June 6, 2012

Flatter, faster, weaker

Most Indian spinners today are content to bowl wicket to wicket rather than attack batsmen with turn and bounce. The IPL is to blame to a large extent
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When Chris Gayle hit Rahul Sharma for five consecutive sixes in an IPL match in April, I found myself wondering not about Gayle's brute strength or his ability to hit sixes at will but the spinner's response to the onslaught. Would he slow it down, bowl a googly or try a big spinner?

Sharma changed his lines and lengths, but didn't significantly change his pace or variations. If anything, he bowled a bit quicker. Since he is believed to have modelled his action on the great Anil Kumble, it's worth deliberating how Kumble would have responded to such a situation. My educated guess tells me Kumble may have bowled a couple of googlies, taken the pace off another two, or tried a flipper, bowling it faster and pitching it short of a good length, so it skidded off the surface and forced Gayle to pull. All this may or may not have changed the outcome but the use of spinner's most potent weapon, deception, would definitely have made a contest of it.

Since Sharma is still cutting his teeth at international cricket, it's unfair to compare him to a man who has taken 600 Test wickets. But I like to believe that Kumble got to that milestone because of his desire to try something new each time, and not that he experimented only because he had a pile of wickets to support him. After all, records don't make men great; great men make records.

Let's take a look at how other spinners who have a realistic chance of playing for India in the next few years have responded in similar situations.

In the IPL, every time a left-hand batsman went after his bowling, Pragyan Ojha responded with yorkers aimed at the batsman's toes. Some missed their mark by a few inches, some were deposited into the stands by the likes of Gayle, and others went wide down the leg side.

Even Harbhajan Singh, despite his considerable experience, was guilty of bowling flat or fast yorkers under pressure.

Would Muttiah Muralitharan and Daniel Vettori have responded differently? Having watched them play in the IPL for the last five years, it's fair to say that both have enough tricks in the bag to not have to resort to bowling flat in these situations. Murali rarely bowls a yorker, for his strength lies in extracting spin off the surface and disguising his doosra. Vettori slows it down, keeps the ball hanging in the air for a fraction longer and changes his line to counter the onslaught.

R Ashwin is perhaps the only Indian fingerspinner willing to flight the ball, but unfortunately he too seems to be falling into the trap of bowling only doosras and carrom balls. He has compromised on a spinner's biggest strength, the ability to turn the ball, and his performance in Test cricket is getting affected by it.

Few try to get drift in the air or put enough revolutions on the ball to extract spin and bounce off the surface. Most spinners are just slow bowlers who break the monotony of seam bowling

Not surprisingly, legspinners Piyush Chawla and Amit Mishra refrained from bowling yorkers, because leggies struggle to find the blockhole at will. Mishra bowled variations in the latter part of the tournament, but Chawla wasn't too inclined to turn the ball away from the right-handers.

While it's a given that the best fast bowlers in the IPL will be overseas players, it's a worry if the best spinners are not Indian. But it's not just the IPL; there are no good spinners on India's domestic circuit either. Few try to get drift in the air or put enough revolutions on the ball to extract spin and bounce off the surface. Most spinners are just slow bowlers who break the monotony of seam bowling.

As young batsmen we were told to spend quality time honing our skills to defend against the turning ball. It was imperative to transfer the weight at just the right time, keep the bottom hand loose always, and play close to the body. To succeed in first-class cricket you had to have a solid defence and the ability to hit the turning ball along the ground.

We practised these by playing with a tennis ball from a short distance. Even then, hours of training weren't enough every time, because spinners like Bharati Vij, Venkatapathy Raju, Sunil Joshi, Kanwaljit Singh and others would use the SG Test ball to their advantage and extract both drift and spin. They would rarely bowl flat and fast, because even a batsman's fiercest assault could be countered by deception.

Turning the ball a bit more than expected to get bat-pad dismissals, beating the batsman in the drift and forcing him to edge it to slip, or exploiting poor weight transfer by getting the batsman caught at short cover or midwicket were regular modes of dismissals. As a batsman, it was imperative to look for the shiny side even when facing spinners, for that helped you read the direction of the drift and the arm balls.

Today, even talking about all this makes me feel nostalgic because I can't name a single spinner in the domestic circuit who uses these skills. I also don't see batsmen spending hours to get their forward defence watertight against spin. The only thing a modern batsman does is place the bat in front of the front pad to avoid lbw decisions. Most spinners, not looking to extract any turn, try to bowl wicket to wicket, expecting to get leg-before decisions in case the batsman misses the line. Fielders at short leg and silly point are of ornamental value, except on rank turners. This is a sorry state of affairs for a country that boasted many fine spinners.

The deterioration in the quality of spin started about a decade ago, but the IPL has aggravated it. Anyone willing to practise the traditional craft of spin bowling is routinely overlooked by the IPL talent scouts. The temptation of making it into an IPL team is so huge that compromising flight and spin for accuracy and flatter trajectories seems a small price to pay.

