Over-arm Bowling – unlike batting, this involves 4 skills viz. 2 primary & 2 secondary
Primary skills –
1) Length – is the foremost skill one learns as a bowler.
2) Line – of the ball. This is related to length.
Secondary skills –
1) Speed: in air, and off the pitch.
2) Movement – includes spin, swerve, swing, seam – both in air and off the pitch. Basically, anything that deviates the ball from one point to another when applied brakes or twist to the ball.
Before we discuss these skills in detail, one needs to understand the process of bowling.
“Over-arm bowling” is the most unnatural and toughest skill for a player to learn.
A quick look at the process of bowling
The first thing a player learns when he is trying to bowl over-arm is to pitch the ball at the batsman’s end, since this happens to be the most difficult art in over-arm bowling !! – It takes months to learn this skill, sometimes years. The initial period is very frustrating as the ball never lands within pitch range.
Primary skills of learning how to bowl length and line in over-arm bowling –
· Once the length is mastered, the next step is the line of the ball, which, they discover, is related to length.
· Throwing the ball from a distance – Simultaneously if a player tries his hands at fielding, especially throwing the ball from a distance, then pitching the ball within batting range becomes easy. Although throwing and over-arm bowling are not similar, it gives a fair idea to a player about the range that he is throwing the ball. And then pitching the ball at batsman’s range becomes easier.
· Run up to the crease – The initial learning of running and bowling should of consist of 5/6 steps
· Using the mirror to get one’s hand in a vertically correct position – Here running will not be possible, since it has to be practised at home with an imaginary ball or something extremely light like a paper ball to avoid hurting anyone or breaking anything. This is simulation, and if practised for an hour everyday, one’s over-arm action becomes fluent in actual play
Secondary skills of learning how to impart spin and pace in over-arm bowling.
· Learning to spin the ball – one can learn by standing and rolling their arm, using a very small ball so that imparting spin becomes easy initially, leading to accuracy and confidence in bowlers.
· Adding a few steps – in the run-up while learning, generates more pace through body force applied in bowling over-arm.
· Using a mirror to understand the action and grip – This would be effective with a paper ball. From a distance, bowl with a paper ball in front of a mirror, allowing the ball to hit the mirror. This helps the players to understand the release point and flight of the ball.
· There is no such thing as a correct grip which applies to all the bowlers. Even a finger-across-the seam-grip will finally deliver the ball with the vertical seam. This is due to their body rotation, & arm / wrist / finger action of a particular bowler.
While learning secondary skills, a bowler gets extremely excited about spinning the ball. And interestingly he learns to spin the ball much before he learns to bowl over-arm ! Surprising, isn’t it ?
Well, he learns these skills while playing under-arm cricket.
Most start spinning the ball during their under-arm days – it’s a rare that a child learns to bowl over-arm first than under arm – any where in the world
Once he graduates to over-arm, the first thing he learns is the length i.e. batsmen’s range, which happens to be the most difficult skill in over-arm bowling.
Then he learns "spin" – a player learns to spin or cut / break the ball. He gets very excited because by spinning he is able to beat the bat…successfully.
But what he doesn’t realize is that this itself will turn out to be his own waterloo !
After learning to spin, his action changes as he is making effort to impart spin or cut the ball, overlooking his action in the process.
From here on it becomes difficult for him to get his original action back. This gives birth to chucking i.e. bending of the arm.
So as you see, the seed is planted much earlier then we think.
Now well, whether one should allow a child to play under-arm will entirely depend on how he holds his over-arm action, and how consistently he maintains this action over a period of time.
Usually, once he learns movement and pace, his action changes. He develops new styles to his action, allowing to use them consistently. This can also lead to ‘chucking’ and ‘bending of arm’, since he is entirely focused on spin or pace while imbibing these new styles, ignoring his action completely.
How and why bowlers chuck:
The following could be a few reasons :
· Incorrect training environment.
· Misleading consulting and teaching from coaches and management.
· Lack of patience from bowlers to learn the correct technique, since they are deceived when they are able to turn the ball for the very first time. This actually is a sign of long hard work in the future days/weeks/months, which unfortunately most don’t accept, particularly when they are young.
· Some claim to be deformed, which is very sad, If what they claim is true, then they should participate with similar teams, as there is an increasing scope in disabled cricket at the international level. But they need to qualify first.
Below are some interesting statistics which were found during this research :
· Between the early ‘60s to ;90s, very few spinners broke the law by bending or breaking their arm. But, since then till today (i.e. 1990-2012), 17% spinners are officially reported for chucking, and apart from one, all the rest happen to be from the sub-continent. Although cutting edge technology was not available then (i.e.1990s or earlier), it was pretty much obvious from one’s naked eye that hardly a bowler chucked.
· Rotation policy for bowlers should be mandatory: Every bowler in the past (between1950-1970) had a flourishing end to his international cricketing career. Their performance in the last 12 innings as a bowler is much better than those retired between 1990-2011. Hence one should have a rotation policy for players in all format International Cricket.