Spin bowling is all about subtlety and deception

Graphic. R. RAVIKANNAN-

There are times when spinners can come up against attacking players like say a Sehwag or a Dhoni. Quite obviously, the field placing needs to be altered accordingly and this can be done only if the spinner has enough control over his line and length, writes W. V. RAMAN.

A spinner needs to be handled properly by his captain and the way he is encouraged by his captain has a lot of bearing on his success. The reason for this is that generally spinners come in to bowl when the batsmen are reasonably set, unless of course the fast bowlers had sliced through the top order. Not only that, the pitch may not assist the spinners on the first or second day. Hence they need to be given enough leeway to deliver the goods.

Firstly, the captain must be specific on the role he wants his spinner to play. There could be times when a captain would rather want a spinner to bowl restrictively and frustrate the batsmen. This could be a typical scenario on the opening day of a duration game when the pitch is at its best and the batsmen are trying to gain ascendancy.

Secondly, the role of a spinner also depends on whether he is a finger spinner or a wrist spinner. Finger spinners are generally expected to be flexible while a wrist spinner is one-dimensional in that he is expected to attack.

Thirdly, the field that a captain sets is of paramount importance for a spinner to execute his job. Let me take the case of an off-spinner on a good track against a batsman who plays in the conventional manner. By conventional I mean that the batsman is looking to play along the ground and is very compact, say like Dravid. The field placing is a clear indication to the bowler of the line he should be bowling. The bowler is expected to bowl the off stump line as anything from around the middle can be worked away through the on side. An off stump line will make the batsman play down the line and unless width is given, any stroke through the off side presents a bit of a problem to the batsman. With the conditions not in favour of the spinner, he has to stick to bowling line and length and frustrate the batsman. The temptation to try and defy the conditions has to be resisted as the finger cannot really make the ball deviate a long way on a flat pitch. The options that are available are the variations in flight and subtle change of pace in the air. By change of pace, I am not suggesting that a spinner has to spear the ball at the batsmen. A subtle difference in pace can fox the batsman if he fails to spot it. One of the common problems young spinners have is in failing to realise that flighting the ball more does not mean just lobbing it up like a grenade. Whenever, a spinner decides to flight the ball more than he normally does, he has to impart enough spin for the ball to dip on the batsman. If he fails to do so, it becomes easier for a batsman to launch an offensive shot as there is no deception.

There are times when spinners can come up against attacking players like say a Sehwag or a Dhoni. Quite obviously, the field placing needs to be altered accordingly and this can be done only if the spinner has enough control over his line and length. The reason for this is simple — if a deep midwicket and long on are required, then the silly point fielder has to be sent to short midwicket and the point fielder has to be brought in at bat pad on the off side . By doing this, you are covering both the options of keeping a man out in the deep and also having a close in catcher. In this case, the bowler cannot afford to bowl short or give width on the off side. He has to be bowling a stump to stump line and the important thing is that he does not bowl quicker through the air and provide the batsman enough pace to facilitate power generation.

A spinner has to bowl trifle slower through the air and the trajectory can be flatter as the batsman has to generate the power behind his shots. By and large spinners tend to bowl quicker and quicker as the batsmen attack them but this helps the batsman more than it does the bowler. It is a real test both for a captain and a spinner when they have to contend with an explosive batsman, especially when he gets going. The fact that the field is spread out and he has protection out in the deep should not make the bowler relax. Conversely, the captain must try and prevent good deliveries being milked for a single. This happens more often than not when captains keep fielders in neither single saving nor boundary saving positions. A spinner should rely more on his wits than on his strength as spin bowling is all about subtlety and deception.