The Art of Spin Bowling in cricket

The Art of Spin Bowling in Cricket


Bowlers play a key role in winning games in all formats of the game. The Art of Spin bowling is a combination of natural talent and hours of perfecting the skill during practice.

While Fast bowlers try to give the initial burst of pace and swing with the new ball, the game is more or less than controlled by spinners for most part of the innings after the baIl loses its shine. While the number of spinners vary in the playing eleven according to the playing conditions including pitch and weather, every team will back themselves with 1 to 2 spinners regardless of condition. Such is the role played by spin in the game of cricket.


Presented By: Raghunath Nair

Date: 15/06/2023


All the three formats of cricket rely heavily on the quality of bowling as Bowlers win matches and Batsmen defend or save matches

While Pace bowler’s main goal is to take quick wickets, spinners play the dual role of containment and wicket taking in the game.

Being a less demanding trait physically as compared to fast bowling, spinners are required to bowl long spells at an economical rate.

As compared to Fast bowlers, it is easier to plan for a spinner to control and execute a game plan to outfox the batsman with their skills

Types of Spin Bowling in Cricket

According to conventional spin bowling, spin bowling are broadly of two types, finger spinners and wrist spinners.

Types of Spin Bowling

Right Arm Off Spin Bowling

Right Arm Off Spin Bowling

This is also called the off-break bowling. It is the natural delivery grip of a finger spinner that enables a right Arm bowler to pitch the ball at the off-stump line and move inwards towards a right-hand batsman after pitching.  Being a natural grip, it is an action which gives the most control in spin bowling

Apart from the conventional off spin, modern day bowlers add different varieties to their repertoire to keep the batsman guessing and restrict them from playing pre-determined shots


The Arm Ball: There is no significant change in the action, but the bowler is able to use his fingers and wrist to restrict the ball from turning after pitching and allows the ball to continue the same line of the delivery



Top Spin: Again,  this action for an untrained eye will have no significant change in the bowler’s action but the ball will be delivered with an extra loop to be able to extract extra bounce

Left arm orthodox

It is the mirror image of the right arm offspinners bowling action delivered by a left arm bowler. The ball with the left hander’s natural grip will move away from the right-hand batsman after pitching.

Left arm orthodox also will have similar variations of the Arm bowl and Top spin as mentioned above


Both Right Arm Off spin and Left arm Orthodox are finger spin


Leg Spin

Right Arm Off Spin Bowling

Leg Spin is probably the more difficult of the skill as compared to off spin as this requires involvement of wrist and difficult to control.

Here the ball moves away from the right-hand batsman after pitching.

The wrist bowler is able to extract more turn from the surface of the pitch due to the bowling action and hence a popular style of bowling made famous by the GOAT Shane Warne.


Traditionally the wrist bowlers are considered wicket takers and not necessarily used to contain runs.


Due to the unique bowling action and use of wrist, leg spinners tend to have more variations which also lead to losing of control. The bowlers rely heavily on the flight, loop, drift and pace of the delivery to deceive the batsman apart from the length of the delivery. This leads to the bowler beating the batsman in the air and of the surface


Some of the variations include

Googly: With wrist work, the bowler is able to move the ball into the right-handed batsman after pitching.

Flipper: Similar to the arm bowl but bowled with a slightly faster speed , the bowl tends to skid through and maintain the direction of the delivery after pitching

Pace variation in spin bowling plays a vital role and bowlers need to adjust their delivery speed according to surface to become more potent

The degree of turn depends on bowler to bowler according to bowling action and style.

Great Spinners had a natural loop and drift in the air before the ball pitched which became a variation by itself to deceive batsmen.


Left Arm unorthodox (Chinaman)

Left Arm unorthodox (Chinaman)

A left arm bowler using a wrist spinners action and mirroring a right arm leg spinner is a rare and unique sight. Here the ball moves into the right-hand batsman after the pitching in the conventional wrist spin action and moves away from a right-handed batsman if a googly is bowled.

Leg-spinners usually have more variations than the off-spinners, who usually depend on the flight and trajectory to pick up wickets.


Famous Spin Bowlers:

Spinners are the masters of deception in cricket. They are an asset for whichever team they play. While fast bowling relies on strength and speed, spinners have to be more technical and clever in tactics.

Supersports360 team lists the top spinners of the modern era after an extensive research for their top spinners of all time.


Shane Warne

Shane Warne

After Don Bradman, the cricketer who came near to have a similar celebrity status was the legendary Shane Warne. A master of his skill, a true trend setter and solely responsible to revive the art of Leg spin.

Shane Warne is Australia’s leading wicket taker with 708 wickets and the second highest in the world.

History will remember Shane Warne as the greatest spinner of all time purely because he dominated his skill in batting friendly conditions too. He delivered the “Ball of the century” dismissing Mike Gatting in the ashes series.


Shane Warne had more variety than any of his contemporaries during his playing days and ended up his International career with more than 1000 wickets.

Warne’s leg-spin and flipper were particularly lethal, and he ended up taking more than 1000 wickets in his international career.

Warner has 708 wickets in 145 Tests and 293 ODI wickets in 194 matches.

Muttiah Muralitharan:

Muttiah Muralitharan

Murali as he was fondly called by all is currently the highest wicket taker in both test and ODI a truly unique feat. He was effective both in

While critics consider that Murali was successful because he played in spin friendly Asian wickets. His performance in away test match is equally impressive with 307 wickets with a healthy average of 27.80.

Murali finished his international career with 1,334 wickets.

When it comes to spin-bowling, Muttiah Muralitharan will always be considered the best spinner in the world of all time.


Anil Kumble: Best Indian Spinner

Anil Kumble

Anil Kumble is India’s highest wicket taker with 619 wickets and the fourth in the overall list in the world only after Muralitharan, Shane Warne and James Anderson.

Anil Kumble used his height for his advantage to get the extra bounce and developed a fast leg break which became his trade mark bowling style.

He was never a prodigious turner of the cricket ball like Shane Warne or Murali but he probably was the most accurate bowler hence effective as an attacking bowler in Test and ODI

Anil Kumble equalled  Jim Laker’s record of ten wickets in an innings . Kumble had 956 international wicket in his illustrious career.


Players who have had a lasting impression as spinners in the game are


  • Daniel Vettori
  • Saqlain Mushtaq
  • Harbhajan Singh
  • Abdul Qadir
  • Lance Gibbs
  • Ravichandran Ashwin
  • Rangana Herath


In conclusion, unlike pace bowling, spin bowling is a clever art of deceiving the batsman in the air and off the surface. Spin bowling requires skill and sound bowling technique. While some are natural at the sport, spin bowling requires hours of practice and hardwork to become successful.

Spin bowlers dominate especially if there is wear and tear on a dry wicket with low bounce. If none of these conditions are present spinners look to hold the run rate down from one end to allow pace bowlers to bowl with regular intervals. This allows pacers to be fresh and bowl multiple spells. Spinners are most effective with a slightly older ball with a pronounced seam.

In Modern Cricket, spinners are effective even in the shorter format game and captains bring in their spinners as an aggressive move to attack the batsman

Spinners play significant role in subcontinent wickets as compared to England, New Zealand  and Australia. Batsmen from the subcontinent wickets tend to play spin better. Subcontinent Teams prepare slow and dry wickets for home series which always draws unnecessary media attention.

Super Sports Observation:  The World test championship played as a one-off test to determine world champions tend to give undue advantage to teams who have weakness against good spin bowling as the championship is played in England, which will favour swing more.

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