West Indies in England 2012 June 7, 2012

Can Narine outlast the mystery?

West Indies cricket has been playing a nauseating film noir movie on loop for over a decade now
46

West Indies cricket has been playing a nauseating film noir movie on loop for over a decade now. The one thing they’ve been missing is the exciting, quirky, deformed character that steals the focus. In cricket, no one does that better than a mystery spinner. Just the term mystery spinner gets people ferociously excited.

One tweet was it all it took for me to get my twitter followers fired up. The press box also got engaged. All I’d done was try to remember the name of the Australian part-time spinner who bowled a doosra as a party trick without ever trying to make a career out of it. I received blank stares from many in the press box, and from twitter names were flung at me. Some odd, like Clarrie Grimmett and Bishan Bedi. Even Colin McCool was mentioned. Probably, just because someone wanted to say Colin McCool.

Eventually it was Mike Atherton in the press box, and former Notts finger spinner Paul McMahon on twitter, who correctly named Jack Potter, the Victoria batsman-cum-spinner from the 1960s. I say spinner on purpose, as ESPNcricinfo and Cricket archive both have him down as a legspinner, but the stories are that he bowled off spin.

Jack Potter may in fact be the ultimate mystery spinner, as he never even played a Test, hardly bowled at all, was rumoured to have shown Warne the flipper, and according to Richie Benaud and Wally Grout, had an offspinner that went the other way. Yet for all the talk, stories, and interest, he took 31 wickets in 104 first-class games at an average of 41. Presumably some with doosras, others with flippers, and the rest from another ball he invented while playing Yahtzee.

Yet here we were, 44 years since Jack Potter played first-class cricket, and people were still talking about him. Mystery spinners, even the part-time ones, do something weird to cricket fans.

As is the case with Sunil Narine, who really doesn’t need a Mohawk to get attention.

I’m a sucker for any spinner. But throw an air of mystery and the unknown into the mix, and I go a bit crazy. This is possibly why during one of those conversations that you don't entirely think through; I said that Sunil Narine could be the best spinner in the world at the moment. It’s a pretty big call at the best of times, but the fact I said it to an ECB employee who is also a friend of Graeme Swann made it even more explosive. A predictable argument followed.

His perfectly sound theory was that no one who hadn't played a Test could be thought of that way. My less sound, but still reasonable theory was that mystery bowlers could only be at their best when no one knew how to pick them, and that is right now for Narine. That while players like Vettori, Swann, Herath, Lyon and others had proved themselves on the world level, Narine was probably at his absolute best right now. And I think that best could be as good as Johnny Cash at San Quentin.

Of course I could be wrong. Narine has only played six first class games, and in a poor quality domestic competition. My assertion of how good he is can only be based on the cricket I've seen him play. In the Champions League he looked a class above. Against Australia he looked like a potential home-wrecker. And in the IPL he was the best bowler in the whole tournament.

Yet, even I have to admit there have been spinners before who have bowled well in limited-overs cricket when the opposition is trying to score or smash every ball, who struggle when the batsmen play patiently in Test cricket. That could happen to Narine, but I don’t think it will.

Narine's one magic trick is a delivery that spins away from right-handed batsmen, that no one seems to be able to pick from the hand. That is not something that should only work in the limited-overs slogfest, that should work in every form of cricket, against every type of player, on almost all surfaces around the world. To virtually all batsmen who have faced him, how to pick the ball that spins the other way is a mystery, and that makes him deadly.

Mysteries don't last forever. Once upon a time Bernard Bosanquet's wrong ‘un was seen as a mystery, but batsmen worked out over time that a wrong'un had more of the back-of-the-hand facing them than a normal leggie. Of course , Abdul Qadir claims to have two wrong uns (at least). One, that eagle-eyed batsmen can see, and another called a finger wrong un that he has only ever passed down to Imran Tahir and Shahid Afridi because its power is deadly. Without Qadir talking, passing it on to me directly, I assume it is the same or similar to Anil Kumble's wrong un that is held between the thumb and index finger and doesn't show the batsman the back of the hand.

Then there is the flipper, a delivery that seemed to be handed down like a legacy to Australian leggies, in eager anticipation of the one with the skills to use it best. In the mid 90s it was a ball that batsman feared more than a snake in their pillow case. By the late 90s most top-order players seemed to have a handle on it and Warne was using his slider, which had much less of a reputation, but probably got far more wickets for him

The doosra was invented (unless you count ol’ Jack Potter’s) by Saqlain Mushtaq. Mushtaq, like creators of Golems, was eventually brought down by the very thing invented to protect them. The doosra is now the staple of several bowlers around the world. And while is legitimacy is often questioned, it seems weird that batsmen claim they can see the arm bend more than 15 degrees on a doosra, yet so many of them still don’t seem to pick the delivery itself.

