Action Remediation for Mohammed Hafeez by Dr Paul Hurrion

Introduction:
Mohammed Hafeez  (MH) was reported for a suspected action after the third ODI against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi in October 2017 and underwent his ICC Independent Assessment in Loughborough (November 2017).  The results highlight on average an 18.5˚ elbow extension ‘over the wicket’ (OTW) and 15.2˚ elbow extension ‘around the wicket’ (ATW).  Three of the 24 deliveries analysed reported elbow extension below the permitted 15˚ extension. The highest record value was 22˚ elbow extension. In order to return to International Cricket, the key objective is to enable MH to bowl within the ICC tolerance of 15˚ extension. A second objective is for MH to continue to be effective in his bowling and remain the world’s top-ranked ODI all-rounder.

First Stage:
Prior to his visit to the UK it was important that we understood MH’s typical bowling action; this included looking at whether his action had changed over time due to previous ICC action reviews. Footage from multiple matches was reviewed, aiming to identify MH’s bowling tendencies, focusing on his body position and how the position which he took up could result in compensation with flexion at the elbow. A key question to answer and explain related to the Elbow Angle at Upper Arm Horizontal   (Loughborough – Nov 17) – Average 23˚ Maximum 24˚. This is very different to the ICC Independent Assessment (Brisbane – Nov 16) – Average 5˚ with a maximum Elbow Angle at Upper Arm  Horizontal of 9˚. Why the difference?  This was a key area to review and understand why the changes.

Second Stage:

Once Hafeez arrived at the Quintic office, our findings from match footage review and the ICC report were discussed in detail. Our biomechanical observations and recommendations were discussed with Hafeez, Carl Crowe and Azhar Mahmood. This included talking through why Hafeez has the tendency to produce flexion at the elbow. Also discussed were the changes that could be made at a whole body level to reduce the need for this elbow flexion, this progressed into the plan of action. Some of the adjustments could be made over the course of a few days, whereas others needed to be drilled and continuously worked on over the following few months, with successful completion this would then result in a desirable and legal bowling action. The biomechanical changes involved feet positioning, hip rotation and torso alignment with the aim to reducing the need for flexion / extension movement at the elbow.

Summary of Technical Questions (Pre Indoor School Bowling / Drills):

Two areas to focus:   Legality & 15 degree Elbow Extension    /    Efficiency Improve Bowling Performance

Legality:

  • How to make up the approximate 10-15% of ball speed that currently would be as a result of the elbow extension being greater than 15 degrees. For the elbow to be legal, then speed / revolutions need to be increased from other body parts, notably, wrist, shoulder, torso, hips, lower body…
  • Rotation of bowling arm, lower body working more efficiently, driving from back leg, up and over the front leg, Point of release (higher point of release, wider / higher)
  • Length of Run up – Shoulders Square Side on Action? Up and over front leg? Length of delivery stride.
  • Release Pattern? How does MH impart spin on the ball?

 

Efficiency of Bowling Action:

  • Scrambled seam / change of pace / point on the crease / grip
  • Size of hands? Wrist movement, how fast can you move your wrists
  • Revolutions on the ball? Not a big spinner? Up the back of the ball? Wrist position and release pattern?
  • Type of varieties? Top / Traditional Off Spin?
  • Match effective due to experience and being a batsmen.
  • Hip Drive- 45 degree foot at BFC
  • Height of release.
  • Good alignment with feet to starting direction of the ball.

Third Stage:

Whilst MH began going through the drills in the UK, all movements were recorded using Quintic high speed cameras so that the footage could be quickly reviewed. This allowed MH (and the coaching team) to gain a better understanding of how his body was moving during the bowling action. After each drill was complete, the video footage was reviewed, with improvements and weaknesses being identified and discussed; what is causing this weakness and how can it be worked on. A large number of drills were completed during this time as we progressed from functional movements to more game and action specific training. Video footage was continuously reviewed with areas of weakness identified, discussed and worked on in a progressive manner. Some of these drills were categorised as ongoing and would have to be worked on by Hafeez over the following months, if a permanent change in action were to result.

Fourth Stage:

Three high-speed Quintic cameras were set up along with 3D reflective body markers used to asses MH bowling action. The analysis was completed shortly after completing all the drills and technical changes were fresh in MH mind. Match style bowling was performed, along with one step and two step run ups. All footage could also be reviewed by MH after each delivery and alterations could be made between each delivery if required. Many deliveries were completed and analysed using this set up. After the completion of data collection, we proceeded to create a 3D report, indicating where the legality of his action. This gave MH something clear to work on, as he prepared for his ICC assessment in Loughborough.

Ongoing Work and Analysis:

During the months after the work at Edgbaston, constant work by the team, (Carl, Azhar and Dr Paul Hurrion) was necessary to ensure the technical changes required were adhered too. It was imperative the bowling action became natural, flowed and second nature to MH. Videos, email, phone conversations ensured the team where all keep up to date and most importantly MH was completing his drills effectively and gaining confidence.

Only when the team were happy with MH bowling action, was he recommended to go for the ICC re-assessment. The aim now following the success outcome of the ICC test, is to ensure the MH is never called again for a suspect action, with the aim to make him an even more effective ODI spin bowler at International level.

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