spin bowling

This tag is associated with 6 posts

Saqlain Mushtaq: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Saqlain Mushtaq is on terra firma with regards to the art of spin bowling.

What he said:

 “Why not? A person is made of this earth, which has not been discovered completely yet.”

Saqlain Mushtaq is confident that the doosra—the off-spinner’s googly—can be bowled legally without flexing one’s elbow beyond the stipulated  limit of 15 degrees permitted by the ICC.

Mushtaq said:

“I have always believed you can definitely bowl it with a legitimate action, working on various aspects of your body. You can bowl the doosra with your fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulder and you can even get it right with your foot positioning. Every individual has his own physique. If you don’t have strong shoulders you can execute it through you wrist and fingers and use elbow to bowl a faster one. In either case you have to have strong control over your wrist and ensure it doesn’t collapse. And without the kink you can safely bowl a doosra within the permitted flex.”

Mushtaq additionally believes that a new mystery ball can always be devised  and added to the craft of spin bowling.

He said:

Why not? A person is made of this earth, which has not been discovered completely yet. So when you start thinking and start experiencing deeply, then you start experimenting. And then what you produce, that is a real invention.”

What he really meant:

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust and God created man from clay. The earth and specially the seas have not been fully explored. And who knows what elements may still be discovered? Necessity is the mother of invention. We sub-continental chaps are about jugaad, my friend. We’ll make do somehow, 15 degrees or less.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“And Muttiah Muralidharan is made of plasticine.”

Kevin Pietersen: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Kevin Pietersen is utterly professional.

What he said:

“The IPL is professionalism taken to its logical extreme. All the bullshit and hypocrisy have been turned off.”

Kevin Pietersen has extremely positive things to say about Indian cricketer, Rahul Dravid, and the Indian Premier League (IPL) in his autobiography, ‘KP: The Autobiography’.

Pietersen writes:

“Rahul was a great and heroic Indian batsman in his day. He is also a genius at dealing with spin bowlers. Our conversations and emails were a private masterclass from a genuine guru.

Rahul improved my cricket and helped me develop the way I think about the game. His generosity will stay with me always.”

Rahul Dravid, the former captain of the Indian...

Rahul Dravid, the former captain of the Indian cricket team also represents Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dravid emailed him thus:

“KP, you are a really good player, you need to watch the ball and trust yourself… Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t play spin, I have seen you and you can!”

KP says:

“My playing of spin has gone up a number of levels since I’ve spent time in the IPL, and in particular, since I’ve spoken to Rahul Dravid…In England, batsmen get taught to play with the spin against spin bowlers. In India, the best players of spin get taught to play against it.”

On the IPL:

“The IPL is the future… I could talk about money and the IPL all day to you, but for the friendships alone I would play for free.

I’ve built all my relationships with foreign cricketers while in the IPL. That doesn’t help in the England dressing room… there are not many of those friendships.

There is a culture in India that appreciates if you double down and go for the big shot. It’s a game of cricket, not economics. Not life or death. Take a risk. IPL crowds don’t want to see you batting out singles as you pick and choose which balls to hit. Life is too short.”

What Pietersen really meant:

“All the bullshit and hypocrisy is turned off. Including mine. Or is that especially mine?”

What he definitely didn’t:

“The IPL players, coaches and specially the co-owners are professional in all respects, even the betting. Oye Sressanth, tell them.”

Ian Chappell: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Ian Chappell can walk, chew gum, gorge on spicy dishes and dispatch spin bowlers with appropriate disdain.

What he said:

“If you can walk and chew gum at the same time, then you can eat spicy food and also play spin bowling. The trick is to acquire a taste for the former and be taught the latter correctly at a young age.”

Former Australia skipper Ian Chappell is not convinced by Justin Langer’s specious explanation that playing spin is like eating chilli. One has to develop an appetite for it at an impressionable age to relish it.

Chappell writes:

“I acquired a taste for spicy food at 19 but learned to play spin bowling from about eight. I retain my enjoyment of spicy food to this day and those lessons I was taught as a youngster stood me in good stead as my career progressed, culminating in a few months at finishing school – a tour of India.

To me, it is at a young age that the real problem lies with modern Australian batsmen, and it is here that the roots of their disconnect with playing good spin bowling lie: the coaches overlook the correct footwork fundamentals.

The first things I was told about playing spin bowling were among the most important:

1) Don’t worry about the wicketkeeper when you leave your crease, because if you do it means you are thinking about missing the ball.

2) You might as well be stumped by three yards rather than three inches.

To make a real difference to a spin bowler’s length you have to advance a decent distance, and coming out of your crease only a little generally improves the delivery.”

