It's a little known fact that most club cricket games are won and lost with spinners.
The reason is that most club batsmen tend to have a decent defence and not many shots while most club seamers tend to not be good enough to fire out the opposition.
That leaves the spinner to step in. You ready for the challenge?
The great news is that club spinners don't need to produce magic balls to rip through the opposition like seamers. They can do it with a decent level of accuracy, a confident captain who sets the right fields and an opposition who cannot resist having a go (and let's face it, most club batsmen fancy themselves against spin).
You may have noticed a great big proviso in that last paragraph: Spinners need to be handled well enough to do their job.
It's very easy for a captain to think a spinner is bowling badly when he is buying wickets. So how do the captain and spinner work together to do this?
The role of spin bowlers in club cricket
As we have discussed before, players need to know their role in the team. So what is the role of spinners?
The number one role of club spinners is to take wickets.
While some spinners will be more stock bowlers and some wicket buyers, all are the key to bowling sides out in most conditions. The quality of batsman is also a factor, with better players needing less flight and tail enders unable to resist loopier bowling.
Although all spinners are wicket takers, almost all spinners are different too. Each spinner will have a unique style which will make a difference to the way they get wickets. These include:
• Crease Position
• Variations (arm ball, googly, over or round the wicket)
Batters preferences need to be taken into account too. Batsman who use their feet to drive will need more in the covers than sweepers for example.
While all these are vital factors to take into account, the key difference is whether they are off spin, slow left arm or leg spin.
Off spinners (or left armers bowling to left handed bats) have two classic ways of taking wickets. Firstly through bowling the right hander through the 'gate' of bat and pad, and secondly caught on the leg side (ideally short leg). The ball will tend to be with the spin onto the leg side or driven quite straight. Very little tends to go through the area of backward point to cover. This means that the key positions for off spin are
• short leg
• midwicket (or deep midwicket)
• short third man
• extra cover
The field will have a leg side bias, especially when bowling at tail-enders. Beyond this, each off spinner will get his wickets differently. For example, big turners of the ball could expect to get more 'classic' dismissals, off spinners with less rip may get more caught at slip.
Slow Left Arm
With left arm finger spinners the ball will be played far more onto the off side as right handers play with the spin.
The aim is to beat the outside edge to hit the stumps or be caught in the slips. Thick edges to short extra cover are also a classic left arm dismissal. Assuming the bowler is pitching the ball up on off stump, this normally dictates six or seven off side fielders (any less leaves a lot of gaps and should be avoided).
If the bowling is too straight the left-armer could be swept or played off the legs which can mean expensive overs to this field, but as having four on the leg side leaves a gap against the stock ball, it's better to get more accurate bowling than more leg side fielders.
The only time this would not apply would be when faced by a player who is set on slogging. In this case packing the leg side is an option.
Leg spin is generally less accurate but sees more turn than finger spin makes large differences to the field. The aims for a leg spinner will be similar to the left-armer with the added complexities of googlies. For this reason the important fielders are
• short third man
• extra cover
• square leg
The latter two with the option of going deep: if the leg spinner has a googly a fielder behind square leg is vital. Four fielders on the leg side are more sensible with leg spin because of the lesser accuracy.
The final key key to getting more wickets with spin
If you remember these core elements you can use your own cricket sense to vary things and do what works for you.
Remember that whatever your variety of spin, the key to getting wickets is a combination of intelligent captaincy and good bowling.
by David Hinchliffe, PitchVision Academy
© 2011 miSport Ltd