No. 10 February 27, 2010

The googly

The delivery synonymous with subcontinental wizardry was invented by an Englishman; and the most famous of those was also bowled by one

Bernard Bosanquet: Inventor of the wrong 'un © Getty Images


When he developed the googly in 1900 - it was originally intended as a party piece to amuse his team-mates - Bernard Bosanquet brought mischief and deception to a hitherto straightforward game. It was two years in the making, and his first successful googly bounced four times before hitting the stumps. "It is not unfair," he said, "only immoral." With his first delivery in Australia, Bosanquet clean-bowled Victor Trumper with the wrong'un. Any attempt to put egg on face - flipper, doosra, slower ball, effort ball, reverse-sweep - owes its existence to the Bosie.

In time the delivery became synonymous with subcontinental wizardry: Abdul Qadir was perhaps the best googly bowler of all. Ironic, then, that it was developed by an Englishman, and that the most famous googly of all came out of the back of an English hand. The wrong'un is cricket at its most artistic; yet for art a price must be paid: if Eric Hollies had never learnt to bowl a googly, Don Bradman would surely have finished with a Test average of 100.

This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine