Congratulations to Gary for being asked by the ECB to attend first class cricket matches to watch spin bowlers in action. The role involves watching specific bowlers and reporting back his professional opinion on what he sees in terms of technical and tactical awareness displayed by the bowler.
He has also taken up a mentoring role for aspiring county age group spin bowlers. This involves talking to young bowlers and passing on his knowledge and experience before matches. This includes tactical elements such as field placings to certain players, how you might vary your pace on a particular wicket and decisions like when to attack a batsman or when to defend. After the game he then discusses what went well, what didn’t go well and how you might do it different next time thus completing a reflective cycle on a particular performance.
Technical ability is of course important but the actual game awareness and in play decisions during a cricket match is what sets us aside from our competitors. We can’t box and package up 25 years of experience and hand it to a player but sharing experiences and discussing ideas can certainly give a young spin bowler an edge when making critical decisions. It might be as simple as subtle field change to entice a shot from a batsman who’s well set which induces a false shot and costs him his wicket. These little differences have significant impacts on cricket matches.
The more you play, learn, reflect and talk about the game the more experience you gain. We all make bad decisions but ultimately this is how we learn and become better spin bowlers.