Then there was perhaps the most intriguing mystery spinner of them all, Jack Iverson. Flicking the ball from Hercules-like fingers like a kid playing with marbles, he predated the carrom ball, and got the ball to spin in both directions while doing so. He only played five Tests, yet Gideon Haigh wrote a whole book about him, and the famous photo of Iverson's grip is as good as any image from any horror film. Iverson didn’t last long, but like the Velvet Underground, he encouraged others. John Gleeson was one. Gleeson was not as devastating as Iverson, but the English players had a lot of trouble with him. There is the legendary, and perhaps apocryphal story, that Boycott had worked out Gleeson, but didn't tell the rest of his team-mates so he’d look better.

The very best of batsmen, like Boycott use very low fi ways of working out mystery spinners. The Australians decided that if they played Saqlain Mushtaq like a leg spinner, not an offspinner, so they'd be able to handle his doosra. Paul Adams bowled his legspinner and wrong un at two different vastly different speeds. Even Murali early in his career would bowl his doosra from wider on the crease giving alert batsmen a chance to spot it. There are many tells that help batsmen. A ball that spins usually drifts in the opposite direction. It also has to be pitched in a different place. Some batsmen can see which way a ball is spinning before it lands. And of course, it comes out of the hand differently in the first place.

At the moment it seems no one can pick Narine out of the hand. He bowls a mixed seam so it’s hard to tell which way the ball is spinning, his pace and position don’t seem to vary, the ball doesn’t drift much for him, and his position on the crease isn’t an obvious giveaway. Perhaps only his placement of the ball tells you which way a ball is going to spin, but even then, if that’s all you’ve got to go on, you’re rolling the dice on each delivery.

That doesn’t mean that he will be the best spinner in the world for the next ten years. It may mean for a short while he will be virtually unplayable, and then may just fade away.

Logic would suggest this is the case. Ajantha Mendis is the obvious modern story of a mystery spinner breaking onto the world stage. In Mendis’ first four Tests he took 33 wickets at an average of 18. And that included three Tests against India. He was a sensation. His carrom ball was unpickable to the Indian players, and most other international players. According to many he was to become the next Warne, Murali or Kumble.

But the modern world got hold of Mendis. Unlike Gleeson, no players kept their secrets about Mendis. Because of the IPL, many players discussed the Mendis’ giveaway of his carrom ball. Which had first been picked up by video analysis. This giveaway was simply that when he bowled the carrom ball, unlike his other deliveries, he kept his fingers up like accidental antennas that alerted the batsmen of his intention. He was caught in the modern age of super slow replays, Youtube and the IPL helping players share secrets.

In Ajantha Mendis’ last next 12 Tests he took 29 wickets at 48. He is still a handy limited-overs performer. But was overlooked for the World Cup final and hasn’t been a regular in the IPL for quite some time.

Mendis was all mystery. His problems is that while he is a spin bowler, he doesn’t spin the ball much at all. He has virtually no drift, doesn’t drop the ball, and never beats batsman in flight. He is essentially a slow medium pacer who can move the ball slightly in both directions with a bit of help from the pitch. And his biggest problem is that his stock ball is not dangerous in the slightest. Without a stock ball that creates danger, you’re always going to struggle in Test Cricket.

Narine seems more like a spinner, who has some mystery to him right now. Narine has a brilliant stock ball. So brilliant that the first time I saw his carrom ball, I thought he should bin it, because it just limps off the pitch away from the right-hander whereas the offspinner of Narine is brutal. It rips and bounces. Even without a mystery ball, you can see why Narine would be a handful. It’s also just more than what he can deliver, it’s his poise and intelligence that stick out. He seems to bowl differently to each batsman, almost using their ego or batting stlye to his advantage, like some cunning super-villian. It is old school spin bowling.

I think Narine can survive and even prosper once his mystery is unlocked. But maybe I just want to believe that West Indies have a bowler that can win Tests for them for the next decade. The fear is that he will be a guy who can take a few wickets and be nothing more than a quirky little character actor in this long running dark period in the West Indies. They need a hero, or even an anti-hero, and I’m betting and hoping that Narine can be that guy while solving a lot of their problems.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Indar Singh on February 19, 2013, 6:35 GMT

    Then there is Harold Joseph. Another kid from Trinidad that no one could pick. He was from Arima the same town where Sunil Narine lives. Boycott had lots of problem with him and have said in one of his books that he kept trying to take a single so that the other batsman would have to deal with Harold Joe. Only at that time West Indies did not care to have spinners because of there policy for pace bowlers. They only wanted spinners who could bat like a from line batsman. Very bad policy that is still prevalent till the recent years.

  • jito singh on February 19, 2013, 0:01 GMT

    is a shame that narine is getting the attention he does not deserve i think beshoo and pamaul and nikita miller are better bowler than narine i will agree the 20 20 he have the edge check the record narine went to bdash he fail aust he fail only in the caribbean he get a few wkits narine is not a bowler for the longer game

  • jaswant behari on October 11, 2012, 22:16 GMT

    The mechanics of the arm with simultaneous rooling of the fingers and may be a hitch of the body.Its a natural art plus the help of innovation that create the mystery feared by every batsman.In the advent of time most were cleared like hanging clouds and the magic was gone,but before then jubilations in the middle were high.Shane Warne the most remarkable,Murli the wizard,Gibbs, Bedi ,Venkat and so many,but on the scene ripping through every turf and any team is Sunil Narine.Seems like a boy just out of school,but in the middle he has sent master batsmen back to the comfort of their dressing room.Lets look while the saga last.

