How does a spin bowler deal with being hit for six? When do you decide what type of delivery to bowl? How does a wicketkeeper keep against spin?
These questions and more are discussed by England’s Adil Rashid and Jos Buttler on Friday’s World Cup Daily podcast from Test Match Special.
The pair also reveal the close relationship required between bowler and spinner and give their top tips for any young cricketers hoping to master the art of spin bowling and wicketkeeping.
Buttler: How do you approach an over?
Rashid: I’m looking to be nice and positive and aggressive. My first mindset is to look to take wickets, to play to my strengths and be brave; back yourself to get wickets.
Deciding what variations to use is more of a gut feeling; an in-action moment. Sometimes you see the batsman move and think at the last minute to bowl a googly or whatever, but it is more of an in-the-moment thing.
Buttler: How do you deal with being hit for six?
Rashid: It’s accepting that you are going to be hit for six; that’s part and parcel of cricket and being a spinner – you are going to get hit for sixes.
But for me it is about coming back and being brave, to see if you can go again. You have to have a positive mindset and think that if you bowl the same ball again, he might miscue it and you get a wicket.
Sometimes at the death, it can go the other way but I actually enjoy the challenge; you can always change the game in a couple of balls.
Even if there are two batsman going along nicely, I back myself to create chances. There are times you may get smashed for 30 but it is having the mindset that ‘I can get wickets here, I can change the game, I can be the match-winner’.
Buttler: How important is it to have a good relationship with your wicketkeeper?
Rashid: It’s good to talk and listen to what the wicketkeeper sees. He has a good view of what shots batters are looking to play and can give indications of what balls to bowl. You take it on board, but as a spinner you have to go with your gut instinct and your strengths.
Buttler: How has your mindset developed over time? Have you found it easier to recover from tough overs?
Rashid: It’s something I developed as I got older. When I was younger if I got hit for six I could get disheartened, a bit upset and let the pressure get to me.
But if you and the captain are on the same page and he gives you your full backing, saying he doesn’t mind if you get hit for six or four, it really brings the confidence out in you. As a spinner you can then go out there, enjoy your game and don’t think about containing. That is especially the case when you are a wrist spinner; your job in the team is to create chances.
Rashid: How do you find keeping to me? When did you first pick my variations?
Buttler: The great thing as a wicketkeeper about standing up to the stumps to someone like yourself is I know I can affect the game.
You can spin the ball both ways, so to a right-hander or a left-hander I know I am in the game and it is the most fun you can have as a wicketkeeper – especially in this format, when you know batters will come after the bowler, it gives you a great chance behind the stumps to affect stumpings or take catches.
Picking variations is one of the challenges of keeping to guys like yourself; you have great disguise.
You are a bit luckier as a wicketkeeper compared to a batter as you have got that little bit more time and you can see it off the pitch if I don’t quite get a read off your wrist.
But that is the relationship you build during practice days; you tell me which balls you are going to bowl, so I try and get those cues and when I do get into the middle I don’t have to think about it, I can just react.
Rashid: What are the best tips you can give to a young wicketkeeper for keeping against spin?
Buttler: The best tip I can give is volume – get into the nets and take lot of balls.
It can be frustrating sometimes with a batter in front when you are not getting a lot of balls, but that can be really good practice as well. Not every ball comes to you in the middle but you need to be ready for them every time because sometimes batters miss ones you don’t expect them to.
When facing bowlers like yourself, you need to be doing it lots so you can start to get that read of variations and how you bowl to certain batters.
Buttler: What’s your top tips for young leg-spinners?
Rashid: Enjoy it – you have to enjoy what you are doing. Make sure you have a big heart as a spinner, don’t be afraid to be hit for sixes; a wrist spinner is also a risk spinner.
Be encouraged to spin the ball, get it above the eyeline and do not be afraid to get hit for sixes. There are times you will get hit for sixes but there are also times you can get five wickets and change the game.
Have a big heart, enjoy what you do and play with a smile on your face.