Sunfoil Dolphins off-spinner Prenelan Subrayen was the latest to be reported for a suspicious action, leading to remedial work and a rapid return to the field for the KwaZulu-Natal side, the 19-year-old playing an important role in their Ram Slam T20 Challenge campaign.
Subrayen’s problems started last August when he went to the ICC U19 World Cup in Australia. His action came under scrutiny after he played all six of South Africa’s matches on their way to the semi-finals, taking seven wickets at an average of just 14.42 and conceding only 2.43 runs per over.
Tests by both the Australian Institute of Sport and the Sports Science Institute of South Africa deemed Subrayen’s action to be illegal and in December he was sent back to his province to undergo rehabilitation.
The doosra is normally the delivery that causes problems, but in the case of Subrayen, it was his changes of pace that caused his elbow to bend beyond 15 degrees when bowling.
“I have the leggie, but no I don’t have the doosra. I only have three different balls and it was my variation of pace that was causing my elbow to bend,” Subrayen said.
The youngster took what is quite probably the worst news a bowler can get in his stride, and the fact that he was able to play for his club and the Dolphins side in the Franchise Cubs Week as a specialist batsman made all the difference.
“It was a shock, but not in a bad way. I took it as positive criticism and it made me work harder. I’ve had issues before, I’ve been tested before and it helped in a big way that I was still able to play as a batsman. I wasn’t totally torn away from the cricket field and I was able to keep my mind fresh and in the game,” Subrayen said.
Dolphins coach Lance Klusener, who worked with assistant coach Rivash Gobind and former Natal coach Phil Russell in rectifying Subrayen’s action, said the fact that the Glenwood High School product is so mature and has a very good understanding of his action ensured that the process took less than two months.
“Prenelan’s extremely mature for a 19-year-old and he knows exactly how his body works in terms of his action. That made the corrective work much easier and enabled the problem to get sorted ASAP.
“Normally it only happens when a bowler is 25 or 26 that they work out how their body feels, whether they’re falling over or not, whether they can self-correct or not. I get the feeling that Prenelan can already do that,” Klusener said.
After spending some time under the watchful eye of the trio of KZN coaches, Subrayen then travelled to Cape Town with the Dolphins as the 12th man for a four-day game against the Cobras, allowing High Performance Manager Vincent Barnes the chance to work with him and give the go-ahead for the Verulam lad to be tested again.
“Initially the testing is done at their home base with every bowling session being videoed and every change being monitored. You can’t do it with the naked eye, you have to go back and compare the videos. The High Performance staff then work with the bowler for four to six days and when we think he’s ready for the final test, only then do we use the better cameras at the Sports Science Institute in Cape Town,” Barnes said.
“The bowler has to groove his new action, he has to learn it, he has to feel it,” the former Proteas bowling coach said.
“It wasn’t something very difficult to change, it was more about my feet positioning. The younger you are, the better you can change because as you get older, you get more used to your illegal action,” Subrayen said.
Apart from the hard work of Klusener, Gobind, Russell and Barnes, as well as previous input from specialist spin coaches Shafiek Abrahams and Paul Adams, Subrayen said he couldn’t have sailed through the process without the support of his parents, especially father Kugan, the Level III-certified head coach of Verulam Cricket Club.
But it clearly helps that Subrayen is a player who understands his action so well and Klusener has high hopes for his young charge.
“He potentially has 20 years of spin bowling left and he’s exceptionally talented. He knows what he wants to achieve and he’s a good batsman too, people will see that in time. The key is that he knows what he’s doing with the ball,” Klusener said.
The Subrayen case was complicated by the badly dislocated shoulder he suffered several years ago, but with the shoulder now at pretty much 100%, the jerkiness in his action gone and the experience from the hard school of knocks adding to the natural talent he undoubtedly has, the future is bright for the disciplined, but passionate youngster.