6 Ways spinners can get more wickets | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

6 Ways spinners can get more wickets

Shane Warne once said that part of his job was to prove that spinners were attacking bowlers in all forms of the game. Even though he has retired, his legacy has been to give captain's more confidence in their spinners.

For Shane was right. Spinners exist to get wickets. What makes it interesting is that there are many different styles of spinner. Whether you captain spin or give the ball a tweak yourself, understanding your own style is crucial to success.

1. Spin

All spinners must have the aim of getting maximum revolutions on the ball. Not only does the ball turn more if you give it a rip, but it also drifts in the air and dips late in its flight more too: All essential elements in deceiving the batsman.

However, some spinners ignore this advice and tend to roll the ball gently. This makes it tougher to take wickets. These bowlers' tactics are to frustrate the batsman with a tight line and length. Close catchers are less important but well placed outfielders can be effective.

2. Line

To right handed batters, off spinners have 2 main lines of attack. Around the wicket bowling at off stump so the ball straightens:

Over the wicket outside off stump so the ball turns back to the stumps:

The former is harder to play, especially with a leg side biased field. It can bring lots of catches to short leg fielders. The latter brings in the classic 'through the gate' dismissal but can make it easier for the batter to play the ball with the turn into the leg side.

I tend to see very little around the wicket bowling by off spinners in my club games. Perhaps this is because better wickets at the top level have discouraged it and club spinners simply follow suit. However, it is an excellent attacking tactic if you can spin the ball enough to straighten it.

Orthodox left arm spinners usually bowl around the wicket at off stump so the ball straightens:

They bowl from a wider angle than the off spinner so off line balls can be hit more easily. This means they need to be more accurate. They also should be watchful of the amount of turn. Too little and the ball slides down the leg side, too much and it is a free hit through the off side.

Leg spinners bowl a similar line, usually getting the ball to turn more and bowling from a less acute angle. The variation a leg spinner has means there are more lines to account for. The googly may pitch wide of the off stump to turn back, the top spinner might pitch straighter.

In defence (or for a variation, especially if there is a lot of turn and bounce) both the leg spinner and the left armer can bowl the other side of the wicket (round for the leggie, over for the left armer) and at leg stump:

3. Length

The great left arm spinner Headley Verity once said that a spinner's length should be as short as possible to make the batsman play forward.  This is the essence of length and something all spinners on all wickets should be striving to do. It gives the ball time to turn and bounce but the batter has less time.

A common mistake, especially on turning wickets, is for the spinner to bowl short enough to watch the ball turn. However, the batsman has much more time on the back foot to watch the ball and account for unexpected movement. So when in doubt as to length, think back to Headley Verity and experiment with how far back you can pitch the ball while keep the batsman on the front foot.

One thing to be careful of when using this theory is when the ball is turning too much. The the batter plays forward he will miss it and be hit on the pad (turning in) or go past the outside edge (turning out) without ever being in danger. Here you may need to pitch it slightly further up than normal.

4. Flight

Most coaches agree that spinners are better if they give the ball flight. It gets the ball above the eye line making it harder for a batsman to judge line quickly.

Different spinners interpret this advice in different ways. Some will throw the ball up with plenty of spin, others will be more concerned with staying accurate and loop it less. This makes a big difference to your tactics. The loopier the bowler the more they tend to buy their wickets. They tend to be more effective against tail enders. Both styles can be equally as accurate or inaccurate though.

The really good spinners have control of flight and can make small variations to keep the batter guessing, even if the ball is landing in the same place all the time. Better batsman tend to prefer loopier bowling as they have time to pick it up, so a good spinner can learn to experiment and find the compromise between pace and loop that players find most uncomfortable.

5. Use of the crease

Jeremy Snape once pointed out that most spinners use the crease much less than they think. In a coaching session he asked a young offie to bowl really wide on the crease. On the video playback we found out that he had moved just a couple of inches to the left. He felt he was almost touching the return crease.

It shows that using the crease takes practice. Most spinners place their front foot somewhere in the middle and find it hard to go anywhere else. Others get naturally closer to, or further from the stumps. It's important to know where a spinner bowls from as it dramatically changes the angles of attack. The wider the angle the less likely you are to hit the stumps so generally it's better to bowl from as close to the stumps as possible.

However, if a spinner can master moving around (both sideways and backwards) you can upset a batsman's rhythm and timing which could lead to a mistake. Just bear in mind that bowling from the return crease will make the ball end up in different areas than bowling from next to the stumps. Always look to match the field to the style of bowling.

