This is a guest article from AB, a club left arm spinner and aggressive batsman with more than 15 years experience. His claim to fame is a 50 run partnership with JP Duminy.
Batsmen are not as stupid as they look.
If you bowl obvious variations thinking you are going to outwit the idiot at the other end, all a decent batsman is going to do is make you look foolish by putting your well thought out “other one” into the trees over cow corner.
You can bemoan his lack of subtly if you like. The truth is, you may as well shout down from the top of your mark about what you are planning to do. It’s that obvious.
But with a little practice and thought you can disguise what you are doing and start building your reputation as a canny spinner with impossible to pick variety. How many more wickets could you take then?
Don’t be predictable
If a leg spinner is bowling a consistent middle stump line, and then suddenly tosses one up outside off stump, any batsman worth his salt is going to smell a googly.
It’s the same for any type of spinner: If you bowl line for your stock ball and another for your variation, then it’s not going to take long before the batsman figures out what’s going on. He doesn’t even need to be able to pick the delivery, as you are already telegraphing him the answer.
You need to show a little more cunning. Keep your line and length similar for all variations.
Even more strategically, you can play the double bluff.
For example if you are a leggie you can bowl a googly or two wide of off-stump until the batsman thinks he knows what’s going on, then toss up a leg break outside off, he will instinctively think it’s the googly and be at risk of playing down the wrong line and giving a chance behind the wicket.
Don’t let him get a good look at it
A good batsman should constantly be squinting at the ball as it comes towards him, looking for any clues as to the direction in which it’s rotating. Nothing gives a variation away quicker than a clearly unusual seam angle. On some deliveries, such as the arm-ball, this is unavoidable, but on balls like wrong’ uns, top spinners and back spinners, there is no need to have the ball rotating around the seam, as all it does if give the batsman a big fat clue as to how the ball will act.
A variation is supposed to be a surprise, and all good surprises should take you unexpectedly.
Unless your variation ball only works when bowled deliberately slower, then a little bit of extra pace is always a good way of ensuring that the batsman is unable to figure out what is going on until it’s too late.
Top spinners will bite and jump high, back spinners will skid through quicker, and wrong’ uns will catch the batsman completely unawares when bowled with a little extra zip.
Watch your silhouette
No batsman has eyesight good enough to see exactly what you do with your fingers as you release the ball. Instead, they work off three clues (usually by instinct):
- The overall shape of the action
- The relative pronation of the arm as it comes up and then goes down
- The silhouette of the hand as the ball is released.
If there are any changes in these three factors, then a good batsman should immediately be on the lookout for something different coming his way.
So, study your stock delivery action and make sure to repeat it as closely as possible to disguise variations.
Be aware of how your arm is rotated, both you brings it up and down, to make sure there are no clues. A leg spinner’s silhouette will generally involve the wrist bent in the direction away from the body at release whereas the off spinner’s wrist will be bent more towards his body.
But that’s enough theory; let’s look at a practical example.
Case study: the off spinner
An orthodox off spinner wishes to bowl one that goes away from the right handed batsman off the pitch, but doesn’t have the shoulder flexibility to be able to bowl the doosra. Every time she tries to bowl and orthodox leg spinner, it is immediately spotted and dealt with.
How can she better disguise this delivery?
- Ensure that her bowling action is identical to his stock delivery from the shoulder down.
- Make sure that her arm begins and ends as it would be for the off spinner. However, this is deception because in fact she is dragging her fingers down the inside of the ball, creating a degree of opposite spin. The ball is released off the second, rather than the third finger.
- Ensure that her wrist does not flex as it would for a typical leg spinner, as this will create the leg spinner’s silhouette and give the delivery away. The wrist is kept extended until after the ball is released.
This results in a delivery that looks almost identical to the stock ball, but the ball moves from leg to off a few inches off the pitch. It requires plenty of practice in front of a mirror bowling leg cutters off the inside of the middle finger with an off spinner’s action
The results are devastating.
And they will be for you too. When you see how important it is to understand both the tactics and techniques of spin bowling variations you know you need the best advice to succeed: Advice that is coming shortly as part of PitchVision Academy. Get the newsletter to find out more (it’s free and it always will be).
image credit: magnusfranklin