January 27, 2010

Return of finger spin

It's back from the dead courtesy of Swann, Hauritz, Benn and others, relying on good old accuracy and slight disguise
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Long ago consigned to a cricketing graveyard, finger spin has rallied in the most unexpected and impressive manner. Any student of the rankings will rapidly discover that numerous members of the orthodox brigade are occupying high places and showing little signs of vertigo. A perky rooster called Graeme Swann has been taking wickets for his country. A plausible gentleman going by the name of Paul Harris had struck a rich vein till his luck ran out a few weeks ago. A mild-natured fellow named Nathan Hauritz has taken 18 wickets in his last three Tests. West Indies have found a couple of likely lads of contrasting construction in Sulieman Benn and Nikita Miller. Bangladesh's best bowler belongs to the fraternity. So much for the coffin. The corpse has not merely burped. It has come back to life.

Finger spin - let us focus on the right-hand fraternity because lefties are a special case, most of them being as mad as March hares, besides which they enjoy an obvious advantage by turning the ball away from the ever-shrinking majority of orthodox batsmen - has an honourable, even inspiring, history. Certainly it never deserved the poor reviews that latterly came its way or the rough treatment dished out by dismissive batsmen inclined to regard finger spinners as step-and-fetch-it bowlers. And the tradition deserved better than sceptical observers saying the game has changed, and commonplace offbreaks no longer have a part to play. The game is always changing and always staying the same, and every generation thinks it invented drink, sex and spin.

Actually it does change but it goes around, not in a straight line. And now the wheel has come full circle. Offspin is back precisely because it fell from favour. It's the same with legspinners. At various junctures they became expensive and captains and coaches could no longer afford them. Then after 20 years or so, batsmen forgot how to play them, whereupon they made the sort of comeback relished by rock bands and actresses holding tight to 38.

Offspin is reviving precisely because for years batsmen did not take it seriously, wanted to put it out of its misery and assumed they were dealing with the last gasps of a doomed creature. After all the more eminent of batsmen had been raised to regard these tame tweakers as impostors. Take that, and that and that.

Unbeknown to them, though, offspin has a secret. It's bad, and knows it, but it's a little bit better than it makes itself out to be. Offspinners wear their craft and cunning lightly. It's part of the disguise. Of course they are lightweights, but they are not to be taken lightly. Their trick is to invite batsmen to over-reach and then to rejoice as another victim lofts a catch to mid-on or edges a straight ball to slip. Not that they are remotely as mischievous or devious as other practitioners. Offspinners only pretend to be lambs for slaughter. As soon as they start to look fierce they will stop taking wickets.

Until the last 12 months or so the pessimists seemed to have a point about the death of offspin. Numerous obituaries were written, all of them prosaic, for it is not the sort of trade that sends poets into a flutter. Indeed it is altogether more pen than quill, more patience than panache. Although it is best to keep them in the dark when the topic is raised, finger spinners follow a dull profession. For all their toil, they basically run to the crease, roll over an arm, give the leather a little twist, land it on a length and cross fingers that nothing untoward ensues. They are not fast, do not turn the ball much, and are about as likely to pull a rabbit from a hat as Clem Atlee. Their genius lies not in any particular delivery or feat, but in their very survival. Obviously these strictures exclude those exploring the borders between finger and wrist, the small number of practitioners, ancient and modern, able to combine the orthodox with the baffling. Magicians like Murali, Mendis, Gleeson, Ramadhin, Ironmonger and others belong in a category of their own.

Far from vanishing from the game, offspinners have started taking wickets. Accomplished batsmen keep leaving the field ruefully shaking their heads. Ricky Ponting kept stabbing at Swann in the manner of Macbeth at ghosts. Kevin Pietersen announced that Hauritz was harder to hit than he seemed. Mohammad Yousuf was taken at short leg. Jacques Kallis was held at slip

The books, it is true, tell of mighty tallies taken by Jim Laker, with his hitched trousers and unobserved pint in a pub on the evening of his 19-wicket haul on a pitch some Australians considered a touch dusty. Made-to-measure pitches have been around for quite some time. EAS Prasanna took a stack of wickets for his country with deliveries that seemed to buzz out of his hand before taking flight and ending with a sting. Lance Gibbs was another respected practitioner: a tall, skinny man with long fingers, a gentle smile and an ability to make the ball drop and bounce. Hugh Tayfield emerged from the African continent to torment batsmen with his ripped deliveries. They were artisans who became artists.

