Do you have to have the gift to be a good leg spinner? Or can little bits of spin both ways work?
Terry Jenner, Shane Warne’s bowling mentor, used to call the ability to bowl a big spinning leg break "The Gift". He was absolutely right. However, very few can do it well. That's why we can name all the really Gifted Test leg spinners in about 10 seconds:
Subhash Gupte, Richie Benaud, Bill O'Reilly, BS Chandrasekhar, Abdul Qadir, Stuart MacGill and Shane Warne.
I have deliberately missed out the great Indian spinner Anil Kumble and my mate "Mushy" Ahmed from this list because their "gift" was a different one to that Jenner explained to me in 1998. These two bowl with little bits of spin both ways, always with over spin that creates dip, drift and extra bounce even from the most benign of surfaces. To me they were different types of bowlers to the guys that I listed above.
As you will note, my beloved England, does not feature at all in the Gift List. And we invested significantly to try to identify, then develop one in the early 2000's. It was a fruitless pursuit.
Whilst we have all been looking for the next Shane Warne, I wonder how many Kumble's and Mushtaq's we have missed.
Have our minds and coaching eyes been side-tracked by the search for the elusive Gift?