Spin Bowling Tips: Dealing with Multiple Flaws | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Spin Bowling Tips: Dealing with Multiple Flaws

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

As part of my course, I ask readers to send in their questions. Here is one problem I got from Ihsaan that many other bowlers experience:

"My biggest spin worry right now is how much I'm turning the ball, and the speed I'm bowling at. Occasionally I bowl too slow and fail to vary my pace. Any tips?"

If you have this issue, the first thing you need to worry about is the degree of spin you are getting. You cannot be a spin bowler if you do not turn it. Otherwise you are just a slow bowler.

And slow bowlers do not have a place in the game.

So, get that ball turning. The thing that is stopping you is that you are worried about your pace and getting the speed variation right. Your mind is on other things while you need to be focusing on turning the ball.

You need to throw your whole body into getting this ball to turn. From using the power of your wrists to grinding on the front foot when you pivot.

Your variation of pace will get there. Right now, you need to only focus on getting the ball turning.

I suspect most of your problems are related to the fact that you want to fix a bunch of things at the same time. This is not possible. Focus on one thing.

Get it spinning first - and do not worry about anything else - then your pace issue will also go away.

Broadcast Your Cricket Matches!

Ever wanted your skills to be shown to the world? PV/MATCH is the revolutionary product for cricket clubs and schools to stream matches, upload HD highlights instantly to Twitter and Facebook and make you a hero!

PV/MATCH let's you score the game, record video of each ball, share it and use the outcomes to take to training and improve you further.

Click here for details.


Thanks for the advice, I focused on my spin more yesterday at nets and it paid off... However my line and length was a bit dodgy occasionally bowling too full. I guess that will just improve with constant practise. Any tips on how I can vary my pace??

Thanks again,
Ihsaan Syed-Hussain

Hello sir.
A leg spinner that I know would like to have your help. He asks how he can stop 'catapulting' the ball, in his action his bowling arm stops when it is behind his back and loses momentum, he then tries to sling his arm over his shoulder and bowl but it stops him from getting pace and the right amount of flight. How can he learn to use his arm's momentum to propel the ball rather than a sling?

Would have to disagree when you say "and slow bowlers do not have a place in the game". I've had a successful career at good club level based on drift, flight and variations of pace rather than turning the ball. My breakthrough moment was the decision to stop looking for turn - and almost at a stroke gained extra control. Don't get me wrong, it would be great to also turn the ball, but there's certainly a place in the game for those who don't.

John Brodie
If you do get drift it must mean that you do get a lot of revolutions on the ball and it is probably the pitch that isn't lending you any turn, and that phrase "and slow bowlers do not have a place in the game" doesn't mean spinners that don't TURN the ball don't have a place in the game, but rather spinners that don't SPIN the ball don't have a place in the game. These bowlers are often known as 'rollers' and they are the bowlers that roll the ball out of their fingers to have more control but they sacrifice drift, dip, turn and all the aerodynamics to bowl more accurately. I think every other spinner will agree that that is no good and these 'rollers' should be banned from cricket. If you're really passionate about spin bowling you should spin the ball hard, give it a big flick, try to rip the cover off the ball and then develop accuracy through shear hard work and dedication. It doesn't matter if you don't get lots of turn but you should always be trying to rack up as much revolutions as you possibly can and if you still don't get turn it's most likely the surface or the ball that causes lack of turn.

Jacques Voigt
Well, the article does say "you cannot be a spin bowler if you do not turn it" so I think it does mean turn. But what you say is interesting and I understand what you mean. I just think there's room for all sorts of different slow bowlers in the game. I get drift with a variety of arm balls and don't put many revolutions on the ball at all - and use variations in my action for changes of pace and flight. But I stumbled upon this approach when I couldn't turn the ball and bowl accurately at the same time - at a point in my life when I didn't have the spare time for hours and hours of practice to get it right. I would agree youngsters should be encouraged to give it a rip.

Yes the article does say turn but I think the author must have been confused, even Shane Warne didn't get turn sometimes, its bowlers that don't SPIN the ball that are the problem. And I do think that you can be succesful without getting lots of turn but without spin you will never be. Turn is nothing compared to drift, dip, swerve etc. and the only way to get this is either the amount of revolutions (how many "spins" or rotations the ball gets through the air) or average revolutions but a very good action with an excellent pivot, follow through, arm position, and degree of spin. I'm not familiar with bowling by trying to impart less spin to be accurate as I have never tried it in my life, as a matter of fact the more spin I put on the ball the more accurate I am, but I suppose it could work for you. Medium pacers are succesful without turn and drift/dip, instead relying on variations in pace, cut, swing etc so a bowler bowling just a bit slower (slow bowler) could be just as succesful and can also have a part in the game, I think the article would be better if it stated that rollers don't have a part in the game, not non-turners.

>I think every other spinner will agree that that is no good and these 'rollers' should be banned from cricket.<

What nonsense - are you suggesting that fast bowlers who don't bowl above a certain speed should be banned from the game as well?

Everyone is entitled to bowl, as long as their action is legal.

I totally support John's point about slow bowling - at club level - and good club level too - there are many slow bowlers who do not turn the ball, but bowl accurately and cause all manner of problems purely by putting the batsman under scoreboard pressure. Someone who turns long hops miles is nowhere near as effective as someone who can vary pace and can bowl an arm ball.

To say that bowlers who have made a successful career out of this style of bowling have no place in the game is unworthy.

Of course, everyone loves to see young bowlers give the ball a rip, but loads of them lose heart because they have not learned the art of defensive slow bowling, which has hardly anything to do with turning/spinning the ball. When I coach, I teach them both types.

