Pakistan in South Africa 2012-13 March 13, 2013

South Africa focus on improving yorkers

31

Barring their superior performance in the second Twenty20 of the tour, Pakistan have not given South Africa many lessons to learn. It is a Pakistani fast bowler, though, that South Africa bowling coach Allan Donald is holding up as an example to his charges, because he wants them to emulate his exemplary ability to endanger toes.

"It's Wasim Akram," Donald said in Centurion, where the team regrouped ahead of the second ODI on Friday. "We watched some footage of him the other day for the bowling group to understand what bowling yorkers is actually about.

"We want to become the best death-bowling unit in the world and we want to close games out while being under enormous pressure. With Wasim Akram you always knew when you faced him at the death that there was no hope. He moved the ball both ways and that's what we want to be: unpredictable, not just one dimensional."

Death bowling was identified as perhaps the only weakness of the South African attack after their series against New Zealand earlier this summer. They set New Zealand only 209 to win the first match, so an examination of their bowling there is probably unfair, but in the next two games South Africa's attack gave away 53 and 46 runs in the last five overs.

To prevent that happening again, Donald introduced a new goal in the Pakistan series. "Nailing yorkers is our No.1 priority," he said. "Not being able to bowl them often enough is what has let us down in the past, particularly when we are defending."

Instead of regular net sessions where bowlers send down a specific number of overs, Donald has set training up to concentrate on fuller lengths. He uses both newer and older balls to get bowlers to bowl deliveries that swing and reserve-swing, and he also recreates match situations. "We want to practice the specifics under pressure and so we are moving more into game scenarios and executing those then. We also video these sessions so the guys can have visual feedback."

Since Rusty Theron's brief appearance and subsequent injury, death bowling has not been assigned to anyone in particular and some have seen that as a fault. Role definition has proven to be essential to South Africa's success - think of the failure of the floating batting line-up as an example - and it would seem prudent to task one or two bowlers with that job.

Donald is not doing that, though, because he wants the whole attack to become competent at death bowling. "We want a collective group of guys who get thrown the ball and who have the confidence to execute yorkers at will at any stage," he said. "We could have a situation where Dale Steyn is the death bowler and his number may come up and he gets hit all around the park, and so we might have to ask someone else to do that. We want a collective improvement in bowling yorkers."

Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Rory Kleinveldt and Ryan McLaren have all shown ability to find the base of the stumps but none of them do it consistently. What they are more comfortable with is sending down streams of short balls and McLaren, in particular, used it effectively in the first ODI.

Donald said the move to more yorkers will not stop them from bouncing batsmen. "We've talked about using the short ball in Bloemfontein because of the very big field there and it worked," he said. "We will still use the short ball, it is a massive weapon in one-day cricket."

But an intimidating arsenal needs more than just one dangerous weapon and Donald wants to equip his bowlers with what he believes is the best. "Whether it's wide, swinging into the pads, or winging away from a large angle, we need to bowl the yorker. Anyone can hit back of a length, anyone has a back of a hand bouncer but you need a wicket, the ball that really does it is a gun yorker."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on March 15, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    Bowling yorkers is not everyone's cup of tea. There can only be one Waqar and one Wasim. Wasim gets so much praise for yorkers. But I think Waqar is better at that. The unique whipping action of Wasim has a lot to do with the way he can win a fan around the globe. No disrespect to the one and only one Wasim but I honestly think it is Waqar who is brutal with his yorkers. As a whole, it's hard to pick who is better. Stats say Waqar. But my heart says both are one and the same - one is a right-hand version of the other. Or the other is a left-hand version of the other. Menacing couple. Blessed to have watched them - from an Indian fan of Waqar and Wasim. I wish there was never a partition of India. Zaheer Abbas, Vishy, Sunny, Inzi, VVS, Imran, Dravid, Miandad, Statchin, Kapil, Waqar, Wasim, Abdul Qadir, Haneef Mohammad, Kumble, Younis, Youhana, Ganguly, Saqlain, Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Mushtaq….Now somebody beat that team.