All of them upheld, and many of them advanced, a genre that seemed to be part and parcel of the game. None of them had a special delivery, the baffling "other one", the delivery released with more or less the same action as its comrades only to head in the opposite direction after bouncing. Instead they relied on curve, dip, accuracy, and an arm ball that drifted towards slip.

And then cricket weakened these operators. Of course it was not deliberate. Just that a combination of factors combined to reduce their impact. Finger spinners had relished the opportunity to wheel away on pitches affected by rain. Wilfred Rhodes once famously, and quite possibly apocryphally, put a thumb into a wet pitch and upon hearing a team-mate say it would start popping at 3pm, replied "Nah, lad. 3.30." An afternoon of precise bowling on a drying surface could make up for a week's thankless toil on batting paradises. Offspinners came into their own on rain-affected tracks because the ball gripped and turned, and control was of paramount importance.

Once officials decided to protect the pitches from the elements, the offspinners knew the days of wine and cheap wickets were over. To make matters worse, boundaries were gradually shortened and bats were thickened. Meanwhile, the growth of one-day cricket tightened the screws. Orthodox spinners began to take heavy and unsustainable punishment.

Hereabouts the game seemed to be up. However bowlers are an inventive lot. Frustrated by flat pitches, deaf umpires and unhelpful rule changes, fast bowlers came up with reverse-swing in all its dark glory. Even more under threat, orthodox spinners discovered the doosra, their version of a googly, the delivery that made wrist spin mainstream.

Saqlain Mushtaq introduced the delivery and initially it provoked confusion as opposed to consternation. Later observers argued it was impossible to deliver without a significant straightening of the elbow, a point Murali, a late convert, disproved by bowling one with his arm in plaster (a strategy used 80 years before by Jack Marsh, an aboriginal speedster desperate to counter rumours that he chucked. Marsh bowled with his arm encased in a match, but his fate had already been sealed). Contrarians pointed out that at worst the doosra was a back-chuck, and that the legislation had been designed to stop turning the batting crease into a coconut shy. Vic Marks, a long-suffering offspinner sympathetic to the plight of the brethren, pointed out that batsmen ought to have no difficulty picking it if it was so different.

Thanks to their mystery ball, Saqlain and company flourished for a while. After a while it came to be regarded as an essential part of the offspinner's armoury. Every Tom, Dick and Johan took it up, not all of them blessed with suitably rubbery arms. Before long the lords of the game, namely batsmen, were murmuring and muttering. All too soon the new-fangled delivery was under severe scrutiny. As it happens batsmen might have been better advised holding their tongues. None of the spinners using the doosra fared better with it than beforehand. They came to rely on it and forgot how to take wickets with their stock delivery.

The focus on the legitimacy of the "other one" seemed to sound the death knell on offspin. As far as cricket was concerned, the doosra had been the last refuge of a desperate craft. But, then as Mr Dylan once sang "the darkest hour is right before the dawn".

Far from vanishing from the game, offspinners have started taking wickets. Accomplished batsmen keep leaving the field ruefully shaking their heads. Ricky Ponting kept stabbing at Swann in the manner of Macbeth at ghosts. Kevin Pietersen announced that Hauritz was harder to hit than he seemed. Mohammad Yousuf was taken at short leg. Jacques Kallis was held at slip. Australians found Harris, a leftie but in the same mould, not so much unplayable as irresistible. Of course Harbhajan has been taking wickets for years but with his doosra and location, he too belongs in a category of his own.

And so the story goes on. None of these revivalists is a Laker, a Gibbs or a Prasanna, and none pretends otherwise. But they are honest, accurate and committed. And they all have another thing in common, an air of slight surprise. Harris, Swann and Hauritz believe in themselves, but not quite their calling. Somewhere deep inside they think the party ended long ago and they are drinking the last dregs. They are enjoying themselves and taking more wickets in better company than they ever dared to dream.

Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Looch on January 29, 2010, 1:48 GMT

    Great article Peter, I've always been fond of the hard working offie, Bruce Yardley being a bit of a hero of mine. To SSChicago what article did YOU read?? You seem to be the one with the Australian obsession, may I suggest re-reading (if you did read it in the first place) the article or even just the last paragraph, if your time or concentration is short. However you deserve congartulations for the funniest and most ignorant quote I have ever read on Cricinfo "First, spin bowling is an art still not accepted and understood down under". What garbage!

