When spin fails to gain tempo
What are the reasons for the decline of spin bowlers in the State?
RIGHT APPROACH Robin Singh
Spin bowling in the State faces a crisis. While the pacemen are coming through thick and fast, the development of spinners appears to have stagnated.
The land of S. Venkatraghavan and V.V. Kumar languishes for want of quality spin bowlers. What are the reasons for this decline?
As the Director of MAC Spin Foundation, Robin Singh is in close proximity to reality. The former India all-rounder agrees that these are troubled times for spin in the State.
Left-arm spinner R. Ramkumar graduated to the South Zone team, but has not quite broken through to the next level.
That Tamil Nadu was forced to recall experienced off-spinner Aashish Kapoor last season reflected on the depth of talent in the State.
Kapoor may have forced a recall with some strong performances in the first division league, but if a younger spinner had delivered, the door would have remained shut on him.
Says Robin, "Yes, there has been a substantial drop in the quality of spin in the State. It is worrying."
Probe him further and he replies, "There are a lot of reasons. I think the spinners here no longer earn their wickets. They bowl on tailor-made tracks, where they don't really have to spin the ball. The ball spins because of the pitch."
The practice of first division teams preparing `minefields', particularly against the weaker teams, is hurting the spinners in the long run.
"The wickets that they get don't really indicate their ability."
Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and left-armer Mohammed Nadeem, both spinners with possibilities, spent considerable time at the MAC Spin Foundation. "The outstation boys have benefited more," he says.
He then makes a pertinent point: "What we find here is the captains often do not show enough faith in the young bowlers in the first division league. The spinners need to bowl long spells but they are often removed after five or six overs. Their confidence takes a dip. They are afraid to flight the ball. They are unable to make the transition from the junior level."
Indeed, quality spin, apart from rare exceptions like Anil Kumble, is associated with flight, drift and biting turn. Bowling a flatter trajectory might enable a spinner check the flow of runs, but might eventually shunt his growth as a spinner.
"The grooming process is very important for a spinner. Accuracy is the basic attribute and you build your variety around it. And you have to bowl for long periods in a match. Bowling at the nets will only take you till a particular point."
With stalwarts like Erapalli Prasanna visiting the Foundation regularly, Robin maintains the focus is on the right areas.
"Our priorities are right. Sometimes after a young spinner picks up a few things in our camp, he is forced to change his methods in the school camps. There is a clash of egos here. There is much crossfire in the State."
Sadly, several spinners in the State eventually end up as batsmen. "You can say that they gave up a bit too easily, have taken the easy way out. But a spinner needs to be backed."
Tamil Nadu needs to find a solution to the vexing spin question. The sooner the better.
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