Perhaps you would like to know that that phrase isn't my own but it was said by both Graeme Swann and Richie Benaud, two of the great spinners of all time. And no I'm not suggesting that you are a "roller" if you are a fast bowler who bowls slowly, the term "roller" simply means that you sacrifice pace/spin etc in order to bowl more accurately because you are too lazy to do some hard work and to be dedicated and practice a lot. And its nonsensical to teach people to bowl "spin" but without any real spin. I think this just cowardice because in the fear of bowling badly you sacrifice the very things that help you get a batsman out. And you are mistaken, a bowler that turns long hops miles would be more effective than a non-turning bowler in the long term, because by spinning the ball hard and practicing a lot his accuracy will improve to the point where he is just as accurate as the slow bowler but he gets drift, dip, turn, and he can deceive batsman a hundred times better than a slow bowler ever will. A very good coach once told me that all the hard work you put into cricket you will get back in a game, tell me, what hard work does a roller put into cricket??

Bowling accurately takes just as much hard work, practice and experience as any other form of bowling. It's just a pity that so few people can do it these days.

Graeme Swann and Richie Benaud play(ed) cricket at the very highest level. Most of us don't.

Fundamentally, any form of bowling which gets batsmen out and/or prevents them for scoring is a perfectly legitimate tactic in any level of cricket. The fact that you don't happen to like it is simply a reason to deploy more of it against you.

Techniques that are not effective against international batsmen are perfectly effective in Division 3 of the Kent League (for example). To dismiss everyone's right to bowl at the right level for them because they can't bowl ragging deliveries that will get international batsmen out is ridiculous.

If you look at the Kent League stats, you'll find that a lot of "rollers", as you call them, feature very highly in the bowling averages, to say nothing of being the most economical bowlers on show.

Evan at the age of 59, I play in a lot of games where I concede 2.5 to 3.0 runs per over in a spell of 10 to 15 overs, while the "spinning spinners" go for 5 or 6. Sure, they often take wickets that I can't, but they also benefit from the stranglehold at the other end.

At international level, I could cite a number of slow left-arm bowlers who have been very successful bowling "darts". England examples are Mike Yardy, Richard Illingworth, Norman Gifford. I'd rather have them in my one-day side than a heavily tattooed fast bowler who thinks that long hops and slow bouncers are a form of variety that stops batsmen from scoring.

And just for the record, over the years, my "rollers" have dismissed three England captains, and one other international captain. All the England captains were batsmen. But then perhaps if they can't keep a roller out, they should be banned from batting?

Yes rollers can be succesful as it is the easiest way of doing things, at the highest level all the best achievers have been the bowlers or batsman that practiced and practiced and they got rewarded for it, but at club level rollers can be succesful enough to also achieve great things. But I look at their achievements as unfair and I think they are cowards! When Greg Chappell rolled a ball underarm at a New Zealand batsman when he needed 6 from the last ball the whole croud booed the Aussies off the field. Why? Because even though it may not have been against the rules it was against the spirit of the game, rolling is also against the spirit of the game. I wonder if the term 'roller' might even have originated from that incident. Rather than bowling the ball overarm and risking a draw Chappell rolled the ball so he could win easily. This can be linked to spin bowling- rather than spinning the ball hard and developing accuracy, rollers only roll the ball from their hand so they can bowl accurately and more easily. This to me and many (if not all) other cricketers seems highly controversial and it just isn't right. You can't justify something just because you don't believe it is wrong. And being a roller is like cheating within the rules, you do whatever you can to make your job easier without doing hard work while the rest suffer and develop accuracy and spin from such shear hard work and dedication that it drives them mad. Please leave spin bowling to those who are dedicated and are really passionate about it, don't defile it by going agianst all its morals.

It was Trevor Chappell who bowled that delivery. Greg Chappell was captain.

"Cowards", "Cheating"? Those are strong words to use about fellow cricketers who happen to bowl differently from you.

Interesting debate fella. My 2p is that everyone should strive to put as many revs on the ball as possible. That's the difference between "spin" and "slow" bowling.

That does not mean that the biug ripper should call the roller names though.

Not all bowlers give it a huge rip, and they can do well (Kumble didn't turn it much, and he was a fine bowler). These guys have a place, but if I am coaching a young spinner I will spend a lot of time making efforts to put his energy into really spinning it up!

Yes David I agree, but I just want to clarify that I have nothing against bowlers that don't turn the ball much, as far as I'm concerned 90% of spinners on earth don't turn the ball a lot, I'm against spinners that don't try to spin the ball. You can still be a SPIN bowler as long as you try to put lots of revs on the ball, after all we aren't TURN bowlers we're SPIN bowlers. Dip, drift, changing your pace, variation, these are all key components of SPIN bowling, turn is only a small part of spin bowling and isn't as crucial as flight and pace etc. "Rollers" aren't bowlers that don't move the ball sideways off the pitch, they are spin bowlers without any spin, and as Peter Philpott says in his great book ons wrist spinning: "a spin bowler without any real spin, isn't a spin bowler" I looked up 'slow bowling' in various cricket books and on the internet and it describes these bowlers as bowlers who bowl slowly without spin, but they rather rely on changes in pace, how high they toss the ball up, and they utilize swing as one of their most dangerous weapons. They play a big roll in modern day cricket, but "spinners" that don't try to spin the ball are a problem. It doesn't matter if you get no turn or spin on the ball as long as you are trying your best to impart spin, that's the moral of the story.

It's good that one or two voices of sanity are emerging. To liken bowling accurately to bowling underarm is stretching credence a bit far, don't you think? Obviously it underscores a weak argument. Let's remember that the initial premise was that non-spinning slow bowlers should be *banned* from the game.

Let me share with you what I see in junior cricket all the time. I see the perception in young batsmen that slow bowlers are there to be smashed out of the attack and skippers who are scared to bowl them. Such attitudes play perfectly into the hands of the defensive slow bowler. A few weeks ago I played a Sunday game against one of the promising emerging batting talents in the area. I opened the bowling - not sure why the skipper did that! The first over went dot-4-2-out. He was back in the pavilion with 6 to his name at three minutes past two.

