Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Warm weather in the UK early season training

Interesting couple of nights... This week or so has been dry and increasingly warm culminating today with a sunny day and the temperature around the 25 degrees centigrade mark. Running up to the weekend just gone Joe and I did some work on the paddock and from Monday it's been dry enough to bowl on so we've been out there in the evenings having a practice.

Last night I took a big bag out with 80 balls in and we were both trying to hit a target that was about a foot square on the right kind of length in front of the stumps. Joe did well hit it several times and the stumps a few times as well with his arm balls. Me... I was useless - wides, too full, too short and depressingly no real spin, all of this following the night before when I'd bowled okay. So tonight when Michelle said that there was training over at Mopsies, part of me thought this'll be a waste of time.

We still went as last night on reflection I'd thought about my bowling... I think with 80 balls to bowl with, it's a case that I don't take it seriously and I was trying all sorts of things with no real sense of what it was that I was trying to achieve. So if we'd had gone over to the paddock I'd have taken just six balls and was intending to bowl 6 overs of six balls with a time gap in between the overs as I collected the balls up again as opposed to balling ball after ball. I was expecting that with a batsman in the nets my bowling would be better? It was.

Over the last month or so I've been practicing my "Fingery Top-Spinner" and as I get fitter with more upper body and arm strength it's been getting faster. About a week ago playing in the street with Joe using Windballs I thought that there seemed to be the potential to twist the hand and wrist with the fingery grip to possibly produce a Wrong Un which has evaded me now for some years having cured myself of the Googly Syndrome? I gave it a go and with the first attempt I produced a Googly!

Since then with the hard ball on the paddock I've given it a go a few times and it looks pretty much as though I've got a Googly back. I say a Googly, because it's not my thoroughbred Googly that I took three four-fers with in back to back games when I was at Grays and Chadwell it's a fingery version like the Top-Spinner. But nonetheless it turns and this is in week one with diminished fitness. So tonight when we turned up at Mopsies with primarily 1st team players in evidence my bowling was going to be challenged.

It was, a couple of blokes hit me out of the park into the road, but two others struggled. I cleaned bowled one of the first team players with a beautiful leg break which pitched outside leg and spun across the body/face of the bat and hit the top of off very like Warne's ball of the century with Gatting, but nowhere near as wide obviously. Everyone that saw it said it was beaut! The other bloke the captain of the 1sts I almost got him with this new Top - Spinner and then later tossed up the new Wrong Un and almost got him with that, he smiled back in respect of my bowling with both balls. So I was very pleased with that performance after last nights debacle over on the paddock.

So going forwards with a few weeks still before any games and some practice with these new deliveries things are looking good.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

April 2015

An unusual year ahead of us this year. My sons are 16 and 13, Ben's doing GCSE's and has a girlfriend and a mobile phone, so his commitment to cricket has waned a considerable amount which was expected. He's also going to be setting aside time to revise for his GCSE's, so how much cricket he'll play this year remains to be seen. Joe on the other hand at 13 and having now recovered from his RTA and taller than both Ben and me is looking to be a useful bowler this year. He bowls off-spin and medium pace, but his medium pace is getting quicker and quicker and I reckon by the end of this coming season he's going to be a tricky bowler to face especially if he continues to practice on the paddock across the road from me.

In the nets, Joe's been far more successful at dismissing me than Ben has, Ben bowls a length that I find easy to block, whereas Joe bowls on a really difficult length as far as I'm concerned and varies his pace and the way he bowls a great deal. Like Ben he has an off-cutter and unlike Ben Joe bowls with swing occasionally and seems to be more interested in bowling as an art.

Over the Easter break we've been doing some work over on the paddock getting it ready. It's been very wet, but this last couple of days with the sunny weather it's starting to dry out. We've cut back all of the grass, brambles and bushes that were growing along the fence as these were blocking out the light and encouraging drug users to hide behind the bushes and do their stuff. With the increase in light the wicket will grow nicely this year and we'll have some good practice sessions. We've focused on getting the off-stump channel line rolled really well this year so that batting might be possible. But we'll have to see how it dries out and how it plays.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Amelia Kerr Leg Spinner

Amelia Kerr Kiwi Leg Spinner - just 14!

