The Art of Flight: How to Deceive the Batsman with More than Spin
What spin bowler hasn't heard these clichés in his cricketing career?
"Toss it up" the young spin bowler is so often told. "You've got to flight the ball, give it some air, and get it above the batsman's eye line".
The problem is that experience soon teaches that simply lobbing the ball up in the air does not suddenly make a competent batsman turn into a tail end bunny. Whilst the advice may be well meaning, it completely misses the point. Flight is about deception. There is nothing deceptive about simply bowling the same ball but slower and with a higher trajectory.
The art of spin bowling is the art of deceiving the batsman as to what the ball will do. This comes in two parts: we are able to confuse him when the ball pitches by making it turn. It might turn a small amount, it might turn a large amount or it might turn the other direction entirely.
We are also able to use the same set of techniques to deceive him as to where the ball will pitch in the first place.
This is flight: the art of deceiving the batsman as to the exact location where the ball will pitch.
Well, first and foremost we use the same technique we use to make the ball turn: by spinning it hard. In the case of flighting the ball, this primarily means using topspin and backspin.
These make use of the Magnus effect to change the trajectory of the ball as it travels towards the batsman.
- Top spin will make the ball drop more quickly and land further away from the batsman than expected. Imagine a tennis player playing a top spin shot with his racquet, hitting over the top of the ball. You can apply this same spin on a cricket ball. How you do it will depend on whether you are a finger spinner or wrist spinner but the effect of spinning “over the top” is the same.
- Back spin will make the ball carry further and land closer to the batsman. Our tennis player would slice underneath the ball to make the shot. Again your method for doing this will vary but think ‘slicing under the ball’ to create the effect.
Using the two in combination makes batsman completely clueless as to whether to play forward or back to any given delivery.
Work on these effects in the nets, and in the next part I’ll show you how to combine them with changes of pace and variations to maximise batsman confusion. Get the free email newsletter to stay up to date.
About the author: AB has been bowling left arm spin in club cricket since 1995. He currently play Saturday league cricket and several evening games a week. He is a qualified coach, and his experiences playing and coaching baseball often gives him a different insight into cricket.
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Shouldn't there be caveats attached to these articles? Surely if you're suggesting that the wrist spinner takes up Top Spin, he's doing so off the back of deciding that his Leg Break is adept enough to move forwards and learn the next variation? If he's at that stage, he'd be bowling the ball with more over-spin with his Leg Breaks alongside his 90 degree and 45 degree spun sub variations and therefore wouldn't be simply bowling the ball with no spin in a loopy fashion?
Or are you advocating that an aspiring Wrist Spinner who bowls seam up or some other method starts out with the Top Spinner as his stock ball? If so what's the rationale with that approach?
We're talking in general terms, and about both finger spinners and wrist spinners who have mastered their stock delivery to a decent level, and are looking for some ideas about developing some tools that they can use to take advantage of a batsman's approach and any technical flaws he spots.
The idea that a spinner has a set range of 4-5 discrete deliveries is the one that is taught in textbooks, but it is a false paradigm. Mixing his sidespin with either topspin or backspin, combined with changes in line, angle and pace, gives him an infinite range of subtle variations.
This article just discusses the basic physics behind the two deliveries, its not making any paricular stategic suggestion. For more tactical ideas on how to use these deliveries, see the followup article, or later articles to come through the spring.
Also, speaking as editor, it's very difficult to put a load of caveats into an article without making it flow badly. It's better to make some assumptions about who is reading this article rather than overtly state too much.
Good choice of link for the Magnus effect!
What was the other blog, and what did it say?
It's a Spambot AB, post deleted.
I thought it didn't make much sense!
I am a teenage leg spinner. Some days i find i can bowl on the exact line and length i want to. I can pitch my googly, top spinner and big leg break almost exactly where i want them and I can bowl 9 or 10 overs straight without the batsmen reading me.
But on other days i come on to bowl and after 2 or 3 balls i know i am not going to bowl well. I cannot pitch the ball where i want at all and the captain has to take me off after 3 or 4 overs with terrible bowling figures. Also if someone drops an easy and important catch off me my bowling can sometimes go downhill and i end up as before,
Can anyone give me any advice to improve my consistency or other advice in general? Thanks in advance. FB
2 simple questions FB:
1. How many balls per week do you bowl in practice?
2. How many of those are with a batsman?
Only about 2 hours and 45 minutes worth on an average week and almost all of them are with batsmen
How many balls would you say that is?
I would say that least 60 balls a week should be target bowling with no batsman. Record your accuracy (ie. 30 balls on target) and aim to increase this every week.
