Pakistan in South Africa 2012-13 March 13, 2013

South Africa focus on improving yorkers


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

  • Srinivas 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.

  • krishnan 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.

  • David 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.

  • Dummy4 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?

  • Dummy4 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

  • Tim 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!

  • Dummy4 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.

  • BG 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!!

  • Dummy4 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".

  • SAHIR 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

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