Just found this via and just had to post it. I'm a fan of Women's cricket so when this link was posted I thought this sounded promising and sure enough it was!
Just check this out, a young female Peter Philpott tearing through the back end of the opposition of a televised T20 match in New Zealand. Let's hope she keeps this up and moves on to play for the Kiwi international team... might get to see her here in the UK playing against the English women's team? Definitely one to watch!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

English Suburban gardens - can you play cricket in them? Asked an Aussie

Discussing with an Aussie on Bigcricket how people get started with spin bowling, I mentioned that kids will often turn up at a club having never 'Bowled' a ball, to be honest, some of them hardly ever have thrown a ball! He then asked about the sizes of our gardens...

So the images here are where I live. It's probably typical of suburban areas around London and other big cities with houses built from the 1960's onwards. Probably earlier?  Any post-war municipal housing projects are likely to have been designed with small gardens. For instance (Post war) one of the biggest municipal housing projects is just up the road from me in Dagenham (see the link). As with my estate where I live in Basildon, Essex... a 1970's 'New Town', the gardens are barely big enough to swing a cat. If you look below you can see the size of the cars in comparison with the gardens. My garden is probably 20' x 20' and this is not unusual here in the UK.

My garden is ringed below in the images. The bigger ring is 'The Paddock' an area of grass at the edge of the estate which is big enough for my sons and I to drag a roller and a mower over to in the Spring and maintain a practice wicket on.

To be honest this is probably the only place and example of anyone in the UK doing such a thing, but I have had the blessing of the council before and they're more than happy that I do it and besides we maintain the hedges and prevent them from growing over the grass and shading it.
This shot is the same area, but a wider shot with the local football pitch. But, yeah if you're an Aussie, just have a look on Google earth/maps and looks at towns like Basildon, Peterborough, Dagenham, Milton Keynes or Harlow, all big new towns and check out the sizes of the garden plots.

So, you can probably see, this factor combined with the fact that from Nov through late march, weather-wise it is pretty bleak. Kids are more likely to play football here in the UK especially kids from these areas as Football is culturally embedded into our society. I think most working class people see cricket as being Middle Class, if they've never been involved in it. So in answer to the blokes question, yeah you're right, it would be very rare for kids to play cricket in their back yards. It's rare for kids to play cricket full stop!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fielding diagram - Nathan Lyons v Murali Vijay and Rohit Sharma 9th Jan 2015 at the SCG

Fielding diagram - Nathan Lyons v Murali Vijay and Rohit Sharma 9th Jan 2015 at the (4th day) SCG.

Captained by Steve Smith. Most of the runs were scored backward of square leg through the 45 degree 'Man round the corner' position.
In the last over at least, there may have been more, but I only saw the highlight package, the field was brought right up for the tail-enders. See the map below, I don't know where the 11th man was, but I guess he may have been in a straight long on or off position?
Here's the positions as I saw them with the suggested straight Long-on in place as a guessed position?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wrist-spin bowling 'The Leg-Break'

Under Construction Last edited 11th Jan 2015

The Leg-Break, known to most as Leg-Spin. This is the Wrist Spinners main ball, this is the ball most of us bowl 95% of the time and therefore is known as our "Stock Ball". Having said that there are sub variations, but we'll come to that later in the post. If you're totally new to Wrist Spinning and you want to get some sense of what it's all about you should check out some of the videos linked at the end of this post.

Basics; As mentioned in the paragraph above your 'Leg Break' is known as your 'Stock Ball'. This basically means this is the delivery you use most of the time and therefore have to be totally in control of, as Terry Jenner would say... "This is your go to ball, the one that will get you overs and the one that will get you wickets or dry up the runs".

This is the ball that you practice the most, this is the ball that you have to be able to spin hard and land in a relatively small area of your choice, again quoting Jenner... "Your bread and butter ball".

