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Sight Screen

Friday, October 07, 2005

Old wine, new bottle

Saw this story on Tapeball Cricket, on the Times. Strange, how old ideas get new fancy dress, and catch on -- this used to be a trick they (in MCC School, it was our respective coaches, Satwinder Singh and S Venkat) taught kids way back when, as a good way to practise.
Practise batting, that is -- not bowling. I remember bowling with a taped ball, and then when I had to do it with the regular one, I'd feel really upset it wouldn't 'go' like the taped tennis ball did. :-)
You reduce the pitch length to 18 yards, bat without any protection bar gloves against a decent quick bowler with a taped ball, though, and suddenly the real thing becomes way easier to handle; surprises me it is not a regular part of practise sessions, really.


  • I was exposed to tape ball cricket as an undergrad about 15 years ago in Minnesota by my Pak friends.(man! I'm getting old).initially it was a huge problem to know how to handle the batting, having grown up playing "cork ball" cricket on the streets of Hyd. But, after a few ducks, I got it down..my four years in college out there were the most enjoyable cricketing moments I ever had..we had tape ball tourneys every spring after the snowmelt and also indoors in the basketball arena during winters..that's where I first came to know about ball tampering :-)..some of the blokes used to use their fingernails to discreetly rip the electric tape and ooo boy! the ball used to swing a mile. the game is fast paced and thoroughly enjoyable.

    By Blogger boondock_cricketer, at 12:38  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Mayur, at 12:38  

  • Prem...how common is it in India? for example...I never learnt about it in school, college level...only read about Pak streets being the birth place?...and their cricketers regularly play it from childhood. Is it so in India also?

    By Blogger worma, at 12:39  

  • prem: true that no one is using the taped ball these days (atleast i don't know about it). i have heard of a soaked tennis ball being used in the nets by SRT and jimmy amarnath and all to counter the quicks.

    just a personal note, i never like using the taped tennis balls because of their weight. too light and i always found it hard to adjust my back to the change in weight. often ended up with back aches after a game. batting was fun though.

    By Blogger Mayur, at 12:39  

  • worma: it is very common in the US

    By Blogger Mayur, at 12:39  

  • Yeah Tape-ball cricket is very common in the US. I think a very good way to learn to control the swinging ball while bowling is to use a ball that is taped only on one side. Also great to practice batting against someone who has learnt to control the half-taped ball

    By Blogger Bala, at 12:55  

  • Our coach at Matunga Gymkhana used to shave half the hair of the tennis ball on one side and have us bowl on concrete surfaces sprayed with water . The ball would bounce ankwardly , swing and even skid , it was nightmarish for a batsman ! . The bowlers would love it

    By Blogger Adi, at 13:08  

  • Its more common in the streets of Pakistan than India. In india we mostly used to play with "cricket" tennis balls. Hard tennis balls that would cut a lot more than swing. After coming toi US, played with some of my Pakistani friends and they used taped tennis balls. Let me tell you the first time, your heart is in your mouth, they are quick, bouncy and swing like a top. You quickly learn though, and its equaly fun. The only problem, bowling leg spin using one of those taped balls is hell, the ball keeps slipping when you use ur thumb to try to rip it. On the other hand, when you use the hard tennis ball, hell I can it turn it square on a concrete basketball ground!!!
    Good practise for both!!

    By Blogger KB, at 14:49  

  • Prem,
    Can you throw some more light on your past cricketing days?

    By Blogger Jammy, at 15:03  

  • worma: I don't know about India now, or even India in my schooldays -- but I do know they made us practise with this stuff in school, and that was mid-seventies, so it is not exactly a recent discovery.

    Like some of the guys on here are saying, it is huge fun. Takes a while, batting or bowling, to get used to this, but once you do, your batting in particular improves dramatically.

    I remember for instance I picked up the habit of playing half-cock, and was prescribed a week's session of taped ball practise. Thing is, given the amount of swing that thing gives you, you can't sit on the splice -- your judgment has to be very quick, very decisive, and your foot movement has to be instantaneous -- you try being half cock, leaving it late to decide, and the ball will do a circle around you and go back to the bowler. Next thing I know, disease cured -- in actual play, I was moving almost as the ball left the bowler's hand, found I had time to spare to play shots, and if the ball did things, I still had all that time to adjust.

    There are lots of variants to this -- never did hear of a ball shaved down one side, sounds interesting, but we used (my neighbor was Paul Satish Moses, who played Ranji for TN, we got to practise together a lot) to take a hose, damp down the driveway in front of my home, and bowl from 18 paces. We also tried this thing where you do not wear any protection at all -- no pads, no gloves. Forces you to play with the bat, and actually improves your strokeplay.

    I agree with Mayur, though -- I used to hate bowling with it, because firstly it would take me some time to get length -- the ball is so damn light, you initially bowl full pitches. And then, when I got back to bowling with a cricket ball, it was the reverse; grip went to pieces.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 15:05  

  • prem: maybe the ZIM and BD batsmen shud use it. atleast that wud prevent them from handing over their wickets to pathan.....