While there were many young left-arm spinners on show this IPL season, not one of them bowled with a high-arm action or looked suitable for the longer version of the game. The moment you bowl with a round-arm action and lower your arm, you cease to get bounce off the surface. It also doesn't allow you to put enough revolutions on the ball to get spin off the surface, which is why such bowlers rely heavily on dusty pitches to spin the ball.

It is a lovely sight to watch batsmen struggling to dig out accurate yorkers, but only if the practitioner operating 22 yards away is a fast bowler, not a spinner.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • OnlyKaps on June 9, 2012, 1:20 GMT

    Aakash, I like your choice of topics and the way you write. A lot of research, insightful and honest behind the scene info, and engaging without being know-all. You are fast becoming one of my favourite sport scribes. Keep it up!

  • Nampally on June 8, 2012, 20:59 GMT

    Lack of support in all formats of the game has killed the art of spinning. There once was the great Vinoo Mankad who could bowl LH spinners at the same spot with variations in flight, direction & amount of spin as well as the speed. He was the King of spin bowling & would have easily got rid of Gayle with his guile.Rohit Sharma is one dimensional spinner.In fact India does not have a true spinner at all. Harbhajan is a poor example of an off spinner.India had Ghulam Ahmad, Jasu Patel who could turn the off spinners like a top. India also had Subash Gupte whose leg spin turned > a foot on a reponsive wkts & who was deadly accurate. Bapu Nadkarni, Salim Durrani & Chandu Borde were great. Prasanna, Venkat, Chandra, Raju & Kumble were the last greats. But after them there has been total eclipse of good spinners in India.How can you develop them when Dhoni consistently benches spinners like Ojha, Rahul Sharma & prefers an all rounder instead.India needs visionary Captain & Selectors!.

  • ad2810 on June 8, 2012, 16:58 GMT

    it does highlight some of the reasons behind bhaji and ojha s failures and tells u how rahul sharma really got hit out for 31 runs. but i doubt it can be blamed on ipl. but it does give us an insight into what the bowlers would be thinking. As ojha had real promise 1or 2 years ago with deccan but with mumbai he was very inconsistent. i think chopra shud stop blaming ipl as it does also depend on other forms of the game as well. a good side is that the legspinners arent trying anything out of order

  • on June 7, 2012, 14:44 GMT

    I can't understand what is the problem of indian spinners.They comes like thunder storm and fade away in a few months.

  • rare2823 on June 7, 2012, 11:11 GMT

    all you guys, please stop bashing IPL for everything.... I dont think india was excellent touerers before IPL... it just hasnt changed in IPL era.... none of the Indian heros from IPL have played tests... its tsill the same Dravid, Laxman, Sachin... Ashwin came from IPL... he has played just 2 series (one huge success and another failure)... his failure also is coz of poor batting performance... what do you expet poor guy to do wen his capatin doesnt setup feild for wickets and his batsman bundle out for 150s.... Kohli came from IPL and he is already prooved his worth...

  • praful_cric on June 7, 2012, 9:52 GMT

    Excellent article... good to see somebody in cric info has heart to say the truth against IPL... Not even the spin bowling but overall Indian cricket is suffering. Just by winning world cup at home wont make any champion. Look at our overseas performance.

  • rare2823 on June 7, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    how true... superb article... I wont say we dont have enough spinners in domestic circit. its the mindset that has changed...even in IPL you saw captain of the best team in early stages, leave out a genuine let arm spinner in place of another who is OK but can bat better... Swan probably is the only spinner who flights... but then again would he if he doesnt have the cushion of James, Broad and the lethal fast ones in his team... he hardly made an inpact when england toured for ODI... Ashwin was fligting his, but if your team has 190 on board no one will have the heart to flight... even ones from the famous four of indian spin wont...

  • super_kings123 on June 7, 2012, 4:33 GMT

    IPL destroys bowlers simply because it makes fast bowlers bowl slow bouncers and spinners are bowling fast yorkers..... game is being destroyed...

  • johnathonjosephs on June 7, 2012, 2:36 GMT

    True, true. For this you need to blame T20 cricket for which bowlers will not dare to flight up the ball and spin (unless you have someone like Murali/Warne/Vettori). And for that, yes you must blame the IPL (T20's biggest supporter)

  • AvidCricFan on June 7, 2012, 0:27 GMT

    Chopra's assessment of declining spin quality is totally off. I would say ODI killed it not T20. India hasn't had quality spinners since long except for brief period of Harbhajan's performance in early part of last decade. Kumble was not the classical spinner. He was never a big turner of the ball nor a fligther. He was more on pace and subtle variations and top spinner. India has not produced the quality spinner after the famous spinner quartet of Bedi, Chandra, Prasanna, and Venkat. The real demise for this skill is shorter format of the game and flat wickets that started with ODIs not T20.

  • OnlyKaps on June 9, 2012, 1:20 GMT

    Aakash, I like your choice of topics and the way you write. A lot of research, insightful and honest behind the scene info, and engaging without being know-all. You are fast becoming one of my favourite sport scribes. Keep it up!