  • krishkrish on March 15, 2013, 12:40 GMT

    Donald was absolutely right. He is just not talking about simpley bowling yorkers. It about bowling yorkers consistently at WILL. And also he has mentioned about seeing Wasim Akram footages swing the ball both ways which only Wasim has done to my knowledge.Swinging yorkers both ways is going to be the real good weapon to dismiss both right and left handers.

  • ZuluDave on March 15, 2013, 4:50 GMT

    Wasim Akram was a great death bowler, agreed, but Donald can look much closer to home for a good example of outstanding death bowling....... Fanie deVilliers. Fanie was the "go to" man for the last overs in Donalds day and he delivered in spades. His in-swinging yorkers were almost unplayable and rarely resulted in boundaries. It was just a pity that he had such a late start to international cricket, because ball for ball, I rated him higher than Donald. Only Allans youth made him a better SA bowler in the international scene, with more time to get wickets in his career, but Fanie I believe, would have beaten him given equal length of playing careers.

  • on March 15, 2013, 3:48 GMT

    I've seen some great yorkers bowled by steyn in a match agains windies some years ago, i wonder why he doesn't try them more often?

  • on March 14, 2013, 19:03 GMT

    not rocket science is it? Any fast bowler who is a pro, has 8 hours a day to practice, should be able to bowl yorkers consistently. No excuses. Period

  • DeckChairand6pack on March 14, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    Glad to see the Proteas are taking a cold, long look at yourself. Self criticism is the only way to improvement. And there is always room to improve, particularly for the SA ODI team. I wonder if Guru Gary would consider requesting a '5 things I could do better' note? Then again, from memory, his team did very well playing in India!

  • on March 14, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    I think everyone is missing the point here. Donald is placing emphasis on yorkers but he has also highlighted that he wants the bowling attack to be unpredicatable. They have bowled bouncers and lenght but havent really mixed it up in ODI's consistently and with accuracy. I can't wait to see how they perform. Well done Donald!!!

    The idea of a yorker is not the pace behind it or swing but that the ball lands in a spot that that batsman cant get under it or any power behind the shot. The pace and swing just make it more difficult to play. Also the yorker if is becomes more effective when its unexpected so i dont think Tsotsobe will be bowling 6 in a row. I'd love to see De Lange can hit 3 in a row and then a 150+kph bouncer.

  • Mambahunter on March 14, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    Yorkers at last! They should have started this long ago! But its funny how some people seem to know more about bowling than white lightning, Allan Donald... Anyone can bowl yorkers, if they just practice it again and again!!

  • on March 14, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    I suppose after you play near flawless cricket and crush the opponent 3-0 in tests and then trounce them by 125 runs, winning the next match is no longer the overriding concern. So for South Africa it's time to improve "the yorker". Pakistan meanwhile has to improve "the batting", "the bowling", and "the fielding".

  • riz309 on March 14, 2013, 2:34 GMT

    This argument is laughable it's too late for Styen, Morkel is not aggressive enough yes pay attention on VP plus SA bowler's have high straight arm action with a jump when approching the crease look at Waqar's action its not typically straight high upwards but very slightly side way's, look at Malinga his arm is hardly high and straight and with any jump at all.SA have a very good fast bowling department fast bowlers are born to bowel fast not made to bowel fast.Sorry for Pakistan their great bowler's helping IPL clubs out.SA should try to get a world class spinner yes they had a good run of wins in AUS and ENG but i doubt it will happen again with the same squad

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on March 15, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    Bowling yorkers is not everyone's cup of tea. There can only be one Waqar and one Wasim. Wasim gets so much praise for yorkers. But I think Waqar is better at that. The unique whipping action of Wasim has a lot to do with the way he can win a fan around the globe. No disrespect to the one and only one Wasim but I honestly think it is Waqar who is brutal with his yorkers. As a whole, it's hard to pick who is better. Stats say Waqar. But my heart says both are one and the same - one is a right-hand version of the other. Or the other is a left-hand version of the other. Menacing couple. Blessed to have watched them - from an Indian fan of Waqar and Wasim. I wish there was never a partition of India. Zaheer Abbas, Vishy, Sunny, Inzi, VVS, Imran, Dravid, Miandad, Statchin, Kapil, Waqar, Wasim, Abdul Qadir, Haneef Mohammad, Kumble, Younis, Youhana, Ganguly, Saqlain, Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Mushtaq….Now somebody beat that team.

