‘You’re all wicket-takers, not containers’

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WORDS OF WISDOM: Terry Jenner interacting with young spinners at the MAC Spin Foundation.
WORDS OF WISDOM: Terry Jenner interacting with young spinners at the MAC Spin Foundation.

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Terry Jenner, the former Australian leg-spinner who gained recognition for mentoring the great Shane Warne, commenced his clinic for young spinners at the MAC Spin Foundation on Tuesday. The accent of the four-day camp, which forms a part of the Foundation’s annual programme, is on strengthening the fundamentals.

“You don’t fire it in, you toss it up so it goes over the batsman’s eyeline and then dips,” Jenner told a rapt audience, demonstrating to each spinner the trajectory such a delivery would trace. “I’m not talking about slow donkey drops, I’m talking about coming over the ball more. You’re all wicket-takers, not containers.”

Need patience

Talking to presspersons later, Jenner, 63, stressed the importance of patience during the development of a young spinner. “It doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “Here in India, where the wickets are generally low and slow, the spinners tend to bowl it quicker. For everybody, there’s a speed above which it doesn’t spin, I encourage these youngsters to find their optimal speed.”

Did he find that the growing popularity of shorter formats was changing the way young spinners approached their craft? “The IPL is fantastic for a lot of reasons, but one of them isn’t development,” said Jenner. “It’s a mature-age spinner’s game, not a developing spinner’s. When I watch Harbhajan (Singh) bowl yorkers at 100 kmph, it’s clever, but where’s the development?”

Switching between formats, Jenner said, was extremely difficult. “From my experience, when a spinner starts pushing it through, he starts to lose the ability to spin it. Twenty20 serves a purpose with the entertainment, but it mustn’t encroach on Test cricket.”

Jenner said Ajantha Mendis’s recent success was exciting. “But, it’s too early to assess him, he’s only a baby. He did well when it kept low. Does he have the skill and the variation of pace to bowl in a Test? We don’t know yet, but that’s where (Anil) Kumble has been fantastic, particularly over the last five years.”

Jenner said he insisted on three touchstones, pertaining to the alignment of the feet, the use of the leading arm, and the powering through of the bowling shoulder — adherence to these, he said, would build uniformity in coaching spin.

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