  • Nipun on January 28, 2010, 17:57 GMT

    @wbh6:-Peter himself has said that this article is about finger spinners,not just off-spinners.So better YOU read before commenting. For some reason,Peter doesn't seem to rate Sakib Al Hasan before Paul Harris.So much for a cricket expert!

  • GokulChov on January 28, 2010, 15:09 GMT

    @sysplex

    Kumble is(was) a wrist spinner - this article's about finger spinners! Geez!

  • sunrisesinwest on January 28, 2010, 5:48 GMT

    And what about the great venkatapathy raju or the spin whizz Rajesh Chauhan...the great indian spinners in the Azaruddin's era :))

    I find this article very poorly reasoned...isnt it because of the lack of quality wrist spinners that finger spinners are getting a chance..and if ur the only spinner in ur team and bowl over 50 overs a test and get 4-5 wickets (a lot of tailenders swinging their bat) doesnt classify as great finger spinners..look at the over all picture!

    Cheers

  • borninthetimeofSRT on January 28, 2010, 2:14 GMT

    PR, please don't get overly consumed by the Aussies. You are a very good writer who is a nice critic of the game. But when you were not as popular as now, you were doing a better job by talking about rivalries and cricket in general. Now, you talk about almost every thing that touches the Aussies. First, spin bowling is an art still not accepted and understood down under. Secondly, you can't miss acknowledging Bhajji, Kumble and Murali. Thirdly, you are looking at the 'finger spin' from an Aussie batsman's perspective. It may be the return of finger spin in Australia, but not in the entire cricket world. Nathan Hauritz is not ready for a special mention. Please do not make him a legend just yet, let him earn it. I feel there is an over eagerness to seek another Shane Warne wearing a baggy green, and may be Hauritz will get close, but not yet. He hasn't even started to spell M-A-G-I-C. Mendis threatened, but was deciphered soon enough. We should learn from history. Indians are waiting!

  • Zhdar on January 28, 2010, 0:30 GMT

    to kush, thank you for adding so much to the debate.

  • bobagorof on January 28, 2010, 0:24 GMT

    Geez, the number of people complaining that certain players haven't been mentioned... you obviously haven't read the article! This article refers to 'orthodox' finger spinners - so Mendis (totally unorthodox, spins it to off or leg with equal ease), Murali (massive turner of the ball thanks to a 'flexible wrist'), and Vettori (left-arm) don't fall into this category. And Kumble!?! He's a legspinner, for crying out loud. Peter's point, though, is that for a long time off-spinners were the poor cousins of the bowling brigade as first the pace bowlers (led by the West Indies, Lillee, Thompson, Waqar, Wasim and others) and then legspinners (Warne, Mushtaq, Kumble) took all the plaudits. How many off-spinners averaging under 30 were in international cricket in the 90's? Not many. Now in the last 6 months there have been a string of matches won on the back of off-spin.

  • slippery_ball on January 28, 2010, 0:04 GMT

    for those of you complaining about the author not mentioning folk like murali, vettori and harbhajan -_- he DID make mention of them in the article... try reading it thoroughly... he says they belong to a category of their own... he's making reference to CLASSICAL finger spinners... mostly rh bowlers because he says the lefties, too, are of their own category... Murali isnt exactly a classical finger spinner, and vettori is left handed... and Mendis isnt classic finger spin either... Think people! THINK!

  • sardi93 on January 28, 2010, 0:04 GMT

    Mr Roebuck, may i ask why there is not any form of a mention of New Zealands left arm orthodox bowler Dan Vettori. The man is a genuine legend of New Zealand cricket. He has carried them through out the passed 3 to 4 years, yet he still can't gain a mention in your peice.

  • crazyhead on January 27, 2010, 22:02 GMT

    Folks.. lets read this again. Mr. Roebuck is referring to classical,upcoming, orthodox offspinners, not proven matchwinners. Murali, Vettori and Harbhajan are a different category compared Swann, Harris or Been or Hauritz. His point is that, inspite of being Batsman's game cricket now a days is, Classical offspinners are emerging. We should not bring Murali etc into picture.

