The Importance of the Variation Ball

“Bowler’s win matches”, we have all heard the saying and especially with today’s different formats of the game, I think the batsmen out there will choose to argue that point. I have found in the younger age groups that this statement is still true. At the younger age groups the bowlers capitalise on the fact the the batsmen are still learning their craft, are not able to challenge the bowlers yet and at that age their concentration span and ability to focus is very short.

As they get older bowlers don’t have it so easy. Batsmen work on their technique, begin to understand their game and start to have the discipline, judgement and focus required to make a bowlers life difficult. Add to this the fact that some turf pitches are “roads” and offer the bowler nothing and the bowler has to have something other than their stock delivery in their arsenal if they are going to be successful.

As coaches we emphasise that all young bowlers master their stock deliveries first and foremost and that is true but once they are able to bowl it consistently well, I also think that we need to get bowlers to learn a variation ball, they don’t need 4 or 5 at a young age but a slower ball, in swing / out swing, wrong un etc introduced at a young age, I feel is beneficial. Players experiment in the back yard anyway so is it not better for them to have a bit of guidance?

Get players to practice in the nets until they firstly are comfortable bowling it and secondly can do so consistently, once they are confident they can try it in a game. It’s not so much about the quantity of balls they bowl but the quality of each ball that makes the practice session a good one. Allow for them to get it wrong by giving them some protection in the field and back them to give it another go.

As they progress in their development they will have a number of variations that they can call on to deceive and challenge the batsman, and the earlier you give the bowler a variation and get them to start thinking about how to best use it the better.

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