GMT

    Could you imagine how any Laras & Tendulkars that may have been coached out of the game over the years? The best way to get good cricketers is to have all youngsters play the game. With mass participation, the good ones will come to the fore. West Indies is a classical case in point. With few coaches and no academies, we were a force to reckon with for decades. Now, with more coaches than players, we are firmly in the rearguard. With a shrinking pool of players to choose from, no amount of coaching will save us. Our challenge is to find ways to get young boys playing cricket again, else we are doomed. Sad. True.

  • raj60 on December 19, 2011, 6:28 GMT

    Aaron's injury is a mystery; it appeared suddenly out of the blue when he was being considered for Aus tour. But his artificial runup was sure to get him in trouble one day. For the short time he has played International cricket he has not crossed 150 even once and that makes his claim of having bowled in 150's false.

  • on December 19, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    .. and Chanderpaul, the most incorrect stance possible, and yet so effective..

  • on December 19, 2011, 6:18 GMT

    Totally agree.............coaches rare making game more complicated than it needs to be.....................see how Sehwag, Gale, Tendulkar, Waqar younis, Inzi, Lara who's techniques are hardly in accordance with book have done wonders in their carrer.

  • ravi_hari on December 19, 2011, 6:16 GMT

    Very apt article and at the right time. Most teams are today plagued with injuries to their youngsters while the veterans are fighting fit. One should analyse for himself why this is happening. What have the seniors done to keep themselves fit? As Sanjay said sticking to natural abilities and working hard on fitness. The likes of Richards, Hayden, would have never gone that far if they have not been allowed to play their natural game. The worry is that most bowlers are getting injured at the beginning of their careers. This shows their lack of preparation, unnecessary emphasis on technique and trying too hard. Bowlers like Cummins and Aron could have cut their pace and concentrated on penetration. Pace can be increased once you are assured of a place in the squad and based on the pitches you are bowling on. I think getting injured after being selected seems to have become a fashion now-a-days. You can atleast ride on the sympathy wave. But dont forget many lost their places permanently

  • din7 on December 19, 2011, 6:10 GMT

    sanjay always had a very narrow cricketing brain. Sorry to say u we4re the same man who wrote off tendulkar when he struggled in pakistan and was going thru poor form. And yes plz don't mention sehwag he's nothing more than flat pitch bully. its true that normal style shldn't be bothered with, but u didn't speak about malinga or tait who had problems with their basics and both of them retired from test cricket. Some modifications are always helpful if bowlers don't have normal actions. Had sehwag's coach showed hom how to play technically, he would have played well when bowl was swinging or some1 is bowling well (avg 30soutside subcontinent and same in 4th inings) rather than accumulating runs.

  • deepak_sholapurkar on December 19, 2011, 5:57 GMT

    Good article, its hard to believe why Varun Aaron got injured. He played so less cricket.

  • Alexk400 on December 19, 2011, 5:51 GMT

    There two school of thought ,steve waugh looking at kapil dev and walsh and saying bowling at nets make player injury free. I do not think so. It is like fixing golf swing , you try fix one mistake by compounding that mistake. Some people have natural bone structure and muscles around that joints. I would say it fit right to medium speed bowlers because they do bowl at thier 60% energy level. if you want to be real fast bowler like 145kmp it needs lots of muscles around joints and constant repair and my advise is players should get into a routine. To make a perfect injury free fast bowler , you have to have natural bone gene + strict gym discipline that concentrate on muslces around joints. if a bowler work around 60-80% of his effort most times he will be fine along with gym routine.

  • Humdingers on December 19, 2011, 5:35 GMT

    In today's modern age it is up to the individual - not the boards. There's a reason why a Dravid, Tendulkar, Ponting, Hussey, Kallis all have this longevity - they work hard themselves.