  • Kemar Kirby on October 9, 2012, 3:01 GMT

    as the writer said. the stock ball of narine would make him more effective for longer than mendis. that is important. the stock ball is what made shane warne dangerous along with flight. if u are not able to deceive batsmen in flight u wont last in test cricket. even if a batsman is reading whats coming from a bowler from the hand or difference in action. if the batsman is beaten in flight, the batsman will have problems. narine gets the ball to dip and turn sharply which mendis doesnt have. if the stock ball is dangerous the pitch will present alot of variations to trouble a batsman especially if its dry. the stock ball ball is key along with flight. thats what made murali and warne dangerous

  • danoz on July 7, 2012, 9:48 GMT

    if you bowl the gleeson/iverson grip,as a off break it becomes a leg break,if you bowl it as a leg spinner it becomes a off break,if you bowl as a medium pacer it becomes a top spinner. this ball has huge potential in the fast bowlers arsenal with medium pacer grip and flicked out and last moment with his ring finger imparting top spin and dip on the ball. i have trouble taking my bowling from the nets into games,almost every captain i ever had tells to cut out the fancy stuff and just bowl off breaks,i havent played the last couple of years but am hoping to play this years.

    as for mystery spin,each year i come up with something new,but by the end of the summer my brother can pick it,

    my brother bowl outswingers off 20 pacers never been timed but its quick,bowls leg spin with wrong uns,toppies,flippers and an unpickable slidder and has a lot more subtle variations than me and bowls off breaks with a u.f.o ball,toppies and traditional offbreaks and arm balls which are lot more subtle

  • danoz on July 7, 2012, 9:32 GMT

    i also bowl bill o'riellys(leg spin off 15 pacers)

    i bowl it all with medium pacer grip

    most fast bowlers bowl the back of the hand slower ball which is bowled at the 180 degree, if they could bowl the same baal at the 90 degree the ball would turn like a leg break,i also ball the ball at 180 degree and try to beat them with dip.

    if you bowl the ball at off stump with the 90 degree leg spinner with the ball turning away,you then bowl the iverson ball(a wrong un(flicked out with the ring finger( with the index and middle fingers on the ball and flicked out with the ring finger)rana the pakistani bowler bowls a slower which comes out of the back of the hand and it turns to the off like a wrong un

    it also gives you a fast ball bowled with medium pace grip,you can also bowl bouncers(apparently bill o'rielly had a good bouncer)

    using the medium pacer grip,but by putting thumb on inside of the seam you can bowl inswinging yorkers,i carnt a out swinger to save my life.

  • danoz on July 7, 2012, 9:04 GMT

    i also bowl leg breaks,i bowl leg breaks with a medium pace grip(2 fingers each side of the seam) and bowl it at 90 degrees so it has side spin and turns,you bowl it at the 180 degrees it has pure top spin dips but doesnt tun,and bowl it in between the 90 degrees and 180 degrees it becomes a top spin ball that turns a little.

    i use the iverson ball as my wrong un using the bent ring finger to spin it out(by using the ring finger istead of the middle finger its better diguised),i bowl a flipper to,to bowl a flipper have a light grip and use 2 fingers on the outside of the seam(not either side like a medium pace,but both fingers on the outside of the seam) and click it out.

    i can bowl all these balls off 15 paces which i call bill o'riellys which i will explain

  • danoz on July 7, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    i have invented a second type flick spin instead of bending the middle finger i bend the thumb and index finger with my middle finger wraped around the ball,and you flick the thumb and index finger out at the same time,by bowling it naturally its a off break,by bending your wrist so your wrist faces the batsmen it becomes a top spinning doosra,by bowling the ball in between a arm and off break it becomes a flatter trajectary but still turns,and when bowled in the arm ball position because a back spinning off break. if you dont want the ball to spin you bowl the ball with a bent thumb and have you index and middle finger wrapped around the ball,and flick the ball out with your thumb,you bowl it naturally its off break that doesnt turn,bowl it with your wrist bent back so the wrist is facing the batsmen it becomes a doosra,and when bowl between the off break and the arm ball it becomes a flatter ball,and when you bowl a arm ball flicking the ball out it becomes a arm ball flipper

  • danoz on July 7, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    i have invented new deliveries,which i call flick spin.i bowl tradional off breaks and leg breaks,as well the iverson ball and the gleeson ball which means i can spin the ball 4 ways(ajanta mendis should develop a traditional off break and leg break),i bowl alot slower than gleeson,iverson and mendis(unless i bowl bill o'riellys,which is leg spin off 15 paces.

    the gleeson/iverson grip reverses the spin so a off spinner turns to the leg(gleeson ball) and the leg spinner turns to the off(iverson ball) and thiers is a 3rd ball when bowled as a medium pacer has top spin and dips.

    you can pick the gleeson ball by its backspin,the iverson ball is a bit harder to pick

    i dont use the same grip as gleeson(middle finger) instead i use the index and middle finger and flick them out at the same time.i dont use the same grip as iverson(middle finger)instead i use the ring finger which allow you to disguise it better.i can also bowl another kind of flick spin which i have invented,i will explain

  • jaswant behari on June 25, 2012, 14:38 GMT

    He started with great promise and enthusiasm ,but the tour of England has shown a steep decline to this expectation.Time is they key factor,he has to prove himself sooner than later.