  • Nampally on June 8, 2012, 20:59 GMT

    Lack of support in all formats of the game has killed the art of spinning. There once was the great Vinoo Mankad who could bowl LH spinners at the same spot with variations in flight, direction & amount of spin as well as the speed. He was the King of spin bowling & would have easily got rid of Gayle with his guile.Rohit Sharma is one dimensional spinner.In fact India does not have a true spinner at all. Harbhajan is a poor example of an off spinner.India had Ghulam Ahmad, Jasu Patel who could turn the off spinners like a top. India also had Subash Gupte whose leg spin turned > a foot on a reponsive wkts & who was deadly accurate. Bapu Nadkarni, Salim Durrani & Chandu Borde were great. Prasanna, Venkat, Chandra, Raju & Kumble were the last greats. But after them there has been total eclipse of good spinners in India.How can you develop them when Dhoni consistently benches spinners like Ojha, Rahul Sharma & prefers an all rounder instead.India needs visionary Captain & Selectors!.

  • ad2810 on June 8, 2012, 16:58 GMT

    it does highlight some of the reasons behind bhaji and ojha s failures and tells u how rahul sharma really got hit out for 31 runs. but i doubt it can be blamed on ipl. but it does give us an insight into what the bowlers would be thinking. As ojha had real promise 1or 2 years ago with deccan but with mumbai he was very inconsistent. i think chopra shud stop blaming ipl as it does also depend on other forms of the game as well. a good side is that the legspinners arent trying anything out of order

  • on June 7, 2012, 14:44 GMT

    I can't understand what is the problem of indian spinners.They comes like thunder storm and fade away in a few months.

  • rare2823 on June 7, 2012, 11:11 GMT

    all you guys, please stop bashing IPL for everything.... I dont think india was excellent touerers before IPL... it just hasnt changed in IPL era.... none of the Indian heros from IPL have played tests... its tsill the same Dravid, Laxman, Sachin... Ashwin came from IPL... he has played just 2 series (one huge success and another failure)... his failure also is coz of poor batting performance... what do you expet poor guy to do wen his capatin doesnt setup feild for wickets and his batsman bundle out for 150s.... Kohli came from IPL and he is already prooved his worth...

  • praful_cric on June 7, 2012, 9:52 GMT

    Excellent article... good to see somebody in cric info has heart to say the truth against IPL... Not even the spin bowling but overall Indian cricket is suffering. Just by winning world cup at home wont make any champion. Look at our overseas performance.

  • rare2823 on June 7, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    how true... superb article... I wont say we dont have enough spinners in domestic circit. its the mindset that has changed...even in IPL you saw captain of the best team in early stages, leave out a genuine let arm spinner in place of another who is OK but can bat better... Swan probably is the only spinner who flights... but then again would he if he doesnt have the cushion of James, Broad and the lethal fast ones in his team... he hardly made an inpact when england toured for ODI... Ashwin was fligting his, but if your team has 190 on board no one will have the heart to flight... even ones from the famous four of indian spin wont...

  • super_kings123 on June 7, 2012, 4:33 GMT

    IPL destroys bowlers simply because it makes fast bowlers bowl slow bouncers and spinners are bowling fast yorkers..... game is being destroyed...

  • johnathonjosephs on June 7, 2012, 2:36 GMT

    True, true. For this you need to blame T20 cricket for which bowlers will not dare to flight up the ball and spin (unless you have someone like Murali/Warne/Vettori). And for that, yes you must blame the IPL (T20's biggest supporter)

  • AvidCricFan on June 7, 2012, 0:27 GMT

    Chopra's assessment of declining spin quality is totally off. I would say ODI killed it not T20. India hasn't had quality spinners since long except for brief period of Harbhajan's performance in early part of last decade. Kumble was not the classical spinner. He was never a big turner of the ball nor a fligther. He was more on pace and subtle variations and top spinner. India has not produced the quality spinner after the famous spinner quartet of Bedi, Chandra, Prasanna, and Venkat. The real demise for this skill is shorter format of the game and flat wickets that started with ODIs not T20.

  • on June 7, 2012, 0:22 GMT

    The art of spin bowling is all about persistence and deception. In T20 teams often don't have the luxury for allowing the spinners to bowl their heart out. That said likes of Murali, Kumble and Warne are exception. Ojha and Murali Karthik are the only genuine spinner we have and it is very unlikely MK is going to play for India ever again. Likes of Ganguly & Dhoni are not the kind of captains who allow their spinners to bowl freely. Ashwin has the variety and the skills to succeed, but his going round the wicket from the word go will not help him in the long run. Off spinner to go round the wicket should be surprise move. Bajji is over the hill as far as longer format, but should be ok for T20 & ODI. Akash has certainly touched on an important topic and hopefully guardians of Indian Cricket will pay attention to this article. Zac is a good bowler not a great one! Look at his 5 wickets haul, which should tell the tale. So we need good spinners to win Tests, forget overseas even at home

  • scripted on June 6, 2012, 23:52 GMT

    Can't quite place the logic of this article. The argument seems to be that the IPL is responsible for deterioration of spin bowling in *non-T20* games, yet Chopra gives examples from IPL matches to substantiate the argument. So ultimately the point being made is that the IPL is responsible for the lack of spin quality in the IPL. If so, the same statement can be made for all formats of the game, because the format of the game is, without a doubt, responsible to an extent for the quality of cricket therein! Chopra's articles are getting quite superficial each passing day.

