Parvez Rassol, India’s latest spinning sensation, has given plenty of credit to his mentor, India spinning great Bishen Bedi, saying he had learned the “right things” from him, especially how to be an aggressive bowler. At a time when India’s spin bowling stocks appear depleted – ask Wasim Jaffer or Amol Muzumdar – Firstpost spoke to Bedi about the craft of spin bowling and what it takes to succeed at the highest level.
On spin bowling
Spin bowling is not just bowling four overs. There is more to it. Spin bowling is a craft one acquires after bowling over after over, hour after hour, day after day, week after after week, month after month, year after year. Then you acquire some excellence.
The more you bowl, the better you get. There is no guideline on that count. It depends on how obsessed you are. I am talking about excellence. Excellence is an obsession.
I was obsessed with bowling. During my time, we had no distractions. I would bowl seven or eight hours a day. I used to bowl a lot. There was nothing else to do, coming from a small town like Amritsar. We had nothing to do.
What goes into making a good spin bowler? Attitude. A spin bowler’s temperament.
On “buying” wickets
When you buy a shirt, a pair of trousers, how do you buy it? It is very simple: you give a few runs, you buy a wicket. If you want to be stingy, don’t want to give a few runs, then you won’t get wickets. As simple as that.
You can plan a man out. Plan a strategy to give him a false sense of confidence and then creating a trap for him and hoping he will fall into it.
On a spin bowler's preparation
You have to understand what the batsman is doing and what you want him to do. That will only come if you have put in sufficient hours in the nets. And when you bowl in the nets, you bowl as if you are bowling in the match. Set an imaginary field for yourself and then try and get every man out once at least in 10 or 15 minutes of batting. Get him out once. And if you do it once, do it again.
So this is the preparatory process which you take on to the field.
On the use of flight and trajectory
They [today’s spinners] are bowling too flat. What happens is, the flatter you bowl and quicker you bowl, the quicker it goes off the bat out of the ground.
You have to delay the ball reaching the bat in a very subtle manner. Keep the man waiting. If the man is not waiting, if the ball comes on the bat quickly, then it goes off the bat quickly as well.
Flight is a trajectory. It is a loop. It is quickish in the air but it has a rainbow effect. Then only it will turn if there is enough spin imparted. The trajectory is quickish in the air to disturb the head position of the batsmen. If the batsman is shaking his head while negotiating the spinning ball, then advantage bowler.
What is the difference between spin and break? Spin is in the air, break is off the wicket, depending on the spin imparted to the ball. If there is not enough spin imparted, there will not be any break. The ball will just go straight, like in the case of Ravindra Jadeja.
Drift is with the help of the breeze. You make the ball drift with the help of the breeze when you are bowling. There are so many things you have to keep in mind. Which end you want to bowl? I used to prefer to bowl with the breeze coming from third man. If the breeze is coming in from third man, I could make the ball drift in, and it would break away depending on the spin imparted.
On Tests vs T20s
I think we have to draw a line that Test cricket has to be kept separate from T20. You can’t play T20 as well as Test cricket as well as One-day cricket. It is impossible.
Requirements are vastly different and vastly demanding also.
On training young players
Spin bowling is a mindset. If you are hit for a six, a straight six particularly, the boys seem to go into a depression. Nobody has ever told them that a straight six can come off a good ball. You can’t set a field for a straight six.
This is where the coaching staff is unable to pass on the message to the youngsters. Don’t get down and out. If somebody hits you for two or three sixes in an over, that doesn’t mean you have destroyed the team. That is part of the game.
On setting a field
To set a field for negative bowling - deep midwicket and a sweeper cover are negative field placements. These are fielders for bad bowling. You can have long on and long off if you are creating a trap for a batsmen. But deep midwicket and sweeper cover, you are blocking two fielders for nothing.
Those two fielders are there for bad bowling. And you are not supposed to ball badly. You set a field for good bowling. If you bowl badly, it is part of the game.
The problem is when you don’t set the field for good bowling, then you obviously have doubts in your mind about whether you can bowl well. Any doubt or suspicion on your own part is a self creation.
If you are setting a field for bad bowling, advantage batsmen.
On guile and attitude
The best advantage a spinner can have up is sleeve is guile. You can’t knock the batsman's head off, can you? The best you can do is beat him in the air or off the wicket. You got to out-think him. And beyond that, you must have tons and tons of self confidence.
That only comes when you have done your homework properly. You have done your preparation properly.
It is not landing the ball on the same spot. It is a question of how you want to get a man out. In the present context, we have the commentators saying so and so bowled in the right areas. Now, which are those right areas? Who is going to define those right areas. Now you can get a wicket of a full toss also, is that the right area? You can get a wicket off a long hop also. Is that a right area?
“Right areas” is not on the 22 yards of the playing surface. “Right areas” is the six inches between your ears. You have to plan a strategy. You have to plan a man out.
On taking wickets vs keeping it tight
If the man is out in the middle, somebody like Sachin Tendulkar in his prime or Virender Sehwag or [Kevin] Pietersen or Vivian Richards in their prime, you cannot dry the runs. But you can get them out.
As long as he is in the middle, he will get runs. So the best way to dry up the runs is to get him out, think him out. What is the job of the batsmen? To score runs. What is the job of the bowler? To get wickets; not to check the runs.
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