New Zealand in West Indies, 2014 May 23, 2014

You don't have to throw - Craig

ESPNcricinfo staff
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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."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY 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.

  • POSTED BY Imranzia 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.

  • POSTED BY cricketlover111 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.

  • POSTED BY on | May 24, 2014, 4:20 GMT

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

  • POSTED BY kiwicricketnut 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

  • POSTED BY Whispering_Holding 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.

  • POSTED BY andrew82 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.

  • POSTED BY 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.

  • POSTED BY Venkat_Gowrishankar 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.

  • POSTED BY Biggus 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.

  • POSTED BY 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.

  • POSTED BY Imranzia 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.

  • POSTED BY cricketlover111 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.

  • POSTED BY on | May 24, 2014, 4:20 GMT

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

  • POSTED BY kiwicricketnut 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

  • POSTED BY Whispering_Holding 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.

  • POSTED BY andrew82 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.

  • POSTED BY 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.

  • POSTED BY Venkat_Gowrishankar 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.

  • POSTED BY Biggus 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.

  • POSTED BY Rally_Windies on | May 23, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    For 30 Years the WI domestic cricket has produced a long string of quality spinners who were ignored by the selectors ....

    The records will show that WI batsmen decimate foreign spinners on WI pitches !

    WI batsmen who make it to the Test level are usually very good against spin !

    NB> @ Chithirai Rajan Ramapandi

    I agree, conventional finger spinners (should) have no difference in arm straightening for their standard delivery and wrong-un .

  • POSTED BY BigINDFan on | May 23, 2014, 16:33 GMT

    This debate about throwing and degrees of bending the arm will never go away. The fact is bowlers in Eng, Aus and NZ are still schooled the old fashioned way of bowling and cannot accept the likes of Malinga, Narine, Murali, Ajmal etc. So in an era where bats are wider and not all the pitches offer turn or bounce, ICC should even the playing field and put an end to this debate - it is legal action if a bowler runs upto the wicket and delivers the ball either bouncing on the pitch or full toss below waist. No argument on how the bowler uses his arm. Batsmen all over live with that and work hard to pick the variations rather than getting easy runs on bad pitches.

  • POSTED BY on | May 23, 2014, 16:20 GMT

    Yep, Michael Holding was on the committee looking into the arm-straightening issue, and he was as surprised as anyone that someone like McGrath, with a seemingly perfectly orthodox delivery, was technically a chucker.

    Yes, there are some bowlers that go past the fifteen degrees, and they get taken out of the game until their actions are remedied (or permanently in extreme cases), but the guys who have been cleared don't deserve slanderous/libellous comments from ignorant people.

  • POSTED BY TheBigBoodha on | May 23, 2014, 16:20 GMT

    Anybody, and I mean ANYBODY, can see the HUGE difference that has emerged in the way off spinners bend their arm in the past 15 years. The difference is staggering. Yet what is even more staggering is the fact that even mentioning this change is forbidden! This is utter madness. What does it take to get a comment published which acknowledges this simple, observable fact? What good does it serve to pretend this is not happening?

  • POSTED BY on | May 23, 2014, 15:28 GMT

    Excellent comment Murali_the_greatest! I don'think i need to add anything here.

  • POSTED BY Murali_the_greatest on | May 23, 2014, 14:45 GMT

    I hope Mark Craig realises that 99% of bowlers straighten their arm when they bowl (fast or spin) as proven by research done in the Champions Trophy in 1999. I hope he realises that most bowlers were found to be straightening by between 10-15 degrees and that even bowlers with textbook actions like McGrath/Pollock/Gillespie were straightening their arm between 11 and 14 degrees during some deliveries. Hence the 15 degree rule - not arbitrary, not designed to suit one bowler just based on sound scientific data and common sense. Bowling with a bent arm doesn't equate to straightening of the elbow, if your arm starts the delivery cycle bent at 25 degrees and ends the delivery cycle bent at 25 degrees, then their is zero straightening and this is perfectly legitimate. Bowlers like Saeed Ajmal and Murali are AS LEGITIMATE AS ANYONE ELSE as explained above, so their is no need for the likes Mark Craig, Stuart Broad and MP Vaughan to be insinuating otherwise and detracting from their success.