    By Blogger Mayur, at 15:18  

  • mayur: and maybe our batsmen should, too. that way, they won't look like a deer in the headlights when flintoff and company get the ball to go. :-)

    The Zim batsmen, from what I saw, need to go back even further -- to the sock on a string routine, so they get to where their basic grammar is correct. As of now, a bunch of those blokes have their feet going one way, bat another, and head falling somewhere in between.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 15:23  

  • prem LOL :-)...well some of these Zim batsmen are just coming from a level lower than our club cricket I think..and to face pathan is surely a challenge :-)

    But seriously...if its such an effective thing...do you think our cricketers are aware of this? Ever chanced to talk to anyone of them about it? If they can practise with wet tennis balls (and all of them from Sunny to Sachin have talked about tennis ball cricket being a contributor in their developement) then they can surely use this also.

    By Blogger worma, at 15:28  

  • Hi Prem,

    Is the Satwinder you are talking about Ram Singh's youngest son? Brothers of Kripal and Milkha? Ram Singh, like Lala thought of his youngest son Rajinder, used to say that Satwinder was the most talented of the three brothers. Have you seen him bat? If am not mistaken, he career was cut short by a scooter accident.

    By Blogger H Natarajan, at 15:50  

  • worma: I know Rahul practises that way at times, and I've seen SRT once at the MIG Bandra joint practising to a taped ball. Do they do this all the time, and do all of them do it? Donno, pal...

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 16:20  

  • prem..thanks for that...atleast I know that the "ones who matter" in Indian cricket are aware of this wonderful method which you all think so highly of :-)....and I think I should try it out sometime very soon..

    By Blogger worma, at 16:23  

  • Natty, hey, good to see you. I owe you an email. Yeah, the same bloke. He was cricket coach at MCC High School Chennai, let me see, that would be 1973 & '74 (donno if he served any more stints after, this is when I was there and trained under him. Saw only a little of him in actual competition, though I've seen him bat -- often to my cost -- in the nets, when he tried teaching us where our lines and lenghts were wrong. Quite a humiliating experience it could be, actually -- I remember once he was so pissed at the way I bowled in a game, he had me bowl for an hour in the nets - and just stood there knocking the ball around without looking like he was even trying. Good coach to have, nice grasp of the basics and a very very patient guy with young boys -- unlike his successor, Venkat. *L*

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 16:23  

  • prem

    Our coach at Matunga Gym was a mumbai Ranji player in the 80's and he knew some Westindians { I think it was Desomond Haynes who told him this when he was in India to play a season of Willis Trophy } and he learnt this shave one side of the ball trick from them . Thats what most of them do when they play beach cricket.

    By Blogger Adi, at 16:25  

  • worma: I think many players know. Like I said in the original post, it not only is no secret, it is in fact so widespread, is why seeing a whole article about it amused me. But I guess that is a bit like saying Yoga is so well know, so why write how-tos about it. *L* I remember, for instance, Sehwag and Akash Chopra both saying before the Aus tour that he was practising with a taped ball.

    Actually, since Venkat's name came up, it brings up this other 'ancient wisdom' that maybe these moderns need to try. Venkat had two pet theories: One was, all batsmen needed to learn to bowl and vice versa. And the other was, the best way to train was by mixing and matching sports. He would for instance make us play badminton, to improve footwork (the irony was, I fell in love with that game and for a while, played it at school and varsity levels), hockey and basketball for stamina, stuff like that.

    I was thinking, the other day I picked up this thing, Speedminton (speedminton.com, if you want to learn more). Fabulous, if you can get past the initial hurdle of controlling the pace of shot making, it is so damned strenuous, I'm totally wiped after 15 minutes. It's actually gotten to be an addiction -- I work incredibly late hours, so most times, in the middle of it all, I go down, with a friend, and play a brisk 10, 15 minutes on the sidewalk (there's this cool shuttle that comes with the package, which has a neon stick attachment and glows in the dark -- we actually get people standing around gawking. *L*).

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 16:30  

  • adi: Cool. Amazing actually, how there are all these tricks developed around the world the coaching manuals don't talk about. someone should collect the lot -- would be hugely helpful for kids. Is like, there is so much fuss today about the slower ball -- hell, we were bowling that in school. Again, courtesy Satwinder Singh, who argued that batsmen play shots by muscle memory -- see ball on length around off, front foot forward, bat swinging from over the stumps, through the line, drive, that sort of thing. So, he said, one way to break through when the wicket does nothing for you is, change the pace. I notice today's bowlers use the split seam grip to bowl the slower one, or occasionally hold it across not along the seam. What Satwinder showed us was, we would hold the ball the normal way. As you get into the gather, you know how you bring your left hand over to the right, just to kind of reassure yourself of your grip, you give it a light little touch. At that point, he told us, just push the ball in, so it is snug against the back of your hand. You can't as a batsman spot that -- it is not like the seam position gives it away. And because the ball is fully enveloped in the hand, it comes out just that fraction slower than the batsman thinks it will. Worked very well, once we got the hang of it.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 16:35  

  • Prem....that tip from Venkat..about playing other sports...truely top-notch....I wonder if there are more of such intelligent coaches in India!...most of the 'innovations' today seem to be coming from outside. Wonder why?