If young spinners are not taught the defensive side of the art, as well as the aggressive side, they will never be on long enough to perform. If you encourage them to desert line and length in search of the wonder delivery, they will never get any match practice. Young skippers are terrified of putting spinners on, don't know how to set fields, and don't trust them in the critical phases of the game. Why? Because spin/slow bowlers are encouraged to run before they can walk.

I skipper a developmental side on Saturdays, and we give adult league cricket opportunities to youngsters aged 13 and above, and I have a young leg spinner. He is a natural spinner of the ball, but never gets on in school games. He has taken 14 wickets in 6 games of adult league cricket, because he gets opportunities. I have taught him to understand when to be defensive and when to attack. When to rip the ball and when to be conservative. How to set fields. I have protected him by bowling myself or somebody else miserly at the other end while he bowls. In his last three games he has taken 2-27 off 7 overs, 2-11 off 4 overs and 2-16 off 7 overs and contributed significantly to us winning all three games. At school, over the same period he has bowled 2 overs for 20 runs and no wickets. For that contribution, I should be banned from bowling apparently! Really?

Three years ago, we produced a wonderful defensive off-spinner who at 13 could bowl in adult cricket for less than 3 runs per over. He made the county squad, but for some reason to do with current theory was encouraged to bowl leg spin instead and really rip the ball. He came back a broken player with no confidence whatsoever and it has taken two seasons to get him back even close to where he was at the age of 13.

So I'm sorry if I don't share your enthusiasm for the "rip at all costs" theory. I wouldn't encourage a maths student to tackle Einstein's theory of Special Relativity before learning their multiplication tables and the same thing applies here. Ok, you will get the odd prodigy who should be encouraged, but for most of us, being numerate through adult life is sufficient, and cricket development should be the same.

Discuss Smiling

I just want to remind you that it wasn't even me that said rollers should be banned from cricket, it was Richie Benaud and also Graeme Swann (but I have to give credit to Richie who came up with the term "roller") and both of them expressed that they wished all young spinners would learn to spin the ball hard first and then develop accuracy. And this can't be compared to maths! Do you think Shane Warne tried to bowl accurately and then spin the ball? You are right in saying that young spinners are getting discouraged all the time from doing this because they lack patience and indurance, its very common. Spin bowling is a long term project, and I don't think you would do any good arguing with one of the greatest that has ever bowled it, Bill 'o Reilly told Richie Benaud the following and Benaud passed it on to Warne: "Develop a FIERCELY SPUN leg break and bowl that 90% of the time, it will take you 4 years to do it" You can't learn to be accurate, and then start developing a fiercely spun leg break. You will fail miserably like many others have before you. Some people would argue that you don't need a fiercely spun stock ball whether it be an off spinner or leg spinner. Well thats fine, just don't claim your a spinner then because your not. Lots of tutors say that you should get a length first, but every good spin bowler that has ever played the game says that you should forget the length until you can spin the ball hard! Try to teach a medium pacer to be a great fast bowler, you can't do it, try to teach a spinner to be a great spin bowler, you can't do that unless he has spin. Peter Philpott also says that if you don't spin the ball you are not a spin bowler. SPIN SPIN SPIN. Thats all you have got to do. Being a roller can be compared to ten pin bowling. Theres one bowler that rolls the ball trying to curve it and rolling it with vicious pace, he practiced for hours and hours to perfect this, lets say his score is 100 at the end of the game. The another bowler scores 105, not because he has good technique or practiced even harder than the previous bowler, but because he rolls the ball slowly and doesn't try to use any curve, speed etc. All he does is bend down and roll the ball as straight as possible while standing as near as possible to the line. Without practicing at all he beat the player who practiced for hours on end, he beats the bowler who is passionate and dedicated, because there was an easier way of doing things. Luckily the story has a happy ending because the dedicated passionate bowler always gets the best team. No one wants that other bowler on their team (at least I hope they don't) because even though he gets good scores its against the spirit of the game and, well, all their morals and values. So I leave you with this question: Which bowler are you?

And just to prove that they always choose the dedicated hard working passionate bowler with good technique still developing accuracy, I have a game I can use as an example. When we were holding cricket trials me and an off spinner who might be the biggest roller the world has ever seen were bowling. He got 2 wickets in 2 overs and went for 10 runs, one was a full toss that was so slow the batsman mistimed it and it hit his stumps, the other was the slowest most rolled delivery ever and was a catch. I took no wickets and qent for 7 runs and I bowled fizzing dipping drifting leg breaks which completely bamboozled the batsmen, I slipped in a few wrong 'uns and even bowled a ripping off spinner which got an edge. I was picked for the team, and they removed another bowler who was supposed to be their other spinner (roller) and picked an off spinner who tries to rip the cover off the ball in his place.

I don't have a problem with Warne & co advising a youngster on what to do if they want to be an international leg spinner. But did anyone ask them what to do to be an effective defensive slow bowler in club cricket?

The guy you are comparing yourself with is not, on the evidence supplied, a defensive slow bowler. He's going for 5 runs an over and bowls full tosses. That is not someone who is practising the art of defensive slow bowling.

I'm talking about the guy who consistently bowls TEN overs for 20 runs in League cricket and gets a couple of wickets more often than not, but for whom spinning the bowl is not his primary weapon.

These are guys who win a lot of club cricket matches and the guys who have ensured that slow bowling still has a big role in T20 matches, when people like Mssrs Benaud and Warne said it would be the death of slow bowling.

