A Lost Art Of Leg Spin




Leg Spin

Leg Spin

The Bowling performance that was heartening to me so far in the first week of World Cup 2011 was from two Pakistanis playing for different teams. Afridi’s 5/16 vs Kenya and Tahir’s 4/41 vs West Indies for South Africa on his debut were the ones that gave me so much joy. The reason behind is so simple – these guys practice an art that has been under the risk of extinction in recent times. Leg spinners have been a very rare sight today.

Lost are those days of leg spin heralding the world of spinners? At a point of time last decade, three of four top spinners in Cricket were Leggies. Warne, Kumble and Mustaq Ahamed held the flag of Leggies high while Muralitharan was the sole savoir of off spin supported by Saqlain earlier and Harbhajan later. Ever since the last three years this art of leg spin is almost extinct with juts Kaneria being the sole one. Now that he is plagued by form and fixing issues, it looks bleak for this art unless Tahir replaces Harris in the South African squad.

India has always been blessed with Leg spinners’ right from Subash Gupte to Bhagwad Chandrashekar to Anil Kumble. There lot of older generation romantics who consider Subash Gupte to be the best leg spinner from India and well his records are phenomenal too. His googly was among the most deceptive one and his ability to zip the ball and his length were just perfect. His 9 for 102 against the West Indies which became his in-laws land later is a part of folk lore. Following the Mumbaikar was the Bangalore lad, Chandrashekar, a polio affected patient. His ability to turn his handicapped right hand into an advantage by bowling his unplayable top spinners, flippers and googlies make him a prince among the “Spin Quartet”. He bowled India to its first series win at England in 1970-71 with magical 6/38. The last of this trio is Anil Kumble, an engineer from Bangalore too. India’s highest wicket taker and best match winner, Kumble was an epitome of never say die spirit and hard work. He could relentlessly bowl untiringly and force the batsman to commit errors. He stands atop with Laker as only two bowlers to get 10 all which he achieved against Pakistan in Delhi, 1999. He along with Warne and Murali formed a part of spin trio of modern cricket. His record of 619 scalps place his third in all time wicket takers and looks safe for a long time in future.

Imran Tahir

Imran Tahir

Among the bowlers from other nations, there were Bill O’ Rilley, Charlie Grimmett from Australia around the World Wars, Richie Benaud the man with golden voice and good arm holding the flag high for wrist spinners in Down Under before the Blonde Tweaker Warne came in 1990s and became the best spinner ever (Apologies to Muralithran who is the best to me but Warne is the hero of the concept of this article). His ball of century, exploits in Ashes, his ability to destroy any side anywhere are all a part of an Epic. Macgill missed out becoming a Legend just because his career unfortunately coincided with Warne.

Pakistan was blessed with Abdul Qadir, who is still among the top spinners to have played ever. His variations in googlies and flippers were never seen before, never after. He is by far the best Pakistani spinner by long way. He was followed by Mustaq Ahmed a hard working leggie who can be lethal with bounce and variations. Kaneria followed the two and is the Pakistani spinner with maximum wickets. He may not be a part of folklore as his predecessors but still he is a pretty effective one. He has led Pakistan to some incredible victories His luck or lack of it, to be precise (with so many catches dropped off his bowling) meant he is not up with the best. The form and fixing issues meant his career is in jeopardy now.

Others in contention have been many like S. De Silva of Sri Lanka, V.V. Kumar of India and so many. Despite the candidates, other nations have unfortunately failed to produce wrist tweakers of repute. Even Bangladesh and Sri Lanka with their spin dominant attack have no leg spinner of recognition in the squad right now. But the effectiveness they had has been not much. There are many more wrist spinners whom I may have missed here.

The wrist spin wardrobe ever since the retirement of two stalwarts Warne and Kumble is threadbare. Amit Mishra played a few matches for India, so has Piysush Chawla. Afridi with his leg breaks managed to play and lead Pakistan in a Test match before he announced his retirement yet again. Swann, Harbhajan, Botha, Ajmal, Mendis, Hauritz and all will hold the flag of finger spin high. Vettori with Herath and two Bangladeshis – Shakib and Razzak leads the slow left arm variety. But where are those lovely Flippers and Googlies and Leg breaks of those wrist spinners.

Thank God for Tahir to arrive at the scene at last to revive the lost art of wrist spin. And he with Afridi and Chawla succeed this in this world cup and let him find a place in South African test squad. And Chawla gets in to Team India’s test side as Harbhajan’s spin partner. Else this great art of Leg Spin would be lost for time being from cricket. Long Live the Tweakers!

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Author:

Dr.Arvind Subramanian is a Dental Surgeon from Chennai, India. A native of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu he, like most other youngsters of India, he is a fanatic fan of Tendulkar and a hardcore Cricket buff. He has a great interest for Writing and writes on various subjects from Medicine to Arts and Culture to Cricket. He is also a good classical dancer and performs on various Sabhas and Art Centres often and is also an orator He is about to pursue his higher studies in his field. You can find him in Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1409700718

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