  • Indar Singh on February 19, 2013, 6:35 GMT

    Then there is Harold Joseph. Another kid from Trinidad that no one could pick. He was from Arima the same town where Sunil Narine lives. Boycott had lots of problem with him and have said in one of his books that he kept trying to take a single so that the other batsman would have to deal with Harold Joe. Only at that time West Indies did not care to have spinners because of there policy for pace bowlers. They only wanted spinners who could bat like a from line batsman. Very bad policy that is still prevalent till the recent years.

  • jito singh on February 19, 2013, 0:01 GMT

    is a shame that narine is getting the attention he does not deserve i think beshoo and pamaul and nikita miller are better bowler than narine i will agree the 20 20 he have the edge check the record narine went to bdash he fail aust he fail only in the caribbean he get a few wkits narine is not a bowler for the longer game

  • jaswant behari on October 11, 2012, 22:16 GMT

    The mechanics of the arm with simultaneous rooling of the fingers and may be a hitch of the body.Its a natural art plus the help of innovation that create the mystery feared by every batsman.In the advent of time most were cleared like hanging clouds and the magic was gone,but before then jubilations in the middle were high.Shane Warne the most remarkable,Murli the wizard,Gibbs, Bedi ,Venkat and so many,but on the scene ripping through every turf and any team is Sunil Narine.Seems like a boy just out of school,but in the middle he has sent master batsmen back to the comfort of their dressing room.Lets look while the saga last.

  • Kemar Kirby on October 9, 2012, 3:01 GMT

    as the writer said. the stock ball of narine would make him more effective for longer than mendis. that is important. the stock ball is what made shane warne dangerous along with flight. if u are not able to deceive batsmen in flight u wont last in test cricket. even if a batsman is reading whats coming from a bowler from the hand or difference in action. if the batsman is beaten in flight, the batsman will have problems. narine gets the ball to dip and turn sharply which mendis doesnt have. if the stock ball is dangerous the pitch will present alot of variations to trouble a batsman especially if its dry. the stock ball ball is key along with flight. thats what made murali and warne dangerous

  • danoz on July 7, 2012, 9:48 GMT

    if you bowl the gleeson/iverson grip,as a off break it becomes a leg break,if you bowl it as a leg spinner it becomes a off break,if you bowl as a medium pacer it becomes a top spinner. this ball has huge potential in the fast bowlers arsenal with medium pacer grip and flicked out and last moment with his ring finger imparting top spin and dip on the ball. i have trouble taking my bowling from the nets into games,almost every captain i ever had tells to cut out the fancy stuff and just bowl off breaks,i havent played the last couple of years but am hoping to play this years.

    as for mystery spin,each year i come up with something new,but by the end of the summer my brother can pick it,

    my brother bowl outswingers off 20 pacers never been timed but its quick,bowls leg spin with wrong uns,toppies,flippers and an unpickable slidder and has a lot more subtle variations than me and bowls off breaks with a u.f.o ball,toppies and traditional offbreaks and arm balls which are lot more subtle

  • danoz on July 7, 2012, 9:32 GMT

    i also bowl bill o'riellys(leg spin off 15 pacers)

    i bowl it all with medium pacer grip

    most fast bowlers bowl the back of the hand slower ball which is bowled at the 180 degree, if they could bowl the same baal at the 90 degree the ball would turn like a leg break,i also ball the ball at 180 degree and try to beat them with dip.

    if you bowl the ball at off stump with the 90 degree leg spinner with the ball turning away,you then bowl the iverson ball(a wrong un(flicked out with the ring finger( with the index and middle fingers on the ball and flicked out with the ring finger)rana the pakistani bowler bowls a slower which comes out of the back of the hand and it turns to the off like a wrong un

    it also gives you a fast ball bowled with medium pace grip,you can also bowl bouncers(apparently bill o'rielly had a good bouncer)

    using the medium pacer grip,but by putting thumb on inside of the seam you can bowl inswinging yorkers,i carnt a out swinger to save my life.