I see no reason why such a bowler shouldn't be selected in the same side as you who bowls fizzing leg breaks. It shouldn't be him or you. You would benefit hugely off each other, and might even come to respect each other's contributions. What's the difference between a medium pacer who can bowl line and length and a slow bowler who can take the pace of the ball and stop the opposition from scoring?

I've never had a problem purveying my my art in county age group squads, from Essex U19s to Kent over 50s! And when I do not get picked, it's not usually my bowling that's the reason, but my indifferent batting or woeful fielding! That's probably where I should have spent more time in dedicated practice particularly in later years.

All good spin bowlers grunt when bowling or they should from the explosive energy required to propel a 156 gram ball over 22 yards and making the air whistle around it from the revolutions. Why are good spin bowlers so often called "slow bowlers" if they actually grunt from the power involved? And I really don't understand what you mean by "defensive" slow bowling. Its nonsense! Good spin bowlers have always been accurate, PIN-POINT accurate! And with their vicious spin they bamboozle batsman and are thus defensive and attacking a the same time. They get wickets and lots of dots. So there is no need to sacrifice spin in order to be accurate because if you are a good spin bowler you will be just as accurate as any roller will ever be, and the only way to achieve this is deliberate practice. Australia's famous combination of spin bowlers Shane Warne and Stuart Macgill was very succesful and not one of them were rollers. If you spin the ball hard you will without a doubt be much more succesful because of what your deliveries will do through the air. Drift will make a batsman move his head sideways, dip will make your deliveries land shorter and bounce higher, back spin will make deliveries keep low and stay high through the air, and by intermixing back, side and top spin you have an armory of potent weapons that can deceive any batsman! Needless to say the more revs the more exagerated these effects will be, and as you can see these weapons are enhanced by turn, bounce, speed, variations etc. and if you can bowl in these different ways with accuracy you will be more succesful than a bowler that just puts a ball on the intended spot. So why would you want to sacrifice all these dangerous weapons that are a part of spin bowling for just one (accuracy) ???

Ah, you have to grunt now as well as spin the ball. I think people who grunt should be banned Smiling

I don't think you'll ever get it. It's really so simple though.

Nobody should be banned or berated for bowling a style - any style - which achieves results in the standard of cricket they are playing in, as long as their action is legal.

Good bowlers get results, which helps them move up the standards. Less effective bowlers move down the standards, or never move up. Everyone finds a level where they contribute to the team they are playing for. Why not measure the effectiveness of a bowler by their results, rather than by what they do or do not do with the ball and whether or not it happens to be coincident with what you think they should be doing?

Rollers will never be banned as about 99% of all spinners are rollers. The 1% that really understand what spin bowling is and are passionate about it all wish they would be but because of the rules of cricket which are missing they won't. Just don't dare to say you are a "spin bowler" then! Because if you don't spin every ball as hard as you possibly can you are not one.

>Just don't dare to say you are a "spin bowler" then!<

I never did say that! I simply object(ed) to the assertion that I and (according to you) the 99% of slow bowlers for whom spinning the ball is not their primary weapon should be banned from the game.

I'm very comfortable about what I am, and I've also trained a lot of young genuine spin bowlers in how to spin the ball. I fully understand all the stuff about about spin, loop and drift (or spin, droop and lift, as one of my young charges called it a few years ago).

But I also teach my students that there are other dimensions to slow bowling than just spinning the ball hard. I don't see any reason why a slow bowler shouldn't be proficient in being able to do both jobs. I certainly vary my bowling massively according to the state of the match. Everyone should be able to do this, rather than being one-dimensional.

I've never had much time for batsmen who say "Sorry skip, I can only bat one way" and I take the same view with bowlers as well. An intelligent slow bowler should be better than that and those that are will survive longer in the game..

I think we are all agreeing that all spinners should use as many tools as they have available. Some guys don't rip it, and if they don't they can still play a role.

Let's be honest a 35 year old club spinner who has barely turned one is not going to change. That said, we should also encourage youngsters to rip it as much as possible while keeping accuracy. The more weapons against those big bats the better!

If you spin the ball, then you are a spin bowler. There is not a minimum number of revs you need to qualify.

There are lots of tools a spin bowler uses: turn, drift and dip, control of length, accuracy of line, subtle changes of pace, surprise variations, patience, strategic thinking. Very few amateur spinners will have all of these together. How is one effective combination any more noble and worthwhile than any other? Smacks of arrogance to claim that your way is the only way.

Hi Everyone

It seems my article got a debate going. Good! Love spinners with a passion.

Let's clear something up. Turn is not the same as revolutions. You might be ripping it hard (and getting the benefits of dip and drift) but not getting turn of the track. This might be because

1) The track is not a turner
2) the angle of the ball is more down the track, ala Kumble who bowled top spinners

Also, you cannot get drift if you have no revolutions. It's physics. The effect is called The Magnus Effect which you find in hydraulics (air acts the same as water - so do not let that confuse you). In order for the effect to work it needs revolutions. You cannot generate a side force on the ball without revolutions. It's impossible.

If you are drifting the ball without lots of revolutions then you are just fooling yourself (or it is the cross wind pushing the ball).

Kumble got plenty drift, but his was 'down' because of the toppies he bowled. The bal dipped on the batsmen all the time. They come forward and then never get to the pitch. He got this effect through revolutions.

About slow bowlers - yes they should be banned. I agree with Swann on this. Real spinner work hard and we always have an uphill battle to get selected. Then along comes the rollers, and then captains/coaches think that club spinners are all rollers. Not true.

So then club teams tend to pick batsmen who roll the arm a bit. So annoying.

We need to pick real spinners that have their fingers bleed after bowling. Not rollers. It's the only way we will get noticed as attacking options.

Lastly, no successful spinner bowled just slow. That's nonsense. There were a few that darted it in the later 90's and early 2000's. But this trend is phasing out as spin bowlers adapt to batsmen attacking them all the time.

