Know Your Leg Spin Deliveries | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Know Your Leg Spin Deliveries

Menno Gazendam is author of Spin Bowling Project. Get your free 8 week spin bowling course here

It seems these days that there are a million and one variations with spin bowlers mixing it up in all sort of ways.

So, let us take a look at the glossary of deliveries for leg spinners:

Stock ball

A stock ball simply refers to the main delivery used by a bowler. It's not always what you think. For example, Anil Kumble's stock ball was, in fact, the top spinner.

For most leg spin bowlers your stock ball will be your leg break.

Leg break

Breaks from leg to the offside, after drifting from off to the leg side. Seam is angled towards slip. The ball ideally will be hitting the top of off stump.

The main dismissal forms are caught (slips or keeper) bowled and LBW.

Top spinner

Although it looks like a leg break, the ball continues straight on after pitching, with a lot of dip in the air beforehand. Seam is angled towards the batsman.

The greater bounce brings catches from close fielders. It can be used as a stock ball or as a surprise variation.


The opposite of a leg break because the googly spins from off to the leg side. Your action appears to the batsman a leg break. Seam is angled towards leg slip and the ball come out of the back of the hand.

The key is deception off the pitch and so the googly should be used as a variation to bowl batters though the gate who are playing for spin the other way. Some spinners get stuck bowling the googly as a stock ball and if this happens you will probably need to do some repair work.

A little-know bit of history about this ball is that Bernard Bosanquet did not invent the googly. Other players have dabbled with this delivery years before he did. Although the ball will go down in history as the "Bosie".

Slider / back spinner / zooter

This ball is almost the opposite of the top spinner. The seam is angled towards extra cover and spins along its own axis. This delivery is refer to as a slider or back spinner and you will hear this name used in equal amounts. The zooter is what Shane Warne called his slider.

Whatever you call it, the variation skids on trapping the batsman LBW. It's great for strong back foot players who will get caught on the crease.


There is no one flipper. In fact, the flipper should really be the family of flippers. There are a variety of ways to bowl this delivery, but the main idea of a flipper is a variation that skids through quick and low after bouncing.

There are versions bowled by WG Grace, Grimmet, Benaud, Warne and a few more obscure historical cricketing characters.

It's tough to learn, but used as a skilful variation will get you wickets.

Quicker ball

This ball is as it sounds: simply pushed through quicker that the stock delivery. The more you can disguise it the better because a common error is to make it obvious with a big change of run up and action.

I can think of no better example than the one delivered by Shaid Afridi, which has brought him tons of wickets. The variation in pace is huge but it's hard to pick.


I realise that's a lot of deliveries and variations to think about, try and use. You can speed up the process of untangling the mess and come up with your own way of bowling successful spin with my Spin Bowling Tips guide.

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A few days ago I went to a professional cricket coaching event. The coaches told me that I don't have to worry about variation when bowling and that if I can just bowl my usual leg spinner together with my "mystery ball- skidding on thing that hasn't got a name yet" I will take hundreds of wickets. There is truth in this but I can already bowl all the other variations with perfect accuracy, so why should I stop bowling them?

If I can land my leg break on the right spot 6/6 times, why shouldn't I be allowed to bowl other variations as well? To top that they forced me to try and bowl over the wickets! (I'm a chinaman who always bowls around the wickets) I really don't feel comfortable with this and around the wickets suits my style of bowling better, and there is no reason why I should switch to bowling over the wickets. Why would they want to fix something that isn't broken?

I have tried everything they teach me but nothing works for me and it just feels wrong. So should I continue just bowling naturally like I want to or try something that I know won't work and have failed with before?

Hi Jacques,

I'm not an expert but I have seen your previous comments.. You are a 14 year old spinner and from all accounts have mastered every aspect of spin bowling which is impressive!

Coaches always focus on the stock ball because it is the ball that makes all your other variations more effective. Trevor Jenner and Shane Warne worked for years to develop a fiercely spinning leg break that, and this is the important bit, won't fall down under pressure.