  • danoz on July 7, 2012, 9:04 GMT

    i also bowl leg breaks,i bowl leg breaks with a medium pace grip(2 fingers each side of the seam) and bowl it at 90 degrees so it has side spin and turns,you bowl it at the 180 degrees it has pure top spin dips but doesnt tun,and bowl it in between the 90 degrees and 180 degrees it becomes a top spin ball that turns a little.

    i use the iverson ball as my wrong un using the bent ring finger to spin it out(by using the ring finger istead of the middle finger its better diguised),i bowl a flipper to,to bowl a flipper have a light grip and use 2 fingers on the outside of the seam(not either side like a medium pace,but both fingers on the outside of the seam) and click it out.

    i can bowl all these balls off 15 paces which i call bill o'riellys which i will explain

  • danoz on July 7, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    i have invented a second type flick spin instead of bending the middle finger i bend the thumb and index finger with my middle finger wraped around the ball,and you flick the thumb and index finger out at the same time,by bowling it naturally its a off break,by bending your wrist so your wrist faces the batsmen it becomes a top spinning doosra,by bowling the ball in between a arm and off break it becomes a flatter trajectary but still turns,and when bowled in the arm ball position because a back spinning off break. if you dont want the ball to spin you bowl the ball with a bent thumb and have you index and middle finger wrapped around the ball,and flick the ball out with your thumb,you bowl it naturally its off break that doesnt turn,bowl it with your wrist bent back so the wrist is facing the batsmen it becomes a doosra,and when bowl between the off break and the arm ball it becomes a flatter ball,and when you bowl a arm ball flicking the ball out it becomes a arm ball flipper

  • danoz on July 7, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    i have invented new deliveries,which i call flick spin.i bowl tradional off breaks and leg breaks,as well the iverson ball and the gleeson ball which means i can spin the ball 4 ways(ajanta mendis should develop a traditional off break and leg break),i bowl alot slower than gleeson,iverson and mendis(unless i bowl bill o'riellys,which is leg spin off 15 paces.

    the gleeson/iverson grip reverses the spin so a off spinner turns to the leg(gleeson ball) and the leg spinner turns to the off(iverson ball) and thiers is a 3rd ball when bowled as a medium pacer has top spin and dips.

    you can pick the gleeson ball by its backspin,the iverson ball is a bit harder to pick

    i dont use the same grip as gleeson(middle finger) instead i use the index and middle finger and flick them out at the same time.i dont use the same grip as iverson(middle finger)instead i use the ring finger which allow you to disguise it better.i can also bowl another kind of flick spin which i have invented,i will explain

  • jaswant behari on June 25, 2012, 14:38 GMT

    He started with great promise and enthusiasm ,but the tour of England has shown a steep decline to this expectation.Time is they key factor,he has to prove himself sooner than later.

  • Suresh Murugaser on June 11, 2012, 6:10 GMT

    Sure, he's great news at this stage for the Windies and cricket in general. However,there'll be always one stand-out performer in all forms of cricket as far as spin goes - the one and only Muttiah Muralitharan! Whether one likes it or not, he lasted so many years and got so many wickets in all conditions and against all batsmen! Truly, the Bradman (or is it Tendulkar now?) of bowlers!!

  • Dhanpaul on June 11, 2012, 0:09 GMT

    West Indies needs a hero and his name is Tino.

  • Samuel on June 9, 2012, 20:55 GMT

    Superb article Jarrod. Narine will do better than Mendis because, as you say, he actually spins his stock ball. From what I've seen, the way to pick Narine's knuckle ball is on flight - he seems to bowl his version of the doosra much flatter than his off spinner, but I'm certainly no Test batsman! For me, maybe it's time for the Windies to move on from pace - most of their pitches favour spin anyway, and with Narine and Shillingford, they could build a potent attack around them.

  • Devon M Louden on June 9, 2012, 20:06 GMT

    Interesting & analytical article & comments. The Windies however do not come this discussion on spin bowling without "Pedigree". They have produced 3 world class spinners the most famous of which was Lance Gibbs -the former record holder for test wickets taken, Sonny Ramadin & ofcourse the affable Alf Valentine. Young Narine is probably correctly classified as a mystery in the sense that one never knows how "the Mystery" will unfold. Clearly from a Windies perspective the hope is that he will prove to be as much & more of a match winner for the Windies as the three above.

  • Shaun on June 9, 2012, 14:58 GMT

    Im from Trinidad and played "windball" (tennis-ball) cricket with sunil for some years and ive been able to pick him. Im sure any quality "windball" player can pick sunil. It amuses me to see him make batsmen bow their head in shame from not picking him. when ppl starts to pick him i would give sunil at least 4 months before he finds another way to disguise his knuckle ball. as for sunil being the best spinner in the world ur doing saeed injustice lol.....BUT GREAT ARTICLE THO

  • jawad sarwar on June 9, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    how any article about spinners can be v.best without mentioning saeed almal my dear???can anyone explain it????

  • madan shrestha on June 9, 2012, 6:55 GMT

    i thnk narine cannot continue his mystery for long time bcoz he is new in int'l cricket and it is difficult to understand his action to the batsman and as the time pass on batsman can easily read his bowling action so he cannot continue his mystery bowling action..!!!!