Look at Narine, Swann, Herath, Ajmal, etc all tossing it up and being successful. I don't see any darts there. Also, every IPL now the top bowlers are mostly spinner - non which are darters.

Ban slow bowlers I say. They do not even belong in the nets. Batsmen must practise against real spinners.

- Menno

Thanks a lot Menno I agree with everything you said. Fast bowlers should bowl fast, swing bowlers should swing, and SPINNERS should SPIN! Its because of rollers that spin bowling almost died when the great West Indian team was playing. There were no aggresive, attacking spin bowlers so no one really wanted to be a spinner. It is a miracle that Shane Warne wasn't just another roller because he brought that aggresive, attacking style of spin bowling back. And I don't think that rollers or "defensive spin bowlers" as their called are succesful because the best defense is offense. If you rip the ball as hard as you can and get drift, dip, and massive turn you will be beating the edge of the bat all the time or bowling them through the gate, (taking wickets) nothing dries up runs as much as taking wickets. Warne never conceded as much runs as someone like Robin Peterson of South Africa (he bends the ball around corners with "drift" and then it just straightens Puzzled) and Warne took three times more wickets. If you look at the bowling averages and economy rates of good spinners that rip the ball and get about 2000+ revolutions you'll notice they concede less runs and take more wickets than others. Isn't it just general knowledge that the more revolutions you get on the ball (while bowling accurate through hard work) the more succesful you will be? The ball will dip more so the batsman will reach for it but not get to the pitch, the ball will drift more so they will have to adjust to the diffrent line, and the ball will turn more so it will beat the edge of the bat more easily or go through the gate. Without revs you don't have any drift and less dip and turn than the real spinner that tries to make the air whistle around the ball. I'm sure a five year old can whack a ball like that out of the park if it comes slow as well!

You must see it as a huge oversight that a so-called "roller" like Paul Harris was selected for South Africa ahead of you Jacques.

Well AB I'm only 14 so there isn't really a chance for me to play for the Proteas now. And there is a real gap in the South African team at the moment, we have wonderful fast bowlers like Steyn, Philander and Kallis, we are also a great batting side but we don't have any good spin bowlers. I suppose its because of our pitches which suit fast bowling, on these pitches you really need extra revolutions for dip, drift and all those nice things and an almost impossible amount of revs to get massive turn as well. We haven't produced any spinners that can do this, only rollers which is why we don't have any spinner with a bowling average under 30. Paul Harris was selected because he was the best we had at the time which is really sad. I can only hope that a few Warnesque rippers of the ball will emerge or we will be a very one-dimensional side. JP Duminy is doing well with the ball and he does get a decent amount of revs and turn, but he isn't enough. I'm convinced after so many years without a great spinner we will strike lucky. We have to! If Paul Adams was the best spinner ever to play for the Proteas I really don't know where were headed.

Would you also ban every fast bowler that didn't regularly hit 80mph?

Well if they can do it, but they don't because they want to be accurate I would want to yes!


"Would you also ban every fast bowler that didn't regularly hit 80mph?"

No, not at all.

Swing and seam, although a function of speed, does not kick in after 80mph. And many pace bowlers who do not bowl quick (McGratch, Pollock, Vaas are good examples from the past 15 years) were exceptionally successful at the highest level.

The same cannot be said of 'slow bowlers'. They might get a lucky season, but we will not see a 500 wicket test career from a 'slow bowler'. But, I'm sure we will see it again from an 80mph swing/fast bowler.

Drift and dip is essential to be attacking as a spin bowler. And that cannot be achieved with revolutions.

Training a spin bowler to be 'good enough' with accuracy is doing him an injustice. We do not need good spin bowlers - we need great ones.

Great spin bowlers all put plenty revolutions on the ball.

Great fast bowlers come in all speeds (although they would also have a lower limit somewhere)

A typo correction:
Drift and dip is essential to be attacking as a spin bowler. And that cannot be achieved WITHOUT revolutions.

But Menno, say you coach a young man who loves cricket and loves spin bowling with all his heart, but no matter how hard he tries, he simply cannot get the same amount of revolutions on the ball that a professional cricketer gets. However through accuracy, subtlety and intelligence he is able to become a successful amateur bowler and gains great satisfaction and esteem as a result, would you really want him to be permanently banned from bowling?

Jacques: Glenn McGrath could have bowled a lot faster than he chose to throughout his career, but he settled at 80-85mph because he found that was the range where he could be most devastating. Would you have banned him from bowling? One of the greatest bowlers of all time? Not up to your standards?

I don't agree with the fact that fast bowlers can't also be rollers. We had one great fast bowler in our team, he bowled about 100 kilometers per hour regularly with swing, seam etc. When we played our first game he opened the bowling but suddenly he bowled just 60 kilometers per hour, he was putting every ball in the right spot but they slogged him all over the place and as a result we lost the game. He was very fit that game and could easily have bowled well over 100 kilometers if he wanted to but he was scared of bowling a wide so he slowed himself down and the team suffered greatly. I think this mentality should be eliminated from young players minds because if they have the ability to bowl 100 k/ph or put vicious spin on the ball they should do it. What do you think?

Mcgrath had his reasons for bowling slower, but I don't agree with most of them. If he could bowl faster he should have, why would you waste your talents just to achieve great things? Einstein didn't just take up an ordinary job in science to show how much better he is than others. So Mcgrath should have bowled at his quickest and maybe he would have been just as good a fast bowler.

Of course quicks can be rollers as well. But it has less to do with the pace than what they are actually doing with the ball.

And that is why I mention in my comment there is some lower limit as well (60mph falls below that limit)

No, I would not ban a young guy that is trying and can't get as much revolutions as Swann or even Warne.

The key though, is he trying? Or is he just rolling the arm? The fact that he is gtting as much revolutions as he physically can is the important thing. Not if he is better than Warne (then we must all stop playing).

