Popularised by the irrepressible Australian Shane Warne during the 1990s and 2000s, leg spin is considered by many as the most effective form of spin bowling due to the range of deliveries possible and the amount of spin that can be imparted on the ball. It is typically associated with right-handed wrist spin bowlers, with the delivery making for anti-clockwise rotations on the ball.
The threat of leg spin is made more acute by the adept practitioner’s ability to incorporate other elements in his delivery. For example, by using variations of flight – looping the ball into the air above the batsman’s initial line of sight to allow cross-breeze to come into play, which will also encourage a sharp dip due to the spin on the ball and will increase the level of deviation.
The leg spinner’s arsenal is composed of the following deliveries:
- Leg break – Otherwise known as the leg-spinner, this is the stock delivery of the leg spinner. The term leg break is easily explained – the ball spins away from the leg side and thus ‘breaks’ away from the leg. Problematic because the ball moves away from the body of the right-handed batsman (from leg-side to off-side), the line and length can also be varied by the spinner to apply extra pressure and utilise any assistance from the pitch. Delivered by gripping the ball across the seam and released from the front of the hand, with the fingers offering some extra spin.
- Googly – Known alternatively as the wrong’un or even the Bosie (referring to its creator, the Englishman Bernard Bosanquet), this delivery is key to the leg spinner because it allows him to change the deviation. As a result, the googly spins from the off-side to the leg-side, the opposite to the leg break. This is achieved by bending the wrist right around so that the ball is released from the back of the hand with clockwise spin. Another option is to bowl a conventional leg break but use the fingers to apply spin. It is used infrequently but the surprise factor makes it a vital wicket-taking delivery.
- Top-spinner – A great delivery to learn as a beginner because of its relative ease, the top-spinner goes straight onto the batsman without significant deviation but with extra bounce after a sharp drop. It is achieved by having the wrist position pointing to the side with the same grip as the leg break. At the point of delivery, your wrist should be facing the covers. The different wrist position means that the fingers and the wrist apply topspin directly at the batsman.
- Flipper – Much harder to get to grips with, and brilliantly used by Shane Warne in the earlier part of his career, the flipper is basically a backspin ball. Therefore, the ball drops slower with considerable pace, skidding on low after pitching and causing the batsman major problems. To deliver the flipper, the ball must be squeezed between the thumb and fingers in such a way that the ball is released underneath the hand with backspin.
- Slider – A real wicket-taker for Shane Warne in his twilight years, the slider is basically the opposite of a top-spinner. It has a fuller length and bounces a lot less than expected. The slider is achieved with the thumb facing the bowler, the ring finger providing a substantial part of the spin, and the ball being released from the front of the hand.