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Ode to legspin


I cast a casual eye over Cricinfo this evening and my eyes were drawn to several articles on legspin. I make no secret of my firm belief that legspin is cricket's greatest artform (it's mere coincidence that I also happen to be a leggie). If fast bowlers are cricket's rock stars, then legspinners are the classical musicians. A virtuoso performance by a master like Warnie, weaving a melody of spin variations with a counterpoint of mental disintegration, is simply cricket at its most watchable.

The first article is Leg Spinners – A statistical assessment by S. Giridhar and V J Raghunath. Being an ex-physicist with a penchant for graphs and tables, surprisingly, this article left me cold. It looked at all Test legspinners who took at least 20 wickets, then juggled their stats around calculating log values and effectiveness indices. Lo and behold, they conclude Shane Warne is cricket's best legspinner. Whoddathunkit!

However, the same authors also penned this little gem, Leg Spinners: Stories and Anecdotes. It describes the origin of the googly followed by a delightful anecdote of Victor Trumper falling foul of just such a delivery:

If you have read Arthur Mailey’s “10 for 66 and All That”, you will immediately recall the unforgettable chapter on Mailey’s first encounter with the ‘immortal Victor Trumper’. After all his anxiety and suspense, Mailey had a chance to bowl to him. A couple of perfectly good leg breaks were driven with absolute authority to the off-side ropes. Realizing that he might not get another over, Mailey decided to try his then newly invented googly. He tossed it up and saw Trumper coming down the wicket. The ball swerved out (unlike the leg break which would have drifted in). Trumper, uncertain, made the adjustment to play it away from his leg but the googly sneaked through between bat and pad. Trumper didn’t attempt to regain his crease; he just smiled at Mailey, shook his head and said “that was too good for me, son” and walked away. Mailey says he felt no triumph - he felt like a boy who had killed a dove.

There's plenty more in there, celebrating cricket's greatest leggies. Most intriguing was the mention of the book "Getting Wickets" by Clarrie Grimmett. I'm very keen to get hold of this book which unfortunately is 80 years old and out of print. If anyone knows where I might get hold of a copy, please post a comment!


Posted by JC on Wed 25 Mar 58 comments
Thanks for the link, an excellent article. I don't know about "Getting Wickets", but I do have a copy of "10 for 66 and all that"...time for a re-read me thinks.
Posted by GoodCricketWicket on 2009-03-25 21:47:24
All this legspin love is kinda creepy.

I wouldn't mind if there was actually a decent one playing anywhere in world cricket!

Maybe we should just bite the bullet and ban anti-clockwise wrist rotation for right handers (and vice versa for lefties). At least we'd reduce the number of long hops in cricket. And lets face it - it's not like legspinners are athletic types, so they can get their pasty arses back inside the house, and let the sports people get on with playing sport.

I kid, I kid :-)
Posted by Hewy on 2009-03-26 17:53:29
Hewy, that kind of antileggite talk will not go over well at cricket-blog.com, we're very sensitive and protective about our wrist spin here :-)
Posted by JC on 2009-03-26 23:43:48
So appreciate for teaching me a lot! charmingdate
Posted by Maggic on 2012-12-07 03:47:23

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