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Thread: Terry Jenner on developing spinners

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    U19 12th Man Penguinissimo's Avatar
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    Terry Jenner on developing spinners

    I thought this was a fascinating extract from an interview on a subject that's pretty relevant at the moment:

    Why is there a problem with developing Australian spinners?

    "Every guy in a state squad wants to play all the forms of cricket but for a spinner, it takes a significant amount experience to be able to change your game to do that. It's the longer form of the game that suffers because a young spinner takes the spin off the ball so he can become more accurate and when they do that they become semi dot-ball bowlers.

    "That's why we have no leg-spinners in Australia at the moment because they are asked, through a total lack of understanding, to bowl dot balls. Shane Warne says that when you defend with the field, then you can attack with the ball. It takes a lot longer to develop a wrist spinner with accuracy, it's much easier to sacrifice the spin to become accurate. But you don't bring your spin back, it's gone forever.

    "You have more leg spinners going around in England than we have in Australia. You never would have thought an Australian could say that because we have been breeding them here for years. But we are not developing youngsters because we say to them that they have to bowl economically."


    What should happen now?

    "We need a change of attitude and we now have to have a rethink about how we develop these guys. Cricket Australia have employed Shane to try and get through to captains about encouraging the development of wrist spin as well as using field placings to protect them - and I hope they listen to him.

    "I would also look at the form of cricket spin bowlers play. There is a young player in New South Wales called Steven Smith, who is very talented - but he is playing limited-over cricket. He should play just four-day cricket instead. If he is our future, let's develop him as such. Warne played a host of Tests before he played a one-day international and that allowed him to develop his craft.

    "We are not bereft of some reasonably good developing cricketers but you have to work out how they are going to get their opportunity to show they are up to it."


    I'm going to go through and fisk it shortly, but that's the main text for you to read yourselves.

  2. #2
    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Some people have said Jenner is a very average coach who got lucky because he helped mentor one of the best spinners ever. I don't know about that but what he says there is nonsense IMO - you can't blame OD cricket for the dearth of wristspin now, same way you can't blame it for the dearth of wristspin in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Simple fact is wristspin is incredibly hard to bowl and by-and-large it isn't something there's very much middle ground to. You're either a club bowler or you're one of the greatest ever with wristspin - at least, these days, dunno about in the 1920s and all that, there were a few county-but-not-Test-standard wristies around then.

    Most people who try to bowl conventional big-spinning wristspin can't control it well enough. There have been a tiny handful who could: Warne, Murali, Benaud, Gupte, O'Reilly, Grimmett. Maybe the SAfrican triplet of Schwarz, Vogler and Faulkner, but they were short-lived. There've also been unconventional wristspinners like Chandra and Kumble, but they're more akin to fingerspinners as they spin it less, bowl flatter and significantly have much better control and bowl quickly through the air.

    However, if you're looking for a conventional wristspinner in your team all the time you're going to be very, very disappointed very often. A Warne is a rare thing and it's very likely Australia will have a long, long wait before they have a spinner who can bowl somewhere near Warne again. Same way they did between Benaud's decline and Warne's ascendance. In that time, there was just one particularly good spinner to play for Australia, and that was Ashley Mallett. Even he was an exception to a norm, because he was a fingerspinner.

    In Australia, since the 1950s, fingerspin isn't a viable option - Mallett is the only remotely good fingerspinner they've had in that time. The pitches just by-and-large don't contain enough help. Even The SCG doesn't seem to any more, and The WACA remains a ground that produces a spin-friendly surface only every 4 years or so. And the rest, well, forget it. The 'Gabba, Bellerive and Adelaide Oval are flat as pancakes, The WACA is mostly seam-friendly and I can't recall ever seeing a fingerspinner turn it at The MCG.
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    U19 12th Man Penguinissimo's Avatar
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    "Every guy in a state squad wants to play all the forms of cricket
    One of the most important points he makes. What young spinner is going to refuse to play T/20 cricket in this day and age?

    but for a spinner, it takes a significant amount experience to be able to change your game to do that.