    Coming back to the article, these guys have taken wickets. But we need to see how long they will continue to take wickets and on different surfaces.. Even legendary Warne struggled. I dont believe differently that they are not going to success in India.. They need to prove that they can do well in Subcontinent too, not against some countries who are anyway, always susceptible to spin bowling. Going towards the example of Swann picking up Ponting a few times in Ashes, Ponting has been bunny of offspinners from Day 1.. Yet he survied by feasting on other kinds of bowlers on flat Bottomlie, the art is not dying

  • Looch on January 29, 2010, 1:48 GMT

    Great article Peter, I've always been fond of the hard working offie, Bruce Yardley being a bit of a hero of mine. To SSChicago what article did YOU read?? You seem to be the one with the Australian obsession, may I suggest re-reading (if you did read it in the first place) the article or even just the last paragraph, if your time or concentration is short. However you deserve congartulations for the funniest and most ignorant quote I have ever read on Cricinfo "First, spin bowling is an art still not accepted and understood down under". What garbage!

  • Nipun on January 28, 2010, 17:57 GMT

    @wbh6:-Peter himself has said that this article is about finger spinners,not just off-spinners.So better YOU read before commenting. For some reason,Peter doesn't seem to rate Sakib Al Hasan before Paul Harris.So much for a cricket expert!

  • GokulChov on January 28, 2010, 15:09 GMT

    @sysplex

    Kumble is(was) a wrist spinner - this article's about finger spinners! Geez!

  • sunrisesinwest on January 28, 2010, 5:48 GMT

    And what about the great venkatapathy raju or the spin whizz Rajesh Chauhan...the great indian spinners in the Azaruddin's era :))

    I find this article very poorly reasoned...isnt it because of the lack of quality wrist spinners that finger spinners are getting a chance..and if ur the only spinner in ur team and bowl over 50 overs a test and get 4-5 wickets (a lot of tailenders swinging their bat) doesnt classify as great finger spinners..look at the over all picture!

    Cheers

  • borninthetimeofSRT on January 28, 2010, 2:14 GMT

    PR, please don't get overly consumed by the Aussies. You are a very good writer who is a nice critic of the game. But when you were not as popular as now, you were doing a better job by talking about rivalries and cricket in general. Now, you talk about almost every thing that touches the Aussies. First, spin bowling is an art still not accepted and understood down under. Secondly, you can't miss acknowledging Bhajji, Kumble and Murali. Thirdly, you are looking at the 'finger spin' from an Aussie batsman's perspective. It may be the return of finger spin in Australia, but not in the entire cricket world. Nathan Hauritz is not ready for a special mention. Please do not make him a legend just yet, let him earn it. I feel there is an over eagerness to seek another Shane Warne wearing a baggy green, and may be Hauritz will get close, but not yet. He hasn't even started to spell M-A-G-I-C. Mendis threatened, but was deciphered soon enough. We should learn from history. Indians are waiting!

  • Zhdar on January 28, 2010, 0:30 GMT

    to kush, thank you for adding so much to the debate.

  • bobagorof on January 28, 2010, 0:24 GMT

    Geez, the number of people complaining that certain players haven't been mentioned... you obviously haven't read the article! This article refers to 'orthodox' finger spinners - so Mendis (totally unorthodox, spins it to off or leg with equal ease), Murali (massive turner of the ball thanks to a 'flexible wrist'), and Vettori (left-arm) don't fall into this category. And Kumble!?! He's a legspinner, for crying out loud. Peter's point, though, is that for a long time off-spinners were the poor cousins of the bowling brigade as first the pace bowlers (led by the West Indies, Lillee, Thompson, Waqar, Wasim and others) and then legspinners (Warne, Mushtaq, Kumble) took all the plaudits. How many off-spinners averaging under 30 were in international cricket in the 90's? Not many. Now in the last 6 months there have been a string of matches won on the back of off-spin.

  • slippery_ball on January 28, 2010, 0:04 GMT

    for those of you complaining about the author not mentioning folk like murali, vettori and harbhajan -_- he DID make mention of them in the article... try reading it thoroughly... he says they belong to a category of their own... he's making reference to CLASSICAL finger spinners... mostly rh bowlers because he says the lefties, too, are of their own category... Murali isnt exactly a classical finger spinner, and vettori is left handed... and Mendis isnt classic finger spin either... Think people! THINK!

  • sardi93 on January 28, 2010, 0:04 GMT

    Mr Roebuck, may i ask why there is not any form of a mention of New Zealands left arm orthodox bowler Dan Vettori. The man is a genuine legend of New Zealand cricket. He has carried them through out the passed 3 to 4 years, yet he still can't gain a mention in your peice.