As you get older and move up through the ability levels you will come across batsmen who are raging monsters who will blast your bowling with ease. They will pick your bowling before you even start your run-up and will seem to have the power of premonition. You will feel under immense pressure... this is when having bowled 10,000 more legbreaks instead of 2,000 googlies, 2,000 flippers etc etc. will come in handy. "The stock ball is your wife, variations are just a casual fling."

If you can land your leg break 6/6 then learn to do it while spinning it 6 inches more. Then try putting 6 markers in different places and hitting them all in a row. Then hit each stump individually then each bail off individually.

As for bowling both sides of the wicket, it's something you should get used to as you will have to be flexible as a spinner and do what your skipper demands. Left arm chinaman is like bowling offspin from very wide of the crease to a right-hander. This can be a line where LBW is very hard to get and the natural angle means the ball is only threatening the stumps if it spins in. It can make your variations more obvious too. Chinaman around the wicket can threaten the stumps , LBW and the outside and inside edges more effectively.


I meant that bowling chinaman OVER the wicket can threaten the stumps , LBW and the outside and inside edges more effectively.

Thanks for the reply, and you sound a lot like an expert to me! Laughing out loud
Yes I know I should practice my stock ball 99% of the time as it will be the most effective ball against all types of batsmen. I can't remember who said this, but I think it was a boxer, can't remember his name: "The person more who practiced one kick 10 000 times I fear more than the person who practiced 10 000 kicks one time."

I am already getting close to 10 000 leg breaks bowled with the same action each time, but I would like to have that versatility of accuracy that you mentioned ( being able to land the ball on all kinds of lengths ) But still, if I can land a googly, top spinner, karate chop ball, off spinner, "thing that hasn't got a name yet-skidding-on", quicker ball and other variations on the right spot why shouldn't I? What's the use of a solar panel in the shadow? These balls can get me wickets together with my leg spinner, and that is after all the goal of bowling, taking wickets.

As regards to the over / round the wicket situation: I bowl very differently compared to other spinners. My normal line around the wickets would be making the ball drift from about middle stump to outside off, short of a half volley, turning in hitting leg stump. From there I would usually assess the batsman's style, get him driving, then bowl a series of top spinning leg spinners together with the occasional top spinner. Now I have endless things to do, mostly I would then bowl that back spinning thing ( which drifts and swings in the same direction then skids on away from the batsman, looks like a leg break ) landing in about the same spot, the batsman comes forward and its a stumping. Or if he is playing back I would land it in line with the stumps trying to trap him LBW. 50% of all my wickets are through LBW, 25% stumpings and the rest catches. When I bowl over the wickets LBW chances don't necessarily increase, I can't pitch the ball in line with the stumps and hit them (too much turn / bounce) my back spinning ball is picked by every type of batsman and I don't know where to pitch the ball. I suppose it works for most other chinamen to go over the wickets, but when I ask batsmen from which side they find me the mos difficult to face they always say when I go around the wickets they are under 100 times more stress and pressure and don't know what to do.

To top that I have a bowing arm that is nearly vertical (although I am not the best googly bowler ever, I do generate exceptional revolutions, and get heaps of turn when bowling in excess of 50 kilometers an hour) and as a result I have to twist every which way to get a ball to go to the off side when I'm bowling over the wickets.

You have to actually see me bowl to understand why I go around the wickets, unfortunately there aren't any videos of my bowling on Youtube! Sad

Thanks again
Jacques (a chinaman that refuses to bowl over the wickets and stop bowling a few variations =D)

Jacques, just ignore your coaches, from reading your posts, you clearly know far more about spin bowling than they do. Carry on doing what you are doing, bowling round the wicket with 12 different variations. Why would they want to repress your obvious incredible abilities? It smacks to me of petty jealousy. Have the courage to go your own way.

Hi Jacques,

You certainly sound like an intriguing bowler! Always do what is best for yourself and never break a thing that works. If you take wickets regularly then don't change a thing.

Learn as much about your action and game as you can, especially when young. You should understand the effect of everything you do down to the last detail. Only then will you be able to maximise your consistency and minimise dips in form when they inevitably occur!

Good luck.. Who knows you might be the next big spin sensation!