    There are very few spinners who are equally effective in both forms of the game. Murali, Mendis and Vettori at the moment - Warne and Kumble recently.

    It's the longer form of the game that suffers because a young spinner takes the spin off the ball so he can become more accurate and when they do that they become semi dot-ball bowlers.
    Because in 50-over games, bowling 10-0-45-0 is often deemed to be a perfectly acceptable spell, whereas in Tests you'd get hauled off five overs into that spell and sent down to fine leg to think about what you'd done.

    "That's why we have no leg-spinners in Australia at the moment because they are asked, through a total lack of understanding, to bowl dot balls.
    This reflects the point I was making in the Monty Panesar thread yesterday that captains and coaches need to take responsibility for the development of young spinners.
    Shane Warne says that when you defend with the field, then you can attack with the ball.


    This makes a lot of sense - so simple when put like that that it's hard to believe it's not obvious to everyone. Tell your guy to rip it, but basically take out the close catchers and have a ring of men preventing easy singles and cover in the deep.

    It takes a lot longer to develop a wrist spinner with accuracy, it's much easier to sacrifice the spin to become accurate. But you don't bring your spin back, it's gone forever.


    I don't think many people get that bit. A similar sentiment to what Richie Benaud always says: "learn to spin the ball a long way first, and worry about everything else later". If you can't spin the ball a long way as a wrist spinner, you're just a less dependable version of a finger spinner.

    "You have more leg spinners going around in England than we have in Australia. You never would have thought an Australian could say that because we have been breeding them here for years.
    But we've been so obsessed in England with finding a genuinely good leggie ever since the Gatting ball, and so it's hardly a surprise that we're encouraging it at grass roots level.

    But we are not developing youngsters because we say to them that they have to bowl economically."


    backslash they want to learn to bowl economically so they can be T/20 players.

    "We need a change of attitude and we now have to have a rethink about how we develop these guys. Cricket Australia have employed Shane to try and get through to captains about encouraging the development of wrist spin as well as using field placings to protect them - and I hope they listen to him.

    So do I, with my non-partisan hat on - I love watching wrist spin bowling.

    "I would also look at the form of cricket spin bowlers play. There is a young player in New South Wales called Steven Smith, who is very talented - but he is playing limited-over cricket. He should play just four-day cricket instead. If he is our future, let's develop him as such. Warne played a host of Tests before he played a one-day international and that allowed him to develop his craft.
    Again, I'm not sure many people want to be developed as Test specialists these days....it's a different world to the early 90s when Warne was coming through.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penguinissimo View Post
    There are very few spinners who are equally effective in both forms of the game. Murali, Mendis and Vettori at the moment - Warne and Kumble recently.
    Just to nitpick a bit there - Kumble wasn't really that effective in the shorter game later in his career. He was a very effective ODI bowler from '89/90 to '99, a time in which he was an effective Test bowler only in India. From '99/00 his ODI bowling was no longer good enough (though he played maaaaaaaany more games and his record suffered) and from about '03/04 his Test bowling got much better outside the subcontinent.

    These two things were very, very much connected. There's an excellent article on the matter from a good while ago now.

    Only the very, very best spinners can be excellent at both Test and ODI cricket - Warne, Murali... possibly Mendis. Most of the truly excellent ODI spinners are moderate to poor Test bowlers, or at least dependant on the conditions (the old Kumble, Dharmasena, Saqlain, Harbhajan Singh, Vettori, Croft). And of course, truly excellent Test spinners nowadays, when wickets all over The World are covered, are exceptionally rare. Basically your only chance to be particularly successful is to bowl regularly in the subcontinent, if you're not a Warne\Murali type (and these are once in several generations if not conceivably once in history in Murali's case).


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    U19 12th Man Penguinissimo's Avatar
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    That's a very good article, and you make a very relevant point.

