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Spin Bowlers : What Is Spinning, and Who Are the Top Ten Players of All Time?

As a bowling method in cricket, spin bowling involves delivering a sluggish ball that can deviate significantly. A spinner is a bowler. This causes the ball to bounce off the pitch instead of straight, making it harder for the hitter to strike cleanly. The ball travels at a much slower speed than in fast bowling. A common spin delivery speed is 45–55 mph (70–90 km/h).


Classification Left-arm or right arm Finger spin or wrist spin The direction of spin of normal delivery Notable bowlers
Off spin Right Finger Left to right Jim Laker, Muttiah Muralitharan, Saqlain Mushtaq, Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin
Left-arm orthodox spin Left Finger Right to left Phil Tufnell, Ravindra Jadeja, Daniel Vettori, Rangana Herath, Shakib Al Hasan, Derek Underwood
Leg spin Right Wrist Right to left Abdul Qadir, Anil Kumble, Shane Warne, Mushtaq Ahmed, Shahid Afridi
Left-arm unorthodox spin Left Wrist Left to right Kuldeep Yadav, Brad Hogg, Paul Adams, Chuck Fleetwood-Smith

It is possible to spin the ball along an oblique horizontal axis using either the wrist or the finger action, depending on the spin bowler’s technique. The Magnus effect can also lead the ball to wander laterally through the air before it bounces with this type of spin. The term for this is drift.  Drift and spin work together to complicate the ball’s trajectory, causing it to veer in an unexpected direction upon impact.

spin bowlers

It is common for spin bowlers to bowl using an old, worn cricket ball. Fast bowlers need a fresh cricket ball, whereas spinners prefer a worn one because the worn one has a stronger hold on the field and produces more spin.  Additionally, when the pitch dries up and begins to crack and crumble, spin bowlers are more successful. Again, the spinning ball gets a lot more traction and generates a lot more variation. When the pitch conditions are favorable and the ball tends to drift more in the air, spin spinners who open the bowling are very uncommon. Twenty20 cricket, however, has made them more of a feasible alternative.

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The ‘taking the speed off the ball’ approach can also be utilized tactically with spin bowlers in shorter versions of the game, as well. For batters who rely on fast bowlers to score runs rapidly, this method works particularly well. Because spin bowlers have less intrinsic momentum, the batter has to use more power to get similar results.


South Asian bowlers have excelled in spin bowling. The subcontinent’s pitches aid spinners more than those in the rest of the world. Once pitch degenerates, the sooner spinners enter the scene. In Australia and South Africa, fast bowlers benefit more on surfaces that are firm and bouncy. During the match, they do not split apart too often. On the other hand, pitches on the subcontinent aren’t so difficult. They break up more rapidly since the grass doesn’t hold them together as well, which is good for spin bowlers.

Because spin bowling doesn’t require a long build-up, it is considered less exhausting than pace bowling. So in hot and humid sub-continental settings, spin bowling is more frequent as a means of conserving energy, especially in multi-day championships.

Although leg-spin is notoriously difficult to control, its ability to pluck up wickets makes up for its disadvantages in other areas.

Fly, Turn, Bounce, Drift, Dip!

Spin bowling is often described and judged by the qualities of flight, turn, bounce, drift, and dip by cricket pundits. It takes a lot of time and practice to learn all of these tricks to fool the batter. Even though spin bowling’s fundamental trajectory is two lines intersecting at an angle, the qualities listed above (and more fully detailed below) alter this “regular” trajectory into more asymmetrical forms.

After a pitch, the ball’s trajectory changes (e.g. 5-degree deviation after meeting the ground). The number and direction of the ball’s revolutions are both factors to consider. The location of the wrist and the finger affects the ball’s movement and rotation. While the batsman might be fooled by an unexpected straight ball now and then, spin variety is the most effective way to take wickets and trick the batter.

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Graeme Swann had the highest rate of turn among English spinners until Liam Dawson reached 35 rev/second, or 2100 rpm, which is considered a high rate of turn. Slower the ball, the more likely it is to divert from its intended path. For an offspinner, you must bowl from wide of off-stump to get the ball to turn into the right-handed batsman and make them nick the ball to a fielder or into the top of off-stump.

spin bowlers

Increase the height of the ball’s impact with the batsman by increasing the ball’s bounce. The batter may not be able to make contact with the ball if it is spinning horizontally (such as a slider), in which case it may reach the stumps before the second bounce.

Getting the ball to drift while in the air is known as drifting. Because of the batsman’s inability to cover the correct path, the ball may strike him on an edge of the bat.

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Making the ball travel a shorter distance than typical before it reaches the ground. The batsman’s misjudgment of the ball’s length is caused by a late dip.

Flight: extending the time the ball spends in the air before being pitched by tossing it up higher than usual. When a batsman sees an additional fly on a slow ball, he may misjudge his shot because he thinks the ball is slower than it is. Offspinners will benefit greatly from this. It’s common for a spin bowler to employ several tactics during flight to get their desired results.

Leg spin

In cricket, a spin bowling technique known as leg-spin is used. Wrist spin is used by a leg spinner to bowl right-arm. This type of bowler’s usual delivery causes the ball to spin from right to left as it bounces off of the pitch Leg break is the moniker given to a right-handed hitter who swings away from the leg side.

spin bowlers

Leg spinners are known for their leg breaks, which they change by altering the line and length of the delivery and the ratio of sidespin to topspin. For the most part, leg spinners employ a variety of flight modifications, such as looping their ball in the air such that any cross-breeze and the aerodynamic effects of the spinning ball can cause the ball to droop and drift before spinning quickly or “turning.” Leg spinners may also bowl googlies, which spin in an opposite direction.

Different sources use the phrases “leg-spin,” “leg spinner,” “leg break,” and “leggie” in somewhat different ways.

In the history of Test cricket, leg spinners Shane Warne and Anil Kumble rank second and fourth respectively in terms of wickets taken.

Warne’s Ball of the Century is a well-known example of leg-spin.

Best Spin Bowlers of 2022

  • Tabraiz Shamsi – South Africa.
  • Rashid Khan – Afghanistan.
  • Ashton Agar – Australia.
  • Adil Rashid – England.
  • Ravindra Jadeja – India.
  • Mujeeb Ur Rahman – Afghanistan.
  • Adam Zampa – Australia.
  • Ravichandran Ashwin – India.
  • Yuzvendra Chahal – India.
  • Ish Sodhi – New Zealand.

Ten of the Greatest Spin Bowlers of All Time

1. Muttiah Muralitharan

2. Shane Warne

3. Jim Laker

4. Abdul Qadir

5. Bishen Singh Bedi

6. Saqlain Mushtaq

7. Anil Kumble

8. Erapalli Prasanna

9. Daniel Vettori

10. BS Chandrasekhar


Both finger and wrist spin bowlers employ a variety of spin angles to confound and dismiss the batter. Many of these variants have exact analogs in the opposite discipline, but the terminology used for the distinct delivery may be different.