  • crazyhead on January 27, 2010, 22:02 GMT

    Folks.. lets read this again. Mr. Roebuck is referring to classical,upcoming, orthodox offspinners, not proven matchwinners. Murali, Vettori and Harbhajan are a different category compared Swann, Harris or Been or Hauritz. His point is that, inspite of being Batsman's game cricket now a days is, Classical offspinners are emerging. We should not bring Murali etc into picture.

    Coming back to the article, these guys have taken wickets. But we need to see how long they will continue to take wickets and on different surfaces.. Even legendary Warne struggled. I dont believe differently that they are not going to success in India.. They need to prove that they can do well in Subcontinent too, not against some countries who are anyway, always susceptible to spin bowling. Going towards the example of Swann picking up Ponting a few times in Ashes, Ponting has been bunny of offspinners from Day 1.. Yet he survied by feasting on other kinds of bowlers on flat Bottomlie, the art is not dying

  • mohsan123 on January 27, 2010, 20:09 GMT

    i think in the recent cricket great invention for the pak is saeed ajmal he is best spinner of odi and espically for t20 and i think if somebody see the boweling of price zim boweler he is nice to watch.

  • mmatahaere on January 27, 2010, 19:32 GMT

    Ok so Peter was talking about rh bowlers? If this is the case, why Benn then? Moving on, why is there no talk of Mendis or Singh? Weird to say the least. Peter Roebuck is an established cricket writer so I think it was due to him looking at new blowers over the last year.

    Good on Swann, Hauritz and co. I think the article was more about appraising the 'under-dog' than talking about the established offies in Singh and co. It wasnt that long ago, I'm sure we are all guilty of this too, we looked at Swann and Hauritz as stop-gap-solutions in their teams, and not potential match winners.

    Swann ripped SA a new on their own pitches. Hauritz has won 2 games on the fifth day. Respect where respect is due.

  • sysplex on January 27, 2010, 18:30 GMT

    Quite surprised, neither Harbhajan Singh nor Kumble from India do not find a place for the author's comments, ahead of Swann/Hauritz.

  • animeshagrawal on January 27, 2010, 16:02 GMT

    Surely Mendis deserved a mention here? And I agree with Dyldog - what have Vettori, Bhajji n Murali been doing all this while? However, I do wonder about the future - where are the young spinners coming through? Apart from Shakib Al Hasan, there really is no promising young tweaker in sight; all current spinners are in their 30s. Even Ajmal, as new as he might seem, is nearly 33. And anyway, it is going to take a lot more from the current lot to prove they have class - though I admit Swann seems to be doing fine.

  • on January 27, 2010, 16:02 GMT

    When I read the article title I thought to myself - "The return...?". Peter, finger spin has been alive and well for quiet a while with the likes of Murali, Vettori and Harbhajan. Also, there is no mention of Mendis in this article, who by my accounts is a much more talented bowler than any of the mentioned in your article. very disappointing

  • sickleinmybrain on January 27, 2010, 15:38 GMT

    CricFan78, He isn't just ignoring asain teams, he also snubbed Daniel Vettori.

    In the last few year peter, I can think of more well known finger spinners than wrist spinners!

  • Alexk400 on January 27, 2010, 15:20 GMT

    Only swan can spin something. rest is just being lucky and playing batsman who are under pressure for something. Lets see these finger spinner take wicket in india. Even great shane warne did n't do squat in India.

  • Kushh on January 27, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    To Zhdar- Reason is simple..thats why murali is playing test cricket n ur still stuck in your back yard with a tennis ball

  • masood19 on January 27, 2010, 15:08 GMT

    @Zhdar i want to make a reply to Zhdar that if you think Murli chuck watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDxRhcpBZio&feature=related

  • Charindra on January 27, 2010, 14:30 GMT

    Murali is not exactly a finger spinner. He uses his strong fingers, his helicopter wrist and his freakish shoulder to bowl those magic balls. There has never been and never will be another like him. Pity.

  • wbh6 on January 27, 2010, 14:16 GMT

    Please read (and comprehend) the article before commenting. Peter Roebuck's point is that "old-fashioned", right-arm, conventional, off-spinners are finding anew a niche in modern cricket. Murali, Shakib Al Hasan, Saeed Ajmal, Mendis, are all irrelevant to the main point of this article. If you are functionally illiterate or have problems with comprehension, seek help.