  • krishkrish on March 15, 2013, 12:40 GMT

    Donald was absolutely right. He is just not talking about simpley bowling yorkers. It about bowling yorkers consistently at WILL. And also he has mentioned about seeing Wasim Akram footages swing the ball both ways which only Wasim has done to my knowledge.Swinging yorkers both ways is going to be the real good weapon to dismiss both right and left handers.

  • ZuluDave on March 15, 2013, 4:50 GMT

    Wasim Akram was a great death bowler, agreed, but Donald can look much closer to home for a good example of outstanding death bowling....... Fanie deVilliers. Fanie was the "go to" man for the last overs in Donalds day and he delivered in spades. His in-swinging yorkers were almost unplayable and rarely resulted in boundaries. It was just a pity that he had such a late start to international cricket, because ball for ball, I rated him higher than Donald. Only Allans youth made him a better SA bowler in the international scene, with more time to get wickets in his career, but Fanie I believe, would have beaten him given equal length of playing careers.

  • on March 15, 2013, 3:48 GMT

    I've seen some great yorkers bowled by steyn in a match agains windies some years ago, i wonder why he doesn't try them more often?

  • on March 14, 2013, 19:03 GMT

    not rocket science is it? Any fast bowler who is a pro, has 8 hours a day to practice, should be able to bowl yorkers consistently. No excuses. Period

  • DeckChairand6pack on March 14, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    Glad to see the Proteas are taking a cold, long look at yourself. Self criticism is the only way to improvement. And there is always room to improve, particularly for the SA ODI team. I wonder if Guru Gary would consider requesting a '5 things I could do better' note? Then again, from memory, his team did very well playing in India!

  • on March 14, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    I think everyone is missing the point here. Donald is placing emphasis on yorkers but he has also highlighted that he wants the bowling attack to be unpredicatable. They have bowled bouncers and lenght but havent really mixed it up in ODI's consistently and with accuracy. I can't wait to see how they perform. Well done Donald!!!

    The idea of a yorker is not the pace behind it or swing but that the ball lands in a spot that that batsman cant get under it or any power behind the shot. The pace and swing just make it more difficult to play. Also the yorker if is becomes more effective when its unexpected so i dont think Tsotsobe will be bowling 6 in a row. I'd love to see De Lange can hit 3 in a row and then a 150+kph bouncer.

  • Mambahunter on March 14, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    Yorkers at last! They should have started this long ago! But its funny how some people seem to know more about bowling than white lightning, Allan Donald... Anyone can bowl yorkers, if they just practice it again and again!!

  • on March 14, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    I suppose after you play near flawless cricket and crush the opponent 3-0 in tests and then trounce them by 125 runs, winning the next match is no longer the overriding concern. So for South Africa it's time to improve "the yorker". Pakistan meanwhile has to improve "the batting", "the bowling", and "the fielding".

  • riz309 on March 14, 2013, 2:34 GMT

    This argument is laughable it's too late for Styen, Morkel is not aggressive enough yes pay attention on VP plus SA bowler's have high straight arm action with a jump when approching the crease look at Waqar's action its not typically straight high upwards but very slightly side way's, look at Malinga his arm is hardly high and straight and with any jump at all.SA have a very good fast bowling department fast bowlers are born to bowel fast not made to bowel fast.Sorry for Pakistan their great bowler's helping IPL clubs out.SA should try to get a world class spinner yes they had a good run of wins in AUS and ENG but i doubt it will happen again with the same squad

  • Desihungama on March 14, 2013, 1:38 GMT

    Good one Alan. Let them try that in 2nd ODI by sending in half volleys and get hammered all over the park. I don't think there can be many Wasim Akrams.

