Coaching Corner 18 – Wrist spin (Leg-spin)

Leg-spin was almost a dying art before the arrival of players like Shane Warne and Mushtaq Ahmed, who have given this style of bowling an amazing new lease of life.

The Australian in particular has an enormous repertoire of variations, all bowled with a similar grip and action, but dependent on different positions of the wrist at delivery.

The two main variations are the googly, which turns from off to leg, and the top spinner, which hurries through straight, but in Warne’s case there is also the “slider”, the  “zooter”  and leg-breaks with different degrees of turn and dip.  No wonder batsmen are bamboozled!

For the young leg-spinner, however, the first priority has to be control of the leg-break.  Introducing the variations too soon can be counter-productive.  Many a young bowler, having been introduced to the googly, with its different wrist position, has “lost” the leg-break.  For this reason, this section deals only with the leg-break.  When your coach thinks that you are ready for the googly, he will teach it to you.  The same applies to the top-spinner.

If you can pitch a hard-spun leg-break, you will get wickets.  This has to be your main aim and stock-in-trade.

The grip. 

See photograph

Grip the ball firmly and cradle it in the first three fingers.  There is a comfortable space between the first two fingers, with the top joints lying across the seam like the off-spinner, but not so far apart.  The third finger is bends towards the palm, at right angles to the first two fingers and acts as the main spinning finger.  The base of the thumb rests lightly on the ball, acting as a support.

Action

·         The ball is released as the wrist flicks open as if opening a door anti-clockwise and the third finger drags the seam from leg to off.

·         The basic action is similar to that for the off-spinner, but the delivery stride is slightly longer.  Nevertheless, keep the arm high.

·         PEP is the key word:

§         Power – from a full rotation of the shoulder

§         Energy – from the right hip driving through, though not as high as for the off-spinner

§         Pivot – on the ball of the front foot, to give the full rotation of the body (see previous sections)

·         All this is followed by an energetic and full follow-thorough to “get a lot on the ball”.  Don’t “lob” the ball.

Shane Warne  - a lot of energy, a braced front leg and good pivot.

Common faults

·         No energy in the delivery

·         Failing to follow-through properly

Training tips

·         Practise by bowling from a standing position into the side of a net from about five yards away. This will allow more repetitions and help you to groove the action.

·         Always spin the ball hard

·         Leg-spin bowling is productive, but the delivery is the most difficult to control – much harder than a seamer or off-break – so don’t give up.  Keep working at it and you will be rewarded handsomely for your efforts,