  • Randy Bridgeman on June 9, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    As a Caribfan,I wish Narine well for the sake of our cricket. But let's not get caught up in all the hype which a new player on the scene possessing his considerable potential always seem to engender. As we all know, Test cricket is a different kettle of fish as compared to the shorter versions of the game. Here, one is usually going up against the best in each country.Opposing batsmen will watch tape on top of tape of Narine's past bowling performances which will be analyzed to the nth degree. They will formulate counter attack measures. It will be up to Narine once he makes his Test debut to stay ahead of them by constantly working on his bowling. He will not make it big on his pre-Test reputation. Test cricket offers the ultimate examination of a player's character, ability, temperament, skill set etc. If you're lacking, it will be exposed. You will fail the test and be confined to the "those who had ability but couldn't put it together" category which some unkindly term the scrap

  • Nikhil on June 9, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    Sunil Narine has been wonderful in the IPL and I feel he should go on and help the west indies vs england by completing the position of a lead spinner. He has been a mystery bowler and I think anyone who bats against Sunil Narine should get to the pitch of the ball completely and play to their strength.

  • Meety on June 9, 2012, 2:47 GMT

    When I started reading this, I thought why are you talking about Jack Potter, it should be Iveson & Gleeson? Then, I realised this was more than just a bang on about the flavour of the month. This is one of the best analysis on this site in ages. Plenty of evidence to back up the suppositions. Loved the lines "...just because someone wanted to say Colin McCool" & "...that Boycott had worked out Gleeson, but didn't tell the rest of his team-mates so he’d look better." (why does that NOT surprise????) & "...I think that best could be as good as Johnny Cash at San Quentin..." (i'm a man in black fan). Great read - well done! As for Narine, I hope he is as good as you feel he may be, I tend to think he'll fade (on the Test scene at least) as I think ODIs & T20s do the head in on spinners - just ask Harbhajan!

  • Devon M Louden on June 9, 2012, 2:35 GMT

    Very interesting analytical article & comments. I must however point out that West Indies does not come to the discussion on "World Class Spinners" without "Pedigree". Perhaps their three most prominent were Lance Gibbs (who for a while was test cricket's leading wicket taker)Sonny Ramadin & of course the affable Alf Valentine. Narine is probably correctly "labeled a mystrey at this time" in the sense that one never knows what will happen in mystery - time will tell whether young Narine can equal the test cricketing exploits of the three listed above & be a "Match Winner" for West Indies in Test Cricket.

  • ali bajan on June 8, 2012, 18:50 GMT

    Most of the Trini Tennis-ball Spinners who can bowl the Knuckle ball in tennis-ball cricket, might be able to pick Narine...

    Alas, none of those guys are likely to play 1st Class or ODI cricket. And not many who can pick that delivery are great batsmen.

    But the details of bowling the Knuckle ball with a hard-leather ball is an accomplishment. It is unbeleiveable that Narine can bowl it at all. He is not the 1st person to try (i've tried it myself, when Narine was probably in pampers), but he is the 1st person to succeed and have control over the delivery. The variations that you can apply to a Tennis ball, makes a 20 over match seem like Test cricket.(so difficult is the batting in Trinidad; LBW's are not given and teams still barely post 60 runs in a 10 over game) I wonder what other variations that are popular in Trinidad that Narine will apply to a Leather ball next ?

  • roger on June 8, 2012, 16:08 GMT

    well written with the type of critical analysis that demonstrates a sound knowledge of the gentleman's game. Enjoyed the witty approach to this sober topic... and a boycott story always amuses me. As a west indian and a countryman of Narine I have great expectations of him. Like Pip in the book of the same name I hope that my expectations are realised.

  • Vijay on June 8, 2012, 16:02 GMT

    Brilliant article on spin bowling! From what we saw of Sunil Narine in the IPL he has both the skill & temperament to make it big in world cricket. Wish him & WI good luck.

  • adhithya on June 8, 2012, 14:31 GMT

    narine mystery be revealed as he needs to bowl 15 overs atleast in a test match so dat his variations can be found easily which was earlier done to mendis n ashwin

  • Tracka on June 8, 2012, 14:09 GMT

    West Indies had Sir G Sobers, L Gibbs and the present Chairman of selectors C Butts as good spinners. My question is why was Narine not discovered earlier in the West Indies by the selectors and the board and given a contract. The answer to that is that they were more interested in keeping C.Gayle out of the team and it missed them. This article should have been written by a West Indian praising his own.

  • jobee on June 8, 2012, 11:17 GMT

    Great Article indeed by Jarrod Kimber!

    Sunil Narine is sure to shine for the Windies(Although not in his debut test match). He may not fare that well in the one dayers to follow or the one off 20-20 in England.English conditions are totally different. But the selectors should do well to keep encouraging him as it's really a long time since we have seen a spinner of the class of Sonny Ramadhin or Lance Gibbs.

    Sunil Narine also has to have his head on his shoulders and not get too carried away by name and fame and stick to the basics .

    For the sake of West Indies Cricket,we hope that in the next Test Series, we will see the likes of Dwayne Bravo, Ramnaresh Sarawan as well as the magical Chris Gayle in the playing eleven. Along with the ever dependable Shiv Chanderpaul, the West Indies could become invincible and be the No 1 Team in Tests . All they got to do is to believe in themselves and pray that the selectors do not muck up things as they done in the past decade.

  • Waqar Younis on June 8, 2012, 10:35 GMT

    "That while players like Vettori, Swann, Herath, Lyon and others had proved themselves on the world level, Narine was probably at his absolute best right now."

