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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 06:02 GMT 07:02 UK
How to be a fast bowler
By Jamie Lillywhite

The big thing is understanding how the bowling action works
Ian Pont
For many years, the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack has been regarded as the game's "bible".

Now former Essex all-rounder Ian Pont is hoping that his new fast bowling manual will be as invaluable to pacemen as Wisden is to statisticians.

Pont, an enthusiastic advocate of bio-mechanics, has produced The Fast Bowler's Bible, which confidently aims to offer insights to bowlers of all ages and abilities.

"It came about a couple of years ago," Pont explained to BBC Sport.

"It was obvious that there hadn't been a fast bowling coaching book in the last 15 years that had been universally accepted.

"It was written towards the end of last year after the Ashes so there is a lot of up-to-date information on techniques."

So what makes a fast bowler?

England have a healthy crop at present, with Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Simon Jones, Sajid Mahmood and Liam Plunkett all upwards of 6ft 3ins tall.

So do those possessing physical characteristics more reminiscent of former Carry On star Charles Hawtrey need not bother to read on?

Pont insists a "good engine", "flexibility" and getting "muscles in sequence" are also key attributes.

"The big thing is understanding how the bowling action works. Once students do that, whether they're 11 or 30, they can adopt those techniques into their action and improve dramatically.

"No two bowlers are ever going to have the same bowling action.

"The secret of winning the Ashes was that the England attack was consistently bowling in the right areas over a long period and when you do that you get wickets at the highest levels."

Played first-class cricket from 1982 to 1988 for Essex and Notts
70 wickets in 28 first-class matches, average 35.78, best bowling 5-73
Member of Essex team which win the 1985 NatWest Trophy final
Had trials as a pitcher with six Major League baseball teams in 1987
Once threw a ball 138 yards

Pont has been putting this into practice with young bowlers at Essex and the England Academy.

"English cricket is in a good place at the moment. We're probably slightly ahead of the rest of the world because we do now understand exactly what's required to do the job properly," he said.

Meanwhile, injuries to Harmison, Jones and James Anderson meant England were forced to field both Mahmood and Plunkett against Sri Lanka at Lord's.

But which of them does Pont think has the greater potential?

"I was out at the Dennis Lillee camp in India and Saj was there," he recalls.

"He has some challenges with his action, one of them is releasing the ball at the right angle so he hits the seam all the time, but he is trying to put it right.

"Liam Plunkett has had his action altered to prevent injury. He had a mixed action, now it's more front-on.

"If I had to pick one, Saj has got more pace and can get the ball up to 90mph and I always lean towards someone who can bowl quick and being tall he can get bounce, but they're both very good prospects.

"Duncan Fletcher isn't afraid to throw these lads in, and if I was a young bowler coming in I'd be quite excited about my prospects."

Sajid Mahmood
Pont believes Mahmood needs to refine his bowling action

An opportunity presented itself at international level when Troy Cooley left his post as England bowling coach earlier this year, but Pont chose not to apply and Kevin Shine landed the job.

"It wouldn't have suited me to relocate and there were other issues like my private coaching work, but from a pride point of view it would have been fantastic to have been involved," he said.

Understanding how bowling actions work is one of the key sections of Pont's book.

"The advance bio-mechanics part is written in layman's terms, with lots of analogies to other sports, so I'm hoping young teenagers will be able to read it.

"It's not a Harry Potter novel but it's a really good read, you can read it in a weekend and lay the page open in the nets and refer to it.

"I'm hoping people try the things and have a bit of fun with it. There's a lot of new stuff I know hasn't been written before, with reverse swing, and also how to reverse swing a brand new ball. It reveals a lot of secrets."

The Fast Bowler's Bible is published by Crowood Press, costs 12.99 and can be purchased via

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