England October 24, 2012

Wristspin? Whatever abomination next?

In the land of the pucca, there's only one acceptable method of imparting spin on a cricket ball
22

We British love a crisis. From time to time, particularly if there's not much on television, we like to work ourselves up into a proper panic about something or other. It need not be anything dramatic. Civilisation is such a delicate creature that almost anything could be the cause of its demise: the price of fish, the preponderance of badgers in the countryside, the circumference of Victoria Beckham's waist.

And then we usually forget all about it the following week, when a politician is caught trying to sell his donkey without paying donkey duty, or a new series of Britain's Got Lots Of Singers Who For Some Reason All Sound Like Michael Jackson is launched.

Cricket is not immune to this kind of thing. At one time or another green pitches, wide seams, one-day cricket, three-day cricket, four-day cricket, television, money, bad language, Ray Illingworth, and stubble have all been the panic de jour. Now, in the aftermath of the World Twenty20, we are in the midst of another. "Why oh why are our spinners so boring?" goes the plaintive cry, "Everyone else's are so much more exciting and mysterious and foreign!"

But the cricket folk of England should stiffen their upper lips. Just as we have conclusively proved that we don't care that the IPL makes loads of money, and just as we stubbornly refuse to accept that khaki three quarter-length shorts are the most pathetic item of men's summer wear ever to spew forth from the fetid depths of a fashion designer's imagination, so we should remain immune to the latest trend in spin bowling.

History tells us that there are only two kinds of proper spinner, and of those, only one that could be considered "sound". I refer, of course, to offspin. Offspin is natural, it is seemly and it is correct. Offspinners are usually men of a certain weight, men of physical ballast and moral rectitude. You can rely on them. You would never catch Jack Simmons or Eddie Hemmings getting involved in something unnecessary outside a nightclub or partying with the prime minister's niece at three o'clock in the morning on the eve of the Lord's Test.

Left-arm spinners on the other hand, are tolerated, but not to be trusted. They come in various sizes, but they are usually eccentric and you never really know where you are with them, because left-arm spin is the signpost at the top of a very slippery slope. As it says in the Old Testament, (Book of Geoffrey 1:10):

"Blessed are the offspinners, for they shall come on for a quick over before lunch and they shall be called salt of the earth and shall be hard to get away. But be wary of the man who chooseth to bowl even with the wrong arm, for his is the dark path that windeth through the thicket of doom and leadeth to the evil of legspin."

The English view is that God didn't give us a perfectly serviceable spinning finger only for us to turn our noses up at this stroke of good fortune and attempt to use our wrists to impart rotation. Wrists were designed for pouring tea, shaking dice and throwing the javelin, not for spin-bowling. If various double-jointed Sri Lankans want to wander from the path of righteousness, then let them. When it comes to spin, we know what we like.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Raj on October 25, 2012, 14:39 GMT

    The only reason this is beingbsaid is because england only have 2 teast playing spinners-swanny and monty and the fact that lefties are tolerated comes through samit patel

  • Mukul Goyal on October 25, 2012, 14:09 GMT

    Andrew, I enjoy reading your articles and this one on wrist spinners is in the top drawer. Your articles, once in a while, give a 'whiff', just a 'whiff', mind you of the mastery exerted by PG Wodehouse over the English prose. Looking forward to some more 'gems' from your pen (or keyboard as the case may be)

  • Vishnu on October 25, 2012, 13:46 GMT

    Brilliant article! loved every part of it

  • ameer mohammad on October 25, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    saeed ajmal ?! number 1 ??

  • nipun on October 25, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    good one!! .. proper english humor! :)

  • Adeel Anwar on October 25, 2012, 5:18 GMT

    HAHA! you are a hoot. HIlarious stuff.

  • Anim on October 25, 2012, 3:22 GMT

    I wonder why history has produced so few good left arm spinners. Here in India, they don't care about- that human brain's are always biased towards on hemisphere- that they teach left handers, how evil is being a lefty and they gotta switch it asap.

    May be same holds true with Britons. Great writing though, love your humour Andrew. Cheers!!

  • Urvi Thakkar on October 24, 2012, 19:32 GMT

    Funny as always! How does the theory hold up for Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha?

  • Andre Mayers on October 24, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    Hilarious

  • Rizwan on October 24, 2012, 14:05 GMT

    Very nicely written, I really enjoyed where the writer said and I quote "Wrists were designed for pouring tea, shaking dice and throwing the javelin, not for spin-bowling. If various double-jointed Sri Lankans want to wander from the path of righteousness, then let them. When it comes to spin, we know what we like".

  • Raj on October 25, 2012, 14:39 GMT

    The only reason this is beingbsaid is because england only have 2 teast playing spinners-swanny and monty and the fact that lefties are tolerated comes through samit patel

  • Mukul Goyal on October 25, 2012, 14:09 GMT

    Andrew, I enjoy reading your articles and this one on wrist spinners is in the top drawer. Your articles, once in a while, give a 'whiff', just a 'whiff', mind you of the mastery exerted by PG Wodehouse over the English prose. Looking forward to some more 'gems' from your pen (or keyboard as the case may be)

  • Vishnu on October 25, 2012, 13:46 GMT

    Brilliant article! loved every part of it

  • ameer mohammad on October 25, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    saeed ajmal ?! number 1 ??

