Here's How I Went from Mediocre Spinner to a Wicket Taking Wizard | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Here's How I Went from Mediocre Spinner to a Wicket Taking Wizard

This is a guest article from Max Andrews, Leg Spinner and Coach

Have you ever felt this way?

I'm a leg spinner who had good success in my first few seasons of club cricket. As I got older and started playing representative cricket I was not having much success at all. It came to a stage when I thought about giving up leg spin and bowling medium pace.

There was even a time when a thought about giving up cricket all together.

It's a rut I know many spinners face. But I got through it.


Thankfully I was lucky enough to have some great coaches and players around me to help me out. They taught me that it wasn't about talent; it was about learning the art. At the time I had no clue what I was doing with my bowling and how I planned to get the batsman out.

When I realised this I went from being a mediocre spinner to a wicket taking wizard.

Let me give you an example.

One of the problems I faced in my first season of representative cricket was on turning wickets. I would turn the ball too much and it would turn past the edge. You might say that it's the job of the spinner to turn it as much as possible, but when turn is stopping you from taking wickets, it becomes your enemy.

I learned to recognise the difference between a play and miss that might take the edge and a ball sailing harmlessly past the batsman. It's a subtle difference, but that is what the art of spin is about.

On those days where it turned too much I would bowl a ball with less spin, so the batter would edge it. Problem was he would just hit the ball (very often to the boundary).

I needed another plan.

I thought things through, and with the help of my coach, I adopted a new tactic: come wider on the crease and spin the ball hard so it will drift and dip. Due to the crease position the ball won't turn as much and the batsman will nick it.

Looking back it was so simple, yet when I was running in and hoping I would never have taken those wickets.

Now, like my coaches helped me, I want to help you.

I have been playing cricket for a long time now and I have been coaching at my club for a number of years and I have learnt a lot from both my playing and my coaching experience. I made my first online coaching course which includes:

  • How to use accuracy, flight and the crease to help you take wickets faster as a spinner
  • What to bowl and when
  • How to use captains to help you succeed
  • How to bowl to different batsman (like the batsman that won’t stop sweeping you)
  • Key to Leg Spin Bowling

In my first course I have included what I have learnt about the tactical side to the game to help me take a lot of wickets as a spinner. I have also included "How to bowl to different types of batsmen" and a quiz at the end of the course to see how much you have learned.

Plus there is a forum where you can chat to other passionate leg spinners who have bought my course.

If you feel you are in a similar situation, you can buy my course here and only for the price of a cup of coffee!

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It's hard to believe that one of the most effective weapons a spinner has can work against him. Huge turn was never a problem for bowlers like Shane Warne, it has multiple advantages! If your ripping the ball past the bat of a Right Handed Batsman you are intimidating him psychologically. You can vary between clean side spin which will most likely spin past the edge; then bowl with a bit more over spin so the ball turns a little less but bounces more; as well as a top spinner / slider which will get you lots of LBW's if batsmen play for turn.
A delivery that misses the edge of the bat by a few inches is in no way a wasted delivery. Batsmen hate deliveries like that, when it starts to happen ball after ball you are in the game.
Just the other day I was bowling at a LHB (I'm a chinaman bowler) and I ripped a few deliveries past his outside edge. He was smiling as if he knew he had no clue how to play a delivery with so much turn. For the fourth ball I bowled an OBS (orthodox backspinning slider) and he went back to cut it, but it skidded onto his pads and narrowly missed the stumps as well. I ended up getting him out stumped; because he was bold enough to try and counter the spin. Perhaps you could have used tactics like varying over and side spin, bowling an OBS etc when you were turning the ball too much? Bowling from wide on the crease obviously works as well, but once you start doing that ball after ball it becomes predictable and batsmen can spot it easily.
Going around the wickets when the ball is turning a lot is underrated in my opinion, I think it would have worked out well for you if you'd tried it!

Hi Jacques,
Thanks for the comment. You are absolutely right when you say that turn is a big weapon for spinners and that it can intimidate the batsman and while bowling with different angles of spin can also get you the wicket. When you start playing at higher levels of cricket you need more ways to get the batsman out. When I'm bowling I will change the angle in which the ball is spinning (like you said) and you can use variations like the slider to get your wicket, but as another way to get the batsman I will come wider on the crease to get the wicket. But you have to remember that all these plans take time to set up, and some will work at times and other times they won't work and so we need to adapt to the situation.


You have a good point there, leg spinners don't usually have the chance to bowl 6/6 deliveries at the same batsman. A quick, subtle change is often needed instead of an elaborate 10 over crease, direction of spin and variation trap (a Shane Warne specialty)

How important would you rate drift in dismissing a batsman? I rate drift as one of the best potential weapons on any wicket. There are some batsmen that have no problems facing leg spinners who get a lot of drift, but in my opinion you only need a good angle and drift to deceive most batsmen. Off spinners have used the undercutter (flying saucer ball) for a long time to use drift to make a delivery skid on. It is possible to bowl a leg spinning undercutter, and maybe that is another potential way to drift the ball and turn it past the edge, then drift it again and straighten it / not turn it at all to get the LBW? It seems worth looking into.

Hi Jacques,
I think drift is really important in dismissing a batsman. I don't know any batsman that likes facing a drifting leg spinner.
As far as only using angle and drift to deceive batsman, this may work at club level but as you move into representative cricket you will come up against some really good batsman and you need another plan and it's best to have a number of plans that you can use depending on the situation (you don't have to use them all of course, it just gives you more options).
A leg spinner can bowl their back-spinner to make the ball drift onto the batsman and skid on.

Backspinners are effective, I won't dispute that (especially my OBS takes 30% of my wickets) but many batsmen can notice a ball spinning backwards almost instantly. I've tried a number of things to prevent them from picking my OBS, like scrambling the seam, bowling it a bit faster after a few fast leg breaks etc. but there are still batsmen that just have no problem picking a backspinning delivery. (And I can imagine that at very high levels of cricket they are the vast majority of batsmen) Have you ever encountered this and do you think that bowling from wider on the crease would be more effective than a well executed backspinner? The crease does seem rather narrow sometimes, and if your natural position on the crease is more or less in the middle, what should you do to change the angle enough to get the nick / LBW without changing the delivery? I'm beginning to understand what you meant in the article when you said you were turning the ball "too much" (for a middle stump line I presume)

Hi Jacques,
With your backspinner make sure you action is the same for your stock leg break as the backspinner and that it is just your wrist action that is different. Your leg break and all your other variations have the same loop (not flipper). One things you can try is to have your backspinner with the seam pointing at where a 2nd slip would be so the ball can grip a little and hopefully break and then bowl a backspinner once he is set up.

I have been in a similar situation to you a few years ago. It really depends, changing the angle of the crease is a simple tactic and can be used with any delivery (you can bowl a backspinner from different angles on the crease), but bowling a good backspinner usually won't bother good batsman unless he has been set up for it.

Sometimes you will play on pitches (usually artificial) where the crease is very narrow and on these wickets you can't do much to change the angle but you can bowl around the wicket or use the depth of the crease.

I hope this helps. I talk about these tactics more in my course