  • on March 13, 2013, 21:21 GMT

    donald should have given example of waqar also but he don't want to because he used to compete with waqar in the 90's..

  • bouncer1021 on March 13, 2013, 20:58 GMT

    What's funny that Gul and Junaid kept beating Smith's bat in their openning spell in the 1st ODi but never followed up with a yoker. Wasim would have mixed that out swiing with few bouncers and yokers and definitely had him done.

    May be Pakistani team needs to go back and follow Wasim, Waqar, Shoib and others too.

  • Alexk400 on March 13, 2013, 20:23 GMT

    Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Rory Kleinveldt and Ryan McLaren NOT fast enough. I believe to bowl yorker you need different body. You need flexible body. All these bowlers are upright. U have to bend down to bowl yorker. That said i feel best yorker i have seen from bowler is waqar younis. Not because of ARC or DIP. Its more because of speed at which it delivered. Tailender will be able to see curving ball. I think bowling yorker comes from bowling action. these bowlers do not have bowling action to deliver yorker consistently. Tsotsobe deliver tennis bounce ball. Rory kleinveldt is too fat and can't bend.

  • shovwar on March 13, 2013, 19:44 GMT

    Atlast someone atleast mention yorker!! Thank God gracious. It was frustrating to see the our bowlers bowl short in the death overs but still dont bowl those yorkers. No you dont lose your ability to bowl the short balls with the new ball if u learn to add something different to your bowling. You dont lose what u already know. Donald is a great example of both and I dont see why Steyn n Morkel cant do it. Scared??

  • Crick_Expert on March 13, 2013, 18:45 GMT

    PAK gave a lot legand crickters to cricket world, legand Wasim Akram(W) was really a great bowler in Cricket world. Cricket lovers miss Wasim Akram & an outstanding bowling combination with Waqar Younis(W). They were famous as pairs "2-Ws"; both was expert in ball rotation/swing & yorker.

  • dariuscorny on March 13, 2013, 18:34 GMT

    its good to see bowling coaches around the world doing the job they hv been assigned.not just sitting and yawning like the Indian bowling coaches,who just take their salary without putting any effort to improve Ind's death bowling which is also a huge concern.coaches like Mcdermott,Waqar,Donald really put in effort.....this is good

  • on March 13, 2013, 18:18 GMT

    its not just about yorkers ,they should improve in varying their pace and length 2 improve in death bowling

  • crashed on March 13, 2013, 18:13 GMT

    Well Donald learned the reverse swing after SA got bowled out by Waqar and Wasim when they introduced SA to it the first time I cannot see any reason why Steyn and co cannot learn it from the white lightning :)

  • pipsonian on March 13, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    What Donald probably doesn't understand is that bowling yorkers means that the SA have to get used to bowling fuller lengths which can be at the cost of their great new ball performances. This also means that they might be giving away more runs just like Waqar Younis used to but he was never discouraged because he knew that it is the fuller length that will get him wickets. It is hard for bowlers to switch lengths specially for bowlers like Steyn who have the good lengths bowling instilled into them. The end result might be that they cannot bowl yorkers and now they may not be able to bowl good lengths either. So the best prescription is to not fix something which ain't broke and let the bowlers be who they really are specially with people who are fast approaching the end of their careers.

  • NairUSA on March 13, 2013, 18:03 GMT

    This is a great discussion. With their methodical approach, I am sure that the south africans will come out with a fool proof yorker strategy. Hopefully, the coach might even create a 'Yorker Manual'.

    There should also be a good discussion on how to bowl 'medium pace' (130 kph) yorkers as most of the medium pacers are hit out of the park while attempting to bowl yorkers. If such a strategy exists, teams like India will definitely pay a ransom to get it.