And focusing on revolutions does not make you bowl the ball into the side of the nets all the time. It just means you might not be as accurate as if you just rolled the arm. But, you will get more wickets because your good balls are actually dangerous now.

Now we just need understanding captains to keep the real turners on when they bowl two long hops in a row because they were ripping it...

I think captains are one of the biggest nuisances in spin bowling, (if they don't know how it works) my captain has dropped me countless times after 3 overs when I conceded 2 runs an over and went wicketless because I was busy setting the batsman up, its really annoying!!!

Something really weird happens every game that I play and I would like to have your opinion on it. I usually bat when spinners are bowling and I always watch spinners from outside the boundaries, I have identified 6 off spinners in the oppositions team and each of them were rollers!!!! They bowl about 20 kilometers per hour and with NO spin whatsoever. They don't get drift and their balls have more back spin than side spin. The only variation I have ever seen any of them bowl was a really poorly executed leg break which bounced several times and didn't turn a nanometer. They bowl so slowly its impossible to time the ball its ridiculous! I have gotten out 3 times when they are bowling and every time I execute the shot 2 times before the ball arrives and I just can't believe how slow they bowl. Its a discrace to spin bowling and I find it disgusting because most people think these "spinners" are great! Spin bowling is now being associated with NO pace and NO spin. Its a tragedy!

I agree with you Jacques.

The problem is that at very junior levels the batting is even poorer than the bowling. And slow bowling works really well against junior batsman.

When the boys get a bit bigger and techniques improve it does not work anymore to just bowl slow. So, although young spinners will get wickets bowling super slow lobs, they will go nowehere as older spinners.

Train them right from the start, sacrifice a few wickets in order to get the foundation right, and you will produce better spinners.

Yes you are right, against more senior players these "spinners" struggle a lot because then it isn't enough just to bowl slowly. But the worst part is that they are being encouraged to bowl like this by their coaches who don't have a clue about spin bowling, my coaches also tell me to bowl with less spin and less variation and less everything but I ignore them flat, I just give them the occasional nod and thank them for that wonderful "advice". In a few months I will be attending a cricket coaching course which is supossed to be one of the best sources of spin bowling coaching. I doubt if I will learn anything new from it (last time I attended one they told me to not spin the ball hard from the first ball, and I thought: "Yes because Warne didn't try to spin the Ball of the Century right?!!") but maybe they can analise my action and help me improve it etc. I'll let you know which pearls of spin bowling wisdom I find ridiculous and if they actually know a thing about spin bowling. In South Africa everyone is always complaining that we don't have good spinners but you can't expect to have any spinners if you're coaches aren't even qualified to explain how to hold the ball! (I have seen some very weird demonstrations from my own coaches on the leg spin grip Puzzled )

Bad coaching always leads to bad performance on the field, I am currently trying to teach my 11 year old cousin to bowl leg spin and he loves it, he even said that I am a better coach than any of the coaches at his school. (and I must say he is a real prodigy)

Can you think of any possible solution for this coaching nightmare here in South Africa? {Western Cape}


Good spin bowling coaches are very, very scarce.

I'm from Cape Town and can maybe direct you to some coaches that are good (as I do not actively coach myself these days). Drop me an email at info@spinbowlingtips.com with your exact location and I will see if I can find a local coach for you that can be trusted.

Otherwise, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter here on PV, http://www.pitchvision.com/become-a-better-spinner-with-this-free-8-week...

I'm also hard at work on the next revision of my course on PV. I know there are so many spinners out there like you that need good advice and i'm ptting together the best course I can possible do. Make sure you are signed up as i will send out a notification when it is ready.

Thanks a lot Menno Smiling
I have already read your whole 8 week newsletter and I'll send you an Email with my location. I don't suppose you know where one can find a copy of Clarrie Grimmets book on how to get wickets? I can't find it anywhere, not in libraries or on the internet. Grimmet was the "forefather" of wrist spin and I think he will have a few very interesting ideas and probably the best advice you can get on spin bowling but the only problem is where to find his book.

Where are all these terrible captains and coaches? Most of the ones I know are very knowledgeable about spin bowling, and understand that there is a hell of a lot more to the art than simply "spin it as hard as you physically can".

I live in George in the Garden Route (SWD) all the coaches I have ever been "coached" by DONT even ancourage us to spin the ball a lot, if we get a nanometer of turn its fine and if one of them knows what drift is its a miracle! One typical practice session: We bowl in the nets to batsman that slog everything and the coaches stand behind the nets saying things that don't make any sense. A typical conversation between me and a coach: Me: "Coach, am I bowling my wrong 'un the right angle or should I bowl it more on the off-side" Coach: "Can you bowl the wrong 'un?" Me: "Yes" Coach: "Oh I didn't even notice, but we'll discuss it later" SCENE

In a few months I have learned more than I could possibly imagine on PitchVision academy than I have learned from 2 years of "coaching" They don't have a clue and usually just say we'll discuss it later but we never do. This is at u/15 level. The u/17 coaches are EVEN WORSE!!! They barely ever come to the practice and when they do they don't have a clue about coaching anyways. I am 100% sure they have never visited PitchVision academy online and never will.

When I bowl in the nets the only advice they ever give me is to bowl faster and not give the ball as much flight. I bowl 50 kilometers per hour I am a leg spinner who is 14 years old and has been playing for 2 years and I bowled one full toss out of 100 good balls Puzzled huh??

The only thing they are good at (and at least look like they are interested in it) is fitness training which is very well organized. I think the cricket in our school isn't important at all or why else would we have such horrendous coaching?

This is only half of it and you have to see our training and "coaching" sessions to really see how terrible it is. Our fielding is the only good thing in our team, if we bat first we never get more than 70 runs. I only get to bowl 5 overs on a good day because they think I'm bowling badly if I concede 3 runs an over etc.