When bowling around the wicket it can be difficult to get close to the stumps as you are moving away from them in the delivery stride. To counter this you can bowl from further back (landing the front foot on the bowling crease) and get much closer to the stumps like in this picture:

6. Sets

So far we have only discussed tactics and methods for individual balls. However, spinners have to tease batsmen out more than any other style of bowling. This is sometimes called bowling in sets.

The classic set for an off spinner is to bowl a couple of balls with less spin followed by one with a big rip to catch the batsman through the gate or get a bat-pad chance. However sets can be even more subtle than that. A good spinner will test a batsman at a range of different lengths, angles and flights until he finds a weak spot and gets the wicket through guile.

The key message is rather than try and bowl the perfect ball every time, the spinner can take time to set the batsman up for a fall. He and his captain must know what this plan is so the right fields can be set in advance.

Images supplied by PitchVision Coach Edition


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Hi, i am an offspinner and i have found this most useful. Thank you very much

It's a pleasure.

Hi I am 56 and still playing and I too found this very informative - reinforced much of what I knew from experience but provides a clear way of thinking about what we often take for granted - Thanks

A pleasure to help Andrew.

Hi, I'm a young spinner and I bowl left-arm orthodox (around)
However, I often tend to flight the ball too much and bowl a full toss or half volley and get smashed. Please tell me how I can control the length while still getting good flight.

This is often the result of a bowler bowling with the weight mainly on the back foot, and there is minimal forward momentum to assist in giving the delivery any shape. Work on getting a stronger action; driving through and over.

Yep I agree with David - I realised years ago that on my delivery I had to ensure that my back foot was raised off the ground. This became part of my run up mantra "lift your foot" and even though at times it feels almost choreographed it has developed as a very important part of my technique. Also remember to work on top spin as that will give the ball more dip so that even when you do throw a full toss, it can confuse the over-eager batsman and result in a leading edge or lbw.

BTW David as second change bowler I don't get a lot of overs but I ended the season (Aussie) with 18 wickets at an average under 8 - not bad for an old bloke playing with mainly teenagers - and I put some of that success down to your tips making me think more about what I was doing and the field setting. Thanks again.


Thanks Andrew, that's why we work so hard, to help players like you do better in your matches. Long may it continue!

hiiiiii... i m an off-spinner...... da information which has been provided here is really helpful.....

Hi David. I'm a leg-spinner who like's to give the ball a rip. i tend to bowl very open chested on occasions. How can i countwer this problem? Also, what is the ideal way to bowl a flipper?

hey,it really works,thanx for the tactics.

Hi David,
I am an opening batsman and a leg spinner.I Have a problem wid my mental make up while playing matches. I have developed a fear of failure and am always worried of the consequences.Can u help me out??

The most important concept that a spinner must understand is that of the double threat. Both the turning ball and the straight-on ball must threaten the stumps. This will mean that the batsman will be unable to deal with both at once and will soon be lbw or bowled.

An offspinner should bowl round the wicket to the right hander and aim to hit the top of offstump with a ball that doesn't turn. If the batsman defends this line, the ball has every chance of turning enough to trap him lbw in front of middle. If he plays for the spin, then there is a good chance that the ball will skid past his outside edge and bowl him.

Similarly, a legspinner should target his ball towards legstump, forcing the batsman to defend this line. Should the ball turn, it will most likely beat the edge and hit off stump. Again, if the batsman plays for the spin to defend his off stump, then sooner or later a ball will skid straight on into his pads and trap him in front.

The absolute key is that if either the turning ball or the non-turning ball are on a line to miss the stumps, then the batsman only need focus on defending the other, and he will survive with ease. Give him two lines to defend with only one bat, and he will be lucky to last an over.

hi, i am 24.I am doing MCA near to chennai. I am a leg spinner.I have the talent to turn the ball big.I also have the googly which is difficult to read from my bowling action.i want to become a cricketer. Atleast i want to play for Tamil nadu.so guide me how can i start my carrier.This year i am going to complete MCA.I planned to join in a club near to chennai.Will it work for me? or is there is any better option you can tell me?

It is also a good idea to practice spinning the ball both ways.
I was having trouble getting a batter out so I bowled a leg spinner ((I normally bowl off-spin)Im right handed)and he hit it straight up and got caught behind.

Very usefull to know how to spin both ways!

hi marcus !!!!1 i m datrim in order 2 spin the ball both ways u need 2 be patient specially if u r not a great turner of the ball.

