There's been some debate in the past as to whether there is any merit in bowling without any spin if you're struggling with your bowling. The concensus does seem to favour the opposing view that if you're a spinner, first and foremost the thing you must do is spin the ball and spin it hard. This theory is supported by Peter Philpott in his book 'The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling'. But, what if you came to spinning at such an early stage in your bowling development that you hadn't really honed any basic skills in bowling?
Is there not some merit in stepping back from months and months of frustration where perhaps you feel you're not going forward with your bowling and just having a good look at your basics? At one point I'd have argued that there was some value in this process and some time spent just assessing whether you could bowl in a straight line and hit the stumps might be a good idea? I then had a change of mind a while back whilst making some in-roads into bowling the Big Leg Break. My thoughts a few months back were that the Big Leg Break was so fundamentally important that no time should be spent tinkering with anything else and that you should focus entirely on Leg Breaks and the Big Leg Break.
I think I've softened on that viewpoint again and now might advocate that a basic sound bowling technique may be the pre-requisite to moving forward and learning wrist spin? The basis of this new opinion is that watching my younger son develop in his bowling he has gone through 3 distinct phases to date.
Phase 1: Initially with very little effort and no real technique with regards his explosion through the crease and follow through, he like many small boys could produce a leg break. This Leg Break because of the very slow and loopy flight and a degree of accuracy got him wickets.
Phase 2: Once he came up against boys that could bat a bit and was tonked around the park a bit, seam up bowling suddenly looked like a better solution and he went over to the darkside. During his 2 years in the seam up wilderness, because of his size and the fact that he is 2.5 years younger than his older seam up bowling brother he always compared himself to his older sibling. So for the 2 years he tried to bowl as fast as his brother, which was (In the short term) always going to be a battle that was going to be lost. But what did seem to happen was that he explored the Malinga round arm action and just trying to bowl much faster than he'd ever done. On his own with very little input from me he seemed to learn that varying the flight, length and speed worked if it coincided with accuracy.
During the phase 2 period, his whole bowling action improved along with physically growing. His bowling action by the start of this summer looked more like that of a spinner with a slow walk-in buidling up to the explosion through the crease, with a spinners follow through.
Phase 3: That's kind of happened in the last 2-3 months or so. Around June he started to bowl Wrong Uns http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUG6g9VLyd8 that turned quite a bit and asking questions about them. "So it's just by turning my wrist and bowling out of the back of my hand that I bowl a Googly"? This was then followed up with questions about the Leg Break once I'd said "You don't really want to be bowling Googlies, otherwise you'll end up with the Googly Syndrome". I simply explained that he needed to be bowling out of the front of the hand with a flick of the wrist having the ball come off the 3rd finger.
Then last week we were mucking about outside the house and he bowled a series of lovely Leg-Breaks and when asked about it he said "I'm just flicking my wrist when I release the ball".
In conclusion: It strikes me that he made enormous progress whilst bowling straight not trying to get the ball to turn. During that Phase 2 the very fundamental elements of bowling were laid down allowing him to then recently add the flicking of the wrist either way to bowl the Leg-Break and the Wrong Un?