Why are Pakistani batsmen practising with this marble slab?

The unusual tool is a legacy of Javed Miandad's coaching stint.

Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore was seen hurling throw-downs to captain Misbah-ul-Haq ahead of the second Test match against Sri Lanka. The conspicuous tool of practice in the video above is a slab of marble placed short of driving length over the wicket. What explains this curiosity?

It's certainly not a new idea. Way back in 2006 when Pakistan were touring England, their then coach Bob Woolmer explained it was introduced by his predecessor Javed Miandad:

"Javed Miandad, I think, introduced it and it's really interesting how the ball pings off it," Woolmer had said.

He revealed it was used to get the Pakistan batsmen used to rearing deliveries. "If you don't have players of pace in your bowling line-up to test our batsmen, you have to test them some other way during practice," he added.

"The players enjoy using it, I don't know why because it makes a thud. But I think it's a really good coaching tool. If the opposition have a Brett Lee or a Harmison who gets steep bounce you have to try and replicate that."

Pakistan had used it even before the 2011 World Cup semifinal to prepare against sharp, incoming deliveries from India's Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra.

How does this technique work? Here's a clip from the above story:

Placed at an angle over a stone, the tile turns a bit on impact, forcing the batsman to react quickly as the ball deviates and hurries on. There is a danger of the batsman getting hit since neither he nor the man delivering the throwdowns has any control over where it will go. The batsmen move back and forth depending on what length they want to face.

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Yahoo! Cricket
Tue 31 Dec, 2013 6:30 PM IST