Spin bowling is the most subtle art in cricket and
it is the most psychologically demanding. The
margin of error is less, as the pace of the
delivery is slow. However, the slower pace also
ensures that slow bowlers do not stray in line and
length as much as fast bowlers. To be a successful
spin bowler, one has to relax and maintain muscle
control. The spinner should not push the ball
through, but deceive the batsman by the flight.
This might sounf odd, but spin bowlers should work
on their relaxation and self-confidence, to achieve
benefits like line and length, spin and flight,
Important bowling skills for spinners are the
bowling action and the ability to turn and flight
the ball. The spinner has to plan well in advance
to meet the challenges and adopt the same according
to the situation. Say, you decide not to allow Sachin Tendulkar to paddle-sweep, but he manages to
do so. You should then change your plan and try and
bowl further outside the off-stump and see what he
does. Thinking like this will make you a better
quality spinner will study the batsman's stance,
grip and height and accordingly adjust his line and
Vinoo Mankad, one of the greatest left-arm spinners
of all time, was a great exponent of the art of
spin bowling. I had the pleasure and privilege to
keep wickets to him. I have seen his subtle
variations from close quarters.
On other occasions, he would bowl three deliveries
with varying degrees of flight but a similar
length. To achieve Vinoobhai's mastery, the bowler
should practise for hours in the nets on his own,
or with only a wicketkeeper, under the able
guidance of his coach.
The slow bowler has to make maximum use of the
bowling crease. He should try to deliver the ball
from different angles of the crease to vary his
deliveries in their flight and line. He should mix
his deliveries, bowling some from close to the
stumps, others away from the stumps and some from
the corner of the crease as well.
The slow bowler should adjust his flight keeping in
mind the end from which he is operating. The 'wind
factor' will come into play here - whether he is
bowling into the wind or with it, or if it is
blowing sideways. The leg-spinner and left-arm
spinner should bowl against the wind.
In fact, a bowler who gives the ball a lot of air
should bowl against the wind. Spinners should also
observe the condition of the pitch. On a flat
track, the bowler should give the ball more air,
and on a turner, he should mix his flight with
deliveries of a lower trajectory. Wickets in India
tend to crack as the game progresses, and more turn
can be extracted by pushing the ball flatter. Spin
bowlers should also take advantage of the footmarks
created by the fast bowlers at the opposite end and
bowl the occasional spell from around the wicket.
Shane Warne of Australia and our own Anil Kumble
have succeeded in getting wickets or keeping down
the runs from an 'around the wicket' line.
Successful spin bowlers have always 'hunted' in
pairs like fast bowlers. Earlier, Vinoo Mankad and
Subhash Gupte did a great job for India. Anil
Kumble and Harbhajan Singh have the talent and
wherewithal to achieve something similar.
If a batsman is playing forward, the spinner should
bowl to make him play on the back foot, and
vice-versa. If the batsman is playing across the
line, the bowler must capitalise on this weakness.
More often, matches are won because of the bowler
rather than a batsman. I say this because that is
what I have seen happening for years and years,
from my position behind the wickets at the