‘Judgment of length key to playing spin in India’

"Whoever the bowler is, you need to judge the length of the ball. You get into better positions," said former Australia captain and coach Bob Simpson, looking ahead to Australia's trial by spin in India.

Bob Simpson has a simple formula for playing spin in India: Play the ball and not the bowler. That is his message to the Australian batsmen on this tour. “The reputation of the bowler does not matter. Whoever the bowler is, you need to judge the length of the ball. You get into better positions,” said Simpson, former Australia captain.

“If you do that you are going to give the bowlers, any of them, a lot of problems. Judgment of length, on any track, is the key, really.”

Simpson spoke to Sportstar over phone from his home in Sydney. As always, his words oozed cricketing wisdom. The 81-year-old Simpson was an illustrious cricketer — a solid batsman (4,869 runs in 62 Tests), a handy leg-spinner (71 wickets), and a respected captain. A fantastic catcher in the slips, he later coached Australia to a remarkable One-Day International World Cup triumph in India in 1987.

The wily Simpson surely comprehends a thing or two about the Indian conditions. “When you travel out of your country it is always tough. The conditions are different. You need the ability to adapt. You also need a lot of common sense,” he said.

'We have a terrific series on our hands'

When asked about the forthcoming upcoming series, Simpson said: “This Australian team has some fearless batsmen. Skipper Steven Smith has been scoring a lot of runs, and there are other young batsmen. I think we have a terrific series on our hands.”

There have been several examples of Australian batsmen achieving success in India by adopting different methods. For instance, the imposing Matthew Hayden used the sweep shot to great effect during the 2001 series in India. Simpson said: “There is no set method; you don’t necessarily have to sweep to succeed. Each batsman is different. But, irrespective of the tracks — and there could be some spinner-friendly pitches — the use of feet is very important. The idea is not to get caught at the crease.”

“You got to use your feet to go forward or travel right back to shorten the length. You don’t have to do anything silly.”

The Australian spoke of his methods too. “I myself used to dance down a lot. But I was lucky that two of my brothers were leg-spinners. I used to practise a lot against them,” he said. Smith and Co. need to be positive without being reckless, said Simpson.