  • itsagentlemansgame on December 19, 2011, 5:27 GMT

    RE: "I always regret that the really shrewd cricketing brains in the game, like Imran Khan and Mark Taylor, have not chosen to coach. The game is definitely poorer because of that.".... Mr. Manjrekar, i consider you as a thinker of the game and have sound technical knowledge of the game.. why dont you coach a young team instead of sitting a commentary box????

  • Alexk400 on December 19, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    Continued...What malcolm marshall did in gym is strengthern thigh muscles and knee muscles. You are as good as the foundation. For human athlete , muslces around knees gives the acceleration and thigh gives the power. Tall bowlers struggle because they really do not have the muscles around their bones. Malcom marshall creates enough torque in his bowling with strong legs. Yes people can bowl faster without that but you are less injury prone if you can bowl 145kmph with 60% effort. that is what make great bowler. Kapil dev and Walsh may have natural action or bone structure but they really bowled at their 60-70% so they have the control. If you bowled with control . you will be less injury prone. It is so simple yet people ignore. Yes pressures make people try to bowl faster and get injured. For me you bowl in the GYM getting legs stronger and stronger. Most indian bowles gym routine probably toning more than muscle building based on how they look.

  • Alexk400 on December 19, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    For me Golf teaches lot of things about the human body like no other. Reasons for the injury is due to many factors. Lets list all major causes. 1. Too fat less muscle around joints. 2. Excessive force applied to one part of the body. 3. Un natural action. 4. use 100% effort. Again from golf swing if you want to be a pro you must hit the ball at your 70% of the energy level at 95% of the time. Same thing applies. Every body has its limits. If you over stress , strain more than what you can bear , injury happens. My advise is simple. Every thing is a routine. Success is a routine. Playes get injured because they stray from their practice. unlike batting , If you can't bowl well in nets , you won't bowl well in a match. Major cause of the injury is not unnatural action. It is due to lack of knowledge of how much their body can handle. You can only increment speed not jump too much as cummins tried too much. He is young his body will recover. Malcom marshall has the method on the bowling

  • on December 19, 2011, 5:08 GMT

    Excellent Piece loved it...and you are right about the whole video analysis thing it just puts additional pressure on the players to correct themselves rather than concentrating on their own positive points..

  • Gizza on December 19, 2011, 5:04 GMT

    You're right Sanjay. Another related point. The best way to increase strength and fitness is to keep bowling or keep batting (your natural way of course). The likes of Spofforth, Larwood and Marshall didn't build their muscles in the gym. They just bowled and bowled. More overs in the nets and more overs in first-class games. You are not a bodybuilder, you are a bowler, batsman, fielder. Bowling, batting and fielding is what you practise in order to become perfect and resistant to injury.

  • tntn on December 19, 2011, 5:00 GMT

    Very nice observations. Can we compare this to some other sports as well and even those more physical and see how they manage to stretch themselves into a fitter playing life?

  • landl47 on December 19, 2011, 4:54 GMT

    I think it's fine to leave a player alone if he's finding success at every level with his natural style. It's certainly not helpful to change a young player's style if he is outstanding among his contemporaries. However, not everybody is Sehwag or Procter, to name two of the less orthodox but very successful players. What do you do with a player who reaches a certain level and then stalls? If the deficiency is technical, it has to be corrected or the player must live with not reaching the top. I don't think this has much to do with injuries, either; Alastair Cook has grown up in the era of intensive coaching and he's never missed a test through injury (he did miss one through illness). Fast bowlers are obviously more prone to injury than other cricketers, but this is not new. Lillee and Botham, for example, both suffered major spinal problems and they both had excellent natural actions. Today's players are fitter and stronger than in the past and that must be good.

  • on December 19, 2011, 4:43 GMT

    Sounds very true, logical and facts based. Thumbs up!