I agree with AB. In fact, the thing I find amazing is that there is no footage of Jaques bowling anywhere to be found. If he lived near me I would have him in our first XI and pushing him forward for representative honours with the high level of opposition that Jaques clearly needs.

The reason why I am not in a better team than u/15A team is because I was not as good a bowler last season. Sure I did get great results ( 8 wickets in 6 games @15.5 economy rate: 3.5, something like that ) but I know for sure that I am 10 times better at the moment than I was when I played those games. My bowling speed has nearly doubled, I get much more revolutions and I have basically "matured" more as a spinner. So yes I'm not famous at all, videos of my bowling don't exist, if you ask someone about me they won't know who I am, but that is going to change soon.

Currently I'm in the process of further developing my bowling action and making it absolutely flawless or as close as I can get to perfection. ( the action I have now is already repetitive, now I just want to eliminate all the errors ) I'm no pro when it comes to assessing bowling actions and changing it. I don't know what is wrong and what is right in my bowling action ( but not the simple things, I mean the really technical stuff ) and no coach that I know has a clue about leg spin.

That is the only thing that is hindering my progress: lack of good coaching. I haven't been coached properly by anyone before in my life and the coaches that I have had only slowed me down. I know there probably aren't any good coaches around and that leg spin is too specialist, but what other sources of good quality advice are there? (besides Pitchvision)

You can land the ball on the spot 6/6 and they turn miles. You can bowl every variation and you know the exact field that works for you. How can you improve on that?

To be honest I'm not sure. But you can always improve your ability and there are many other aspects of spin bowling, thousand actually. Being a left arm chinaman I also never had a bowler that I could model myself into / look at and imagine myself bowling like him. Shane Warne was the perfect leg spinner but he was right handed like the rest and so I couldn't learn as much from watching him as I would like to. Off spinners aren't the same as me, I can learn some valuable things from them but it's still not exactly the same.

What I need is advice from a bowler who has bowled leg spin at the highest level of cricket and knows everything there is to know about it. Someone with first hand experience and lots of skill. That is way too much to ask for and I will probably never meet someone like that, but there is only one way to make up for that and that is to gain that experience by bowling at better batsmen. The BEST batsmen.

Isn't that just about right? The Pakistani fast bowlers did discover reverse swing because they had to find a way to gain the upper hand when the conditions didn't favour them. I have to gain experience, knowledge, tactics and more skills by bowling to batsmen that put me under immense pressure. Just like Warne in his first ever test match! (when he conceded 150 runs and took one wicket against the Indian batsmen) It's very interesting when you think about it, we are able to adapt and increase our own skill when we're under pressure in order to achieve better results. And that "adaptability" is crucial to all spinners, and probably just as important to every type of player. But do you achieve that by playing in pressure situations? And if not, how do you achieve it?

Interesting points Jacques. Although I am not sure how much help you need from anyone. You have the game sealed tight with poinpoint accuracy, drift, dip and turn.

Of course there is the mental/tactical element of the game where pressure plays a big part, perhaps that is an area where you have a slight weakness?

In that case there are things you can do to develop that area for sure. You probably don't need the advice of a Warne-type figure just yet, but someone like that would be an incredible mentor for players at first-class and international level.

6 games is not many games in an entire season. When I was a keen U14 spinner I was playing in 4 games a week: a T20, Wednesday afternoon age group cricket and both days of the weekend for an adult club side. That's probably 50-60 games a season.

Practice in the nets is all fine, but it doesn't substitute for real match practice. That's where you will really learn your trade.

I know 6 games a season isn't a lot, if I could I would have played a game every day and practice 12 hours on weekends but I couldn't do that last season because my school team only got to the semi-finals ( and we played against 4 schools ) but luckily I'm playing SWD cricket in a while and I'll play 2 times more games than usual. I'm also going to trials for an adult club team and if I make it into the first XI I'll play more games as well.

Do you think it is possible for me to complete the 10 000 hour rule before I'm 18? I already have about 1000 hours of practice under the belt, but 10 000 seems ridiculous. At the rate I'm going now ( 1000 hours a year ) I'll only have 10 000 hours of practice by the time I'm 23 !

23 is about the time a spinner would reach his prime, no?

