Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Whiteley Turns To Spin As Extra String To Boost International Hopes

Whiteley Turns To Spin As Extra String To Boost International Hopes

Worcestershire all-rounder Ross Whiteley is experimenting with left arm spin – as a potential extra string to his bow alongside his power-hitting and dynamic fielding to boost his international aspirations.

Whiteley was encouraged to work on that aspect of his game when a member of the England Lions party in the UAE during the winter.

But the 27-year-old also sees this new possible weapon in his armoury as a way of becoming part of the County attack and to also help him in his aspirations to play in various T20 tournaments including the Big Bash.

He has been put through his paces by Worcestershire's spin bowling coach and living legend in Norman Gifford who picked up 2,068 first class wickets during his career.

Here Ross explains to the Worcestershire CCC website how he is is looking at enhancing that aspect of his game.

Question: Your own bowling, are you still looking to develop that?

Ross Whiteley: "That is a pretty good question! I've seen my bowling as a work in progress for a while. I'm 27 now. I wouldn't say I was too old but you are maybe past all the big changes you can make.

"We've looked at a few areas where I can potentially fit in as I've not necessarily been used as much as I would have liked.

"With the bowling line-up we've got, I've tried to work out a few different areas where potentially I might fit into the Worcestershire side but also further down the line to make me more selectable for internationals or potentially any T20 competitions around the world.

"I've had some really big decisions. I've sat down with Mase (bowling coach Matt Mason) and a couple of coaches and even on the Lions trip, and there is a chance of me bowling a few left arm darts (spin) and trying to get a little bit of one-day bowling in – whether it's just a couple of overs in T20 or a few overs in the 50 over competition.

"You never know, down the line, I've got a few years to work at it. It's very fresh to me now but we will see where that takes me."

Question: Matt Mason mentioned last winter that England Lions were keen to have a look at you as a possible spinner?

Ross Whiteley: "England were the ones that sat me down and mentioned it to start off with. They saw a gap where I could potentially get myself in the side.

"They liked the big hitting side of my game and my fielding. They just wanted, because I'm not a top order batsman, another string to my bow. Even if I could throw a few darts down there, then that could make me a lot more selectable.

"It is something I've taken a long time to think about and I've not taken the decision lightly because I've been bowling seam for years and all of a sudden to change now is a big decision.

"But if it is going to give me more opportunities, then I will throw myself at something like that.

"I have been giving it a go. I've been working with Giff (spin bowling coach Norman Gifford) and he is really keen to work at it.

"It's all very new to me and learning a new skill like that is going to take some time but I've got some good people to work with."

Question: Presumably you will be a bit reluctant to experiment with it to start with and it would be tried out in the nets or maybe the Seconds?

Ross Whiteley: "Reluctant, I'm not sure is the right word. Confidence might not be as high as if I'd been bowling it for a while but it's one of those skills I am looking forward to.

"It's a new challenge, quite exciting, and in T20 cricket especially, you don't necessarily have to be a good spinner to take wickets or do a good job. You can get wickets with bad balls especially the way batsmen are coming at you these days.

"Whether that natural variation will help me out, whether I drag a few down, we will see how that goes! But I'm going to put the hours in and see where it takes me."

Question: Have you had pretensions to be a spinner or was it something that was suggested to you?

Ross Whiteley: "Obviously when the body is screaming at you for running in and bowling, and then getting whacked back over your head, you think 'maybe I can turn to spin and run off just a few paces'

"I never saw it as a realistic thing to do but after hearing it might help me to get selected further down the line for higher honours, it is quite an exciting opportunity now.

"The confidence Mase and Bump (Director Of Cricket Steve Rhodes) have given me to experiment and do my thing with my bowling has been really nice.

"I don't want to lose my seam bowling, i think I can still offer a bit, but whether I am going to get the opportunities with our bowling attack this year, maybe it is a time for me to try and find a way in with something else."

Question: You said before you'd love to play in the Big Bash?

Ross Whiteley: "Definitely. Like I keep saying, the more strings to your bow, the more flexible you make yourself. If I can continue doing things with the bat and in the field and can throw a few darts down and help out that way, then you never know.

"It is a pretty exciting time for me at the minute with all sorts of competitions going around so if I can get my toes in the door, that will be brilliant."

*You can read a full question and answer session with Ross Whiteley on the Worcestershire CCC website during the next few days.