He added:

“Playing spin bowling well is a state of mind. To succeed, a batsman has to be decisive, look to dominate, have a plan and not fear the turning delivery. Once I learned on the 1969 tour of India that because of the slower nature of the pitches you had a fraction more time than you first thought, and that when the ball turned a long way it provided opportunities for the batsman as well as the bowler, I never again worried about prodigious spin. I was often dismissed but I never again feared the turning ball; I looked upon it as a challenge to be enjoyed.”

What he really meant:

“Eating spicy food requires mouth-work and ability to roll one’s tongue. Playing spin bowling requires footwork and a sharp eye. You can do both because they exercise different body parts. Now, did you get my analogy?”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Spicy chewing gum, anyone?”

Narendra Hirwani: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Narendra Hirwani is quite a halwai (maker of sweets).

What he said:

“Many of my students at my academy in Indore tell me: ‘Sir, I have bowled 60 balls. Sir, I have bowled 50 balls today.’ I tell them: if you want to make cream, you have to condense it, and that only happens after boiling it for a period of time. A good rabri [sweet] is made only when the cream rises. For quality you need quantity.”

Narendra Hirwani asserts that young cricketers do not bowl enough in the nets.

Nagraj Gollapudi chaired five experts—Bishan Bedi, Maninder Singh, Narendra Hirwani, Murali Kartik and Amol Muzumdarin a far-ranging discussion that delved into the reasons behind the dearth of quality spinners on the Indian scene.

Hirwani added:

“I would bowl minimum of 90 overs a day as a youngster at the Cricket Club of Indore. I would bowl at just one stump for a couple of hours. In all, I would bowl for a minimum of five hours. If you are bowling at one stump you end up bowling about 30 overs in an hour. This kind of training, bowling at one stump, is equivalent to vocalists doing riyaaz [music practice]. You build your muscle memory.”

What Hirwani really meant:

“Practice does make perfect. You have to make spin bowling a secondary habit before you can add variety to your armor. Your fundamentals have to be sound.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Good coaches can incentivize young bowlers by offering them sweetmeats as rewards. The creamier the better. More malai (cream) and maalish (massage) for more majdoori (hard work).

Justin Langer: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Justin Langer has a mouthful of chilli.

What he said:

“It’s almost like Indians have chillies from a very early age, therefore if you eat chilli it doesn’t really bother you. But if we eat chilli, it burns our mouth, which is the same while playing spin.”

Perth Scorchers coach, Justin Langer, has an interesting analogy as explanation as to why Australian players struggle against quality spin bowling.

Speaking to CLT20.com, he said:

“No matter how much you try and prepare, it [playing spin] is very difficult.It’s like when India come to Australia, we have bouncier and faster wickets, which gets harder for them to play.”

He added:

“We are brought up on fast and bouncy wickets that swing around and not so much on spinning wickets. So when we come up here, it’s like eating chilli and it is hard to get used to it. I know in Australian cricket there is a focus in becoming better off playing spin bowling, but it is something that is going to take a long time to develop.

When you come here and you are not used to playing spin, and then you come out against world-class spinners like Sunil Narine and Mohammad Hafeez, you are always going to be tested.”

What he really meant:

“It might be easier to teach our guys to swallow hot peppers than have them move their leaden feet against top-notch spin.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“All quality players of spin are chilli eaters. And thus Mexicans (with their tabasco sauce) would be able to hammer Warney out of the park  any day.”

Sunil Gavaskar: A Contradiction In Terms, From Calypso King To IPL Flop


Australian wicketkeeper Rod Marsh in a changing room with Sunil Gavaskar of India, circa 1975.

Gavaskar , The Original Little Master

I have always been a huge fan of Sunil “Sunny” Gavaskar, the cricketer — the original Little Master.

When the rest of the world cowered under the barrage of bouncers and intimidating pace bowling unleashed by the marauding, rampaging Windies side of the late 70’s , 80’s and early 90’s, one man stood firm amidst the ruins.

That man was Sunil Manohar Gavaskar; thirteen of his 34 hundreds were against the mighty West Indians.

Another eight were belted against the Australians.

Whenever India played a series against the West Indians, we knew that as long as Gavaskar occupied the crease we were safe.

When the ace batter succumbed, the Indian team surrendered weakly as well.

At a time when India were making the transition from being mostly a spin bowling side to a pace bowling attack (thanks to another all-time great, Kapil Dev), we depended on the batsmen to save Test matches.

Bowlers win matches, batsmen save them.

This was a time in Indian cricket when a draw was always a noteworthy achievement; Indian sides rarely had the bowling strength to bowl out a team twice.

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