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December 19, 2002
Former New Zealand fast bowler Brendon Bracewell is leading the hunt for the fastest junior bowlers in New Zealand, and he could soon be taking his 'Princes of Pace' quest around the world.
Bracewell, who now runs the Northern Cricket Academy in the Bay of Plenty, is hosting a session during the lunch break on Sunday at the second National Bank Test between New Zealand and India for young boys and girls, to run in and bowl their fastest ball possible.
The competition is open to children between the ages of six and 15.
The day is part of the National Bank family day.
Bracewell still delights in the joys of fast bowling and its ability to hurry batsmen up for as he says, "A hurried batsman makes more mistakes than an unhurried batsman."
As a player who suffered the curse of stress fractures in his back during his own international career of six Test matches, Bracewell is aware of the problems of over-doing the exertion.
"Kids love the instant feedback measurement of their deliveries and are highly receptive to coaching instruction providing tips to improve their balance, momentum and bowling action," Bracewell said.
"Balance is the foundation to maximising power therefore the kids quickly embrace safe bowling techniques to assist them in their quest for more speed," he said.
Bracewell said young players were naturally attracted to the feats of fast bowlers like Shane Bond, Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee but they rarely had the chance to know just how fast they were bowling themselves.
"In parks, practice nets and school grounds all over the world, kids bowl as fast as they can, imitating the run-ups and actions of the 'Princes of Pace' but completely unaware of the actual speed they bowl at.
"The coaching staff at the NCA have been using the 'Jugs' speedball radar on kids for the last 12 months with very encouraging results," he said.
A Prince of Pace club has been formed and an honours board has been set up to acknowledge a series of milestones that young players can achieve.
Once 10-year-olds reach 90km/h they are listed on the honours board.
Eleven-year-olds have to reach 95 km/h, 12 year-olds 100 km/h, 13-105 km/h, 14-110km/h, 15-115km/h and 16-120km/h.
Coaching advice by video analysis is also offered to young players in the scheme while Bracewell has an online bowling advice service.
Prizes for young players include tickets to the seventh One-Day International between India and New Zealand at Hamilton on January 14.
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