  • Leggie on June 6, 2012, 19:31 GMT

    Excellent article. The impact has not been just on spinners. Even fast bowlers who are supposed to bowl fast resorts to "slower balls" as their weapons. Famously, while talking about Munaf Patel, Andy Roberts had apparently enquired why does he try to spin the ball :-) Fast bowlers also never try to swing the ball. A good out swinger can rarely be seen because of edges flying through the vacant slip cordon for boundaries, and in-swingers are all the more dangerous that can result in possible wides down the legside! T20 cricket is good if played in moderation. But if this deciding the money-oriented "career" aspiration of buddy cricketers, many more subtle aspects of cricket will disappear. We'll be better off watching baseball.

  • Rally_Windies on June 6, 2012, 19:30 GMT

    To the Indian spinner fans...

    you have to develop Negi .....

    he has the potential to be a #7 allrounder..... he is an excellent leftie ...

    Zaheer Kahan and Yadav are excellent strike bowlers... all India needs is some support for them .

  • nikhilshahb on June 6, 2012, 18:26 GMT

    Mohnish Parmar is the only world class spinner in the Indian domestics. His action needed correction a few years back. His FF bowling record is 92 wickets at 18.42. He last played a LIST-A match on Feb 28, 2012

  • YS_USA on June 6, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    There should be separate players for T20 and test matches. Eg., Pujara did not play many IPL games, but is excelling in tests. Gayle and many WI IPL players are no good for tests, but, now are playing for shorter version of the game. With more matches, more money and more people playing, there should not be any shortage of good talent for both types of cricket.

  • Mr_Anonymous on June 6, 2012, 15:26 GMT

    I would look on this as a great opportunity. Luckily, we still have the great spinners alive and I am sure willing to help out. Maybe they should pick the top 10 prospects (maybe half of them under-22) and have some camps with Prasanna, Chandra, Bedi, Venkat, Kumble at the NCA. While the IPL might be a small cause in the decline, the fact that we have no names even in the domestic circuit seems to suggest its a more deep rooted problem. I think finding a talented young spinner will be the biggest boost to this effort as the presence of one inspirational spinner will spur others on. In that sense, young viewers watching Narine in the IPL should be inspired.

    I agree with Xolile, the IPL should not be a place to evaluate spinners. Its more of a 1st day pitch (rather than 4th or 5th day pitch), ball is new and boundaries are very close (and that even edges go for sixes).

    Bhajji has been bowling defensively for many years (even before 2008 IPL). He has the talent but has lost confidence.

  • Selassie-I on June 6, 2012, 14:36 GMT

    IPL is a bowler's graveyard, the whole tournament is set up in favour of the bat - flat tracks, short boundries, free hits etc. Glad the english bowlers haven't gone... any top class bowler is really just being paid a load of money to be hit around the park...

  • india_rulzz on June 6, 2012, 14:12 GMT

    Hi Aakash, Very good article from an astute student of the game. But my personal opinion is that we do have such spinners, atleast two of whom I can remeber. 1. Murali Kartik who has been out of favour for GOD knows what. I believe he is the best left arm spinner in the world, let alone India. 2. Ramesh Powar who is hefty but that does not cut down his bowling at all. I haven't seen an Indian spinner being so bold in tossing up the ball since I started watching cricket (1994). Please do reply if you read this.

  • rvenkat on June 6, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    2/2 Shahbaz Nadeem was a classical left arm spinner, who was willing to flight the ball, getting lots of turn and in the process puzzling the batsmen. Who knows, if he can step up, he can be one of those classical test left arm spinners we are looking for. Harbhajan's is an interesting case. This man has loads of wickets, has been a champion and suddenly he seems to have lost everything. When you look back at the slide, it all started after the T20 world cup where he was bowling those so called real fast off spinning yorkers. And when he came back to test cricket, his loop and turn were gone and he was dishing out those fast deliveries even in tests too.For a man with so much experience, the transition was so horrible that now he finds himself out of reckoning. Take a look at those first two overs Harbhajan bowled against CSK in the eliminator. For a moment I thought we are going to see Bhajji of the old I was proved wrong once again looking at the way he bowled the last one.

  • rvenkat on June 6, 2012, 13:48 GMT

    1/2 As always, well written Aakash. I would like to make few points here. I think the most important thing with regard to spinners is making the transition from the shorter format to the longer format and vice versa. Take the case of R.Ashwin. I didn't see him bowl even a single carrom ball against WI at home. In Aus when there was no help what so ever, he resorted to carrom balls occasionally. But whereas in T20s he bowls those variation often.And take the case of his battle with Chris Gayle two years ago in IPL(Gayle was in KKR then). First two balls were dispatched over the ropes and the third one was pulled back with lots of flight and turn and Gayle was stumped.I feel T20s are basically about out thinking the batsmen more than anything else whereas test cricket involves lot of grind. I'm surprised you didn't mention Shahbaz Nadeem here.He was one the bowlers, i thought, was fantastic.Puzzled that he didn't get to play the whole tournament

  • on June 6, 2012, 13:44 GMT

    Ridiculous. Vettori is famous for his speedy stump to stump bowling. Hence he gets so few top order wickets, his job is to restrict. Very few genuine spinners of the ball have existed. Even Swann is more a flat bowler. Murali and Warne were the two big spinners of the ball, and Kumble had a bit of turn but nothing significant.