  • on March 13, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    Our death bowling has definitely been an ongoing problem and we have lost many games because of a inability to deliver good "death" bowling. The only surprise is that it hasn't been properly addressed before now even though it's been a glaring problem for us for a very long time now. Heaven help the rest of the world if we finally get it right.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on March 13, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    I think Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis were my favourite bowlers to watch. As a fan of express fast swing bowling, they were a feast for the eyes.

  • HRZV on March 13, 2013, 17:32 GMT

    If Morkel and Steyn could bowl yorkers like Wasim and Waqar (even like Gul) at the death, they would've bolwed them by now. That art is beyond them. They are good with the new ball only.

  • AKPK on March 13, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    World teams (specially batsmen) will have nightmares if bowlers like Steyn and Morkel are equipped with those toe crushers of Wasim. South African management is definitely preparing their team equipped with all possible armaments for 2015 world cup... Cant wait to see them performing to their full potential in shorter formats too.

  • palla.avinash on March 13, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    Finally at least sa is preparing for yorkers,but donald yorkers can also be used with new balls swinging in power plays and in middle overs also.If sa bowlers are good at bouncers they need to learn slow bouncers from pollock as he invented it and can make dangerous to sub continent batsmen.

  • AK47_pk on March 13, 2013, 16:29 GMT

    Something umar gul have forgotten. How good gul was with yorkers was breathtaking.

  • Syed_imran_abbas on March 13, 2013, 16:21 GMT

    something for pakistani bowlers as well to learn as they are absolutly unable to remove tailenders now.

  • a.syed81 on March 13, 2013, 16:16 GMT

    They're doing what Pak should be already doing. tech tech.

  • SurlyCynic on March 13, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    Wasim Akram is probably my all time favourite bowler to watch.

    But it was very interesting, during the test series lunchbreaks, when Ramiz Raja was openly discussing how they used to 'prepare' the ball for reverse swing. It was very illuminating and he was very... honest.

  • on March 13, 2013, 15:30 GMT

    oh Thank you Donald, at least you working on it!!

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  • on March 13, 2013, 15:30 GMT

    oh Thank you Donald, at least you working on it!!

  • SurlyCynic on March 13, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    Wasim Akram is probably my all time favourite bowler to watch.

    But it was very interesting, during the test series lunchbreaks, when Ramiz Raja was openly discussing how they used to 'prepare' the ball for reverse swing. It was very illuminating and he was very... honest.

  • a.syed81 on March 13, 2013, 16:16 GMT

    They're doing what Pak should be already doing. tech tech.

  • Syed_imran_abbas on March 13, 2013, 16:21 GMT

    something for pakistani bowlers as well to learn as they are absolutly unable to remove tailenders now.

  • AK47_pk on March 13, 2013, 16:29 GMT

    Something umar gul have forgotten. How good gul was with yorkers was breathtaking.

  • palla.avinash on March 13, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    Finally at least sa is preparing for yorkers,but donald yorkers can also be used with new balls swinging in power plays and in middle overs also.If sa bowlers are good at bouncers they need to learn slow bouncers from pollock as he invented it and can make dangerous to sub continent batsmen.

  • AKPK on March 13, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    World teams (specially batsmen) will have nightmares if bowlers like Steyn and Morkel are equipped with those toe crushers of Wasim. South African management is definitely preparing their team equipped with all possible armaments for 2015 world cup... Cant wait to see them performing to their full potential in shorter formats too.

  • HRZV on March 13, 2013, 17:32 GMT

    If Morkel and Steyn could bowl yorkers like Wasim and Waqar (even like Gul) at the death, they would've bolwed them by now. That art is beyond them. They are good with the new ball only.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on March 13, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    I think Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis were my favourite bowlers to watch. As a fan of express fast swing bowling, they were a feast for the eyes.

  • on March 13, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    Our death bowling has definitely been an ongoing problem and we have lost many games because of a inability to deliver good "death" bowling. The only surprise is that it hasn't been properly addressed before now even though it's been a glaring problem for us for a very long time now. Heaven help the rest of the world if we finally get it right.