    Ajmal is by far the best spinner in the world right now. I think Swann hasnt been great for the last year or so and will drift out of the English side sooner rather than later.

  • Tausif Sayyed on June 8, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    I think if Narine plays for more than 10-12 years, he can definately compete with the records of the Great Murli and Warne. I wish Narine all the best for his future.

  • jagadeesh on June 8, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    what an article about spin no body remembers the spinners , but yes after some days the world can chase the mystery of narine because of super slow motion camers , You tube ,IPL(share your secrets) but i wish that narine would be the hero for west indies for the next 3 years(hope that won't die)

  • Venkatachalam Ramaswamy on June 8, 2012, 6:31 GMT

    Very good observations. Was searching for mention of mendis to find him in the end with a spot on analysis.. Windies seems to be producing such kind of mystery players in the current settup.. narine, shillingford, dave mohammed to name a few.. Samuels too has a mystery with 135 k sppes on specific deliveries..

  • Pranav Shah on June 8, 2012, 3:36 GMT

    Brilliant piece.....Keep it up.

  • Dave on June 7, 2012, 21:41 GMT

    Great article dude!

  • Uday on June 7, 2012, 21:33 GMT

    Nice write up my friend - the one spinner whom you did not mention - and who at the moment looks good to go on and become a great is Saeed Ajmal. He has tremendous skill and deception - and has a superb doosra and off spinner and he also has subtle variations in flight. He is the best spin bowler in the world at present. What do you think Jarrod?

  • ElBeeDubya on June 7, 2012, 21:04 GMT

    I haven't seen a whole lot of Narine but A. I love to see more good bowlers coming up since they would test the skills of batsmen and make them become better batsmen so I hope Narine would turn out to be a very good bowler. I would rather watch a 75 made in TOUGH conditions against GOOD bowling than a 300 made by a batsman who carts around mediocre bowlers on a batting paradise. B. West Indies do need some good bowlers to stay competitive and I would love to see more COMPETITION in every TEST series at the International stage. C. I like this comment from Kimber. It is Test Cricket at its best: exactly why I love Test cricket and what I want to see in Test cricket! "[Narine] seems to bowl differently to each batsman, almost using their ego or batting stlye to his advantage, like some cunning super-villian. It is old school spin bowling."

  • Sam on June 7, 2012, 20:37 GMT

    He "Narine" has the making of world class off spin bowler. Its like when you start working out in a gym and everyone tells you have a good primary build to be a bodybuilder but in the end it all comes down to how much effort you can diligently put in every day in and out. {with the proper guidance from coaches/trainers }.You can also end up in a rut if you end up with a bad trainer or coach. "Irfan Pathan" is classic example of coach work. He become a good batsmen as the coach invested in his batting but lost the art of a world class swing bowler. The most horrible thing for west indies and world cricket to let "Narine" fade away. Lets have faith in players as it takes a lot to be recognized by international cricket. World cricket needs this mystery bowlers to keep believing in spinners and the "wow factor" they bring into the game.

  • landl47 on June 7, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    Good analysis, especially the 'stock ball' part. Tiger O'Reilly told Richie Benaud, who told Shane Warne (and that's Aus's 3 best spinners right there) that it was necessary to develop a viciously turning leg-break and it would take 4 years to do it. Warne was so good it only took him two, but the principle was that the basic ball must be a sharply turning spinner- forget mystery. Warne says that natural variations from a sharply spun ball are more dangerous than anything planned. I've never seen in over 50 years of watching cricket a mystery spinner without a congenital deformity who was successful for long. If Narine can really spin the ball and pitch it somewhere near a length, he'll be successful. If not, he'll be worked out and will be another Mendis or Gleeson, unless of course he has a congenital deformity!

  • MrJoker on June 7, 2012, 19:26 GMT

    I just watched the highlights of him v the Aussies in the last ODI series on YOUTUBE and I have to say he is the most exciting prospect in world cricket right now they were clueless boy I hope he can become a new Murali !

    Hope he marks himself out as another Legendary West Indian cricketer by the time he retires,currently when one asks about legendary spinners I don't think I could name a previous West Indian

  • kevin hajaree on June 7, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    you seem to be forgetting another trinidadian offspinner who played against england in 1950. sonny ramadhin who was probably the first international spinner to bowl the "doosra"

  • prasanna on June 7, 2012, 15:18 GMT

    I dont have a doubt about Narine`s ability to be a top class spinner.but as games progress by,narine will surely be sorted out either by Indians ( especially viru or gauti) or by the Pakistanis or the lankans.but Narine wont fade away like Mendis.and if WI are to recapture their past glory,the league of extraordinary men :: gayle,bravo DJ,narine,pollard,Dwayne smith who are proven match winners in many domestic tournaments should raise their hands up together and work well as a unit.