1.arm ball-it is a delevery wich swings or drifts away frm a right hander therfore making him luk like an ass.....he thinks that it will drift way frm him and will spin back bt it dosent. hold the ball like an outswinger and try 2 have a powerful follothrough without bowling 2 qucik or else the batsamn can findy that dere is sumthng fishy.. well i dunt bowl arm balls bt it is effective and a description of how 2 bowl an arm ball is dere in PITCHVISON so try that

2.doosra- very tuff requires lot of practice u need strong wrists which r subtle n flexible...it is a ball wich i find is better that arm ball... dosrra dere is nt a major change in the action as the arm ball the doosra turns bounces baffles the batsman and gets him out. I bowl this delevry quite often as m learning it on my own.hold the ball like a leg break having less distance between the fingers sothat u can feel that u can flick the ball a long way up... more importantly cum close 2 the crease and REMEMBER BEND UR HAND AND FLICK UR WRISTS BY 1ST BENDING IT AND DEN RELEASING THE BALL BY FLICKING THE WRSTITS TOWARDS 1ST SLIP

i hope u r satisfied wid it!!!!! Thank You

dinesh if u wanna be a cricketer den believe in ur self think u can bowl better than others n can bowl a googly wich is quite brave its better u join a club play fr it den play in universtity level then district aand finally fr tamil nadu n den its all on ur luck hardwork and dedication........... GUD LUCK BRO!!!!!!!!!! TC

hai..i,m a left arm orthodox,and also i,m a district and anna univ player,i lk 2 represent for tamilnadu team in ranji trophy..nw i,m doing b.tech 3rd year..pls advice me for improving my bowling..i,m frm poor background so help me,..pls..contact me at mail id maha15rajan@gmail.com,mbl no-9629588002..pls help me pls

Hi David

I am off spinner and found this information really helpful. When I bowl sometimes ball spins a lot and sometimes very little. I use same action to throw the ball. Can you tell me how can I improve it.

Thanks David...i had never realised that you'd replied to my question so long ago so apologies for how late this reply is...but i will work on a stronger action for the upcoming season

Thank you Smiling

Thanks for your help...Smiling

(Sorry the message is so late)

the information provided here is much useful for we young cricketers,n i believe that if we can right execute them then we r certain of buying wickets.
wish u al d vry best.


I started primarily as a leg spinner and used to get huge amounts of turn by using both wrist and the third middle finger. I got so many wickets doing that in league cricket in England but this season, my release is not coming right and sometimes I jerk or float the bowl up in the air which is making it full toss. So I have now switched to simple off spin which isn't very exciting and not getting me loads of wickets. Is there a possibility to help me and find out what is going on wrong.



I am an off spinner (stock ball) and also bowl the carom ball (similar to mendis) and a slowish leg cutter at times as variations. I am often not able to land my off spinners at the right spot at times - either its short or at times full toss. Also, not able to turn the ball too much. Please help.


Hi David
Thank you for this article I found it very useful. I am a 17 year old off spinner, who likes to flight the ball and generate quite a bit of turn. However I bowl quite slowly, have you got any tips how I can increase the pace of my bowling without losing my flight and spin.


I am a thirteen year old leg spinner and this helped me a lot. I have a problem with the spin. Earlier the bowl used to spin a lot. But now, it skids and spins only a little. But my googly spins well, but the length is not good. Could you please give me some tips.

Thank you very much..you gave me the important instructions....thnks..

I am a Left arm leg spinner or a chinaman as they call and so as to improve my skills of bowling
i tried to use the internet for tips which i could not get any. So I used the tips for the right handers and just flipped it up.
Can you please help bowlers like me by posting articles for us

I am a Left arm leg spinner or a chinaman as they call and so as to improve my skills of bowling
i tried to use the internet for tips which i could not get any. So I used the tips for the right handers and just flipped it up.
Can you please help bowlers like me by posting articles for us

i am doing all this correctly i am a leg spiner

yeh try to look over your front shoulder this should do the trick

I'm an off spinner and im 16 years old... my run up is 5 spaces....i m comfortable with it but not with my action.......my action is a mixture of ashwin,swann and Warne...plz can u suggest me a bowling action??? And sir whenever i try to bowl fast to a batsman(not a tailender) it probably be of short length and the batsman easily pulls it..plz help me kn this area..!ty sir!!this site is truly helpful

I'm a off spin bowler playing in concrete wickets. I am not able to make the ball turn. But in turf wickets I can turn. Same time leg spin bowlers are getting turn in concrete as well as turf wicket.
Can you please advise how an off spinner can turn the ball in concrete wicket