On the point of being the ball you practice the most, you have to realise that this is the most difficult of all cricket disciplines, this is recognised by everyone that plays cricket even though they have never tried it, they simply know though having seen and read about Wrist-Spinners at all levels... this is not easy. Most reckon that it'll take you four years of constant practice and if you're looking to do it at a high level you might be looking at 10 years! Needless to say there are those that have natural ability and the basics may come quickly.

Described as Slow Bowling, the approach to the crease is generally off of a short run up and the speed at which you would bowl if playing professionally is around the 45-55mph speed. Primarily you would bowl over the stumps landing the ball 4-5 metres in front of the stumps attacking the stumps (The impression from the batsman's perspective is that the ball will go on to hit the stumps line B) if left forcing the batsman to play the ball. The ball on pitching 'Breaks' (C) towards the off-side of the pitch looking strike the edge of the batsman's bat producing a catching chance for the keeper or slips fielder. (D - red dotted line is the line that the ball would be perceived to travel along if left and not deviated off of the pitch). The ball in this illustration is angled at 45 degrees - this has elements of both side and top-spin.

Grip  Most people use pretty much the same orthodox grip, often described as the two up two down grip the ball sits in the palm of the hand as below (Wrist-spinners grip #1). The thumb for the most part plays very little part, only perhaps supporting the ball in some vague way. The two 'Up' fingers are secondary to the two 'Down' fingers, especially the 3rd finger (Your ring finger). The 3rd finger which is the one which is resting on the seam of the ball in this image is where all the action is happening, this is the finger that puts the revs on the ball, accompanied by the flick of the wrist. Watch the first few seconds of the video here and see the role the 3rd finger plays.
This next image here (below)  illustrates the grip further by viewing it from above. Again see the 3rd finger position - snug against the seam of the ball.
The image above (Basic Wrist-spin grip) shows the grip from another angle. Dependent on how big or small your hand is it should look similar to this. With regards to the grip Peter Philpott writes...

You may like to experiment with the way you hold the ball - the grip. I have seen so many leg-spinners grip the ball differently, yet still bowl the it effectively, the most important factor is that the grip is comfortable and suits you.
       Even so, it is always sensible to understand the orthodox method. For 'the orthodox' simply means the way that suits most people. Whether you eventually choose to use the orthodox method or not, you should understand it, and experiment with it.

Peter Philpott, page 21, The Art of Wrist-Spin Bowling.

Grip it hard or soft? Again different people say different things, Warne for one says to grip it softly and Richie Benuad differs in that he suggests that you grip the ball quite firmly. Have a look at the clip here at 2:40 where he describes his grip and the firmness of the grip.
Benaud's grip is slightly different to that of Warne's, but having tried it, I'd say that it's worth experimenting with as your fingers might wrap around the ball in a different way and it may just feel like a far better method for you? Inevitably it'll probably be the case that you'll try and number of different ways before you settle on the one that works for you, but it's impossible to say to someone... "Hold it loose" simply because your idea of loose is probably very different to mine. It then means you're going to have to try this basic aspect of your bowling in numerous ways before you establish a way that suits you. I still have to say to myself when I'm bowing "Ridiculously loose, ridiculously loose", over and over again to force myself to bowl with an exceptionally loose grip, as through recent experimentation I've noted that the exceptionally loose grip works so much better for me. Having said that and also having looked at the Warne description of his grip here, I've noted that they both have their fingers either side of the middle finger spread very wide, so I myself may have a go at this in the nets in the coming months and see if it creates any significant difference in my bowling. It's this trial and re-trial process that a lot of us will have to go through over a period of a few years before we feel as though we're at a level that we're happy with.

Boogie Spinner has just said...

"Just reading your blog Dave, I'm reminded of some early commentary on Warne from Benaud. I couldn't possibly say exactly when but I distinctly remember Benaud exclaiming that Warne would 'spin it on glass' and more importantly that he wished he'd known about Warne's loose grip on the ball when he was bowling, because he gripped the ball tightly simply through a belief that it was preferable at the time".
Again further reinforcement of the need to work through the various methods to establish what will work for you. Warne himself says...

