Thursday, August 18

Get Lost, But Not Your Nerves: How to Stay Alive as a Bowler of Death S20 | Cricket

Sweaty palms, weak knees, heavy arms
There is already vomit on the cable knit sweater, the Moretti from last night … “

Lose Yourself, the soundtrack to Eminem’s autobiographical film about the rap battles of the mid-1990s in Detroit, could document life a world away from Twickenham’s sacred lawn or Lord’s manicured gardens. But the lyrical themes are a gimmick for the high-end sporting occasion. .

The 2003 World Cup winning English rugby team reportedly heard the track over and over again in the locker room; was an instant favorite of England’s one-day international team, their unofficial anthem for a few good years after it was released in 2002. ABC commentator Kerry O’Keefe could be heard dragging along the lyrics, albeit without a chainsaw and hockey mask, as Steve Waugh approached his 29th Bradman tryout at the SCG in 2003. “Tugga” dramatically smashed the last ball of the day against England through the shadows to the limit of coverage. Marcus Trescothick has described how he used the introduction of the spoken word as a personal mantra to help him combat the crippling anxiety that shortened his international career in 2006.

If you had a chance, or a chance / To take advantage of everything you always wanted, in one moment / Would you capture it? “

These are the lines Trescothick used to sing to himself in the fold of his smooth, lilting West Country tone. Certainly arresting stuff, whether it’s from Michigan or Middle Chinnock. Trescothick went on to dominate the county game for another decade and more.

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I remember those lines every time a cricket game goes to the end, the last few “death overs” wobble and are tantalizing until there is only one final act. When a bowler reaches out to catch the ball, the letter for Lose Yourself begins to spin. Besides questions, Many questions: What is your plan here? His best delivery? What will the batter like the least to face? Where are you placing your shooting players? Are you really enjoying this? Aren’t your palms sweaty? Heavy legs? Did you eat too much pasta for dinner last night?

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Who better to pose them than Tymal Mills, quick with his left arm and currently one of the best bowlers of death in Twenty20 cricket? Mills has practiced his trade for a number of franchises around the world, from Quetta Gladiators in Pakistan to Hobart Hurricanes in Australia. He was an integral part of Southern Brave by taking home the inaugural Men’s Hundred Trophy. A quick email to Andy Zaltzman confirms Mills as a master of the art.

“Mills’s stats are incredible,” confirms the Test Match Special statistic. He is right at the end of the list of the cheapest bowlers in global franchise cricket. Mills has delivered 655 balls in 72 games over the past five years, conceding 808 runs at an economic rate of 7.4 runs per over. Pretty impressive when you consider that the guy on the other side is invariably trying to smash him off the ground. Even more impressive, Mills has taken 51 wickets averaging 15.84, competing with the best: Rashid Khan, Jasprit Bumrah and Adam Milne. It is no wonder that he has been called up to be part of the next T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Mills showed those nerves of steel by speaking eloquently about his craft on the car phone as he pushed his way through London rush hour traffic in early summer: “The ball is going well, it’s just a case of re-trusting. on the body, which has been a great thing, a great barrier to go through, trusting that it won’t hurt and then I can fully focus on my abilities. “

Those abilities Mills has – like a left arm capable of throwing 90 mph bowls, creating a different angle for the batter above or around the wicket, with a slower deceptive ball as part of his arsenal – give him several selling points. unique.

“It’s just a case of leveraging my strengths, I can bowl quickly, which maybe gives me a little more room for error in those death overs.”

Those same strengths meant that he was never far from England’s thoughts, even if he could have felt it during the periods of injury he has faced since playing a handful of T20 international matches between 2016 and 2018.

Mills does things differently when he dies. Avoiding the more traditional yorker for throwing back a long, “I call it a heavy long, tall box.” He feels this is a more replicable ability for him and results in a delivery that is outside of the traditional hitting arc and thus more difficult to score.

“Bowling to death is a very high pressure. You have to accept it and also be sure of what you are trying to do. “

England's Ben Stokes is devastated after the jaw-dropping finale of the 2016 final saw Carlos Brathwaite beat him up for four six in a row to win the West Indies trophy.
England’s Ben Stokes is devastated after the end of the 2016 final saw Carlos Brathwaite hit him for four six in a row to win the West Indies trophy. Photograph: Indranil Mukherjee / AFP / Getty Images

The yorker at the base of stumps has traditionally been seen as the way to go in death. If executed perfectly, it is still a difficult ball to hit and has the striking advantage of splashing stumps if strained. But the margin of error is considered quite high: overpitch and it’s a full shot, not full enough and it’s a half volley.

The modern game has evolved. Recent Piece by Tim Wigmore About the distances T20 hitters go to improve their power and ability to hit a cricket ball was revealing. Everything “over” and “under load”, “turning planes” and “impact zones”. Just reading it makes you want to wear a pair of NormaTec compressed air massage boots.

All of which means that a bowler has to constantly develop. Possessing a variety of deliveries to keep the person 22 yards away by guessing is crucial. Wide Yorkers that are unreachable when a batter backs up, a heavily disguised knuckle or slower ball that floats like a maple helicopter instead of the 90 mph missile the batter is preparing. Pace-off, pace-on, hitting the court or kissing the surface. You can practice the skills, but can you prepare for those high-pressure scenarios? Mills doesn’t think so.

“You can’t really replicate the intensity of those death over in a training session, there is never the same amount of danger. For me, death bowling is all about attitude, you have to want to throw those big jumps, be the superstar and the winner of the match. “The batter can be lucky even with good balls, you are going to run, that is a fact. You can’t give up on T20 cricket. If you hit a wicket with your next ball, you can change the game. You have to enjoy the fight. “

“I look back and I don’t usually throw that 20th to win a game, I’ve often done the 19th because you don’t want to leave an over in the hutch. It would be nice to have that moment in a great game and take advantage of it. “

Sounds familiar. Mills could get his only shot in Dubai, rather than Detroit, on Nov. 14. It will be safe. After all, as the song says: “Success is my only option.”

This is an excerpt from The Guardian’s weekly cricket email, The Spin. To subscribe and get the full edition, visit this page and follow the instructions.

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