If you have trouble finding terrible spin bowling captains then you are lucky indeed.

I see them all time, including in international teams...


You can try pick up a collectable version of Clarrie Grimmett's book here:

Why don't people like Shane Warne or Anil Kumble coach cricket internationally? Its not like they have to be on a cricket field all the time any more.

Thanks Menno I'll have a look at that Smiling

There must be a problem in the Cape with producing spin bowlers - maybe that's why everyone is so obsessed by wanting to ban 99% of slow bowlers! It certainly doesn't seem to produce any world-class internationals though.

Despite my defence of other forms of slow bowling, especially in lower levels of cricket, I'd certainly encourage Jacques to spin the ball hard, because that is clearly his skill and passion. From his descriptions of the other slow bowlers he encounters, it doesn't sound as though they are very good bowlers. Full tosses, double bouncers etc. - that's not the type of bowling I am talking about. AB gets it, when he talks about control of length, accuracy of line, subtle changes of pace, surprise variations, patience, strategic thinking.

At 14 years old, Jacques is the same age as a leg spinner who plays in my Saturday league side, which is a developmental team designed to bring young players through into adult cricket. I've encouraged him to do exactly that, I set the right fields for him, and I bowl my negative stuff at the other end, so he can afford to go for a few while he practices his art and takes wickets. This week I wasn't there because I was on an Irish tour, and he took 1-50 - not so good! If I were banned, that would possibly happen to him every week.

Today, I popped into a cricket shop at the Elephant & Castle which is owned by a friend of mine and he has a young Middlesex Academy player serving in there. The lad is a left-arm spinner and plays county academy level. We compared Play-Cricket records (!) and I asked him what style he uses and he said either lots of flight and revs, or flat aimed a the top of leg stump, depending on the situation and the batsman. I can see this lad going far!

I'd like to say that, although I disagree with Menno on the subject of banning slow bowlers, I think his columns on the art of spin bowling are excellent.

Over and out.....

Andy Pye
I don't know if there is a problem in the Cape but I don't think so, I have heard of an amazing upcoming leg spinner that plays there.

The problem is not just in the Cape or the rest of South Africa but in the whole world! Boundaries are getting smaller, bats bigger etc and less and less young players want to bowl spin because they get whacked all over the park. Last year (when I was still developing accuracy) I conceded 6-8 runs an over and almost never got a wicket, my bowling average was around 100 or more. Now I have developed accuracy and I spin the ball as hard as I can, I have 7 variations and I have got much more control, my bowling average has dropped to 13 and my economy rate to 2.5.

But ask yourself: Would any other young players want to embarass themselves by going for a 100 runs per wicket and 6-8 runs per over for a year and practice 24 hours a day just to wait another 3 years before they are really at the peak of their success? I certainly don't think so, and that is the reason why great spinners are dissapearing.

>But ask yourself: Would any other young players want to embarass themselves by going for a 100 runs per wicket and 6-8 runs per over for a year and practice 24 hours a day just to wait another 3 years before they are really at the peak of their success? I certainly don't think so, and that is the reason why great spinners are dissapearing.<

It's funny really. Such dedication is of course to be admired. I've read Menno in the past saying that spinners these days have to do anything they can to keep themselves in the game - work on their batting, their fielding, be prepared to bowl at any end under any conditions. Do whatever you need to do to get in the side and get on to bowl. Get a toehold in the side, somehow.

Yet when the suggestion is made that one way to get a toehold in the side is to be able to bowl a good defensive option, you and he both chime "No, not that. Anything but that, You should be banned for doing that" Why? If it's hard to get in the side, do what the side needs, or what the skipper thinks he needs. The customer is always right. You can still introduce your variations into your spells as you practice them more and as you get more confident to bowl them in the match. But why be humiliated for three years in the interim? You sound as if you've got there, but by taking that route, a lot of potential spinners will fall by the wayside. And *that* is why spinners are disappearing.

Yes I'm in my 3 year now and I'm already very successful (usually its 4 years) but I didn't just get hit out of the park, I learned more about spin bowling, I practiced every day, I worked hard at everything and I did research and read books because I wanted to improve. It took 2 years and now I'm spinning the ball as hard as I can every ball with more than decent accuracy and I control 7 other variations as well. Now I'm in the process of getting a strong repeatable action and developing pin-point accuracy with it.

This is a long and hard way of learning and it requires patience and self-belief. We lose lots of young spinners every day because of it, but that's wat makes a good spinner invaluable to any side! The fact that there are so few of them that can spin the ball and turn the earth on the pitch to brimstone from the pure revolutions they generate and with accuracy. If every 3rd cricketer you met was a great spinner who developed his stock ball for 4 years it probably wouldn't even be regarded as an "art" anymore. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

The reason I don't believe that any young spinners should be encouraged to be "defensive" bowlers is because that wastes another chance to have a great spinner playing for their international team one day.

Let's say 10 out of 100 young upcoming cricketers are spinners, and there are a 1 000 000 cricketers in a country. (100 000 spinners) These spinners each have a chance to play for their country, but only if they do the hard work and go through that 4 year-process. Every 10 spinners that end up rollers are a huge loss that can be prevented by teaching all of them to develop fierce spin and then learn to control it. Its probably one of the reasons why S.A hasn't produced good spinners recently.

The more spinners that become rollers the bigger the chance that international cricket will suffer because of a lack in the spin bowling department. Why would you risk that?

Hi All

I think we must wind this topic up now.

There is certainly room for disagreement between spinners. And it's really good to see people so passionate about spin bowling. Imagine no one cared, that would be awful!

So, thanks to those that agree with me, AND those that disagree with me. It's needed. And most welcomed.

Besides, this is just a tiny little topic in the wonderfully complex world of spin.