  • on June 6, 2012, 13:29 GMT

    Akash..can you tell the same about the spinners in domestic matches? leave the IPL alone..

  • on June 6, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    We simply do not have any good international quality bowlers. It is depressing to see Vinay Kumar and Irfan Pathan open the bowling for India. And yet these guys get paid millions in the IPL. In any other country they would be playing second level domestic cricket. I think no Indian bowler should be paid more than $50,000 in the IPL, even that is a lot for them.

  • murthydn16 on June 6, 2012, 12:37 GMT

    Kumble was the last great spinner India had. Though Bhajji played for quite a long time, it was mainly because of his exploits against the aussies a decade ago and frequent bursts of bag of wickets in between. BCCI has failed to utilise the expertise of Prasanna, Venkatraghavan, Chandrashekar and Kumble himself.

  • tearawayquick on June 6, 2012, 12:02 GMT

    The best spinner in India now is Savhin Tendulkar...followed by Sehwag..

    Time to look betond Bhajji,Aswin,Mishra,Chawla and Ojha.. They are at the best steady but cannot win you matches abroad...

  • AMAZINGFAN on June 6, 2012, 11:28 GMT

    u cannot expect everyonr to be like ajmal or muralidharan.u saw in ipl final where ashwin tossed the ball to bisla but he got hit for runs in that match because boundaries are shortened.everyone said rahul sharma is next kumble.but he also got smacked gayle.there are no good spinners in india.harbhajan has past his prime.it is difficult to say whether he is a spinner now or a medium pacer.but ashwin and ojha are currently the best when it come to indian spinners.

  • Sultan2007 on June 6, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    Intriguing article and one that you cannot disagree with unfortunately. It did get me to thinking about Harbhajan though. What prevents a bowler such as him to review the recordings of his towering success in that famous Australia Series in India and replicate what drove his success? Are his fingers losing their flexibility and strength? Surely, with all his experience, he has the ability to land the ball where he wants to!

  • on June 6, 2012, 10:16 GMT

    Looking at the records in this IPL the top3 spinners have been Sunil Narine, Shakib Al Hassas and Murlitharan..no Indian spinner in top 3 and thats mainly because of their lack of ability..India needs to work on their spinner more than pacers it seems, pacers like Umesh Yadav, Balaji & Awana have done well. Most countries around the world have better spinners than India, Pakistan have Saeed Ajma,Abdur Rehman, Shahid Afridi, Sri Lanka have Herath & Randiv, England have Swann

  • rajesh_sehwag on June 6, 2012, 10:06 GMT

    Another great article by Mr Aakash Chopra.I think its high time that spinners get back back their magic.I completely agree that spinners had to succumb to the requirement of the situation.People i would also like to remind the fate of AMIT MISHRA who went for plenty last ipl and was one of the rare cases where the bowler took the toll for doing what he had to..i.e spinning the ball....hardly ever bowled yorkers....thats one reason why we feel that spinners are going to be endangered species....hope they get enough encouragement...

  • WickyRoy.paklover on June 6, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    Varun aarun,yadav,ishant sharma,sreesanth,piyush Chawla,ashwin,negi,harbhajan,rahul sharma,ravindra jadeja,ALL R A BUNCH OF AVERAGE N BELOW AVERAGS,NTHNG ELESE,ZAK Z AN EXCEPTN THOUGH

  • Dude.Cricket on June 6, 2012, 9:52 GMT

    Modern day spinners lack the patience and simply want quick returns by bowling flatter and quicker. Even though Kumble never flighted as much as everyone would have wanted, he had basic intelligence as a bowler and was able assess the situation quickly. I've not seen any spinner bowl a flipper like Anil did, still remember Steve Waugh losing his off stump to a flipper in Chennai test. Current spinners are run of the mill guys who just want to send down number of balls and lack the passion for the skill. They panic with the pace of the game and just bowl quicker and quicker. Would love to see Swann in IPL and his reaction when batsmen try to get on top.

  • jb633 on June 6, 2012, 8:54 GMT

    A very interesting article and very accurate. I think in particular leg spiners will suffer as a result of T20 cricket. With the focus being entirley upon containment the chance that a leg spinner will go for plenty puts captains off bowling them. The prime example is Steve Smith in the IPL. I saw on three occasions Ganguly bowl his garbage medium pace ahead of a talented leggie. The fear invoked in captains of bowling a leg spinner is ruining the art. I fear that we may not see the art flourish as it did in the 90's with Warne/ Kumble/ McGill/ M Ahmed bowling it with great control and skill. I really do fear about the damage the T20 game is doing to cricket and that it is becoming a worse game because of it.