Thanks for the advice. ill try out some of your target practise drills
Yeah, try and get some bowling done without a batsman. One of the key things with Wrist Spinning is that it requires total focus. You'll find that your development will come on in leaps and bounds if you're able to relax and focus totally on what you are doing. Try and buy a load of balls from somewhere, cheap ones just to practice with. Get yourself out in a net or an outfield and just bowl them all up one end collect them up and repeat again. With say 12 or more balls (I have a bucket of 50) you're able to go straight to the next ball and figure out what you did right or wrong and quickly try and repeat it without anyone interfering. Get a bit of car mat and use it as a target. Move it around and land the ball on it and get it to turn.
Practice mate, see my comment elsewhere here. I have a bucket with 50 balls in and I try and get out 3 or 4 times a week and I'll bowl on average 100-150 balls each time. But some days as you've said, nothing comes together, this is usually down to a lack of focus and concentration. Philpott in his book, the art of wrist spin bowling says that if you're bowling without 100% total focus and concentration you may as well not even bother. Grimmett similarly used to have a wicket in his back yard and would bowl for hours alone.
Leg spin is a complex art but the way to master it is, as Dave says, amazingly simple: Practice again and again. It's called deliberate practice and you can find out about it here
Do you ever put a cone in front of the wicket to represent the batsman? I always find I can never find a length on an empty wicket, but as soon as I put a cone there I don't have a problem.
How does a finger spinner do backspin? I am SLA bowler.. i know top-spin, over-spin and side spin
Just allow your fingers to roll down the back of the ball as you release it, to a greater or lesser extent.
Im an SLA and i have a good stockie a top spinner and an arm ball. I usually get wickets but whenever i flight the ball i get smashed. I dont put enough turn on the ball when i try to do both it goes for a wide plz help
Where are you pitching it? Are you overdoing the amount of flight? Where are they hitting you exactly?
Flight is a subtle thing. If you toss the ball up extravagantly high, any decent batsman will hit it for four.
I used to bowl SLA i still do but I now bowl more side on and I flight the ball more pivot to righties i go around the wicket and aim on off stump I turn it and toss it without batsman picking me. How do you impart topsin on say an arm ball for example how I dont get it plz help. Is it good to bowl over the wicket to lefties outside off or on off and around for righties. I bowl a stockie turns a fair amount, a reasonably good arm ball, a straighter one for lbws which is use for righties, an undercutter a doosra/chinaman. How do I impart more overspin I seem to struggle I struggle on imparting it especially when I bowl a topsinner how do I get a good one cause I like Daniel Vettori bowl he mixes things so well. Do you think Ajmal is a good spinner, when imparting more top or backspin should I vary my crease entry also.
hi guys i have direct messages you on twitter about 2 weeks ago, but i havent heard anything?
i am a leg spinner. i get nice drift and dip when i bowl and have a good pivot, with this pivot it allows me to easily get the ball above the batsmans eyes, but i dont get much turn off the pitch, i get decent revs on the ball and use the shane warne two fingers up two fingers down grip and rip it off my third finger.i also have watched all shane warne vids, i look and think how does he spin it so much? i copied his action followed the tips. I release the ball as Shane Warne says with the back of the palm facing you. Is it...
pitch quality or finding the footholes or what. i know the pitch quality is hugely different. i want to get more spin, i have all the...variations(Leggy, Top-Spinner, Googly, Slider and developing a flipper). so they help get wickets i get lota of wickets with my leg spinner, but i would like more turn, if you knew how to get more spin, great! My stock ball picthes on mid-off and misses off ( normal turn) and sometimes i can pitch leg and miss off. 90% of the time is on mid-off missing off. (this is all on a real grass wicket) hope you can answer this thankyou! Appreciate the help.
i am a leg spinner. i get nice drift and dip when i bowl and have a good pivot, but i dont get much turn off the pitch, i get decent revs on the ball and use the shane warne two fingers up two fingers down grip and rip it off my third finger.i also have watched all shane warne vids, i look and think how does he spin it so much? i copied his action followed the tips. Is it...
pitch quality or finding the footholes or what. i know the pitch quality is hugely different. i want to get more spin, i have all the...variations so they help get wickets i get lota of wickets with my leg spinner, but i would like more turn, if you knew how to get more spin, great! My stock ball picthes on mid-off and misses off ( normal turn) and sometimes i can pitch leg and miss off. 90% of the time is on mid-off missing off. (this is all on a real grass wicket) hope you can answer this thankyou! I am desperate to improve my leg spin and want to be helped with it.
i am a off spinner...how can i do top spin??..can u hlp me?
Subdued a batsman with a leg break with a touch of backspin yesterday, landed fuller than expected...
didn't even need any turn because beating the batsman with flight is much more important;)
check out the video: cloverdale cricket spin bowling masterclass 2
Gavin Robertson shows how to bowl off spinners over spinner. Basically the back of your hand will now face mid wicket or square leg, rolling your fingers over the top of the ball, it is quite difficult, first practice throwing it, then bowling over short distances, but think gradual. Also it would help a lot if you kan keep your arm as high as possible when bowling this delivery.