"The actual pressure of the grip is something you have to feel comfortable with. What I do... and what I do is not necessarily right for you, but it is right for me, remember it's got to be right for you, as long as you're getting the basics right. A lot of people are taught to grip the ball really tight, really squeeze it and spread these fingers out. (The 2 up fingers). The reason I don't like that is that, already everything is tight and tense when you come to the wicket, you're already tense and everything is getting hard. I don't like that, I want to come to the wicket feeling relaxed, if I feel relaxed, I feel like I'm going to be able to do what I want with the ball.

 So I have a loose grip, fingers are probably a little bit close together... but that works for me, the fingers are loose - two fingers up, two fingers down and the thumb just resting on the ball, that works for me". Shane Warne talking to Mark Nicholas.

Flickers or Rollers? The Wrist-Spinners bowling action is a whole body affair, from the tip of the toes to the tip of the fingers. Getting up on the toes, bracing the leg, pivoting on the toes, rotating the shoulders over one another, rotating the body 180 degrees, high release, 45 degree release, low release, the point at which the ball is released, the flick of the wrist and fingers all combine to send the ball down the wicket in a particular way. At each stage something can go awry that will effect the outcome and one of the key stages is the final stage - what happens with the hand...

One of the conundrums you'll be faced with, especially if you've learned the basics of bowling previously is the one of accuracy over spin. Intuitively you may feel or have learned from your previous bowling experiences that accuracy is an important aspect of your approach and that both accuracy and spinning the ball should be learned side by side with equal importance attached to them. Everyone without exception advocates that first and foremost the thing you need to do above all else is spin the ball really hard. Not hard, but really hard, so hard, that at the start it will mean that you've got to practice so much on your own you're going to wonder why the hell you started. Reason why - you're not going to be able to land the ball on the cut strip all of the time because of the effort you're going to be putting into spinning the ball!

In his book "The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling" Peter Philpott at the start of the chapters where he explains in detail the "Eight Stages of Spin" one of the first ground rules he sets is the Spin it hard rule. He discusses orthodoxy and variations in grip and actions and says that there should be some flexibility in approaching how people bowl. Coaches shouldn't interfere too much unless of course there's some cause for real concern and even then after much observation. But when it comes to the spinning mantra he says...

But if there is one factor in spin bowling which all spinners should accept if they wish to perform to their optimum, it is the concept that the ball should be spun hard.

    Not rolled, not gently turned, but flicked, ripped, fizzed. If young bowlers learn to spin hard from the start and then enough spinning it hard, they can achieve accuracy.
Peter Philpott, page 19, The Art of Wrist-Spin Bowling.

Accuracy or Spin?

Bowling action


Sub-variations of the Leg Break.

Should I copy anyone else's style? (working on this currently)

Prior to Warne's appearance on the cricket scene, Wrist-Spinning was all but dead. Over the 70's and 80's pace bowling had totally dominated across the world and many thought they'd never see the return of Wrist Spin in particular. As we all know Warne announced the end of that idea with his 'Ball of the century' to Mike Gatting and almost single-handedly resurrected spin-bowling in both forms.

One of the consequences of that was that Warne then kind of offered a template for anyone else that liked the idea of becoming a Wrist-Spinner. Warne was my introduction to cricket, cricket had kind of by-passed me despite the efforts of a bloke I worked with during the Botham era to get me watching it. But, one evening in the 1990's I turned on the tele with beer in my hand watching the Ashes highlights and watched in amazement as this fat Aussie bloke with a mullet haircut, ripped through the England batting line up bowling the ball ridiculously slow! I'd only ever watched cricket for short periods as a kid with my Dad, he didn't know what was happening, so was never able to explain to me what was going on, so I never saw or understood the nuances of the game, so to suddenly be introduced to slow bowling by an exponent that was effective and devastating was mesmerising and I was hooked!

I then made sure that I saw every game I could on the tele that featured the Aussies, just so that I could watch weave his magic. Then when my kids were old enough and one of them had an accident that meant that we couldn't play football I turned to cricket. I was the bowler and at the age of 47 I was Shane Warne and at last cricket suddenly made total sense to me! I walked in off of 8 steps and bowled leg-breaks and got my kids out. (Okay so they were only 7 and 9 years old, but it was a start)! Another Dad got involved and this blog was started soon after.