  • renegademike on June 6, 2012, 8:08 GMT

    wat do you expect, with the boundaries getting shorter and the bats getting bigger!!!!! As a spinner u try to decieve the batsman through the air and off the track, but if even the miss hits clear the boundary then u cant really question the spinner. Akash says here that Sharma has modelled his action on the great Kumble, and would have he tried something else under such an on slaught. Well my mind goes way back to 1997 in chennai when saeed anwar made 194. he took 26 runs of Kumble's one over hitting him for 4 sixes. and I didnt quite see sharma bowling anything different from what Kumble tried on that day. Yes the Indian spinners have forgotten the art of spinning the ball, but it is not overnight. As a spinner you should be prepared to be hit for sixes in your persuit to buy a wicket, but Indian spinners including Harbhajan Singh who has played almost 100 tests and bagged 400+ wickets dont like giving runs.IPL is the culprit behind this , we all know but cant do anything about it

  • getsetgopk on June 6, 2012, 7:58 GMT

    Add fast bowling to that too, fast bowlers go cross seam from ball one, lightening fast outfields with 60 meter boundaries. 'Take the pace' of the ball has become a norm in T20 cricket and forget about swing bowling and things like reverse swing. And one other thing, if Test cricket lost its audience followed by ODI's to an extent then one day T20 will loose its charm of 4's and 6's what will they do next, a F5?

  • PHANTOM-X on June 6, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    Not only Indian Spinners...(NOT because IPL)The Legend Muththiah Muralidharan had a Big spinning off break...many batsman got bowled trying to cover drive him or while trying playing the late cut, for unknown reason he began to bowl stump to stump in his latter part of his career...I think Stump to stump method is good when people don't pick his doosra and the top spinner (he got lots of LBW's)...once u pick which way the ball is spinning it's not difficult to hit him....

  • BellCurve on June 6, 2012, 7:16 GMT

    Great topic! But unfortunately your analysis is flawed. Did you know that Kumble took 75 Test wickets at and average of 42.49 in the 1st innings when playing away, and 61 wickets at 16.77 in the 4th innings when playing at home? In the IPL players always play on Day1 pitches, and the boundaries are much shorter. If you toss it up you're not going to extract prodigious spin, because the Day1 pitch conditions do not provide enough grip. Moreover, if you get it just slightly wrong batsmen like Gayle will have no trouble hoisting you high over the ropes for a DFL maximum. Also, these guys use their bottom hands in a big way. There is no room for loose bottom hands in T20 cricket. So forget about textbook cricket. The T20 cricket favours for big strong men like Gayle, Levi, Pietersen and Warner. That's why Indians will eventually fall out of love with the format as it is not complimentary to the more artistic/technical skills of India's favourite batsmen.

  • its.rachit on June 6, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    just like every one else, another article blaming IPL for every thing wrong with cricket ... how can you blame IPL for the falling standards of spin bowling ... one needs to adapt ... if sunil narine and muralitharan could adapt, why couldn't the indian bowlers do so ... just shows they are not good enough ... and i ask one question, Indian spinners have never ever done well overseas (including the spin triplet; venkatraghavan was just about OK in India also) .. there have been fine performances by chandra, prasanna, kumble overseas,but by and large they failed to weave the same magic abroad ... whom will you blame for that ?? IPL ... what about the scores of spinners who came into limelight in the 90s and 00s and then fell apart ... some day we will start laming the IPL for the 4-0 white washes in eng and aus .. or wait, havent we already done that ...

  • HadleeCrowe on June 6, 2012, 7:05 GMT

    Kumble try soemthing new each time????? Did we watch the same bowler ... He used to frustrated batsmen out and bowled generally a very flat, quick trajectory compared to say some like abdul Qadir who certainly DID try something different with each ball. Kumble was successful at t20 precisely because of his flat accurate bowling.

  • on June 6, 2012, 6:53 GMT

    Harby did well in NZ and SA , are they in subcontinent? agree with the rest.

  • on June 6, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    Spot on Aakash. There is not a single spinner in the domestic circuit who stands out (unless I'm missing something). Harbhajan Singh should never be picked to play for India, he is well past his prime. Trouble with Rahul Sharma, Piyush Chawla & even Amit Mishra is they can't turn the ball away from the right hander, they just don't have it in them. Pragyan Ojha & Ashwin are the only one who are okay to say the least but good players of spin bowling or even someone who is unorthodox can easily send both of them on a leather hunt. One can understand IPL but even in 4 day games you don't get to hear spinners causing havoc and I strongly believe quality of pitches are the not the only reason, India just can't produce a spinner who is knocking on the doors of National team. I say this again unless Ashwin bowls like a traditional offie he wll struggle, remember when he dismmissed Aussie tailender in the 1st test by tossing the bowl. He has the quality but seems obssesed with carrom ball.

  • Ajayvs on June 6, 2012, 6:14 GMT

    It is a fact that T20 curtails the development of young cricketers both batters and bowlers. I dont think too many young batters would spend long hours in the nets acquiring a water tight defence or young spinners would like to flight the ball like a Bedi or Prasanna. Unfortunately many of the cricket experts also dont seem to agree on this. Anyways IPL is here to stay, so no choice just go with the flow...

