Leg spin is the greatest bowling asset a captain can have. But the combination of lesser accuracy and greater variations means the leggie is also the most difficult to manage.
And that means it's easy to misuse the treasure of the wrist spinner.
Fortunately, there are three simple rules you can keep in mind as captain to help you get the most from leg spin.
1. There is no orthodox leg spinner
The classic caricature is that leg spinners buy their wickets by throwing the ball up. They combine getting hit all over the shop with unplayable balls nicked to the keeper or slip.
Although roughly right, the truth is leggies vary greatly in style and personality. The former fast bowler in the twilight of his career will fire it in more accurately with less turn. The young talent who can turn it square may not have the confidence to try his tricks.
Each spinner is different. Each one has a slightly different stock ball (flatter, loopier, turn, bounce), a different range or variations and a different personality.
That difference means the ball will go in different areas between leggies. There is no stock field.
So you need to make sure the field is set for this bowler and not another leggie.
For example; we have a leg spinner at our club with a well-disguised googly. It's vital for him to have a fielder behind square saving one on the leg side. Yet the position would be useless if he only bowled leg breaks outside off stump.
2. Be clear
More than any other bowler, the leg spinner needs to be clear on what his captain wants.
So many captains will just throw the leggie on somewhere in the middle of an innings because it's his turn. The strategy is no more complex than "if he gets hit he's off, if he takes wickets he stays on".
But that's not a clear role. That's captaincy by fear of failure and leg spinners tend to fail a lot (its part of the deal).
To give you an example, let's go back to our young club leg spinner. I give him free reign to try and take wickets, set aggressive fields and make sure he knows I will keep him on if he gets some tap.
I know I can afford this because at the other end I can bowl either a very accurate medium pacer or a flat, accurate off spinner. They keep one end tight while the leggie has his fun.
It's also important to let your spinner know when you want him or her to bowl. The tradition is to wait until the shine is off the new ball, but don't be afraid to try a spinner early, or leave it until late when you need to bowl the tail out to win.
It gives a spinner confidence to know roughly when he or she is going to bowl in an innings as well as wheat you expect.
3. Hold your nerve
This is the most important rule.
You have to have some guts to have a leg-spinner bowling the last over of a match where you need one wicket to win and they need five runs. The safe bet would be the seamer bowling straight and full. But where is the fun in that?
Be prepared to let your leg-spinner bowl within the clear role you set out for him.
Sure, if he is bowling nothing but rubbish you will have to take him off. But was that last over that went for eight really so bad? He beat the bat twice and both boundaries were hoicks across the line that almost went to hand.
It's easy to talk about sitting here, but in the heat of battle with the opposition closing in on your score and every wicket valuable can you hold your nerve?
For the sake of the art of leg spin, I hope you can.
image credit: Leo Reynolds