  • Rahul_78 on December 19, 2011, 4:40 GMT

    The issue taken up by Sanjay is truely sensitive and massively complex. Todays young bowlers droping off like flies is truely astonishing phenominon which has ravaged almost all the teams. The greats of yesterdays have always spoken about bowling fitness that comes from bowling many balls in the middle and in the nets. I doubt about Sanjays point of remodelling the natural action has anything to do with the spate of injuries, but it does affect some fast bowlers who ended up loosing there natural pace, swing and zip. There seems to be a valid point that todays coaches should look at the likes of Kapil, Walsh and Wasim to name a few who had long fruitful injury free test careers and how they used to go about there fitness and what are the RIGHT thing they used to do. One more point that comes to the mind is in todays age of fast bucks there arent many who are going to risk a long term injury by carying on with a niggle for the sake of important tour or a test.

  • puneet1979 on December 19, 2011, 4:25 GMT

    Very nice article. well said..

  • smalishah84 on December 19, 2011, 4:19 GMT

    a great piece by sanjay. Completely agree with you.

  • agam99 on December 19, 2011, 4:17 GMT

    Gr8 article by Manjerekar

  • dr.jha on December 19, 2011, 4:02 GMT

    you could be right sanjay... but ... nothing can be done about it .. or if something can be .. we know bcci won't ... but yeah ... you are right...

  • on December 19, 2011, 4:00 GMT

    Sanjay, while I see your point, you will have to acknowledge the other side of the coin. Such as Shaun Tait's bowling action, or Tendulkar's 'wrong' grip causing him tennis elbow (something which was attributable to his poor form in mid-noughties, forcing him to change his grip) or even Dhoni's 'wrong' wicket keeping technique which was found out recently in England test series.

    I agree overcoaching is a problem, and there is also a thin line between doing enough as a guide, rather than shoehorn something completely alien to a player.

  • on December 19, 2011, 3:52 GMT

    Very well said by Sanjay about the natural action...I realized this after I had a similar experience where being naturally side-on, I tried to modify my action to more front on...but I was putting extra strain on my lower back and my pace went down a little bit because of that...so I reverted back to my side on action.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on December 19, 2011, 3:43 GMT

    Honestly, can't agree more with each and every word and sentence in this article. I'll talk only about Varun here: I always thought there's something wrong with his action at the time of delivery. Good, you even think there's something wrong with his runup. I think Dennis Lillee should leave our shores ASAP. Is he at any stage coaching our youngsters? Sanjay, that's a question for you. I don't know the answer. So please answer it. The last time I asked you about Ishant's ankle in your article about Harbhajan's injury you didn't answer. May be you didn't think that I was asking you a question at that time. But please participate in some question and answer sessions. That'll be time well spent for us helpless fans some of whom burn midnight oil for India.

  • inswing on December 19, 2011, 3:33 GMT

    Manjarekar makes good points. It would be good if we could stop at "natural is good". Things are not as simple, however. The point of coaching is to change something to make it better. The most natural state of a player would be how he was on his own, before any coaching. What is a coach to do? Not change anything in any player? Any change from what the player was naturally doing would be unnatural, by definition. If you don't change anything, what is the point of coaching? In reality it is very unclear what to change and what not to change. For every Kapil and Walsh, there are thousands who had flaws in their actions that were never corrected by anyone, and they never amounted to anybody. How many more greats would you have if all of them received good instructions and modifications early on? And you can bet that Tendulkar's, Sehwag's, and Lara's coaches changed some things they were naturally doing, which made them better. It is a very fine line.

  • N.Sundararajan on December 19, 2011, 3:23 GMT

    Brilliant Sanjay ! You said absolutely the right thing. Basics of the game can be coached---then the natural talent should be allowed to flourish without interference, and later, when the person reaches a certain minimal standard at the national level, then specific embellishments and marginal improvements can be suggested in the physical aspects---at that stage the mental aspects and the overall understanding of the game is what the coached should concentrate. Not try and tell them everything there is to be told and get them uncomfortable, injury-prone, dropped and dejected eventually !