    Excellent article. It is indeed a pleasure to observe players like Swann, Hauritz et al. achieve some success. For those who say that they only have success in favourable conditions - well, 'twas ever thus, and in any case I feel this charge is exaggerated anyway. It doesn't take away from the point that there is a place for them in cricket.

  • KishoreSharma on January 27, 2010, 14:01 GMT

    One of the major reasons why orthodox off-spin is back is due to the greater willingness of umpires to give batsmen out on the front foot - courtesy of pressures created by Hawkeye. Not just off-spinners, but all bowlers who tend to bring the ball back-in to the batsmen will benefit. No longer can batsmen just stretch forward and hope that umpires will give them the benefit of the doubt (unless, of course, the impact between ball and pad is outside the line of the off-stump). I am really surprised that no-one - including established writers like Roebuck - were able to predict this eralier or make this connection. They probably will now - but you heard this from me first ! Cheers Kishore Sharma

  • on January 27, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    Hurrah for convention, but these things happen in waves. It won't be long before another Murali is discovered and everyone's desperately trying to replicate the Flostra, or whatever the new "mystery" ball is. Let's enjoy a simpler art while we can

  • Zhdar on January 27, 2010, 11:38 GMT

    Murali is a chucker. It is impossible to bowl the way he does without a bent elbow. Try it in your back garden with a tennis ball.

  • youfoundme on January 27, 2010, 11:21 GMT

    When I read the article title I thought to myself - "The return...?". Peter, finger spin has been alive and well for quiet a while with the likes of Murali, Vettori and Harbhajan. Also, there is no mention of Mendis in this article, who by my accounts is a much more talented bowler than any of the mentioned in your article. very disappointing

  • heterosexualcricketfan on January 27, 2010, 11:09 GMT

    Which 'finger-spinners' get praised & which don't might also have a lot to do with the expectations one has of them.Swann came to India,got a humongous amount of praise,with a hydrophobic,shabby Atherton even declaring that he'd outbowled Harbhajan(Harbhajan's average in that series was significantly better). Swann had a crumbling 4rth & 5th day pitch at chennai to bowl at. Surprise,surprise.....India thrashed him all around Chennai & notched up a record chase.Even that struggler of strugglers against spin,Yuvraj Singh,managed to play him without much trouble. Talentwise-Hauritz & Swann are all right.But I've seen Harris bowl what he calls left-arm spin.Pathetic almost to the point of being called useless.You'd find better spinners in a Delhi school team.Yuvraj bowls much better leftie spin.Noone even calls him a spinner.So thats how bad Harris is. If eng don't have a spinner with the ability to bowl a doosra,atleast don't malign others who do. Ajmal,Shakibul,Ojha are much better.

  • paramthegreat on January 27, 2010, 11:01 GMT

    well, even krejza is good and i personally think a much better bowler than hauritz . I am pretty sure when Haury faces India, he will go for plenty (sehwag will murder him) and maybe pick up a couple of wickets . Krejza was very unlucky to be dropped after one poor performance in perth (which is supposed to aid quicks anyway). after all , he did pick up 12 wickets in his debut match vs india in india. if you want a spinner to be used as an defensive option rather than attacking , no point in mentioning him . look at swann, he always bowls an attacking line with an excellent arm ball.rather than figures of 20-5-50-2 , i am sure he prefers, 20-2-70-4. peace

  • Paldasan on January 27, 2010, 11:00 GMT

    People, please learn to read the article. He's placed the left arm finger spinners into a different category (similarities to R Leg Break with a different angle of approach) and Singh into a third category (reliance on a very good doosra).

    The article is talking about those orthodox spinners who rely on subterfuge while using stock deliveries. Small variations and (according to critics) wishful thinking.

    @CricFan78, take your blinkers off and read the article, he points out it was others talking about action for all doosras.

  • paramthegreat on January 27, 2010, 10:55 GMT

    well, to all the people who says Murali is unlucky to miss out, he is NOT a finger spinner. FACT. he IS the greatest wrist off spinner , off spinner or spinner but he never was or is a finger spinner. Vettori is unlucky to miss out as is shakib al hasan and harbhajan . Many people question saeed ajmal's doosra but he was tested and was not found to be bowling with an illegal action . so he is unlucky to have missed out as well but he is a very average off spinner (his records say that). in my opinion swann and shakib al hasan head the list in terms of current performances .(just in MY opinion , people are free to disagree):))

  • KAZabbar on January 27, 2010, 10:54 GMT

    I believe Peter here was talking about the upcoming spinners who have started to put their marks. Spinners like Vettori/Murali/harbhajan are way ahead of any of them. But not seeing the likes of Shakib Al Hasan/Ajmal mentioned was a bit shocking.

