Inchoately described as ‘slow bowling’, spin has been a part of cricket for much of its history, yet it remains one of the most difficult concepts for any beginner of the sport to grasp. How is it possible for a bowler to be successful when dropping his pace by as much as 40 miles per hour? More incredible still, how can it be the case that the two most successful wicket takers in Test match history – Australia’s Shane Warne and Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan – are both spinners?
The answer is simple – cricket is as much a mental battle as a physical battle. In the contest between bat and ball, out-thinking your opponent is the key to victory and nowhere is this more evident than in the spinner’s efforts. By bowling the ball in such a way as to increase the number of revolutions while travelling through the air, the spin bowler is able to manipulate the direction, speed and bounce once it hits the pitch. The unpredictability of each delivery is what explains spin bowling’s incredible success over the years as well as its continued importance to any cricket side.
However, spin bowling is a diverse art-form. While such bowlers are all united by the fundamental principle of making the ball spin (hence the term ‘spinners’), the means to that end are many. Consequently, the range of deliveries and the number of skills required of a spin bowler are daunting. Before you even start out, you have to ask yourself a number of questions about the path you want to take, and it certainly won’t be easy. That said, if you stick to your task and develop your skills, you will be a remarkably effective part of any team you play in – just look at the statistics!