Let's see if we can have another healthy debate on the next topic!


I have an interesting topic and I really have no clue about it and since your a spin bowling guru I thought you may have some ideas about this.

Its a bit complicated and difficult to explain but it goes something like this: if a ball is spinning 90 degrees side ways (I.e big leg break) and you look at it from above the seam would be horisontal, and if it was an undercutter you would see the shiny side of the ball, now what if the seam was halfway between the two?

Certainly it would have different aerodynamics since its part undercutter-part regular delivery, and what if you get the ball to be 45 degrees side spin and 45 degrees top spin whilst half-undercutting the seam, what would happen?

You can do this forwards or backwards, so the seam can be slanted towards the batsman when seen from above or towards the bowler, this ads a whole new dimension to spin bowling but I have no clue what new effects it might have on the ball!

Does anyone else know what this can do and how you can achieve it?

I agree with Menno that we must now wind this up. The Ashes are starting in a couple of hours. So this is my final contribution - really! On the subject of maths....

>Let's say 10 out of 100 young upcoming cricketers are spinners, and there are a 1 000 000 cricketers in a country. (100 000 spinners) These spinners each have a chance to play for their country, but only if they do the hard work and go through that 4 year-process. Every 10 spinners that end up rollers are a huge loss that can be prevented by teaching all of them to develop fierce spin and then learn to control it. Its probably one of the reasons why S.A hasn't produced good spinners recently.<

Here's my take on it, with a few assumptions here and there...

Take the same country with 1,000,000 cricketers in it.

Method A - everyone tries to be an international spinner
Develop firece spin and then learn to control it - graduation period 4 years

100,000 spinners = 5,000 spinners per year?

Pass rate: 1% = 50 spinners per year with international potential
Attrition rate: 99% fail to make the grade, get disillusioned and are lost to the game - 4950 non-players

Method B - encourage participation first, then progressive development

5000 spinners per year
50% go on to play cricket = 2500 players per year
50% drop out = 2500 non-players per year

Of the 2500 players, pass rate to become a fierce spinning international bowler is now 2% (still hard, but players are more encouraged to persevere through having a role in the game at an earlier point in their development) = 50 spinners per year with international potential

Leaves 2450 new players in the club game at lower levels

Comparison of Method A and Method B

(i) International Level = No change

(ii) Club Level : Method B gives 2450 more club players per year than Method A, worth about £245,000 per annum to the grass roots game if the average club subscription is £100. If the average lifetime of a cricketer in the game is 10 years, then the value of the lifetime subscription of these players would be about £2.45 million per annum.

Jacques, can you give us the direction of the spin axis in vector form? I can then tell you what effect the Magnus effect would have on the ball more accurately.

I just looked up "vector" and then "magnitude" in the dictionary and I'm still not sure what you mean. But I'll try to explain again: a right handed off spin bowler is bowling, let's use a ball with a white half and a red half, (156g) he holds it with the white side on the outside of his hand and bowls an off break, it's moving forwards in a straight line and it has been moving for 3 meters, currently it is suspended 3 meters in the air and it's still moving forwards at 50 kilometers per hour. As you look at it from the bowlers point of view you can see the seam in a semi circular position on the "top" half of the ball (the top half is the white half). The batsman can sees the seam in a semi circular position on the "bottom" half of the ball (the red half). From the right side (bowlers right hand side) of the pitch you can see the seam pointing 45 degrees upwards and to the left, and 45 degrees downwards to the right, it's rotating around this axis like an off break (to the right or clockwise) From the left hand side of the bowler and the pitch this is reversed except the white half stays on the top (tilted at 45 degrees) and the right side stays the bottom (also tilted at 45 degrees) and the ball is rotating in the same direction. From above the ball you can mostly see the white half and the seam half way between pointing at te bowler, or being horisontal, from above the rotation seems to be counter-clockwise because the seam isn't entirely horisontal.

This confuses me a lot but in very simple words: It's an off spinner that is half way between an undercutter and a clean side spin off break.

It would behave halfway between an offspinner and an undercutter, ie it would drift in the air (given enough revs), and then depending on the pitch would either turn like a weak offbreak or just skid straight on.

vector direction (1/2, 0 , 1/2) assuming x is direction of wicket, y is lateral and z is vertical.

Thanks AB

The difficult part is just that I'm a left arm chinaman and its a lot more difficult to bowl this delivery if you are a wrist spinner.

I did manage to do it once, and it drifted more than usual, (away from the right hander) and it skidded straight on, but I don't think it's worth it to practice getting this right. It's way to difficult and if you can mix side spin and back spin the mystery ball I invented works much better (the 60 degrees back spin 30 degrees side spin ball, I think they talked about it in one of the podcasts)

But you can do this both ways, in the example of the half-undercutter I gave I said the seam is pointing upwards and towards the bowler, but it can also be pointing downwards and towards the bowler, with an off break this is impossible but it might be less difficult for a leg spinner to achieve.

What different effects will this have? (Will it drift more more or less than the other delivery?)

hi i a leg spinner. I have capability to genrate big turns .I am facing a big problem these days that when i spin the ball harder the ball goes too full that batsman smash it for a massive six before it turns.please help me to correct this.
Also tell wether i shold decide a point on pitch on which i want to land the ball

Hi brother. The same problem was being faced by me also. Here is a solution which I tried myself and got success in it. First try to understand your problem. Your problem is that you are not able to pitch the ball accurately. That's it. Now in order to solve this, do the following. For two to three days, measure a pitch of 10 yards and try to bowl on the right spot as if batsman is playing on it. Once you think that you are doing it accurately, increase the measurement of pitch from 10 yards to 14 yards and follow the same procedure till you reach 22 yards. This will need a few days but Inshallah your problem will vanish forever. Good Luck.