Jeremy Wells

Jeremy Wells on cricket

Jeremy Wells: Academy best begin call ups for the bent arm brigade

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Daniel Vettori. Photo / Getty Images
Daniel Vettori. Photo / Getty Images

In an effort to boost readership for the new-look Herald, I have been instructed to produce a three-part series of Martin Crowe-like outbursts outlining the fundamental issues facing New Zealand cricket.

I'm told I need to create dialogue both online as well as in and around water coolers, cricket nets, brothels or any other cricketing or non-cricketing facilities where people discuss controversial issues of the day.

Part One is entitled "Throwing - The Future?"

With the imminent retirement to commentary or sports supplement peddling of our premiere spinner and most-capped player, Dan Vettori, it's time to look to the future.

Who's going to tie up an end while our exciting young seam attack look to swing, nip-back or slower-ball bounce their way to 20 test wickets?

Who's going to toil away in spin-unfriendly conditions while Trent Boult's mouth does its best impression of Shane Thomson's from the other end?

Are they going to bowl wrist spin, finger spin, doosras or carrom balls?

And, most importantly, are they going to chuck it?

While questions A, B and C were only designed for cheap laughs, question D is something I'd like to take a serious look at.

First, let me start with the disclaimer that I know nothing about New Zealand Cricket's current high-performance coaching. Someone told me once that Dayle Hadlee had something to do with it. Now it's run by some Australians. One is a lawn bowler. The other's got a massive moustache.

Anyway, it's my firm belief that the Australians need to focus on teaching spinners how to throw more effectively.

An edict needs to be passed down from wherever edicts are passed down from stipulating how spin bowlers need to bend their arms.

Let's divert an air force Hercules from its peace-keeping role in Afghanistan to fly some of the world's best chuckers to Lincoln and pay them a pretty penny to parlay their secrets of spin.

The coaching has to begin with youngsters. It's not easy unlearning bowling. I've tried myself. After the ICC initiated the 15-degree rule in 2005, I built my own cricket net down the south side of my house for the express purpose of learning to throw in a last-ditch effort to make the Black Caps.

The hardest part was bending the arm just enough to gain extra bounce and turn without looking like an actual throw.

In the end, with no available professional help and little assistance available from Google, I gave up and went back to imitating Tim May, Australia's third-best spinner of the early-90s.

Suffice to say I never received the call-up.

What I'm trying to say is that even though I had the desire to exploit the 15-degree rule and understood the benefits of crooked delivery, there was no perceivable avenue to realise my aspirations.

Sadly for New Zealand cricket, bent-arm delivery identification plays a secondary role in our high-performance structure to more traditional forms of coaching like playing in the 'V' and bowling in the corridor of uncertainty.

But why? Clinical tests prove that spinners who bowl with a bent arm are 71 per cent more likely to spin the ball prodigiously and 100 per cent more likely to bowl a doosra - figures the Australians at the Academy simply can't ignore.

If New Zealand are serious about replacing our veteran Vettori with someone who's going to win tests for us in the future, it's vital that we start signing 5-year-olds for the bent-arm brigade.

I can see the comments flooding in already.

- NZ Herald

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