I used Warne's approach and I tried to copy what he did. Over the intervening years I've changed and adapted my approach, speeded things up, realised that I did this strange skip like Titch Freeman despite the fact that I thought I was bowling like Warne! I then tried a faster approach like Stuart MacGill, all of which made slight differences. Each of these stages was recorded on video and then via forums such as a range of people via youtube would then comment and discuss the bowling action including Stuart MacGill! Other people that populate this particular forum are specialists in bio-mechanics and they amongst some of the more experienced players fed back to me and advised me along with many others about the idea of trying to emulate the bowling actions of other people especially Warne's.

When it comes down to it, Warne's physique is unique and he's able to bowl the way that he does because of his physique and therefore, for most of us to try and replicate what he does is in fact counter-intuitive. Add to the fact that Warne is  built like a shot-put thrower and trains for hours upon hours under supervision of trainers and the likes, to try and do what he does exactly isn't a good method. Moreover, the bio-mechanists say that it can lead to injuries that will curtail your cricket life.

There is a question here that I've often pondered in that where do spin bowlers come from - at what point does a cricket player make the decision to bowl wrist spin?

Strategies and field setting

Training, exercise and practice ideas (Mat)

How long is this all going to take?

Moving forwards and considering variations - which one first?

The only other point to make about your grip is that once you've established the way you are going to hold the ball, if you're aiming to bowl at a higher level whereby batsmen are going to be looking at your hands/grip to try and read the ball out of the hand

Reading the ball out of the hand; This is where better batsmen watch how you hold the ball and release the ball. Watching how you release the ball in many instances allows the batsmen to figure out which delivery you're bowling, looking to negate your variations. I bowl against a kid at my club who also bowls wrist-spin, but unlike me he's also a very good batsman and he watches the ball out of my hand - pre-empting which way the ball is going to turn or whether it's going to stall or speed up. He's that good at it, he can call the delivery before it reaches him!  (Stuart MacGill). (Stuart MacGill & Shane Warne). (Shane Warne tactics and strategies). (Terry Jenner). (Terry Jenner 5 x grips) (Shane Warne slo-mo release)
The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling, (Peter Philpott, Crowood Press, Marlborough, 1988). - (Richie Benuad grip & hardness). - (Shane Warne Grip) - (Mark Garraway - Hip rotation). (Shane Warne explaining stuff + slo mo footage of release). (Simon Hughes analysing Warne's bowling 2005 ashes test + slow mo footage of top-spinner and leg break). (Beau Casson guidance). (Titch Freeman's bowling action. - Starters tutorial - Ball by ball Shane Warne Gabba 1994. Worth watching again and again to see how he goes about his work.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wrist Spin Bowling - Top-Spinner

The Top-Spinner.(updated 1st April 2015)

The Top-Spinner or 'Over-Spinner' is one of the variations bowled by Wrist Spinners. The ball is flicked out of the hand using a combination of wrist and fingers to impart the spin, the seam of the ball is released so that it's upright, as per the diagram below seen from above.

The grip is the exactly the *same as the Leg Break ...2 fingers up, 2 fingers down as described by both Jenner and Warne the view that the batsman would see would be as in the image below (fig 1). This I would describe as an orthodox wrist spinners grip with the ball cupped in the hand and the 3rd finger (ring finger) rested on the seam.
The thumb plays little or no part in the release generally, the 3rd finger is rested on the seam highlighted here below in fig 4. This finger on the seam is the means by which the spin is imparted, combined with the flick of the wrist.

Delivered as nears as possible in the same way as your stock ball, the wrist position is changed so that the side spin on the ball is negated, the seam rotates over itself aimed directly down the wicket. The harder the ball is spun, the more the ball will be effected by the Magnus Force making the ball dip as it reaches the batsman. The impression from the batsman's perspective would be that the ball is going to be a lot fuller, landing a lot close to his position in the crease. With the top-spin, the ball would then dip late in its trajectory dropping short, the result is that often the batsman would play the shot timing it incorrectly resulting in the ball spooning up in the air.

