Cricket Australia could take lessons from Broad, Swann experience and change: Roebuck

Monday, November 15, 2010

SYDNEY - The Australian cricket community would do well to study the careers and methods of both England fast bowler Stuart Broad and off-spinner Graeme Swann to address key issues such as fast bowlers breaking down, and tweakers not turning the ball enough, says columnist Peter Roebuck.

According to Roebuck, in his formative years, Broad spent a winter playing cricket in Victoria. He arrived as an opening batsman and left as a pace bowler. In those months, he grew six inches and as a result, he was able to hit the wicket harder and send the ball rearing towards the batsman.

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Broad’s remarks demands attention.

“I’d always been governed by regulations saying I could only bowl six-over spells,” he said.

Hoppers Crossing, his club, knew nothing of that. Instead they tossed the ball to the eager teenager.

“They just let me bowl. So, I got my body used to delivering 17 to 19 overs a day,” Broad says.

Swann’s rise is also instructive. His rebellious streak, raw humour and spirit have been well documented, says Roebuck in a write-up for the Sydney Morning Herald.

Scientists discovered that Swann puts 1800 revs on his deliveries, far more than any English contemporary, as many as most wrist-spinners.

The amount of spin imparted is vital. Tennis balls slice and drop and soccer balls swerve because of the spin put on them.

By changing the position of the seam, Swann can alter the conduct of the ball in flight and after pitching. After all, the ball can land on leather or stitching.

Swann’s other asset is his open action. Traditionally, Western spinners were taught to use their shoulders, to bowl against a strong leading arm, to project the ball. Subcontinental tweakers preferred to rely on finger and wrist. But, then, their bodies are more supple, and the tracks were slower and so demanded more energy from the flinger. Swann has taken the best from both worlds.

At present, according to Roebuck, Australia follows the same medical restrictions applied in England and elsewhere. As a result, authorities introduced rules controlling the amount of work done by immature speedsters.

Zealous coaches and committed captains could not be trusted to think about tomorrow. Attempts were also made to reduce the stress caused by mixed actions. Hopes were high the toll might be reduced.

By the look of things, it has not worked.

In the past few days alone Mitchell Starc, Steve Magoffin and Jake Haberfield have limped from the field. All face long lay-offs. Before that James Pattinson was forced to leave India, a frustration for all concerned as he had been bowling exceptionally well. Josh Hazlewood is another of the walking wounded.

Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken, Burt Cockley, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus have all been laid low in recent months. Still, they are also the product of modern thinking.

The young blokes are the worry. Even batsmen are suffering. Shaun Marsh, Michael Clarke and Steve Smith have been nursing sore backs.

Cricket Australia says players are better protected and repaired than ever. Perhaps that’s the problem. It ought to review its strategies. Broad’s experiences need to be taken into account. The time has come to study not the injured, but the fit.

At present, England is a step ahead. But locals have a wonderful opportunity this summer to learn things from them. Of course, it is possible to beat them at the same time, Roebuck concludes. (ANI)

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