  • on June 6, 2012, 5:58 GMT

    Every spinner needs a big heart and lots of courage to bowl such deliveries. The IPL isn't contributing in this cause. On the other hand, Nathon Lyon of Australia, who I never expected, bowls such beautiful flights with great courage. India is never good with her pace battery, and now it is a sorry state if the spinners lose their mojo as well. How long are they going to survive and actually 'win' tests only by their batting?

  • SouthPaw on June 6, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    Akash: Surely you must have seen the great Prasanna's interview by Harsha in the IPL and didn't he say that he would like to see spinners (especially Harbhajan) flight a lot more? He also said that the spinners weapons were flight, spin and deception in the air.

  • Leggie on June 6, 2012, 5:45 GMT

    Excellent article. The impact has not been just on spinners. Even fast bowlers who are supposed to bowl fast resorts to "slower balls" as their weapons. Famously, while talking about Munaf Patel, Andy Roberts had apparently enquired why does he try to spin the ball :-) Fast bowlers also never try to swing the ball. A good out swinger can rarely be seen because of edges flying through the vacant slip cordon for boundaries, and in-swingers are all the more dangerous that can result in possible wides down the legside! T20 cricket is good if played in moderation. But if this deciding the money-oriented "career" aspiration of buddy cricketers, many more subtle aspects of cricket will disappear. We'll be better off watching baseball.

  • sweetspot on June 6, 2012, 5:40 GMT

    Six weeks of IPL every year to blame for the decline of Indian spinners? A good spin bowler should be able to adapt and perform in all contests. Cricket itself is changing. And I really don't want to see another Bedi getting 5 for 225 in a dragging Test match.

  • Pacelikefire_Samrat on June 6, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    Well written,good quality spinners are now a rare sight.It would be easier to spot a dinosaur than seeing a spinner flight the ball these days.The IPL is to be blamed undoubtedly,it has made the off break redundant.Even leg spinners have suffered.The leg spinner was always a wicket taking bowler who would go for a few runs but would still end taking wickets.But with the boundary lines getting shorter,the bats they use these days-even a mishit clears the ropes with ease are not encouraging bowlers to toss the ball up even in test matches.Maybe a few changes like pulling the boundary lines back a bit would encourage bowlers a bit to toss the ball up.A final reading of 20/0 of 4 overs might look great in a t20 match but not so in a test match.Over reliance on the doosra by finger spinners and the googly by leg break bowlers are not helping matters either.Let the IPL be played on bigger grounds and dry pitches with cracks,maybe that would do.

  • on June 6, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    murali karthik is supposed to be the best spinner in india if he plays for india he flights and attacks very well!!!! once kumble is gone,spin is gone, a new spinner shuld be born!!!!!

  • Vikas_USIT on June 6, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    That Ajit Chandila, a classical flight and turn offie got the only hat-trick of this year's IPL, further brings home your point. Good article.

  • venkatesh018 on June 6, 2012, 4:18 GMT

    Superb article, Akash. The deterioration in the quality of spinners' just mirrors the downgrade in the general standard of Indian cricket post IPL. There are still some noble exceptions like 18 year old Aushik Srinivas, who plays Ranji for Tamilnadu.

  • dalesteyn123 on June 6, 2012, 4:15 GMT

    i think IPL is definitely to blame for this... but even before IPL came post 2000 india has hardly produced a good spinner.........I mean except a few performances here and there harbhajan has not performed at all unless the match was in subcontinent ...Many times Sehwag looked a better spinner than harbhajan,,,,,, Ashwin also does not seem to know anything but to contain.....

  • Percy_Fender on June 6, 2012, 4:12 GMT

    In his prime Prasanna was probably the finest off spinner ever. He had big turn, deceptive flight,drift and above all the accuracy and control of his skills. The man had a big heart also which is crucial for a spinner. Though there were no speed guns in his days, after seeing some of the spinners of today bowl and the speed gun reading,I think Prasanna must have bowled mostly at around 50 mph. For me that is the ideal speed for most good spinners.Provided they have the necessary control,variations and crease use intelligence for most balls at around that pace, 50 mph.In the last IPL Chawla became better in the latter half.In fact I observed than when he bowled at around 50 mph, he was good.He has the variations and the intelligence as well.He needs a good captain though like Gilchrist was.Maybe he will flourish under Gambhir if he becomes captain. But I have hopes of Chawla. Anil Kumble was a great thinker of the game. That explains how he excelled on his 2nd trip to Australia in 2004.

  • landl47 on June 6, 2012, 3:37 GMT

    Where T20 (not just the IPL) is going to hurt the technique of both bowlers and batsmen is that the emphasis on scoring quickly for batsmen and preventing scoring for bowlers makes those skills their only concern. There are no close fielders, because taking wickets is not the bowlers' main aim, and defence is not a focus for batsmen because they must score off as many balls as possible. Fast bowlers are perhaps the least affected of all the disciplines, but even for them swing and seam are not much of an issue because there is no-one to catch the edges. It has to be realized that T20 has little in common with traditional cricket and young players seeking to be good T20 players aren't going to learn the skills needed for longer-format (first-class and test) games. England and Australia, where tests are given higher priority, are less likely to be affected, but where are India going to find replacements once their current test stars retire?