The 10,000 hours rule is not a concrete rule anyway. Quality of practice makes a huge difference.

Yes I just read an article saying that it isn't very accurate because it fails to include natural talent and ability etc.

One very strange dilemma I find myself in regularly is that the batsmen I bowl against are actually so bad that I struggle to get them out! They don't try to judge the length of the ball, they just swing wildly at it and they aren't bothered by drift (even meters of it coupled with swing doesn't seem to bother them) and as a result I can't bowl them out by using my aerodynamics.

Once there is a quality batsman who tries to judge the length of the ball all my deliveries land shorter/fuller than he expects and I subdue him easily. In the nets I bowl for example a top spinner which starts far above the eye line and dips so much it looks like gravity increases some batsmen will go forward and hit the ball straight up in the air, others will get to the pitch and drive as if it landed where they expected (but they were actually just not expecting anything at all)

Could this be some new way of tackling even the best of spinners? Trying not to expect where the ball will pitch so it lands where expected, yet not expected?

Bowling to bad batsmen is an artform in itself!

Was the article online? I would love to see a link to it if it was.

If you bowl full and straight, at a decent spinner's pace and with plenty of action on the ball, a bad batsman shouldn't last longer than a few overs. I would concentrate on trying to master the basics of dismissing poor batsmen before you worry about anything else.

Yes it's online, I just typed: "How does the 10 000 hour rule work?" In google and the article was at the top.

Many times these aren't even poor batsmen, they are anything from openers to late-order hitters. But they don't expect the ball to land anywhere so it doesn't do anything unexpected. This doesn't mean I can't get them out as I can do it easily if they don't pick variations or if luck isn't on their side. But I can't get them out as I would prefer to (by using drift, dip and turn), and that bothers me.


What you are forgetting is that Cricket is a team sport and as the bowler you have a job to do. The captain (and keeper) will need to get to know how/what you bowl and if he's in the dark because you're varying all over the shop, you won't take many wickets. This is because spin bowlers, leg spinners in particular, mostly take wickets by deceiving or frustrating the batsmen to play a false shot. This is reflected in the way Warne took wickets:

You will see the break down being Bowled 115 (16.2%) Caught 345 (48.7%) Caught Behind 73 (10.3%) LBW 139 (19.6%) Stumped 36 (5.1%). A whopping 59% from catches. If your skipper doesn't know what you're likely to bowl, then he doesn't know where to protect or attack. This may mean that you may still take wickets, but at a huge economy rate which will make the skipper less inclined to bowl you.

Remember, cricket is a team sport.

Thanks for those stats on Warne, very interesting!
Peter Philpott talks about captaincy in his book on leg spin, and he mentions that captains should try their best to understand and learn more about their bowlers, particularly wrist spinners, because as the captain its their job to know how wrist spinners operate. This includes the variations they bowl, even if they may be complicated. Wicket keepers should also know as much as they can about spin bowling, it happens too often that the bowler beats the batsman, but also bamboozles the keeper in the process.

"If a your skipper doesn't know what your likely to bowl, then he doesn't know where to protect or attack." - True, but I set my own fields, and he will give me an objective besides getting wickets in certain situations so I can adapt my bowling. So this isn't really an issue.

...*varying all over the shop*... That's slightly exaggerated! Its not like I bowl 6 different balls an over! My bowling spell always starts with about 3 overs with just leg spinners, the greatest, most effective variation I have is the different and varying degrees of leg spin I can generate. From topspinning leggy to backspinning leggy. My other variations are used purely because most batsmen don't pick them at all and they are potential wicket-takers.

Yes I know that cricket is a team sport, and that is why I try to perform and achieve good results to benefit the team.

Hey Jacques. Which country are you from?

Hi. I'm from South Africa, planning to emigrate to Australia if I don't make it here since they have had their fair share of chinaman bowlers and maybe I'll have a better chance of selection there:D

my leg spinner turns so much it goes for wide what to do?

If you bowl from wide of the crease from over the wickets, pitch the ball outside leg on a very full length and get a bit of drift, there is virtually no way for you to bowl a wide down the off side, even if you literally turn the ball square.

thanks .do u know how to bowl the googly?