Donald will continue to press the issue until all the bowlers are capable of bowling swinging yorkers
South Africa’s pace bowlers are constantly referred to as being the best in the world at what they do, which is bowling at lightning fast speeds and being masters at delivering bouncers, but bowling coach Allan Donald has identified a new problem within the pace attack, one that will require strenuous work to fix.
The problem Donald is referring to is South Africa’s bowling during the death overs of a match.
Donald noted that many of the pace bowlers give away too many runs towards the last few overs of a match and in his mind, this has to change if South Africa are going to become the top team in limited overs cricket.
To accomplish this, Donald has set high standards for his bowlers, telling them that they should envision themselves as Pakistan left-arm seamer Wasim Akram.
“It’s Wasim Akram,” Donald said. “We watched some footage of him the other day for the bowling group to understand what bowling yorkers is actually about.
“We want to become the best death-bowling unit in the world and we want to close games out while being under enormous pressure. With Wasim Akram you always knew when you faced him at the death that there was no hope. He moved the ball both ways and that’s what we want to be: unpredictable, not just one dimensional.”
During their recent series against New Zealand, many cricket pundits and former players pointed out that death bowling was the only category in which the Proteas had been let down.
In order to ensure that never happens again, Donald has one simple rule.
“Nailing yorkers is our No.1 priority,” he said. “Not being able to bowl them often enough is what has let us down in the past, particularly when we are defending.”
Donald is so intent on making the bowlers bowl more yorkers that he has made them stop regular net sessions, where they bowl a specific number of overs each, and instead gives them older and newer balls so that they can learn about the art of swinging yorkers.
“We want to practice the specifics under pressure and so we are moving more into game scenarios and executing those then,” Donald added. “We also video these sessions so the guys can have visual feedback.”
Donald is also adamant that the entire bowling attack be capable of bowling during death overs instead of constantly relying on a go-to man.
“We want a collective group of guys who get thrown the ball and who have the confidence to execute yorkers at will at any stage,” he said. “We could have a situation where Dale Steyn is the death bowler and his number may come up and he gets hit all around the park, and so we might have to ask someone else to do that. We want a collective improvement in bowling yorkers.”
Despite telling the bowlers to bowl more yorkers, Donald made it clear to each bowler that shorter-pitched deliveries would still continue to be of equal importance.
“We’ve talked about using the short ball in Bloemfontein because of the very big field there and it worked,” he said. “We will still use the short ball, it is a massive weapon in one-day cricket.”
The former South African pace bowler is determined to see the rest of his countrymen bowl the swinging yorker flawlessly as he believes it is the ball that generates the most wickets in the game.
“Whether it’s wide, swinging into the pads, or winging away from a large angle, we need to bowl the yorker,” he said. “Anyone can hit back of a length, anyone has a back of a hand bouncer but you need a wicket, the ball that really does it is a gun yorker.”