Renowned for his raw pace, England’s left-arm quick Tymal Mills has added a range of slower deliveries to his armoury which have made him one of the hottest properties on the T20 global circuit. Here he explains how to bowl slower balls.
A LETHAL COCKTAIL
With the speed I can bowl [Mills clocked 93mph in the 2016/17 Big Bash], the pace and slower deliveries marry together quite nicely. The faster you bowl at a batsman, the more they have to set themselves for that pace. So if you can then alter that pace significantly that can be very effective.
I’m quite lucky with my action in terms of the angles of my arm and my arm speed. I can bowl my back-of-the-hand slower delivery with the same arm speed, whereas with some guys their arm speed is a bit slower, or they have to drop their arm a bit, or you can see them cock their wrist. It’s the luck of the draw, but for whatever reason my body allows me to still get my arm through fast, which makes it harder for the batters to pick my slower ball.
TOP TIP: MAINTAIN YOUR ARM SPEED
My biggest piece of advice is to try and bowl your slower ball as fast as you can so the arm speed is the same. That gives you energy and more revs on the ball so that when it pitches it kicks and gets that little bit of bounce which often makes the batsman either miss it or miss-hit it.
CHOOSING YOUR OPTIONS
I bowl the back-of-the-hand delivery for probably 80 or 90 per cent of my slower balls. I generally hold the ball seam- up so that it comes out pretty straight and deeper in my hand if I want to bowl it a bit shorter.
I’ve been working on coupling that with an off-cutter as well, which I don’t bowl that often, just to have an in-between pace. My back-of-the-hand delivery takes a lot of the pace off the ball so if I can add the off-cutter, which can be in the middle of my pace-on delivery and my back-of-the-hand slower ball, then I’ve got three distinctly different paces, making it harder for the batsman to set themselves.
WHEN TO USE IT
I trust my slower delivery now, it’s pretty much my best ball, but you can’t over-use it because the batsmen can just set themselves. People know all about it now, they know it’s coming, so I’ve got to be smart with how I use it. It’s just as much about the mental side for me now as actually executing it.
PLAN IN ACTION
Quetta Gladiators v Karachi Kings, Pakistan Super League, February 2017 Mills 4-0-21-2
You’ve got to try and identify what the batsman’s doing. I used to kind of just run up and bowl and see what happened but the more I play now I’m reading the batters a bit better and reading the game better too – looking at boundary sizes, where the batsman is looking to hit me and trying to keep it out of their scoring zones.
During the PSL, the Karachi opener Shahzaib Hasan was swinging pretty hard in the powerplay and managed to get me away for a couple of fours. I anticipated he was going to coming at me again, and they were all pace-on deliveries that I had been bowling, so the next ball I came around the wicket and bowled him a slower ball. He hit it straight up in the air and I got a caught and bowled.