India's fast bowlers want to pick West Indies great’s brains on the art of pace bowling
Southampton: A day before the start of the third Test here, India's pace bowlers invited fast bowling legend Michael Holding (nicknamed Mikey) to dinner at a Thai restaurant in WestQuay shopping centre.
They wanted to pick his brains on the fine art of pace bowling, and sure enough, the lanky West Indian who is busy with commentary assignments these days left them enchanted.
Initially, the likes of Ishant Sharma, Pankaj Singh and Mohammed Shami, were clearly nervous. But the conversation began flowing once Ishant broke the ice with a series of questions.
He wanted to know what he should do before bowling to a batsman: whether he should think about his own run-up and action, or try to read the batsman's mind.
Ishant Sharma (right) and Pankaj Singh asked some pertinent questions. Pic/Getty Images
Holding was surprised to hear this question, because it is a basic thing that any bowler, while starting his run-up, would concentrate only on the batsman in order to find out his strengths and weakness. He would focus on the line and length he ought to maintain.
Holding then explained the concept of visualisation at the time of running in to bowl. He added any bowler should attempt to improve his action only in the nets and not during a game.
Shami, who is in his first international season, was keen to know whether it makes sense for pace bowlers to hit the gym.
Holding explained that they should go to the gym only to improve their body strength. The basic thing always is to bowl in the nets, bowl accurately and learn where to pitch the ball.
Bowlers should also study seam movements and practice how to hit the deck, he explained. Swing is an art, he told them, taking the example of Curtly Ambrose, who he felt, never swung the ball.
He hit the deck and made batsmen uncomfortable. Also learning how to use the crease was an important area for pacers, Holding felt.
Towards the end of the dinner, Pankaj Singh gathered some courage and asked him how he should improve his inswingers. Holding explained to him the grip and finger position, but more importantly he extolled the virtues of working hard in the nets.