Top cricket coach Ian Pont breezed into Durban last week with a new approach to fast bowling and loads of confidence in his methods. He believes there is only a handful of men in the world who teach fast bowling in its true sense, and, although he doesn't brag about it, it's clear that he considers himself part of that elite group.

"The key lies in the words 'fast bowling'," the 45-year-old Essex and England national cricket academy coach said. "My job is to teach pace, which is not something you're necessarily going to learn on a typical coaching course.

"But that's not all. The greatest discovery of my generation is that you can bowl fast and accurately at the same time.

"Slowing down to bowl line and length is not the right approach; that just means your action can't handle bowling fast and needs to be adjusted."

Pont is not a household name in these parts. In fact, he may best be remembered by South Africans as the man with the second-longest throw ever recorded.

In 1981, exactly 100 years after Englishman Robert Percival set the record of 140 yards and 128.6 metres, he attempted to break the record in Cape Town. "I almost threw my arm out trying," he recalled with a grin, but in the end his best effort of 138 yards (126.1 metres) finished just short. "Percival's was a monster throw, but it's extraordinary in this day and age that a record can last for so long. Perhaps someone should put up some money to encourage someone to break it."

Pont's famous arm even encouraged him to interrupt his cricket career with Essex in 1987 to try his luck as a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies in the United States.

He remains the first, and only, professional cricketer to play in a pro baseball game.

Now, however, he's established himself as a fast-bowling coach. He was brought out to South Africa last week by North West to organise a fast-bowling camp.

While in Potchefstroom, he was contacted by the manager of professional cricket at Kingsmead, Jay Naidoo, and borrowed for a couple of days' work with bowlers and coaches at the Suncoast Dolphins Academy.

Pont was delighted to oblige. He was last in Durban 22 years ago when he played his one and only match for Natal in the 1985/6 season.

For Pont, there are two types of coaches: those who tell stories, and those who recognise that bowling is moving "very swiftly" to a technical base, using the science of biomechanics as one of its most important tools.

"Quite a lot of former fast bowlers coach by showing you how they did it as a player. That's great if you're a natural as well, but in my experience fast bowling is a mechanical process and bowlers can make a lot of mistakes.

"My job is to break the action down to its components and establish a set of skill drills to help coaches get the message across to bowlers. Bowling isn't robotic," Pont continued, "and nor is it rocket science. But it's definitely physics. So if you line yourself up straight, run up straight, hit the crease straight and follow through straight, there's a very good chance the ball will go in that direction as well.

"It's really the bow and arrow effect, and I try and get that across in a simple, friendly way."

One of his unusual methods is to teach the bowlers without a ball. "When you have a ball in your hand, you naturally worry about where it goes. In a match you worry about taking wickets and not being hit for four. My job is take away the external stimulae. It's a different approach, but I have found that it accelerates learning."

One of his more controversial views is that he believes coaches wrap top fast bowlers in too much cotton wool.

"There's nothing like bowling if you're a fast bowler.

"We're doing lots of things better today, but we're neglecting the root of cricketing fitness. Stamina is gained by bowling lots of overs and doing lots of running to get strength into the legs. That's a lesson we should learn from the past," Pont said.