Young tweakers work with spin guru

Australia's brightest young spin bowlers are in Brisbane for a month-long camp working with CA spin coach Craig Howard

Adam Burnett in Brisbane

17 May 2019, 04:44 PM AEST

Cricket Australia has turned to the services of former Victoria leg-spinner Craig Howard to oversee their young spin-bowling stars for the annual Spin Camp at Brisbane's National Cricket Centre.

Howard, who played 16 first-class matches in the early-mid 1990s before injuries cruelled his career at the age of 21, has been on the coaching scene at different times across the past decade, most notably working with South Australia and Adelaide Strikers, as well as intermittently with Test spinner Nathan Lyon.

Now the 45-year-old has become CA's official Spin Coach, and he will be advising the country's latest crop of potential spin stars during an intensive three-week camp, honing the talents of the likes of Redback Lloyd Pope and Queensland's Mitch Swepson, among a dozen others.

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"He's awesome – one of the best spin coaches I've worked with so far," Pope told cricket.com.au. "He doesn't have one specific plan that he teaches to every bowler; he picks up on the traits that have made you successful coming through and then puts together something he reckons can help.

"Personally, my arm paths and where I release the ball from is a little bit different, so to have that (tailored approach) has been really helpful."

Australia's brightest young spinners spent Monday and Tuesday working through meetings with Howard to map out those individual bowling plans, and have since begun implementing them on the practice wickets of Ray Lindwall Oval, adjacent to Allan Border Field.

Former leg-spinner Howard likes what he has seen from the group, who have been tested using Trackman technology for the revolutions they put on their deliveries.

"On the (Trackman) 'rev tester', these guys are revving it so hard – they're spinning it so much," he says. "(Wednesday's) spin testing was as good as you'd want to see.

"For me, spending this kind of time with players, it allows you to dig a bit deeper into some stuff, and build better relationships as well.

"I don't just have one way (for all spinners). I try to look at their attributes. Because I didn't play as much as I would've liked, I've watched a lot of cricket, and whenever the talk has been about spin, I've listened.

"So I've been able to develop a pretty diverse coaching style. I understand what (Shane) Warne did, what (Anil) Kumble and (Stuart) MacGill did, and then I try and adapt that to what the attributes of whoever I'm coaching."

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Howard said a key focus of the camp will be each player's stock ball – the delivery they bowl a high percentage of the time, particularly in first-class and one-day cricket.

"What we're trying to do is form a blueprint for a technique that allows them to bowl repeatable stock balls with enough energy to be competitive in all conditions, and with the right seam position," he explained.

"We want these guys to fall in love with their best ball.

"T20 requires a lot of variations, because you're trying to defend against the batters, so you might only bowl your stock ball twice an over.

"Whereas in Test cricket you're probably going to bowl your stock ball five to six times an over, and in one-day cricket you'll bowl it four to six times.

"So your best ball has got to be able to control a batsman's ability to score, and get their wicket.

"That's what our focus has been on."

Spin month participants: Ashton Agar (WA), Tom Andrews (SA), Daniel Fallins (NSW), Jarrod Freeman (Tas), Chris Green (NSW), Todd Murphy (Vic), Arjun Nair (NSW), Tom O'Connell (Vic), Wil Parker (Vic), Lloyd Pope (SA), Jason Sangha (NSW), Tanveer Sangha (NSW), Mitchell Swepson (Qld), Ryan Walker (Qld).