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  • N.Sundararajan on December 19, 2011, 3:23 GMT

    Brilliant Sanjay ! You said absolutely the right thing. Basics of the game can be coached---then the natural talent should be allowed to flourish without interference, and later, when the person reaches a certain minimal standard at the national level, then specific embellishments and marginal improvements can be suggested in the physical aspects---at that stage the mental aspects and the overall understanding of the game is what the coached should concentrate. Not try and tell them everything there is to be told and get them uncomfortable, injury-prone, dropped and dejected eventually !

  • inswing on December 19, 2011, 3:33 GMT

    Manjarekar makes good points. It would be good if we could stop at "natural is good". Things are not as simple, however. The point of coaching is to change something to make it better. The most natural state of a player would be how he was on his own, before any coaching. What is a coach to do? Not change anything in any player? Any change from what the player was naturally doing would be unnatural, by definition. If you don't change anything, what is the point of coaching? In reality it is very unclear what to change and what not to change. For every Kapil and Walsh, there are thousands who had flaws in their actions that were never corrected by anyone, and they never amounted to anybody. How many more greats would you have if all of them received good instructions and modifications early on? And you can bet that Tendulkar's, Sehwag's, and Lara's coaches changed some things they were naturally doing, which made them better. It is a very fine line.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on December 19, 2011, 3:43 GMT

    Honestly, can't agree more with each and every word and sentence in this article. I'll talk only about Varun here: I always thought there's something wrong with his action at the time of delivery. Good, you even think there's something wrong with his runup. I think Dennis Lillee should leave our shores ASAP. Is he at any stage coaching our youngsters? Sanjay, that's a question for you. I don't know the answer. So please answer it. The last time I asked you about Ishant's ankle in your article about Harbhajan's injury you didn't answer. May be you didn't think that I was asking you a question at that time. But please participate in some question and answer sessions. That'll be time well spent for us helpless fans some of whom burn midnight oil for India.

  • on December 19, 2011, 3:52 GMT

    Very well said by Sanjay about the natural action...I realized this after I had a similar experience where being naturally side-on, I tried to modify my action to more front on...but I was putting extra strain on my lower back and my pace went down a little bit because of that...so I reverted back to my side on action.

  • on December 19, 2011, 4:00 GMT

    Sanjay, while I see your point, you will have to acknowledge the other side of the coin. Such as Shaun Tait's bowling action, or Tendulkar's 'wrong' grip causing him tennis elbow (something which was attributable to his poor form in mid-noughties, forcing him to change his grip) or even Dhoni's 'wrong' wicket keeping technique which was found out recently in England test series.

    I agree overcoaching is a problem, and there is also a thin line between doing enough as a guide, rather than shoehorn something completely alien to a player.

  • dr.jha on December 19, 2011, 4:02 GMT

    you could be right sanjay... but ... nothing can be done about it .. or if something can be .. we know bcci won't ... but yeah ... you are right...

  • agam99 on December 19, 2011, 4:17 GMT

    Gr8 article by Manjerekar

  • smalishah84 on December 19, 2011, 4:19 GMT

    a great piece by sanjay. Completely agree with you.

  • puneet1979 on December 19, 2011, 4:25 GMT

    Very nice article. well said..

  • Rahul_78 on December 19, 2011, 4:40 GMT

    The issue taken up by Sanjay is truely sensitive and massively complex. Todays young bowlers droping off like flies is truely astonishing phenominon which has ravaged almost all the teams. The greats of yesterdays have always spoken about bowling fitness that comes from bowling many balls in the middle and in the nets. I doubt about Sanjays point of remodelling the natural action has anything to do with the spate of injuries, but it does affect some fast bowlers who ended up loosing there natural pace, swing and zip. There seems to be a valid point that todays coaches should look at the likes of Kapil, Walsh and Wasim to name a few who had long fruitful injury free test careers and how they used to go about there fitness and what are the RIGHT thing they used to do. One more point that comes to the mind is in todays age of fast bucks there arent many who are going to risk a long term injury by carying on with a niggle for the sake of important tour or a test.