New Zealand in West Indies, 2014 May 23, 2014

You don't have to throw - Craig

ESPNcricinfo staff

Mark Craig is the latest New Zealand spinner to be given the chance to make a name for himself in the post Daniel Vettori era and believes he can have an impact in West Indies even though he does not possess a quirky action.

Craig, a 27-year-old offspinner with the undistinguished first-class average of 42.88, benefitted from Jeetan Patel's decision to turn down a chance to tour in favour of his county deal with Warwickshire and there is a strong chance a Test debut will follow when the series begins in Jamaica on June 8.

With West Indies looking to avenge their 2-0 series defeat in New Zealand late last year, and their trump card bowlers against side that can struggle against spin being Shane Shillingford and Sunil Narine, pitches are expected to take turn for the three Tests which creates the possibility of Craig joining forces with legspinner Ish Sodhi who made his debut against Bangladesh last year and has played six Tests.

Craig concedes he does not have the magic of the unorthodox finger spinners around the world - there is no doosra or carrom ball to flummox batsmen - but does not believe that inevitably prevents him from having success at the top level.

"I mean, you look at Graeme Swann, he's been a very successful off spinner and he doesn't throw the ball at all," Craig told the Dominion Post. "He's been a conventional off spinner so I think there's still a place in the game for those guys that don't throw the ball. It just means that you've got to work that little bit harder in terms of deceiving guys in the air and things like that, if you don't have the one that goes the other way.

"I basically just try and give the ball as big a rip as I can and spin the ball big and get a bit of drop on the ball and bring in that bounce and try and catch a glove or go through-the-gate to the righties or lbw or nick off to the lefties."

If Craig's debut does come at Sabina Park it will bring him head-to-head with Chris Gayle in his 100th Test. New Zealand's impressive new-ball attack of Tim Southee and Trent Boult will aim to dispense of Gayle early, but if it does become Craig's job to bowl at him he will relish the challenge.

"I'm not over-awed by bowling to him," Craig said. It's a good opportunity, not for bragging rights, but if I get him out it's going to be pretty exciting. I don't mind getting hit out of the ground every now and then. Then the job's about getting him out."

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  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2014, 4:25 GMT

    Good man, being straight up. Sounds like some of you people are too sensitive to someone's opinion. Who cares that he hasn't played test cricket and has an average of over 40 playing first class. Different pitches in WI then in NZ so we may see him flourish. Good on him telling the public his view, need more people like him. No point hiding in the behind someone's back. Be straight up.

  • Imran on May 24, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    Throw the ball or bowl it, what distinguishes a world class bowler from others is the ability to land the ball at the desired place consistently. Ajmal, Narine and Murli are successful as they are consistent with their line and length. Herath, Vetori and Swann are also good example where they bowl conventionally but use the variety they have. Imran Tahir has the most variety but not world class yet as he gives too many loose balls. So 15 degree or less is not as important as is the consistency.

  • Steve on May 24, 2014, 4:48 GMT

    Craig is just expressing his view, however unpopular it may be. I think it is a stretch to call him ignorant when he is playing cricket for a living and close to the action. Many fast bowlers actions also change when they bowl an effort ball or bouncer. I don't have any issue with this point of view being expressed.

  • Dummy4 on May 24, 2014, 4:20 GMT

    What did Ish do wrong? He's the future, not Craig.

  • jared on May 24, 2014, 3:08 GMT

    pretty rude of craig to presume you have to throw the ball in order to have variations as an off spinner, yes there have been a couple of players with dodgey actions in recent years but then there are guys like narine with a clean action who gets the ball to go both ways, guys like craig need to be learning these variations to lift their games to a higher level, orthidox spinners still have a place in the game, vettori and swan have proved that, it remains to be seen whether craig is in this league or not, if not he needs to get off his high horse and introduce these variations into his game or he will always be cannon fodder to international batsmen. think nz would be foolish to go in with two spinners anyway despite the pitches, seam is our strength, play to your strengths, williamson is probably a better spinner than craig anyway so why weaken the side

  • harvey on May 24, 2014, 2:07 GMT

    What a way to start your international career, by mocking the opposition's bowlers,'you don't need to throw'. Now if people said that about Kyle Mills or Tim Southee he'd be frustrated. If you are within the legal limit, you're cleared if you are not, then you're banned. This happened to Shillingford who has had remedial work and if he were to breach again he would be banned. Just get on with the game.

  • andrew on May 23, 2014, 23:34 GMT

    Craig was an embarrassing selection to begin with. Now this nobody from nowhere is making embarrassing comments about unorthodox spinners who have been there, done that and succeeded. I hope he doesn't make the playing XI and embarrass us anymore. What are you doing NZ cricket? Trying to throw away all the good work done over the home summer and destroy the good will that was created? All we have in the spinning department, with Vettori & Patel gone, is the hope that Sohdi might develop into a test quality spinner (which he isn't at the moment.) Williamson needs to be trusted more, he has decent control and spins the ball, he simply needs to gain experience and confidence to become be an adequate if not spectacular back up. The thought that Craig will play over Wagner or even Neesham makes me want to cry. NZ need to play to their strengths despite the pitch with the likes of Neesham, Henry, Gillespie and McClennaghan looking for a chance.

  • Dummy4 on May 23, 2014, 17:44 GMT

    I would really want to believe that Mr Craig is not very strong in the clear self expression when facing the media department and requires the help of a publicist or a public speaking coach. I Certainly hope he was not saying that spinners who use methods other than conventional offspin are chuckers. Because it is not his place to comment publicly on the actions of the opponents spinners, especially when the series has not started and persons whose actions were reported have been cleared after remedial action was taken. One certainly wood not want any bad blood between the teams going into the series but when players make comments like this things may not work out all honky dory. This is not very far from the "I intend to make them grovel comment made by Tony Greig back in 76. As Captain, Ramdin should ask Mr Craig to clarify his statement or request a public apology If not him then the West Indies Players association or someone should.

  • Venkat on May 23, 2014, 17:14 GMT

    He has not bowled a single ball in Test cricket, yet takes a dig at a few legends. Pch, very sad to read such opinions. If you do not know how to bowl the wrong one or the doosra that is an automatic qualification to rile anyone who bowls it. R Ashwin bowls the carrom ball with a perfect straight arm, so does Mendis. Look at Saqlain Mushtaq , an absolute legend and the inventor of the doosra was never called for suspected action.

  • Richard on May 23, 2014, 17:12 GMT

    @Rally_Windies:- Actually the Windies have always been considered very vulnerable to leg spin. Also, hate to be picky but the wrong'un is the leggie's 'offspinner', and should not be confused with the doosra.

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