The Googly Syndrome
You're a wrist spin bowler, your stock ball is the Leg Break. You get half decent at bowling it and you learn a little more about the art of Wrist Spin bowling and then you realise the potential of being able to bowl the Googly (Wrong Un/Bosie). You practice it and spend hours trying to get it and eventually after hours, maybe even days and weeks you've got it - Line and Length and it turns sharply towards Leg Slip. But then you return to your neglected Leg Break and no matter what you do you cannot bowl the Leg Break anymore. This is The Googly Syndrome.
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As a kid back in the late 60's early 70's I recall being given cricket gear - pads, balls, gloves and bats by much bigger cousins and uncles. I remember going over to the "Daisy Field" in Tilbury with my little brother and sister and arguing about who was going to bat first. After spending what I recall as being at least half and hour struggling to do up rusty buckles with thick and stiff leather straps the games always finished within a matter of minutes as soon as someone got wrapped across the knuckles with a 5.5oz cricket ball. Not surprisingly cricket didn't become a regular feature in my life thereafter and I don't recall ever playing it at school in PE, but I have very vague memories of playing cricket up against walls with Tennis Balls as a child.
So despite the fact that I wasn't initiated into cricket in anyway other playing with a mate with a tennis ball and chalk drawn stumps on a wall - somehow I knew how to bowl maybe it's got something to do with the fact that cricket seemed to be on the tele every Sunday all afternoon throughout the summer on BBC2 - maybe I just saw what I needed to do and simply did it? Which is weird because - how do I know how to bowl? No-one has ever said to me 'You can't bowl - you're throwing it'. So how has that happened and how come virtually all the kids that I'm involved with who I introduce to cricket - virtually none of them bowl properly? Almost all of them without exception throw the ball? So all my life - no cricket. Loads of skateboarding, Surfing, cycling, running, swimming with a very small amount of Baseball (where you do throw the ball) and a minute bit of football. Then in my mid 30's I discovered that Nasser Hussein was the captain of England’s cricket team so I started to watch the game for the first time in my life and was gob-smacked by how complex and intricate it was and how subtle it could be whilst at the same time in your face violent. I was mesmerised and then I discovered the Aussies and one bloke in particular - Shane Warne, suddenly the whole game stepped up another 3 levels to something that was absolute magic. But still I only watched.
Then in the summer of 2006 on the eve of our annual surf trip I took my 5 year old son on a evening bike ride prior to driving down to Cornwall the next day at 3am. Within 20 minutes of setting out he'd dislocated his arm and broken a bone in his elbow coming off his bike coming down a steep grassy hill. 3 days later and with the holiday cancelled and with 2 operations behind him he left hospital plastered and bandaged up with 2 metal pins through his elbow 6" long. Faced with the whole of the 6 weeks holiday in plaster we were stuck for what to do and being 5 he needed to be doing stuff. A solution that sprung to mind within a couple of days was cricket using tennis rackets instead of the normal bat as he was a bit off balance with his arm plastered and in a sling.
On our first outing with stumps I took on the mantle of Shane Warne and attempted for the first time in my life to bowl Leg Breaks and did it! I don't know who had the most fun, me or my two little boys? They loved it, but I loved it even more and introduced some of the other families and kids we hang out with to the same game and one of the Dads - Thomas enjoyed it as much as me and within a matter of days it became deriguer to play cricket when out with the kids, but with my Leg Breaks and the constant playing with my boys it was too easy to bowl Thomas out and bit by bit the competitive nature of both of us began to force the games to newer levels and over that summer it went from that simple game with a tennis racket to the idea that maybe we should get some more blokes involved.
When I returned to my job in August as a lecturer I put it to the blokes in my office - would they be interested in forming a team and so was born the MPA 1st XI http://www.mpafirsteleven.blogspot.com/ This soon became an obsession and research on the internet into Shane Warne started to feed my passion for more - Leg Breaks, Googlies, Wrong Uns, Flippers, Top Spinners and sliders - what did this all mean, I'd heard the words watching matches and I knew that the Googly was the ball that turned the wrong way, but the others were a mystery - far too subtle for me to see the difference. Now here on the internet - here they were all being demonstrated by the man himself and some bloke called Terry Jenner. It was all my Christmas's at once - I too could be Shane Warne! So over the summer of 2007 the MPA 1st XI played a handful of matches and I spent every hour God gave me to learn the variations and did it.
It's now August 2008 and I'm in a real cricket team and I've made the fundamental mistake of learning the variations as a matter of urgency, prioritising them over the Leg Break. There's a phenomenon common in Wrist Spin bowling when you learn to bowl the Wrong Un (Googly or Bosie) you lose the ability to bowl the Leg Break and it's the leg break that above all else that you must be able to bowl. For every 10 leg breaks you might bowl one of the variations. I am a victim of this syndrome. This is my diary of how I get the Leg Break back. The Googly Syndrome.