The Day I Understood Spin Bowling | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

The Day I Understood Spin Bowling

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

On one of those typical scorching hot South African summer days I was being smacked around the park. Not pretty.


That's OK I thought. Keep bowling the same. He will make a mistake soon.


"Look, he miss-timed that shot," I reasoned with myself. No worries. Keep at it.


This is not going well. Should I bowl flatter? Quicker? Wider? No, keep at it. Toss it up.


Ouch, that was big. Darting it in won't get me a wicket. And we only have 140 on the board. This is painful, but I just have to toss it up again, and rip it until my fingers bleed. It won’t help trying to tie the batsmen down. We need wickets.

And so I toss it up: A big, looping, fizzing delivery. The adrenaline and anger from being smacked around being put to use to spin the ball (and not dart it in).

The batsman's eyes lit up at a juicy full toss. He has already taken me for 20 from 4 balls and he is getting greedy wanting more. He can finish the game in singles with all the time left, but he wants boundaries. But, he is in trouble. It dips on him viciously. He judges the length wrong and has to play back at the last minute.

Caught off balance, the ball spits out of the dirt sharply, puff of dust flying, the cricket ball wraps him high on the glove, up it goes, “catch it” we all scream, and the keeper completes the catch.

And then I understood.

This is what I need to do. All the time. Toss it up even when you get smacked around. I need to be taking wickets and flight and spin is the only way to do it.

So, be brave, and toss it up high.

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great article! I had a question: how do i check if I have a good pivot and what drill could you recommend to isolate this?


Don't get me wrong, I love your articles - very educational. But I still think you have a one-dimensional view of slow bowling. Another way to get wickets is to apply scoreboard pressure and bowl maidens. No better way than to dart the ball in and strangle the batsman. I can't help thinking that I'd rather have my 3-11 off 8 overs last Sunday than your 1-20 off 1 over. Mind you, we were defending 197, so the scoreboard pressure was heavier.

Most amateur spin bowlers bowl far too slowly anyway. You can put more revs on it that a washing machine but if its dribbling down here at barely 40mph you're gonna be fetching it from the car park all afternoon.

@ AB - how do you know if you're bowling too slowly?

Tom - my thoughts on spin bowling pace.
I think you'll know when you start bowling too slowly!!! It's too slow when the batsman can easily double step the ball, hit it before it bounces or on the half volley, or get into position to play an innovative stroke like the dill scoop without any apparent risk.

There are lots of advantages for slower spinners, and also lots of advantages for quicker spinners. But you can't just pick a magically correct pace, there is no "perfect" pace for a spin bowler. Sydney Barnes was a medium pacer-spinner, Graeme Swann spins the ball at a quick pace, and there are also many successful slower spinners like Shane Warne.

You should actually have 3 paces: Your stock pace, which is the pace at which you get maximum revs. A slightly slower pace for more turn / confusing the batsman. And a quicker pace for rushing the batsman.

Add that to your already impressive repertoire of drift, dip, turn, bounce, skid, varying trajectories, and variarion in line, flight, and angle, and you will certainly be more effective.