    I would say, though, that wrist spinners as attacking bowlers still have a place in Test cricket. Stuart Macgill, for example, even at his best, bowled a half-tracker every couple of overs.

    What is so once-in-a-lifetime about Warne and Murali is that they spin the ball hard on any track AND are accurate enough to strangle batsmen with their economy rate. Most mortal spinners can only hope for one or the other. And in this age of the IPL, most are going to choose to be economical, ODI-type bowlers, rather than the Test craftsmen who are such a joy to watch.

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Uppercut's Avatar
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    I definitely do think some spinners who bowl in a lot of ODIs lose their ability to turn the ball somewhat, and it also damages their flight a bit. Harbhajan for sure, possibly Vettori. South Africa have the right idea, letting one spinner concentrate on gearing his game for ODIs and another for tests. Unless of course, someone is exceptional enough to do both.
    Quote Originally Posted by zaremba View Post
    The Filth have comfortably the better bowling. But the Gash have the batting. Might be quite good to watch.

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    International Coach PhoenixFire's Avatar
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    It has often been said by some people (and Goughy as well, IIRC) that Jenner has ****ed up many a young spinners career by simply trying to make them copy Warne's action. I think I am right in saying that Warne's action only really works for him because of the immensely powerful shoulders that he had and that anyone who tried to copy his action would be foolish.
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    Hall of Fame Member Goughy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixFire View Post
    It has often been said by some people (and Goughy as well, IIRC) that Jenner has ****ed up many a young spinners career by simply trying to make them copy Warne's action. I think I am right in saying that Warne's action only really works for him because of the immensely powerful shoulders that he had and that anyone who tried to copy his action would be foolish.
    I can name a number of people I directly know, and more I know of through second hand reports, that have had bad experiences being coached by Jenner ie became worse bowlers after.

    HOWEVER, I would still pay attention to his overall views on spin bowing (if not the mechanics). Im not sure I agree with them all but we should listen and pay attention.

    He is still an experienced coach, and whilst I dont think his methods with individual bowlers are correct, he still has a decent feel on the pulse of the spinning landscape.
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    Englishman BoyBrumby's Avatar
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    If memory serves our own, our very own, vic orthdox has had two coaching sessions with Jenner. IIRC he found the first useful, but the second less so.
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    Cricket Web Staff Member fredfertang's Avatar
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    Although I tend to agree with you to a certain extent Richard I think you’re overstating your case rather – pre WW2 we had a long history of producing Test standard leg spinners in England – Tich Freeman, Dick Tyldesley, Walter Robins, Ian Peebles, Percy Fender, Len Wilkinson, Tom Mitchell, Jim Sims and Freddie Brown all had their moments between the wars and none, save possibly Mitchell, could be described as failures – even after the war Doug Wright and Roly Jenkins kept the breed alive and Peter Smith won selection too albeit he was not a success.

    As you say wrist spin is difficult to master and takes a huge investment in time and quite simply patience is required as well as good coaching. In the 50’s finger spin became the fashion and as the 50’s gave way to the 60’s the game was just becoming ultra defensive – by the 70’s the art and therefore the specialist coaches were gone here and even if they weren’t who is going to want to spend years on the groundstaff learning the art of wrist spin and earning next to nothing when their less talented mate who hits a long ball and bowls tidy little seamers is getting his county cap?

    One day cricket has it’s share of the blame as does the Thatcherite philosophy that you don’t actually have to wait for anything you really want and that impatience is therefore a virtue.