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  • landl47 on June 6, 2012, 3:37 GMT

    Where T20 (not just the IPL) is going to hurt the technique of both bowlers and batsmen is that the emphasis on scoring quickly for batsmen and preventing scoring for bowlers makes those skills their only concern. There are no close fielders, because taking wickets is not the bowlers' main aim, and defence is not a focus for batsmen because they must score off as many balls as possible. Fast bowlers are perhaps the least affected of all the disciplines, but even for them swing and seam are not much of an issue because there is no-one to catch the edges. It has to be realized that T20 has little in common with traditional cricket and young players seeking to be good T20 players aren't going to learn the skills needed for longer-format (first-class and test) games. England and Australia, where tests are given higher priority, are less likely to be affected, but where are India going to find replacements once their current test stars retire?

  • Percy_Fender on June 6, 2012, 4:12 GMT

    In his prime Prasanna was probably the finest off spinner ever. He had big turn, deceptive flight,drift and above all the accuracy and control of his skills. The man had a big heart also which is crucial for a spinner. Though there were no speed guns in his days, after seeing some of the spinners of today bowl and the speed gun reading,I think Prasanna must have bowled mostly at around 50 mph. For me that is the ideal speed for most good spinners.Provided they have the necessary control,variations and crease use intelligence for most balls at around that pace, 50 mph.In the last IPL Chawla became better in the latter half.In fact I observed than when he bowled at around 50 mph, he was good.He has the variations and the intelligence as well.He needs a good captain though like Gilchrist was.Maybe he will flourish under Gambhir if he becomes captain. But I have hopes of Chawla. Anil Kumble was a great thinker of the game. That explains how he excelled on his 2nd trip to Australia in 2004.

  • dalesteyn123 on June 6, 2012, 4:15 GMT

    i think IPL is definitely to blame for this... but even before IPL came post 2000 india has hardly produced a good spinner.........I mean except a few performances here and there harbhajan has not performed at all unless the match was in subcontinent ...Many times Sehwag looked a better spinner than harbhajan,,,,,, Ashwin also does not seem to know anything but to contain.....

  • venkatesh018 on June 6, 2012, 4:18 GMT

    Superb article, Akash. The deterioration in the quality of spinners' just mirrors the downgrade in the general standard of Indian cricket post IPL. There are still some noble exceptions like 18 year old Aushik Srinivas, who plays Ranji for Tamilnadu.

  • Vikas_USIT on June 6, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    That Ajit Chandila, a classical flight and turn offie got the only hat-trick of this year's IPL, further brings home your point. Good article.

  • on June 6, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    murali karthik is supposed to be the best spinner in india if he plays for india he flights and attacks very well!!!! once kumble is gone,spin is gone, a new spinner shuld be born!!!!!

  • Pacelikefire_Samrat on June 6, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    Well written,good quality spinners are now a rare sight.It would be easier to spot a dinosaur than seeing a spinner flight the ball these days.The IPL is to be blamed undoubtedly,it has made the off break redundant.Even leg spinners have suffered.The leg spinner was always a wicket taking bowler who would go for a few runs but would still end taking wickets.But with the boundary lines getting shorter,the bats they use these days-even a mishit clears the ropes with ease are not encouraging bowlers to toss the ball up even in test matches.Maybe a few changes like pulling the boundary lines back a bit would encourage bowlers a bit to toss the ball up.A final reading of 20/0 of 4 overs might look great in a t20 match but not so in a test match.Over reliance on the doosra by finger spinners and the googly by leg break bowlers are not helping matters either.Let the IPL be played on bigger grounds and dry pitches with cracks,maybe that would do.

  • sweetspot on June 6, 2012, 5:40 GMT

    Six weeks of IPL every year to blame for the decline of Indian spinners? A good spin bowler should be able to adapt and perform in all contests. Cricket itself is changing. And I really don't want to see another Bedi getting 5 for 225 in a dragging Test match.

  • Leggie on June 6, 2012, 5:45 GMT

    Excellent article. The impact has not been just on spinners. Even fast bowlers who are supposed to bowl fast resorts to "slower balls" as their weapons. Famously, while talking about Munaf Patel, Andy Roberts had apparently enquired why does he try to spin the ball :-) Fast bowlers also never try to swing the ball. A good out swinger can rarely be seen because of edges flying through the vacant slip cordon for boundaries, and in-swingers are all the more dangerous that can result in possible wides down the legside! T20 cricket is good if played in moderation. But if this deciding the money-oriented "career" aspiration of buddy cricketers, many more subtle aspects of cricket will disappear. We'll be better off watching baseball.

  • SouthPaw on June 6, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    Akash: Surely you must have seen the great Prasanna's interview by Harsha in the IPL and didn't he say that he would like to see spinners (especially Harbhajan) flight a lot more? He also said that the spinners weapons were flight, spin and deception in the air.