    And your talk about speedminton reminds me of my squash days in college :-)....great for footwork....stamina...and 15 mins was enough to bring you down to earth ;-)

    By Blogger worma, at 16:41  

  • Prem:

    I'm hooked onto speedminton too. Bought it after playing badminton in the backyard was going nowhere (windy). Also since Maria Sharapova was peddling it. :-) Now my daughter and I play it all the time and it really works up a sweat.

    By Blogger hjrsingh, at 17:00  

  • worma: been meaning to learn squash, but have never gotten down to it. Try this -- brilliant stuff. As to the other -- once asked Andy Flower what he had done to reinvent himself, and he reeled of a dozen things; one of them was he hired a karate master, and began learning. Damn good for your footwork, he says; but what I really liked was his larger explanation -- martial arts, he said, was basically about instantaneous response to threat. For a batsman, the ball is the threat, and karate, he claimed, had put him in that mindset of instant and deadly response. Seems far-fetched? How do you argue with a bloke who, coming from the country and cricket structure he does, ranks among the best in the world, and has held that position for years now?

    Sat Sri Akal, Singh-saab. :-) Yeah, that's one of the things I really liked, they give you different shuttles for different conditions. I took my kit to the gym today. They have this enormous studio, which they use for the yoga classes and such stuff, but otherwise it is totally bare. So the trainer I work with and I went in there and banged it about for a bit to warm up. She's a gymnast, diver, ballet-trained, and so bloody fit she gives me a complex, but she was like, lemme catch my breath, after about 10 minutes.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 17:11  

  • Did anyone here watch this show " cricket with Mohinder Amarnath " on DD sometime in 93-94' . The bowling session was good . Kapil Dev gave away some useful tips .

    In that show the ball they used used to be red on one side and white on the other and it would swing n cut predictably. That also was a good trick according to me.

    Also Kapil's trick to change pace was to alter the number of fingers he used to grip the ball . his funda was if you release the ball backed up by your palm , it goes a tad quicker . Had tried that .

    Prem , Thsi si a good discussion you've started , pure cricket for a change

    By Blogger Adi, at 17:35  

  • prem...believe me...try out squash and you'll get the same thrill (from what you describe) if not more...and the fun part is...that bloody squash ball starts getting faster as the game progresses (something to do with heating up of the ball!)

    about Andy....yeah sure...cant dispute it...actually his explanation also makes sense to me...about footwork and threat....depends on the outlook of each batsman....try telling this to a sehwag and he would laugh you off ;-)

    By Blogger worma, at 17:37  

  • Slightly unrelated, but would like to mention my first experience with Brian Lara cricket 2005 on the Playstation.

    Amazing Graphics. Definately worth a game or two with your mates.

    However, just be careful when you bowl a bouncer to Ganguly. He actually hooks it to perfection!

    Codemasters have promised to fix the bug with the next release.

    By Blogger Saurabh Wahi, at 18:20  

  • For those of you who are not yet aware Challenger is available on willow.tv. And for first time they are charging only 10 bucks for it.


    By Blogger Vick, at 18:21  

  • And the second time around?

    By Blogger Saurabh Wahi, at 18:22  

  • Nice information, vick

    By Blogger Adi, at 18:30  

  • adi: I'd much rather have these anyways, than the interminable should saurav play stuff. :-)

    Never did see that Mohinder show. :-(

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 18:47  

  • worma: *grin* I had no intention of engaging VS in the merits of karate training -- that guy has the attention span of a tsetse fly. *L*

    It came up once in conversation with Rahul, though; as far as I know, he then got into an email exchange with Flower to learn more of what he was up to. Donno if he then went out and learnt karate, my guess would be no. *L*

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 18:49  

  • Mohinder's show was great loved it. I remember he had shown interview of sachin one day was kewl.

    Also there was sunny's show (don't remember the name) He used show clips of the great matches of yesteryears.

    By Blogger Amit, at 19:30  

  • thanks, vick

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20:33  

  • The Challenger series is also live on ATN in North America (atleast in Canada)

    By Blogger Bala, at 20:44  

  • Hi,

    Was just browsing around the blogs and came across yours. Very nice.

    I'm heavily into "personal developement" type stuff too and have just started a personal developement blog of my own.

    Most of the articles come from this personal developement article site.

    It's a great resource for personal developement and related info.


    By Blogger Emcee, at 14:10  

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