    We now have a dearth of coaches and a domestic game that doesn’t particularly encourage leg spin (although the 4 day championship is eminently more suited than 3 – abolish bonus points and you might even have the right backdrop) but it is now so bad that it is going to take someone world class to appear before anything happens and, as you point out, none of the very best have ever been English so there can be no reliance on that – the other alternative is Adil Rashid who may get the time he needs by virtue of being a capable batsman but who does need to concentrate on his bowling if he’s to stand a chance of dismissing international batsmen regularly

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    Soutie Langeveldt's Avatar
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    I used to be coached by Jenner, I had two sessions, back when I was good, and he was in the UK talent scouting.. He came across as a bit of a **** at first, but his success precedes him and now I won't hear a bad word said about him.. Totally tried to reform my action, everything based on lines and simplicity, and I could see where he was coming from when you look at Shane Warne's action as opposed to someone like Chris Schofield.. The fact that I didn't make it was down more to being a shockingly precious character when it comes to playing high level cricket, and not really anything that he did.. He couldn't fix my head

    Coincidentally I was in the same workshop as Adil Rashid, he was very tough to face then as well..
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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Uppercut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredfertang View Post
    Although I tend to agree with you to a certain extent Richard I think you’re overstating your case rather – pre WW2 we had a long history of producing Test standard leg spinners in England – Tich Freeman, Dick Tyldesley, Walter Robins, Ian Peebles, Percy Fender, Len Wilkinson, Tom Mitchell, Jim Sims and Freddie Brown all had their moments between the wars and none, save possibly Mitchell, could be described as failures – even after the war Doug Wright and Roly Jenkins kept the breed alive and Peter Smith won selection too albeit he was not a success.
    Personally, and i think you're probably going to disagree, i think the standard of cricket pre-professional era made it possible for more people to bowl leg-spin reasonably because it required a lower level of accuracy.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member fredfertang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uppercut View Post
    Personally, and i think you're probably going to disagree, i think the standard of cricket pre-professional era made it possible for more people to bowl leg-spin reasonably because it required a lower level of accuracy.
    "Big" cicket in England has always been largely professional - pre WW2 the financially weaker counties couldn't afford a full hand of pros but the leading counties stuck to the convention of an amateur captain and generally any other amateur had to be worth his place.

    As to accuracy the names I have mentioned, particularly Freeman and Tyldesley, were renowned for being accurate - as I am sure Richard would be quick to point out they weren't big spinners of the ball hence those that had the chance had little success in Australia

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Uppercut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredfertang View Post
    "Big" cicket in England has always been largely professional - pre WW2 the financially weaker counties couldn't afford a full hand of pros but the leading counties stuck to the convention of an amateur captain and generally any other amateur had to be worth his place.

    As to accuracy the names I have mentioned, particularly Freeman and Tyldesley, were renowned for being accurate - as I am sure Richard would be quick to point out they weren't big spinners of the ball hence those that had the chance had little success in Australia
    The point was more that the definition of "accurate" changes through eras. Nowadays the slightest error in length is punished to an extent i don't think it would have been in the 1930s, so a leg-spinner that's any use to anyone isn't as common as it was. It's part of the general belief that cricket, like every other sport, moves forward (a belief i'm not sure you share), and in the case of leg-spin the level of mastery now required is all but impossible for almost everyone.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member fredfertang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uppercut View Post
    The point was more that the definition of "accurate" changes through eras. Nowadays the slightest error in length is punished to an extent i don't think it would have been in the 1930s, so a leg-spinner that's any use to anyone isn't as common as it was. It's part of the general belief that cricket, like every other sport, moves forward (a belief i'm not sure you share), and in the case of leg-spin the level of mastery now required is all but impossible for almost everyone.
    An interest in the history of the game doesn’t blind even me to the inescapable fact that the game moves on – there have been changes in the laws, the quality of equipment, the way pitches are prepared and the fitness of the players but above all since WW2 ended more than 60 years collective experience has accrued and that means, as Alan McGilvray titled his autobiography, the game is not the same.

    It would be as ludicrous to expect the leg spinners of yesteryear to be successful today doing what they did then as it would to expect Ferenc Puskas and his 1953 Hungarians to nip off the time machine and put six past the current England team at the New Wembley and then back to Budapest to stick another seven on them.

    Ultimately though I really don't believe it follows that sufficiently talented wrist spinners are as rare as rocking horse **** more that the right environments for them to develop, in this hemisphere anyway, are.

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