  • My-Name-A-Borat on January 27, 2010, 10:51 GMT

    he forgot to mention that harris, swann and hauritz arnt that bad with the bat (Y)

  • dmudge on January 27, 2010, 9:35 GMT

    The whole point of the article, as I understand it, is to talk about the spinners who are not obvious champions and highlight that these guys are impacting matches. Hence it is not about Murali, Harbajan, etc, who are no doubt champions. It is about the more ordinary (boring?) spinners like Hauritz & Swann. Not everything is anti-Asia. On the article itself - I agree there is a real pleasure in watching someone take wickets with cunning and guile, which is all these offies have to work with. Of course, I also like seeing a super fast bowler come in and scale the bejeezus out of a batsmen until he submits with a whimper ...

  • Pegasus82 on January 27, 2010, 9:26 GMT

    To the few people who have already mentioned the lack of Vettori in this article, did you read the line "...let us focus on the right-hand fraternity because lefties are a special case". Roebuck is just talking about the recent emergence of right-hand, old-fashioned offies. Murali and Mendis (in categories if their own), Harbhajan (doosra), Ajmal (doosra) are not in Roebuck's focus here. Or in other words [sigh], yes, Roebuck is part of the western cricket conspiracy to belittle anyone not from a white-skinned country.

  • paulantony on January 27, 2010, 9:14 GMT

    Peter, these new spinners have not been consistent enough to talk so highly about them, Agreed Swann has been performing well but it is only his 1st year in International cricket, the Difficult part is to sustain year after year. Remember Ajantha Mendis who had a even better impact than Swann has in his 1st year but faded away. Also these spinners have not played against teams who are good players of Spin bowling. So lets wait and watch what the year ahead holds for them.

  • Amu7 on January 27, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    A nice article. Peter seems to have missed out on Vettori . But again Vettori to be fair since 2003 almost looks tired almost always going through the motions before an occassional spark lights him against Australia.Ajmal is a kind of an ODI bowler, not the ones to bowl in long form of the game simply because there isnt a stock delivery for him to go to. Hauritz is like an open invitation and that makes him classical . He lures the batsmen into comfort and then in the end prizes them off. Also he seems to have cured Aussie problem of being unable to wipe out the tail. The most worrying thing for me when I watch test cricket these days is the ball just whines from spinners not the usual rips and jumps at the batsmen even on the fifth day. And it brings almost classical innings in batsmen as well like back in 04 where Marty produced a classical 105 against a menacing Kumble & Harbhajan

  • sasimyname on January 27, 2010, 8:16 GMT

    Loved reading the article. Swann's ball to dismiss Ponting in the Ashes was surely legendary and should definitely hearten any finger spinner. It is very encouraging to see the rise of the art that had so many premature obituaries written and considered deceased.

  • Cairnzee on January 27, 2010, 8:02 GMT

    So they're talking about good finger spinners, but not great spinners i.e. Vettori and Murali, two who have revolutionised finger spin with changes in pace (Vettori) and the doosra (Murali)?

    Yes I do understand that this article is about how in recent times finger spin has advanced, with more on the international level, but it seems to be saying to some extent that there haven't been any decent finger spinners recently, when there have been.

    However, a very well write artcile, which emphasises how although Warne has retired, and Murali is due to retire soon, that the art of spin, is not lost.

  • AB99 on January 27, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    Just a passing mention of Murali and Harbhajan ... no mention of Ajmal .. they are the best off spinners in the world today .. better than the Hauritz, May, Swann and the rest of the ones mentioned. Vettori is miles ahead of Harris and Benn and he is missed out as well... this article is incomplete and shd we expect part two in the near future ....

  • preempalaver on January 27, 2010, 5:42 GMT

    Good article Peter Roebuck.But the swans ,the hauritz's .benn's et.al. have yet to play India .It's only then we shall know whether there is really a revival of inger-spin or just that the WI & SA are incompetent when it comes to playing spin. Benn didn't really touble the Australians.

