Picture the typical fast bowler personality. You are probably thinking of an angry, red-faced bundle of fury. They are bent on everything short of murder and not short of a few choice words or a bouncer aimed straight at your teeth.
But what if you have a bit of fast bowling talent without the aggressive personality?
Can you ever be a success as a quickie?
It's more common than you think. We have such a bowler at our club. He is tall and strong. Genuinely quick for non-professional level cricket, he can extract a bouncer or rising back of a length ball from all but the slowest of pitches. That is a rare talent in a world of medium pace dobblers and darting spinners.
He is also the sweetest, most generous inoffensive young man you are ever likely to meet. The most aggressive sledge he came up with this summer was telling a batsman who struggled to play him that his efforts were "not acceptable".
I'm sure you have come across someone similar. You may even be that not-so-nasty fasty.
The good news is that you can be a nice guy and still bowl fast.
Work on your "white line fever"
You may not have the fire-breathing fury of Dale Steyn, but you can learn ways to be more nasty on the field without changing who you are off the field.
In other words, fake it until you make it.
It's a well established self-improvement method to force yourself to do something every day for a month until it becomes habit. So force yourself, for 30 games, to try something more aggressive. You don't have to suddenly change everything, but pick a thing you think you can do:
- Stare at the batsman when he plays and misses
- Think about sending the stumps cartwheeling rather than just trying to hit a length
- Decide you are going to push the keeper back a pace or two with your speed
- Imagine the batsman said hurtful things about your mother
When the innings is over, you can go back to being the guy that girls take home to mother. Until then, you are after blood and are insulted by the batsman surviving more than two balls.
Be a ninja: The silent killer
Of course, you don't have to shout and scream to be nasty. Michael Holding famously said very little. He let his 95mph thunderbolts do most of the talking.
But his approach was still very aggressive. He was simply calculating with it. The "red mist" bowler attempts a barrage of short balls because he wants to cause damage. The ninja fast bowler, like Holding, bowls three short balls followed by a yorker.
You can trust that the batsman walking out will pass on his shell shock to the next few coming in. Make the next guy wait. Stand at your mark and stare him down. Build up his tension and let him be afraid of what is next. It's all drama and you have not said a word or even bowled a ball to the new guy. Reputation precedes you.
You can let the ball show what a nasty bowler you are, as long as you have the right attitude: Aggression is just a tactic to exploit to get results.
Being true to yourself is a powerful weapon
These tactics can be effective, but only if you know the overarching truth...
A bowler who understands himself can match tactics to his personality. This is crucial because the wrong tactic just will not work. The extrovert is different from the introvert. The neurotic doesn't have the same approach as the emotionally stable.
That's easy to say but very difficult to work out. It takes years and some players have finished playing before they really get to "who they are". So take your time, play with methods and keep going until you have built up confidence in your game.
Eventually you will, and only then will you truly be the nice guy who finishes first.