The flight of the ball would appear based on its release height and speed to be a much fuller ball (Indicated by the white line), but with the top-spin the ball would suddenly drop short as indicated by the red line. One of the better descriptions of the Top-Spinner can be found on Pencil Crickets blog, he writes...

Wrist-spin Applications #1: The Top-spinnerI've started with the top-spinner rather than the stock legbreak as this is by far the easier delivery to describe, so it's a good starting point. I'm assuming it's a "pure" top-spinner, i.e. that the seam is vertically upright and pointing down the wicket.

Essentially, all you have to do to work out what the Magnus effect will do with this ball is take the golf ball and turn it upside down, so that instead of pushing the ball up it pulls it down instead.

Now here, for once, I have to take issue with Peter Philpott. In his otherwise flawless book "The Art of Wrist-Spin Bowling" he describes the effect of top-spin (he calls it overspin) saying that "overspin increases the effect of gravity", a bit of sloppy science that will have all the physics teachers rolling their eyes. The effect of gravity is unchanged throughout - what top-spin does is add an additional effect which accelerates the ball in the same direction. So the ball has the downward acceleration due to gravity AND some more downward acceleration due to the Magnus effect on top of that.

So as the batsman sees the ball come out of the bowler's hand, he will judge the speed and angle and intuitively estimate where the ball will pitch based on downward acceleration due to gravity alone. Thereafter the Magnus effect will make the ball dip faster in the air, and bounce further away from the batsman than he originally thought it would. That's not all, however. Because the ball has dipped it will now hit the ground at a steeper angle, and therefore it will bounce higher.

Now anyone who has ever spun a ball onto the floor in front of them will find this last part counter-intuitive. If you gently chuck a top-spinning ball onto the floor in front of you the traction as it lands will accelerate it away from you, making the angle it bounces up at shallower. Likewise a back-spun ball will seem to sit up, and if you give it a really good rip you can even get it to bounce right back towards you despite its original momentum. However - and spinners need to get their heads round this - at any significant speed the Magnus effect's ability to make the ball hit the ground at a steeper angle and thus bounce harder and higher far outweighs this effect. It's not that the effect doesn't exist, after all it's the same force that makes a leg-break turn, it's just that it is dwarfed by a counter-acting force in this situation.

So the Magnus effect will make a top-spun ball dip more during flight, meaning it will pitch shorter than anticipated, and hit the ground at a steeper angle, making it bounce higher.

Relatively easy to bowl if you have a high arm action as opposed to a low action. A lower 'Round Arm' action requires a potentially more difficult wrist position if you're looking to bowl the delivery making it indistinguishable from your stock Leg Break.

How to use it? I've seen it used in a variety of ways, especially effectively by older bowlers who've got very good control over their line, length and speed. If you've got that kind of accuracy and you're bowling against tail-enders or someone who's desperate to stay in for whatever reason, this ball can tie an end down, dry up runs and put pressure on the other batsman.

But generally you can vary it with the afore-mentioned aspects - line, length, flight/speed, more or less spin. Mixed in with your Leg-Breaks - to suddenly bowl one, when the batsman is looking to play the break off the wicket, the fact that it's straight will potentially cause problems and with the extra bounce the ball may come off the gloves, bat handle or the shoulder of the bat to be caught behind.

New Batsman in.  On SKY during a break in a test match in 2012/13 Warne did a piece where he discussed his initial approach to bowling to a new batsman using the crease. (See the link above). This is kind of reliant on your ability to bowl a decent line and length, but he advised to bowl from different positions on the crease, either side of the stumps for the most part attacking the stumps. There are further thing you have to consider, field placement for one. Because it's a new batsman you have to consider when you've been brought on and how you faired in the previous over if you've already been bowling. But if you've done okay in the previous overs, this'll be your licence to go on the attack. Bring the field up and right from the outset give the impression something is going to happen.

Warne's exact order or approach I've not revisited or replicated here, but I've adapted it for my own use, but it was pretty simple, something along the lines of...

1. Over the wicket, Stock Ball, off-stump line coming off of a normal position on the popping crease, close to the stumps. The ball is delivered attacking an off-stump line (C), with the expectation that the ball will break off the wicket (B). In the first over your tactic could be to hold back the Top-Spinner which would take the red dotted line route (D) hitting middle and off.

