Friday, 13 April 2012

L is for...

Leg spin, obviously. What, it’s not obvious? Actually, the part where it isn’t obvious is one of leg spin’s attractions as part of the game of cricket. Leg spin, for those who don’t know, is when a relatively slow, right handed bowler puts spin on a cricket ball so that when it bounces, it will move away from a right handed batter. A leg spin bowler is one who does that most of the time, as their ‘stock’ delivery. They will usually have others, such as a top spinner (which will dip in the air and go straight on after pitching), a googly (a delivery that looks like the leg spinner but in fact involves turning the wrist right over so that the ball goes the other way) and the flipper (which is a faster, back spinning delivery).

One of the things I love so much about cricket is that it is a sport with room for players like specialist leg spinners. Yes, there are plenty of bowlers who run up and bowl at ninety miles an hour, bouncing the ball into people’s ribcages, but there is also room for someone who ambles in off a few paces and bowls the ball slowly, looking to deceive the batter. And it works. Of the three highest test wicket takers of all time, two are leg spinners, while the third is an off spinner (mostly moving the ball into the right hander, though with Murali, a big part of his arsenal was that he also had the ability to move the ball away without being picked)

When I occasionally try to persuade people of the virtues of the game, that’s what I like to emphasise. If I just try to point out the big hits and the fast bowling… well, baseball is bigger and faster. Cricket, however, is varied, and I hope it will always continue to be so, if only because I occasionally bowl this stuff, and I’d like to think that there’s a place for me.

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