The Telegraph
Monday , January 20 , 2014
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Hirwani’s plan to nurture spinners

Indore: His India career might have spanned just 17 Tests and 18 ODIs, but there’s no doubt that Narendra Hirwani knows a thing or two about spin bowling. That’s because of the 732 wickets he has taken in 167 first-class matches.

Hirwani, who had stunned the cricketing world when he took 16 wickets in his debut Test way back in 1988, admits that spinners are among the endangered species, a victim of modern-day cricket. Especially, the leg-spinners.

But he is not one to sit back and lament the death of a beautiful art, rather he has come up with an idea which may help nurture better spinners.

Hirwani suggests that spinners should practice on wickets made of polished Kota stones. The finesse of the surface of the Kota stone makes it different from the usual concrete pitches that we normally find at the nets. Concrete pitches may offer the ball some grip, but spinning it on a polished surface would require a Herculean effort from the spinner. And we all know that practice makes almost everything perfect.

“Wickets have changed… They are not as helpful to the spinners as it used to be in the past. The wickets have become such that if you don’t know how to spin the ball, it will be very difficult to find success. That is why I suggest polished Kota-stone practice wickets… It would help teach a spinner how to spin the ball even on the most difficult of surfaces,” Hirwani said.

“The bowler who knows how to spin the ball, will be successful in any form of cricket… Even in the IPL. I always advise the coaches to ask budding spinners to try and spin the ball as much as they can. That will help you find your feet at the top level,” he added.

Hirwani’s idea has been implemented by quite a few cricket associations. The Vidharbha Cricket Association has been using Kota-stone wickets for more than a year and now Hirwani’s home association, the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association, has also adopted the idea.