Lance Gibbs, the legendary West Indian offspinner, spent some time with Harbhajan Singh, advising him how to bowl the straighter one without changing his action. In what could turn out to be a crucial half-an-hour session in Harbhajan's career, he was taught how to use the index finger judiciously during his delivery process.
"He wanted to know about bowling the straighter one without any change of action," Gibbs told Cricinfo, "and I showed him how I bowled it without my spinning finger [index finger] touching the seam. We generally discussed about the basics of offspin bowling." Gibbs didn't get the opportunity to demonstrate how it was done but he revealed that he planned to have a session during the fifth day of the match.
Harbhajan's career has been dogged by allegations of a suspect action, resulting in him being called twice. He was last cleared in May 2005, when the International Cricket Council said he could continue to bowl provided he used an action consistent with the one he exhibited in the biomechanical tests conducted at the University of Western Australia in February.
Gibbs, who ended with 309 Test wickets in 79 games and even held the world record for a short while, was known for his lethal drifter, one which he bowled with hardly any change of action. "I used to bowl it differently," Gibbs said about the ball that left the right-handed batsmen. "I could take my spinning finger away from the seam of the ball and get the ball to go in straight or let it drift a little."
The interaction with Harbhajan was one Gibbs expected to have, considering the friendship he shared with Greg Chappell, India's coach. Gibbs had played along with Chappell at both Glenelg, at club level, and South Australia, at state level. While chatting with Cricinfo on Sunday, Gibbs had said, "I haven't yet met Chappell but I'm certain that he would want me to have a chat with Harbhajan."
Gibbs isn't the first expert to work with members of the Indian team on this tour. Rudi Webster, the famous psychologist, too had spent some time with the players, including a two-and-a-half hour session with Virender Sehwag, while Andy Roberts, the legendary fast bowler, offered some valuable tips with regard to Irfan Pathan's run-up.