4 (+2) Tools All Spinners Can Use to Get Wickets | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

4 (+2) Tools All Spinners Can Use to Get Wickets

In part one we looked at the art of flight, in this part we expand on the theory to show you how to use different ways to flight the ball to get wickets.

When you combine topspin and backspin with subtle changes of pace you have four new tools with which to dismiss the batsman:

  1. Topspin, slightly slower: This is the classic flighted delivery. It will hang in the air, bringing the batsman forward, before dipping and bouncing and giving the ball enough time to spin to beat the bat or find the edge. This will frequently lead to stumpings against a batsman intent on using his feet.
  2. Topspin, slightly quicker: This is the delivery to use for extra bounce. The ball will dip fiercely and leap up towards the splice of the bat, particularly on harder pitches. A good delivery to use both if you're looking for a close catch off a defensive batsman or an unintentional aerial shot off an aggressive batsman.
  3. Backspin: slightly slower: This ball will appear to hang in the air and then keep very low on bouncing. A good method of dismissing a batsman intent playing aggressively off the back foot, as he will often play over the top of the delivery, possibly resulting in a bottom edge and his dismissal.
  4. Backspin, slightly quicker: The classic skiddy delivery that traps the batsman on the back foot, only to surprise him by landing on a full length. Chances are it will then crash into the pads or stumps before the hapless batsman is able to get his bat down.

 It's also useful to note that a higher arm action increases the effect of the extra bounce of the top spinner. A lower arm action keeps the backspinner skidding through nice and low.

Adding Drift

Both the Magnus force and conventional swing can be used to make the ball move sideways, or drift, in the air.

A hard spun leg break or off break will drift sideways in the latter half of their flight in the opposite direction to their eventual turn. This is well known to accentuate the efficacy of the delivery, as the ball first moves one way in the air and then the other way off the pitch. Watch the drift that Shane Warne gets here.

In time the batsman becomes accustomed to this combination. When he sees the ball drifting sideways in the air he anticipates the turn.

To counter this, the spinner makes the ball drift sideways but then not turn.

This is achieved in two ways:
  • With a newish ball and on a damp or green pitch, the best method is the arm ball: here the ball is held with the seam upright, and the first finger rolls down the seam at release. The ball swings in the air away from the outside edge.
  • The undercutter: Returned to prominence by England spinner Graeme Swann. Here the ball is spun like a conventional off break, but with the wrist tilted back so that the ball is released spinning horizontally, or as Swann himself described it "like a flying saucer". This delivery will drift sideways in exactly the same way as the off break, but will then carry on without spinning.

Whereas the ability to turn the ball a huge amount will impress the fans, it is mastering the art of flight by understanding and including the subtle uses of topspin, backspin and sidespin into your bowling repertoire that will give you the full set of tools required to unpick the defences of the best batsmen.

Get in the nets and experiment with different types of spin, and remember it takes time to master each different type of flight.

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About the author: AB has been bowling left arm spin in club cricket since 1995. He currently play Saturday league cricket and several evening games a week. He is a qualified coach, and his experiences playing and coaching baseball often gives him a different insight into cricket.


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Whoa! This is getting very advanced over on here? It'll be interesting to see how these threads pan out and the kind of feedback you get other than the kind of stuff that's already been posted. Do any of you on here bowl Flippers? I'd like to hear your comments regarding the back-spinning Flipper and whether you get any swing with it and whether you've noticed that some days it'll happen and other days it wont. I've found on warm humid days with the air still My Flippers swing loads on ocassions and I have to change the way I bowl them as they swing from an early point in the trajectory moving from Off to Leg.

The flipper is something of a novelty, as it isn't bowled using the same method as almost every other spin delivery, so it is something of a stand-alone, which is why I haven't included it in the discussion, along with other "flicked" deliveries like the carrom ball. Its difficult to bowl, and even harder to bowl accurately. Obviously it can be a brutally effective delivery when perfected, but I would certainly look at teaching a prospective leg spinner to develop a good googlie and an effective slider before experimenting too much with the flipper.

As to whether it swings or not will depend whether you release it with the seam upright, something I wouldn't particularly recommend, as it makes it extremely easy for the batsman to spot. A case of swings and roundabouts I suppose.

This is a great resource, and highly knowledgable discussion too! I bowl a flipper, but I've never noticed it swing - probably because it generally comes out with a scrambled seam, and a little bit of leg-spin on it (I'm a left armer). It certainly is difficult to land accurately, but I have to say that I've found it a fair bit easier than the the wrong`un to bowl. This may well be due to me having a fairly low 10 O'Clock action, which seems to make the wrong'un blindingly obvious - most really good googly bowlers I've seen have quite a fluid, high action. I have never managed to get a decent slider/backspinner going, my brain just seems to struggle with it...

hey dave, i have seen all your videos of flipper. four finger version was great and wrong wrong un was too great. now i bowl a great flipper with swing also just with your help. i bowl every flipper variation even the mystery ball.

I hope you will mail me at my id: nikhilsharma161097@gmail.com

hello "chinaman"
I never though I would ever meet another left arm wrist spinner in my life!
I am also a chinaman and I live in South Africa (mostly dominated by seamers) I am prepared to make a statement because I have seen to many SA spinners careers cut short because of some or the other problem with accuracy etc. I am 14 years old, I play for an u/15A team in my school and SWD (South Western Districts) and I am training very hard to play proffesional cricket for the proteas one day as captain and bowler. I have my own unique style of bowling that involves bowling around the wicket, 8 variations, accuracy, bounce, drift drift drift, and some more drift...
I haven't met, played against, or heard of another chinaman bowler except the international players. Do you play cricket on a high level, or are you just an enthusiast?
thanks Smiling