The art of Spin Bowling - I
- By SP. Bhatia
The bowlers, they say, win matches, while the
batsmen save them. To win a cricket match, it is
important to be able to take wickets at regular
intervals and keep the opposition under pressure.
There are two types of bowlers that one gets to see
in cricket' The fast bowlers tend to be more
physical in their approach, their aim being to
propel the ball towards the batsman as fast as they
can. Spinners on the other hand, are more cerebral.
They are expected to compensate for their lack of
speed by using their brains, fingers and wrists to
outwit their opponents.
Let's take a look at the varieties of spin bowling.
Off-spin bowling has been dominated in modern times
by Muttiah Muralitharan, currently the
second-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket. Lance
Gibbs, the West Indian off-spinner of the 60s and
70s, was the first spin bowler to take 300 Test
wickets. India's very own Harbhajan Singh is an
off-spin bowler who seems destined to attain
An off-break is a delivery that
changes direction from the off-stump to the
leg-stump after pitching. It is usually bowled at a
slower speed. Off-spin bowlers do not achieve as
much bounce as their leg-spinning counterparts, but
they usually have good control over the ball. It is
necessary that they pitch the ball at the perfect
length to prevent the batsmen from scoring.
The grip for an off-break:
1. Hold the ball with the seam in a vertical
position. Spread the first and second fingers
across the top of the ball on the seam, using your
third finger and thumb to support the ball. Use
your first finger to spin the ball. Keep your hips
and shoulders in line as you land on your right
foot. Lean back, maintain the side-on position and
look over your left shoulder. Make sure your right
foot is parallel to the crease.
2. As you prepare to deliver the ball, start
uncoiling your body. Shift the body weight
gradually from the back leg to the front leg. Cock
your wrist backwards, continue to look at your
target over your left shoulder, use the left arm to
maintain balance as your right arm comes over.
3. As you release the ball, spin it sharply by
moving your first finger downwards and thumb
upwards. Make your bowling arm brush past your
right ear as it moves downwards. Your body will
gain momentum as it uncoils and your weight shifts
onto the ball of your left foot. Keep your hand
upright throughout the bowling action, drive your
back knee forward, and keep your weight on the ball
of the front foot.
4. Swivel your upper body on the left knee as you
complete the follow through. Your bowling arm
should complete its action near the right hip. Your
head should remain upright and steady. Your body
should have turned 180° from the pre-delivery
position. The body weight should be transferred
onto your toes as you follow through.
THE OFF-SPINNER'S ARM BALL:
arm ball is one of the variations that should be
part of every off-spin bowler's armoury.
To bowl the arm ball, the smooth side of the ball
should be gripped instead of the seam, as is done
while bowling the off-break. The grip should not
very tight. The bowler should drag the ball with
his shoulder action towards first slip, as he
rotates on the front foot. Rather than spin the
ball, he should slide the fingers of his bowling
hand around its right hand side, keeping the seam
pointing towards the first slip. The ball should be
pitched either on middle or off-stump, so that it
drifts away to bounce outside the off-stump.
THE OFF-SPINNER'S TOP SPINNER:
Another variation that prevents the off-spin bowler
from becoming predictable.
The run-up for bowling the top-spinner is the same
as that for bowling the off-break. The grip also
remains the same, except that the second finger is
bent, so that the ball lies between the first
finger and the knuckles of the second finger. The
bowling palm should face the head. The ball should
be released before the arm reaches the highest
point of the swing, so that the ball travels
initially in an upward direction towards the
batsman. The swing of the arm should be close to
the opposite side of the body.
LEFT ARM SPIN
widely known as the Land of Spin, has produced two
of the greatest exponents of this art, in Vinoo
Mankad and Bishan Singh Bedi. Other notable
left-arm spinners to have graced the game are the
Englishmen Wilfred Rhodes, Hedley Verity and Derek
Underwood. Daniel Vettori (New Zealand) and Ashley
Giles (England) are keeping this form alive today.
An orthodox left-arm spin bowler turns the ball
from the right-hander's leg-stump to the off-stump.
Like off-spin, it involves the use of the fingers.
The major difference between off-spin and left-arm
spin is that the ball turns in the opposite
The left-arm spinner's stock delivery changes
direction from the leg-stump to the off-stump after
The grip for the left-arm spinner's stock ball is
the same as that adopted by a right-arm off-spinner
to bowl the off-break, as mentioned above. The
difference is that the opposite hands and legs come
left-arm spinner has to flight the ball more in
order to vary his line and length, which will
enable him to deceive the batsman.
THE ARM BALL:
The left-arm spinner's arm-ball can be a lethal
weapon. It can fetch him lots of wickets if
mastered. The left-arm spinner's arm ball turns
from the off-stump to the leg-stump. It pitches
just outside or on the off stump, and then drifts
into the middle or leg stump.
LEFT-ARM SPINNER'S TOP-SPINNER:
The grip is the same as that used by a right-arm
off-spinner to bowl his top-spinner. The opposite
hand should be used.