Saturday, 20 June 2009

Coaching unorthodoxy

Call it what you like - fate, luck, kismet, the work of a benevolent universe - Pakistan versus Sri Lanka just feels like the right outcome, the right final. There is a more earth-bound reason too. It's a match between the two best bowling sides in what everyone loves to call a batsman's game. 

In truth, the format is too young to know whose game it is. First there was primordial mayhem, no-one able to comprehend they were going to play a whole match in three hours. Then the bat edged ahead as the natural rhythm of twenty over innings emerged. Now evolution has developed a response, as it always does: bowling of magnificent natural flair and invention.

That old sage Duncan Fletcher nailed it in his column today. T20 rewards batsmen who know how to bat. Being able to hit down the ground is the key skill. 'You are forced to attack lines of bowling you would otherwise ignore,' Fletcher says, 'and you can only do that with sound technique'.

Batting in the near future is essentially mapped out. It's just a heightened version of what already exists. Bowling seems to have more room for advancement, it's where evolution can flower. Sri Lanka's attack could never have been invented, it's just too weird. It had to happen naturally. But once things exist they can be copied, replicated in whole or in part.

Coaches coach orthodoxy. If a guy like Mendis or Malinga or Afridi comes along, a decent coach just steps aside. They're taught that unorthodoxy is a thing not to be messed with. Stick your fingers into those sorts of engines and you'll get them ripped off. You'll probably bugger up the engine too.

What doesn't often occur is for a coach to try to recreate it elsewhere. Maybe they should. Bowling round-arm like Malinga is no harder than bowling with an upright arm, it's just not taught. But lots of kids could do it, and one might be a gem. 

1 comment:

Q said...

I think the Lankan coaches at all levels have been much better than the Pakistan ones in encouraging the natural play of the likes of Jayasuriyas, Malingas, Muralis, and Mendis...

In Pakistan, coaches almost ruined Afridi's career trying to turn him into a proper batsman... it took them a long time to realize that it was best to leave him the way he was..