MIRPUR - Gone are those days when a coach would keep a one rupee coin on three-quarter length and tell legendary Pakistan fast bowler Fazal Mahmood to pitch his deliveries on that coin. In those days, that was considered to be the basic way to get a young fast bowler’s length right before he stepped in for bigger battles ahead.
In Pakistan, the most common phenomenon till this day is to bowl with partially taped tennis or rubber balls which help the youngsters learn the art of reverse swing at a very preliminary level. Just because one side would get heavier and the ball would automatically get the deviation in the air and also skid through the surface.
Bowlers like Waqar Younis learnt the art of reverse swinging yorkers by playing with taped rubber balls on streets of Pakistan. Not to forget the natural ability to bowl fast that he possessed. From coin and taped balls, the systematic coaching is bringing in new innovations to help bowlers improvise. If the Indian team imported mannequin from Australia, which is rarely used during training, the Pakistan team were seen using semi-circular truck tyres (cut into half) during their training session yesterday. The look was unique. The tyres were big ones, possibly used in Volvo trucks, which has been cut into equal halves. One of the two halves is positioned vertically on the good length spot. Pacers Umar Gul, Bilawal Bhatti, Junaid Khan were being instructed by bowling coach Muhammad Akram to try and pitch the deliveries inside the hole created by the positioning of the semi-circular structure (virtual block hole). At times, they were getting it right, at times they did not.
What is the purpose of this innovative ‘Tyre Technology’ to get the length of the deliveries pitched in the block hole absolutely right. "It’s a way to provide guidelines to a bowler and provide guidelines for yorkers at the death," skipper Hafeez said when asked about this new innovation. The skipper said that they told the bowlers to get a specific angle right by bowling inside the tyre. "The boys are working hard at it. There is an angle given and the bowler has to try and bowl within that tyre." Bowling coach M Akram, who had played nine Tests and 23 ODIs for Pakistan during mid 90s, has brought this innovation. He has also got a dozen kookaburra kept in a bucket full of water. In order to counter the dew factor, Akram is giving his bowlers the soaked balls which will enable them to get their grip right.