  • POSTED BY on | May 23, 2014, 14:26 GMT

    R Ashwin (India) bowls the Carrom ball wearing short sleeve shirts. So there are ways for the finger spinners to bowl variations without bending the arm.

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  • POSTED BY on | May 23, 2014, 14:26 GMT

    R Ashwin (India) bowls the Carrom ball wearing short sleeve shirts. So there are ways for the finger spinners to bowl variations without bending the arm.

  • POSTED BY Murali_the_greatest on | May 23, 2014, 14:45 GMT

    I hope Mark Craig realises that 99% of bowlers straighten their arm when they bowl (fast or spin) as proven by research done in the Champions Trophy in 1999. I hope he realises that most bowlers were found to be straightening by between 10-15 degrees and that even bowlers with textbook actions like McGrath/Pollock/Gillespie were straightening their arm between 11 and 14 degrees during some deliveries. Hence the 15 degree rule - not arbitrary, not designed to suit one bowler just based on sound scientific data and common sense. Bowling with a bent arm doesn't equate to straightening of the elbow, if your arm starts the delivery cycle bent at 25 degrees and ends the delivery cycle bent at 25 degrees, then their is zero straightening and this is perfectly legitimate. Bowlers like Saeed Ajmal and Murali are AS LEGITIMATE AS ANYONE ELSE as explained above, so their is no need for the likes Mark Craig, Stuart Broad and MP Vaughan to be insinuating otherwise and detracting from their success.

  • POSTED BY on | May 23, 2014, 15:28 GMT

    Excellent comment Murali_the_greatest! I don'think i need to add anything here.

  • POSTED BY TheBigBoodha on | May 23, 2014, 16:20 GMT

    Anybody, and I mean ANYBODY, can see the HUGE difference that has emerged in the way off spinners bend their arm in the past 15 years. The difference is staggering. Yet what is even more staggering is the fact that even mentioning this change is forbidden! This is utter madness. What does it take to get a comment published which acknowledges this simple, observable fact? What good does it serve to pretend this is not happening?

  • POSTED BY on | May 23, 2014, 16:20 GMT

    Yep, Michael Holding was on the committee looking into the arm-straightening issue, and he was as surprised as anyone that someone like McGrath, with a seemingly perfectly orthodox delivery, was technically a chucker.

    Yes, there are some bowlers that go past the fifteen degrees, and they get taken out of the game until their actions are remedied (or permanently in extreme cases), but the guys who have been cleared don't deserve slanderous/libellous comments from ignorant people.

  • POSTED BY BigINDFan on | May 23, 2014, 16:33 GMT

    This debate about throwing and degrees of bending the arm will never go away. The fact is bowlers in Eng, Aus and NZ are still schooled the old fashioned way of bowling and cannot accept the likes of Malinga, Narine, Murali, Ajmal etc. So in an era where bats are wider and not all the pitches offer turn or bounce, ICC should even the playing field and put an end to this debate - it is legal action if a bowler runs upto the wicket and delivers the ball either bouncing on the pitch or full toss below waist. No argument on how the bowler uses his arm. Batsmen all over live with that and work hard to pick the variations rather than getting easy runs on bad pitches.

  • POSTED BY Rally_Windies on | May 23, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    For 30 Years the WI domestic cricket has produced a long string of quality spinners who were ignored by the selectors ....

    The records will show that WI batsmen decimate foreign spinners on WI pitches !

    WI batsmen who make it to the Test level are usually very good against spin !

    NB> @ Chithirai Rajan Ramapandi

    I agree, conventional finger spinners (should) have no difference in arm straightening for their standard delivery and wrong-un .

  • POSTED BY Biggus 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.

  • POSTED BY Venkat_Gowrishankar 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.

  • POSTED BY 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.