Classic bowling dismissals: Slow left arm | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Classic bowling dismissals: Slow left arm

This article is part of the 'Classic bowling dismissals' series. To go to the start, click here.

Left arm bowlers have a great advantage over right arm finger spinners and so are more likely to take wickets.

While all the rules of flight, turn, dip and guile of the off spinner apply, the ball turning away from the right handed batsman is even harder to play. Most batsmen, especially below first class level, tend to be more adept at leg side shot and to play these against the angle of the turn is dangerous.

The result of this stand-off can be one of several classic dismissals

'Magic' ball

Every left arm orthodox spinner dreams of this ball. From around the wicket, drifting in the air towards the batsman, drawing him or her forward only to pitch and spin like a top past the outside edge to clip the off stump:

It's a very rare ball to bowl and usually only happens on turning wickets (especially deteriorated ones) where the batsman has been set up with a series of dot balls. The way to set this up is to bowl one or two balls outside off stump with less turn then hit the magic spot with a ball that turns and dips more and watch the fun.

There is a danger associated with this ball too. Many spinners strive to bowl it every time and if it goes wrong you can end up giving easy runs on the leg side. It's a ball to try now and again rather than going for glory every time.

Nicking off

A more realistic dismissal is the ball that turns less, but just enough to catch the edge of a drive or defensive shot. This brings in the wicketkeeper, slips and gulley for catches behind the wicket. Short extra cover can also take a good share.

This can very often come from a mistake made by a frustrated batsman against accurate bowling and effective field settings. In other words, you need do little more than put the ball on the spot and bowl maidens to get wickets.

The really canny spinners can also fool the batsman into an error. Again you can set it up over a series of balls, bowling a little too full and wide, encouraging the drive. When you hold one back a bit the batsman is through the shot too early and you have them.

This can also work with a slightly quicker ball or a ball that is given a rip and turns/bounces/dips. The key is to upset the batters rhythm by making them think you are doing something different.

Arm ball

The ball that goes on with the arm with little visible change of action is another deception and a wicket taking variation. The ball is on a wider line than the orthodox left arm spin delivery, ideally drifting towards the batsman in the air. It's slightly quicker and does not turn on pitching. The batsman, playing for the turn, gets an inside edge or is trapped LBW/bowled through the gate:

To help with the angle, the arm ball is best bowled around the wicket from a wide position on the crease. To avoid giving away your arm ball, try bowling a few orthodox balls from wider on the crease before slipping the arm ball in.


It's unusual at recreational level to see the bat-pad catch as happens in Tests. The ball tends to turn and bounce less at lesser pace. This stops the fielders at short leg and silly point from taking catches close in. Add to this the lower quality of umpires and even if one does fly off the bat it may not be given out.

Left handers

To south-paw batsmen the ball is turning in. The left arm spinner effectively becomes a mirror of the off spinner to a right hander. The classic dismissals in this circumstance are bowled through the gate or caught behind off the arm ball.

image credit: 13bobby

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i want to a senior left arm spiner

Hi i have found this blog quite interesting even though I know most of it... I would just like your advise. I am having trouble turning the ball. I bowl left arm orthodox spin nut i just cant seem to turn it. Do you have any tips?

Please email me at for any suggestions.

Often the cause is the lack of a well coordinated pivot/hip drive: click here for more information on the pivot for spinners

hi i am 19yrs old and i was doing fast bowling my height is 5.7 so my coach insisted me to bowl left arm orthodox spin. so please help me how can i learn left arm orthodox spin because its very difficult to roll finger on the ball to get the turn.. thank you.

Hi I am 18 years old and a left arm orthodox spinner.My problem is that i am unable to get flight and dip in my bowling on a regular basis and i also bowl full tosses while trying to do so.Any tips for me?

Hi,i am Aman Aditya of 15yrs old and i am a left arm off spinner. In my ball there is a good flight and also have a nice line-length but my problem is that my ball doesn't gets turn. So does anyone have some tips for my problem.

Hi,im a left arm spinner and i have a trouble of putting more pace into my spin bowling..When i try to bowl a quicker one i end up full tossing it. I generate a lot of spin but im considered quite slow.What should i do to speed up my bowling? Thank you in advance

@Mayuran try to change the angle of your arm. Bring it slightly lower and allow your arm to glide through your action. This should speed you up quite a bit.

"Left arm bowlers have a great advantage over right arm finger spinners and so are more likely to take wickets." - Maybe at club level yes, but I don't remember Murali being a left arm bowler.