  • CricFan78 on January 27, 2010, 5:16 GMT

    Harris, Swann and Hauritz is usual hype coming from western world again, two of them visited India in last 2 yrs and were average. Its so funny that Peter brushes aside Harbhajan by questioning his action and doosra. The same old story from west that unless we can master it has to be illegal, same was case with reverse swing. Poor Poor article and full of hypocrisy, off course cricinfo will block this comment.

  • Kushh on January 27, 2010, 5:00 GMT

    Whatever happend to murali? Why has he become sooo ineffective?

  • ChinmayD on January 27, 2010, 4:40 GMT

    Funnily enough, this article doesn't even mention the two best finger spinners in international circuit today -- Harbhajan Singh and Daniel Vettori.

  • mmatahaere on January 27, 2010, 3:37 GMT

    Peter, no mention of Vettori chap?

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  • mmatahaere on January 27, 2010, 3:37 GMT

    Peter, no mention of Vettori chap?

  • ChinmayD on January 27, 2010, 4:40 GMT

    Funnily enough, this article doesn't even mention the two best finger spinners in international circuit today -- Harbhajan Singh and Daniel Vettori.

  • Kushh on January 27, 2010, 5:00 GMT

    Whatever happend to murali? Why has he become sooo ineffective?

  • CricFan78 on January 27, 2010, 5:16 GMT

    Harris, Swann and Hauritz is usual hype coming from western world again, two of them visited India in last 2 yrs and were average. Its so funny that Peter brushes aside Harbhajan by questioning his action and doosra. The same old story from west that unless we can master it has to be illegal, same was case with reverse swing. Poor Poor article and full of hypocrisy, off course cricinfo will block this comment.

  • preempalaver on January 27, 2010, 5:42 GMT

    Good article Peter Roebuck.But the swans ,the hauritz's .benn's et.al. have yet to play India .It's only then we shall know whether there is really a revival of inger-spin or just that the WI & SA are incompetent when it comes to playing spin. Benn didn't really touble the Australians.

  • AB99 on January 27, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    Just a passing mention of Murali and Harbhajan ... no mention of Ajmal .. they are the best off spinners in the world today .. better than the Hauritz, May, Swann and the rest of the ones mentioned. Vettori is miles ahead of Harris and Benn and he is missed out as well... this article is incomplete and shd we expect part two in the near future ....

  • Cairnzee on January 27, 2010, 8:02 GMT

    So they're talking about good finger spinners, but not great spinners i.e. Vettori and Murali, two who have revolutionised finger spin with changes in pace (Vettori) and the doosra (Murali)?

    Yes I do understand that this article is about how in recent times finger spin has advanced, with more on the international level, but it seems to be saying to some extent that there haven't been any decent finger spinners recently, when there have been.

    However, a very well write artcile, which emphasises how although Warne has retired, and Murali is due to retire soon, that the art of spin, is not lost.

  • sasimyname on January 27, 2010, 8:16 GMT

    Loved reading the article. Swann's ball to dismiss Ponting in the Ashes was surely legendary and should definitely hearten any finger spinner. It is very encouraging to see the rise of the art that had so many premature obituaries written and considered deceased.

  • Amu7 on January 27, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    A nice article. Peter seems to have missed out on Vettori . But again Vettori to be fair since 2003 almost looks tired almost always going through the motions before an occassional spark lights him against Australia.Ajmal is a kind of an ODI bowler, not the ones to bowl in long form of the game simply because there isnt a stock delivery for him to go to. Hauritz is like an open invitation and that makes him classical . He lures the batsmen into comfort and then in the end prizes them off. Also he seems to have cured Aussie problem of being unable to wipe out the tail. The most worrying thing for me when I watch test cricket these days is the ball just whines from spinners not the usual rips and jumps at the batsmen even on the fifth day. And it brings almost classical innings in batsmen as well like back in 04 where Marty produced a classical 105 against a menacing Kumble & Harbhajan

  • paulantony on January 27, 2010, 9:14 GMT

    Peter, these new spinners have not been consistent enough to talk so highly about them, Agreed Swann has been performing well but it is only his 1st year in International cricket, the Difficult part is to sustain year after year. Remember Ajantha Mendis who had a even better impact than Swann has in his 1st year but faded away. Also these spinners have not played against teams who are good players of Spin bowling. So lets wait and watch what the year ahead holds for them.