2. Over the wicket, Stock Ball, off-stump line, but go wider on the wicket further from the stumps. Again your targeting the stumps forcing the batsman to play a shot, all the time creating chances with your leg break turning it away from the edge of the bat.

3. Over the wicket, Stock Ball, but wide of the stumps on the off-side, going back to the close to the stumps delivery approach. This is useful to see how much the batsman moves his feet, giving some indication as to how confident they are. Again all of these balls are reliant on the consistency of your stock ball, if your moving around on the crease, but bowling a regular pace and flight, there'll be a growing confidence in some aspect of the batsman own perception of what is happening. He maybe thinking at this stage "Right... this bloke is moving his position on the crease, but the flight and pace are pretty much consistent"... Which is pretty much what you want him to be doing?
If he's not that good, he may not move his feet at all and may swing at the ball, or lean out to hit it, again all potentially clues to how well he's going to play the ball once you get going.

4. Over the stumps, Stock Ball, wide on the crease, but a leg stump line. This is where you'll start to see if the batsman is strong off his legs. I find this a riskier line along with the final two approaches which see me go around the wicket attacking the leg-stump.

5. Around the stumps, Stock Ball, close to the stumps, leg-stump line. Now really mess with his head and your team mates if you don't rearrange your field! Go around the stumps attacking the leg-stump, again don't forget you're still bowling your stock ball leg break, so you're turning it into the batsman, but forcing them to play the ball because you're attacking the stumps. I find this the riskier of all the tactics so far, as often the batsman will come after you if they've got any real confidence with the bat, but alternatively, you might find that bowling around is a loophole that you can definitely look to exploit? But set your field accordingly - again how you do this either supports your own sense of confidence or indicates some concern, so again I go with giving the impression that something is going to happen for me, rather than giving the impression that the batsman is going to smack you over the boundary. Maybe bring blokes over from the off-side and have close in fielders, I have a bloke in my team who loves fielding at silly midwicket, so he'd be brought in to that position and be right under the batsman's nose.

6. Around the stumps, Stock Ball, wide of the stumps, wide of leg stump. Again change your line go wide on the crease away from the stumps, if you have just been hit over the boundary, take this line but do something additional - you've already bowled 5 stock deliveries - maybe change the pace as well as the angle? Or stick with what you've been doing ready to deliver the sucker punch in the next over?

Having now bowled a whole over of Stock Ball leg breaks and seen the response, go back to the approach that looked the most promising, chuck a couple up and see what happens and then bring in the Top-Spinner. Hopefully the delivery will be so different with extra dip and bounce, added to the fact that you've discovered the best line of attack, the Top-Spinner might be the ball that gets you the wicket?

The amount of variations that can be bowled, simply by moving around on the crease and bowling different lines, lengths, pace gives the batsman something to think about. I think Warne also suggests supporting this probing approach with also tweaking the field settings, moving a bloke a few paces here and there, again to give the impression that you know what you're up to and you're putting a plan together. Again with the field settings added to the fact that you're attacking from different positions on the crease, this all adds up to adding potential pressure to the batsman.

This idea of moving around so much on the crease is that (1). It has the potential to not allow the batsman to feel as though he's in control. (2). You're exploring real options, one of these approaches might give some indication early on that there's a weakness that you can exploit in the batsman's technique. Once you've had a look and there does seem to be a particular approach that looks as to be an attacking option that might bring a wicket, in your next over explore that option and vary your stock ball and then bung in the Top-Spinner as a variation?

The ball is generally used sparingly amongst the stock leg-break with the intention that the characteristics of the delivery catch the batsman out.

Other Factors None of this is easy, but one thing you do need to have in place before you're able to put these plans into place is a good degree of control over your leg break. First and foremost almost everyone will tell you, you have to master the leg break before moving on with any conviction with the variations. If you can try and get your coach or club to lend you a copy of the ECB's video 'Wings to Fly' and have a listen to Warne's coach Terry Jenner. Similarly check out all of the videos on-line that feature Jenner talking about wrist/leg spin bowling.

