ECB invest in Merlyn’s spin spell – Andrew Flintoff.

In recent years England batsmen have become far more adept at playing spin and a large of part of that improvement is put down to a machine called ‘Merlyn’. Invented by Henry Pryor, it recreates spin bowling in a way no other device has been able to do and now the ECB are investing in providing one to each of the 18 first-class counties.

The new enhanced Merlyn is a joint project between Pryor and a company called Stuart & Williams, the world’s leading manufacturer of BOLA bowling machines, and the result is a machine that is almost as good as facing Muttiah Muralitharan or Shane Warne in the flesh according to ECB coaching staff.

“We can probably get the ball to spin more than a spinner so we can overload the training which means batsmen will face tougher conditions than they would face in a match,” David Parsons, the ECB’s performance director, told Cricinfo. “The only thing with a machine is you don’t get the cue that a bowler gives you in terms of watching it from the hand, which can actually make playing the machine more difficult which is no bad thing.”

Fifteen of the first-class counties already have the machines with the roll-out due to be completed early in the New Year while two will be permanently based at the National Performance Centre (NPC) at Loughborough.

“We’ve only had very limited use of it over the last few years because until recently there has only been one such machine,” Parsons said. “But those who have worked on it have found it beneficial so the ECB has invested to get one machine out to every county.

“The feedback from both the wicketkeepers and the batsmen has been fantastic because it releases the ball with a high number of revolutions on it. Historically we haven’t been very good a playing the spinning ball and this gives them a chance to practice their skills in a training environment before facing the real thing.”

Unlike the original model, the latest version is much more transportable – the ECB have flown one out to Pretoria for the Performance Programme’s training camp – while it is also possible to add data from any particular bowling spell which Merlyn will then replicate.

“It’s very user-friendly as a coach and it’s very easy to programme what sort of delivery you want spat out,” Parsons added. “I’m pretty confident that we will see an improvement in the way batsmen play spin, especially if the last four or five weeks here in Pretoria are anything to go by.”

Andrew Flintoff faces the original Merlyn during a net session in 2006

Sachin Tendulkar at The Hako bola cricket Bowling Machine Inauguration Ceremony at MIG club, Bandra Mumbai. (2002)

The Most Important aspect of BOLA bowling machine is that you can eliminate the technical flaws of the Bastman quickly. The coach can change the line and length of the ball at will. In my opinion the machine will definitely boost the confidence of the cricketers….


Mr. Williams (Bola Owner) & Ex-cricketer Abey Kuruvilla , Dypatil Chief Curator with Hako Officials. (2008)

Mr Lakshmipathy Balaji at the opening ceremony with Hako Bola cricket bowling machine. (2009).

V.Suresh Coordinator & Coach ,FSCA -Former Junior State Cricketer has been working with State Bank of India for the past 19 years and has lead the All India State Bank team in the year 1994. He has been successfully running the Future Stars Cricket Academy for the past 10 years. FSCA were the winners of Pratham International tournament U 13 category at Sharjah in the year 2005, wherein Abdul Qadir’s Pakistani coaching academy were one of the participants. The Academy is equipped with state of the art facilties that includes astro turf wickets ,a bowling machine adhering to international standards thereby providing a wholesome learning experience for the students of this academy. A number of students have represented the State at Under-14 , Under-16 and Under-19 category.

Chandrakant Pandit – Bola cricket bowling machine are installed at my chandrakant pandit cricket clinic since 2002 & is excellent tool for improving the players skills, & built confidence.

  • Beginning with Dadar Parsee Zorastrian Cricket Club, Matunga, where the first opportunity to coach was given by Shri Mangesh Bhalekar. Subsequently coached other reputed clubs like M.I.G., Bandra etc.
  • Coached Kenyan National Cricket Team – in the year 1997.
  • Appointed by Board of Control for Cricket in India as specialised batting Coach for the Season 2002-03, 2003-04.
  • Coach for the Mumbai Under-19 Team, which won the coveted Cooch-Beehar Trophy in the year 2001-02 after a gap of 4 years.
  • Appointed as coach for the Mumbai Ranji Trophy Team for 2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-2005.
  • Presently conducting coaching clinic at H.M.P. School ground since 1999
  • Certified under the Coaching Examination conducted by The Board of Control for Cricket in India (B.C.C.I.) – Level I, II & III.