Nottinghamshire's Harry Gurney rightfully claimed 'hat-trick hero' status last week against Sussex, the left-armer polishing off their innings in a heartbeat. He recently spoke to All Out Cricket about the danger he, and other left-armers, pose to batsmen.
Has being a left-armer always felt like an advantage?
A lot of captains like to have variation in their attack and that’s what a left-armer brings, so in that respect it does give you an advantage.
What problems do you pose to a batsman that a right-armer perhaps wouldn’t?
Batsmen are more used to batting against right-armers, but if you have a left-armer in your team who can swing it back in – someone like Ryan Sidebottom – it can cause massive problems. It’s a different angle, and batsmen are less used to playing it. I always aim to bring deliveries back into the right-hander to hit their pads. If it comes out right, it’s so hard to defend against.
Where are you looking to pitch it?
I would say you’re trying to swing it back in from outside off stump, so if you get tight to the stumps and angle it, by the time it pitches you’re wanting it to pitch on about off stump. The majority of left-armers can naturally swing the ball because they’re more used to bowling at the batsman being the wrong way round. You certainly get more of a proportion of left-armers bringing it back into right-handers than you do right-armers bringing it back into a left-hander.
Any pointers for a club cricketer who’s looking to swing the ball?
As a leftie, try and get close in to the stumps; this encourages the swing back into the pads. And from there, a good release and controlled wrist position right behind the ball helps.
And if it doesn’t swing you’ve still got the natural angle that goes across him...
That’s it. If you’re bowling at off stump, then they have to play at it. Some are naturally just going to go across, and if you’ve got the right- hander thinking you’re swinging in, with everything on his stumps then he’s got to play at it. Then you’ll shoot one across him by mistake and get the nick. You get all the plaudits saying you’ve brushed it across, when actually you might not have meant to!
You’ve got a good record in Twenty20 – is it a format that benefits left-arm seamers?
I guess, with a left-armer’s variations, the off-cutter that is going away from the right-hand batsman is harder to hit. Quite often, in those formats, the go-to shot for batsmen is to mid wicket and my angle – going across the stumps – makes it more difficult to slog to the leg side. Especially on a spinning track, an off-cutter to a right-handed batsman keeps the ball away from the leg side.
Are there any particular drills that help with your accuracy?
I think the old classic of putting the markers down and trying to land as many balls as you can on it. Keep a record of what percentage of balls you hit in that area and try and improve on that every time you do the drill. We also have a programme where you have to bowl three yorkers, then three balls hitting the top of off stump and then three hitting the head, in as little time as possible.
This article is part of a 23-page coaching special in the current issue of All Out Cricket magazine. More details can be found here.