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by David Hinchcliffe Tuesday 15 July 2014
Every bowler dreads it.
The pitch for the first Test match between England and India was awful: No pace, no bounce, no challenge for batsmen.
It's a similar story around the country in club games as the summer gets later and the pitches get more batting friendly.
But it’s far from impossible for you to resign yourself to a drawn game.
In simply a case of having some backup plans. Here are some of the better options that work:
Keep the ball dry
Do not apply spit, sweat or any moisture to the ball. It won't help.
Less hands on the ball is better as you reduce the likelihood of fielders inadvertently getting sweat on the wrong side of the ball or - even worse - balance the ball by working on the wrong side!
The ball is your best ally. The swing will come back later in the game if the ball is protected and worked on effectively.
Look after it.
Hit your length
In their prime, English bowlers were amazing at bowling "dry".
All the bowlers would hammer the same length for long periods of time, constant probing and asking the batsmen to do the work. England were as likely to pick up wickets in this period as at times where the ball was darting around.
What is this probing length?
It's 5-7 metres from middle stump in the club game.
Statistically this is the most economical length and induces the highest percentage of false shots off of fast bowlers.
Developing control of length through measurable practice will give you confidence to hold onto length and create pressure whilst the pitch is flat.
This also creates time for your designated shiner to shine life back into that ball.
Bowl around the wicket
Malcolm Marshall – not a bad bowler – sometimes needed a backup plan too.
Malcolm would go around the wicket and slant the ball across the right handed batter, with excellent results.
When he was coaching he would encourage Hampshire’s bowlers to do exactly the same and this again gave the bowlers confidence that they could pick up a wicket.
Change your pace
This is not about obvious slower balls. It's more effective to mix your pace up very subtly through an over with the ball still being delivered in a seam up fashion.
Change pace through a range. If your full effort, top speed ball is 100%, bowl an over between 95-100%, and send in your top pace ball - arrow straight at the stumps - on the last ball of the over.
It makes it much harder for the batsman to get into a rhythm against your pace.
This unsettles the control and ability to attack. It also increases the opportunity for a chance to be created.
In many ways, being a pace bowler on a flat one is like being a spinner: You take wickets through guile and perseverance.
It may not be as sexy as bowling fast or ripping leg breaks, but you still need skill.
Take pride in your work and you will reap the rewards.
© 2014 Pitchvision Academy
For more coaching tips, videos and courses, please visit the PitchVision Academy website