Pitch Conditions - These have to be considered in relation to how and what you bowl, but this comes with experience. If the wicket is bouncy or has irregular bounce your away and this should produce successful outcomes. If the wicket is a batting wicket and there's no variation in it and the bounce is true and consistent, you might have to look to another plan.

Stage of the game - I tend to come on after about 20 - 25 overs, if the openers are still there, they're generally well set and seeing the ball well. In which case a different approach might be needed? The ideal situation is to bowl to the new batsman and you need to work with your team to get the new bloke on strike, set the field and bowl your stock delivery to allow the 'Set' batsman to run a single, getting the new bloke on strike. But, there is the caveat that if your 'Set' batsman looks to be struggling, then implement your bowling plan against him as well as the new bloke.

Sub Variations - Having posted this blog entry and discussing variations on-line here, one of the forum contributors posted this Youtube video of Warne's releases/deliveries recorded in slow motion. Included amongst the deliveries is one that is particularly interesting in that it features a Top-Spinner that is released with a slightly scrambled seam. Watch the video, it's in two sections, the latter footage is slower than the initial footage. At 1.39 seconds the Top-Spinner is released and you can see that the seam doesn't rotate perfectly and there's an element of the seam being scrambled. In the latter stage of the drop at about 1.49 seconds the ball 'Drifts' dramatically towards the leg-side and then hits the ground and goes on as a Top-Spinner should.

As a diagram it would look something like this.
For me as someone that doesn't get the ball to drift that much, I've been led to believe that in order that the ball drifts there has to be a combination of over-spin (Top-spin) and side spin. I've always assumed that the side spin needs to be 'Clean' as opposed to scrambled, so this video footage is a bit of a revelation, meaning that this coming season I'll be looking at trying out Top-Spinners with a scrambled seam looking for the Holy Grail that is 'Drift'.

*Grip Variations - One of the things that Philpott warns against in his book The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling Is the notion that the grip has to be one way or another. I've introduced the idea that the images above represent an orthodox approach to gripping the ball to produce the Top-Spinner, it maybe the case that for most of us this works fine? I've found that, no matter how hard I try and get my wrist so that it produces a perfect top - spinner, the 'Orthodox' approach as described above still breaks a little towards the off-side.
Recently looking to get the ball to bounce straight with no break and increased dip, I experimented with a slightly different grip. I've developed a release that looks pretty much the same as the grip in the image (Figure 1) when bowled.


But when looked at more closely (Image A) you'll see that the ball doesn't sit so deep and cupped in the hand as in the case of the orthodox grip. This approach feels a lot more "fingery" and uses the middle finger as opposed to the 3rd (ring) finger to impart the spin (see below)...
The flick of the wrist is imparted in a slightly different way to the leg break because the wrist has to maintain the 'straightness' aspect to get the ball to over-spin. Instead of the wrist being cocked down and inwards, I cock my wrist backwards and the wrist flick as in the diagram here below is as indicated by the arrow, and this combined with the finger action helps to put the spin on the ball. It does require a certain level of dexterity and suppleness of the wrist.
The finger action is also very different to the orthodox method and uses all of the fingers to put the spin on the ball.
You can see the thumb has a big role to play in this method, the thumb and fingers combined with the flick of the wrist twists the ball; the thumb rolls under the ball and all four fingers roll around the ball over the top imparting the top spin. It'll probably feel ridiculously hard to do this initially but with practice it'll come. This is a classic case of requiring the approach that Philpott advocates - spin anything, any where at any time... Sitting watching the television? Pick up an apple and rip the apple from hand to hand using this method and bit by bit you'll feel it coming together and you'll soon see that you're able to impart a fair bit of spin on the ball using this technique.
I'm writing this pre-season and I've used this method in its early stages of development against a number of different batsmen in the nets with very promising results. I'm hoping that going forwards with more practice this is going to be a very useful ball, I've also noticed that with a little angling of the wrist, I can also get it to come in to the right handed batsman for a little Googly, which is potentially very useful too.

The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling - Peter Philpott, The Crowood Press, 2006