Tuesday, 1 December 2015

South Africa Try Simulation To Counter Spin

After much publicity about the pitch, the converse, for a change, at last shifted to other matters that required addressing too. Both teams, apart from the clear nature of the pitch playing on their minds, have accepted that some work needs to be done by the batsmen.

Virat Kohli admitted to the same at the end of the Nagpur Test when he said that India had recognised that they have a problem against playing spin, particularly after the Sri Lanka tour and that it was being addressed. Obviously it cannot change overnight. Conditioning your mind and body to play a certain role is easier said than done. But there are methods, like what South Africa are doing currently.
South Africa Try Simulation To Counter Spin
South Africa Try Simulation To Counter Spin
Adrian Birrell, the assistant coach who believes that the Ferozeshah Kotla game will 'last more than three days', also elaborated on how South Africa are bracing themselves for the spin challenge. It is one thing to face a quality spinner like Ashwin, at the top of his game, and quite another to try and re-create what he would do, in the nets. Particularly difficult if South Africa do not possess a spinner of that quality in their ranks. But as said before, there are methods to counter it and South Africa are doing their best about it.

"We are trying to recreate the rough in nets, taking a stump and putting it behind the footmarks, to try and replicate the match situation. We are trying to throw balls like he bowls. We have Claude Henderson, who used to bowl left-arm spin, now he throws left-arm spin, which he is very accomplished at. I used to bowl leg-spin, so I bowl from a shortened run, about 15 yards, to try and simulate Mishra. I'm not even close, but we are trying. And then we have a bunch of guys who try to throw balls like Ashwin, so we try to make it as similar to the match," says Birrell.

The question about preparation was put to Amla in an earlier press conference as well. The example of travelling to the UAE to get conditioned for the challenges of the sub-continent was offered as an example. Amla had mentioned that it was a method followed by all teams over the last ten years.

He added that South Africa have always done it since the time he entered the team. It wasn't elaborated but it does appear that South Africa are looking into that aspect of their game with a lot more attention.

It was a pity that South Africa had just one two-day game for preparation ahead of the Tests and could not get more game-time under their belts. But they are now working on with a lot more make-shift arrangements as far as tackling spin is concerned. Although the lack of more practice games was not seen as a cause of concern, Birrell believes that in Amla, they had the right man to set the tone.

"We did simulate, if you know Hashim Amla, and you obviously don't, he is the most precise in terms of preparation for a match is concerned. we have been doing that right from the start, even before this tour. And others tours before this. He led it, and we followed his cue, of preparing what you will face in a match," he says.

It's a view subscribed to by Amit Mishra as well. "I accept that there is more spin than normal. But they are not able to survive because of their technique. If you can better your technique, then you can play good cricket here," says the leg-spinner, following the Indian team's principle of playing down the criticism of pitches.

It is a fair point that needs to be pondered upon.

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