  • Renjith on June 7, 2012, 14:59 GMT

    His leggbreaks end very wide of offstump and his off breaks ends up on batsmans pad. This will work when batsmen is trying to smash everything out of ground. But in tests where batsmen are patient he could be wicketless and he always bowl that 1 loose ball now and then which can be put to boundary. But there is no reason why he can't end all his balls (lebbreak and offbreaks and which ever other ball) on offstump. If he can do that consistently, then england batsmen are good enough to break the record for lowest test innings totals :)

  • sherwine on June 7, 2012, 14:21 GMT

    Cannot remember so much hype for someone making a debut. In less than a year, Narine to his credit has not failed. First in champions league he was noticed. Then he came in the Caribbean and was the top wicket taker in the 50 overs competition continued that form in the domestic T20 competition as well to the domestic 4 day competition. Then he excelled against the Aussies and the IPL.

    There will come a time where he may not meet the public expectations. I personally believed he should be given more time to develop for Test cricket

  • Jayaesh on June 7, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    What a gem of an article !! such keen thoughtful anaylsis of the art of spin bowling. Bravo Mr Kimber keep up the good work.

  • Jayaesh on June 7, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    What a gem of an article !! such keen thoughtful anaylsis of the art of spin bowling. Bravo Mr Kimber keep up the good work.

  • Kishor Kumar on June 7, 2012, 9:39 GMT

    Saeed Ajmal will be the best spinner in the world for next 6 years, looks like nobody is picking his doosras, even Sachin. I liked the way he played with the english batsmen's mind in last test series. English batsmen unable to play his stock balls, in the anticipation of his teesra or Jelebi (The sweet made of jaggery, made in sub-continent)

  • Ahmer on June 7, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    Well written Jarrod, better than all the other writing on Narine out there.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Ahmer on June 7, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    Well written Jarrod, better than all the other writing on Narine out there.

  • Kishor Kumar on June 7, 2012, 9:39 GMT

    Saeed Ajmal will be the best spinner in the world for next 6 years, looks like nobody is picking his doosras, even Sachin. I liked the way he played with the english batsmen's mind in last test series. English batsmen unable to play his stock balls, in the anticipation of his teesra or Jelebi (The sweet made of jaggery, made in sub-continent)

  • Jayaesh on June 7, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    What a gem of an article !! such keen thoughtful anaylsis of the art of spin bowling. Bravo Mr Kimber keep up the good work.

  • Jayaesh on June 7, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    What a gem of an article !! such keen thoughtful anaylsis of the art of spin bowling. Bravo Mr Kimber keep up the good work.

  • sherwine on June 7, 2012, 14:21 GMT

    Cannot remember so much hype for someone making a debut. In less than a year, Narine to his credit has not failed. First in champions league he was noticed. Then he came in the Caribbean and was the top wicket taker in the 50 overs competition continued that form in the domestic T20 competition as well to the domestic 4 day competition. Then he excelled against the Aussies and the IPL.

    There will come a time where he may not meet the public expectations. I personally believed he should be given more time to develop for Test cricket

  • Renjith on June 7, 2012, 14:59 GMT

    His leggbreaks end very wide of offstump and his off breaks ends up on batsmans pad. This will work when batsmen is trying to smash everything out of ground. But in tests where batsmen are patient he could be wicketless and he always bowl that 1 loose ball now and then which can be put to boundary. But there is no reason why he can't end all his balls (lebbreak and offbreaks and which ever other ball) on offstump. If he can do that consistently, then england batsmen are good enough to break the record for lowest test innings totals :)

  • prasanna on June 7, 2012, 15:18 GMT

    I dont have a doubt about Narine`s ability to be a top class spinner.but as games progress by,narine will surely be sorted out either by Indians ( especially viru or gauti) or by the Pakistanis or the lankans.but Narine wont fade away like Mendis.and if WI are to recapture their past glory,the league of extraordinary men :: gayle,bravo DJ,narine,pollard,Dwayne smith who are proven match winners in many domestic tournaments should raise their hands up together and work well as a unit.

  • kevin hajaree on June 7, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    you seem to be forgetting another trinidadian offspinner who played against england in 1950. sonny ramadhin who was probably the first international spinner to bowl the "doosra"

  • MrJoker on June 7, 2012, 19:26 GMT

    I just watched the highlights of him v the Aussies in the last ODI series on YOUTUBE and I have to say he is the most exciting prospect in world cricket right now they were clueless boy I hope he can become a new Murali !

    Hope he marks himself out as another Legendary West Indian cricketer by the time he retires,currently when one asks about legendary spinners I don't think I could name a previous West Indian

  • landl47 on June 7, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    Good analysis, especially the 'stock ball' part. Tiger O'Reilly told Richie Benaud, who told Shane Warne (and that's Aus's 3 best spinners right there) that it was necessary to develop a viciously turning leg-break and it would take 4 years to do it. Warne was so good it only took him two, but the principle was that the basic ball must be a sharply turning spinner- forget mystery. Warne says that natural variations from a sharply spun ball are more dangerous than anything planned. I've never seen in over 50 years of watching cricket a mystery spinner without a congenital deformity who was successful for long. If Narine can really spin the ball and pitch it somewhere near a length, he'll be successful. If not, he'll be worked out and will be another Mendis or Gleeson, unless of course he has a congenital deformity!