  • nipun on October 25, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    good one!! .. proper english humor! :)

  • Adeel Anwar on October 25, 2012, 5:18 GMT

    HAHA! you are a hoot. HIlarious stuff.

  • Anim on October 25, 2012, 3:22 GMT

    I wonder why history has produced so few good left arm spinners. Here in India, they don't care about- that human brain's are always biased towards on hemisphere- that they teach left handers, how evil is being a lefty and they gotta switch it asap.

    May be same holds true with Britons. Great writing though, love your humour Andrew. Cheers!!

  • Urvi Thakkar on October 24, 2012, 19:32 GMT

    Funny as always! How does the theory hold up for Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha?

  • Andre Mayers on October 24, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    Hilarious

  • Rizwan on October 24, 2012, 14:05 GMT

    Very nicely written, I really enjoyed where the writer said and I quote "Wrists were designed for pouring tea, shaking dice and throwing the javelin, not for spin-bowling. If various double-jointed Sri Lankans want to wander from the path of righteousness, then let them. When it comes to spin, we know what we like".

  • Warnie Wanabee on October 24, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    Well written and I believe you have hit the nail o the head

  • Saurabh on October 24, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    There's just too much coaching and system in the UK,for someone with e'en a lil bit of mystery to come through.It's the sub-continent that should be the nurturing ground for such talents,one would think,with it's inherent chaos,disorderliness,and little regard for system,yet frenzied love for the game in all parts.

  • Khalid Ikram on October 24, 2012, 13:22 GMT

    Quite right. Spot on. Let those bloody foreigners -- Bosanquet (South African), Saqlain Mushtaq (Pakistan) -- invent the googly and the doosra respectively. And it is not surprising that left arm bowlers send down something called a "Chinaman." We British are happy that we invented underarm bowling. In fact, the threat to cricket started when some fool of a "moderniser" permitted overarm bowling.

  • kartekay on October 24, 2012, 12:52 GMT

    this is it ? it just ended abruptly..one of those which was written against a tight timeline, eh ?

  • Mark on October 24, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    I have yet to read anything that Andrew has written that is either funny insightful or informed. How does this guy keep getting published on here? Please tell me he doesn’t get paid for writing this s**t!

  • Richard Lesh on October 24, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    There was once an English wrist spinner named Eric Hollies who probably bowled the most famous wrong'un of all time. The one that condemned a certain Don Bradman to the mere mortal's Tets batting average of 99.96, which would otherwise have seen him elected to the pantheon of the gods.

  • TD_160 on October 24, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    Not your best work.

  • afy on October 24, 2012, 9:13 GMT

    Brilliant! Humourous yet true.

  • Dannov on October 24, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    Haha. Nice article.

    I've always wondered why we've never had any legspinners :/

  • TJ on October 24, 2012, 6:49 GMT

    "Ray Illingworth, & stubble" lol

    Another great piece!

  • Mukul Goyal on October 24, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    Andrew, I have been reading your articles for a long time now. This one on wrist spin is as usual, great. Keep them coming!!!!

  • Sunny_K on October 24, 2012, 5:19 GMT

    The art of spin revolves around both the hand and mind. You have to be wily, cunning & shrewd like Warnie, Kumble, Mustaq Ahmed or even Afridi. I'm afraid Poms just aren't made that way..

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  • Sunny_K on October 24, 2012, 5:19 GMT

    The art of spin revolves around both the hand and mind. You have to be wily, cunning & shrewd like Warnie, Kumble, Mustaq Ahmed or even Afridi. I'm afraid Poms just aren't made that way..

  • Mukul Goyal on October 24, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    Andrew, I have been reading your articles for a long time now. This one on wrist spin is as usual, great. Keep them coming!!!!

  • TJ on October 24, 2012, 6:49 GMT

    "Ray Illingworth, & stubble" lol

    Another great piece!

  • Dannov on October 24, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    Haha. Nice article.

    I've always wondered why we've never had any legspinners :/

  • afy on October 24, 2012, 9:13 GMT

    Brilliant! Humourous yet true.

  • TD_160 on October 24, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    Not your best work.

  • Richard Lesh on October 24, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    There was once an English wrist spinner named Eric Hollies who probably bowled the most famous wrong'un of all time. The one that condemned a certain Don Bradman to the mere mortal's Tets batting average of 99.96, which would otherwise have seen him elected to the pantheon of the gods.

  • Mark on October 24, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    I have yet to read anything that Andrew has written that is either funny insightful or informed. How does this guy keep getting published on here? Please tell me he doesn’t get paid for writing this s**t!

  • kartekay on October 24, 2012, 12:52 GMT

    this is it ? it just ended abruptly..one of those which was written against a tight timeline, eh ?

  • Khalid Ikram on October 24, 2012, 13:22 GMT

    Quite right. Spot on. Let those bloody foreigners -- Bosanquet (South African), Saqlain Mushtaq (Pakistan) -- invent the googly and the doosra respectively. And it is not surprising that left arm bowlers send down something called a "Chinaman." We British are happy that we invented underarm bowling. In fact, the threat to cricket started when some fool of a "moderniser" permitted overarm bowling.