Rae refining delivery action

Otago pace bowler and New Zealand winter squad member Michael Rae plans to make some gradual...
Otago pace bowler and New Zealand winter squad member Michael Rae plans to make some gradual changes to get the best out of his action. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Dear diary.

That is how Otago pace bowler Michael Rae might begin the end of each training session. He certainly takes notes and jots down observations.

The strapping 24-year-old is part of the New Zealand winter training squad and his career is on the right trajectory.

But there is always something you can do better and Rae is hoping some incremental changes to his action will have a big impact.

His natural delivery is just back of a length. But because he is a tall player, that delivery is usually missing the stumps.

To take his game to another level, he needs to pitch the ball fuller. But he needs to be able to do that in a way which is natural, hence the journal entries.

"Bowling is a complicated action — there are so many moving parts," Rae said.

"Basically every bowler will have a slightly different natural length when everything is clicking. Mine is back of a length, hitting the batsman in the thigh pads.

"The goal is to find a way to slowly groom my action so I can bring my length a little further forward and bring the stumps more into play.

"I’m just slowly, slowly trying to drill in that change and repeat it. So on one day I can say, well, this is what I did and write it down.

"Maybe it was I held my action a bit longer or got my front arm a little longer or whatever it was on that day.

"I write that down and the more and more you practise, you start generating this wealth of information about your action and about your body and how it is going to be best for you to slowly change your length."

While Rae is trying to pitch the ball fuller, part of his strength is he is able to bowl a challenging length and he brings a lot of energy with the older ball. He performs a similar role to the one Neil Wagner performs for the Black Caps.

He had a breakthrough season in 2017-18 but sat out the 2018-19 summer due to injury.

Rae is the only Otago player in the winter training squad. The first of three camps is planned for mid July.

It is a good opportunity for Rae, who impressed in two first-class appearances for New Zealand A last season.

"First of all I’m incredibly lucky to be included in that squad, especially when you look around at the quality of even the Volts side in that four-day set-up. It is mind-boggling to me that I was asked ahead of a few of those guys.

"But this year they are going in with a focus on red-ball cricket ... and are trying to develop some of the younger guys for the Test Championship and to develop a stock of players who would be ready to step up."

To step up, he needs to pitch it up. And he is working on it — take note.

 

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