Dubai: Spinners will continue to be the focus of the Indian Premier League, which begins on Friday. The dry, worn pitches are tailor-made for spinners to wreak havoc. However, success is not guaranteed against powerhitters. Former Indian spinners feel ability to turn the ball prodigiously is the key to success in the Twenty20 format.
“Modern-day game has a lot of attacking batters and if you have several variations and if you are accurate, then you have lot of chances of getting a wicket, because batters are always looking to attack. That’s their approach even in the nets; they are not looking to defend,” former Indian leg-spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan told Gulf News.
“My first approach would be to show the batter that I could turn the ball big. Once I establish that, then the batter will be stuck at the crease, because he is afraid of getting stumped. So my initial impression is to create a little bit of panic by turning my leg-breaks big and then look at the reaction and see how much I get from the pitch and then bring my variations.”
Using variations judiciously
Sivaramakrishnan created waves during his debut series against England in the 1980s, claiming three six-wicket hauls in three innings to guide India to victory. India’s star batter Sachin Tendulkar famously practised against Sivaramakrishnan, who bowled to him at the rough patch outside the leg-stump, to prepare to counter Australian great Shane Warne during the 1998 Test series in India.
Today the spinners bowl more variations, irrespective of the situation, but Sivaramakrishnan feels one should use the variations judiciously.
“If a batter is struggling against one particular delivery, then bowl more of those. Therein lies your chance of getting a wicket, but if you beat a batter with leg-break and then you try a googly, you are giving him a chance to hit with the spin. I would suggest to every bowler, fast bowler or a spinner, remember every delivery you bowl and bowl more of the deliveries that trouble the batters,” he added.
Spin the ball rather than roll the arm over
Former Indian all-rounders Woorkeri Raman and Sridharan Sriram subscribe to Sivaramkrishnan's view.
“A spinner needs to be encouraged to become a spinner. What I meant is that he should be encouraged to spin the ball rather than roll his arm over. Unfortunately, the modern-day boys are drafted into the T20 format early in life. And the objective is being able to win the matches. These boys are forced to play to a situation rather than develop their skills. Instead, if these spinners are allowed to develop their skills to spin the ball more, then you will have no problems at all, whichever format you play. The classic example is the success of leg-spinners in T20 formats,” said Raman.
Raman, the former Indian women’s team coach, also feels that playing the three formats takes its toll on the body. “It becomes very difficult to be a part of all the three formats. Few in the world have done that successfully enoughfor over a period of time, sustaining their form and fitness. The three formats and the quantum of cricket that’s played is a disadvantage the current players face,” he added.
Star spinners like Ravichandran Ashwin, Rashid Khan, Ravindra Jadeja and Yuzvendra Chahal will be in focus along with the likes Ravi Bishnoi, Washington Sundar and others in IPL 2023.
Left-arm spinner Sriram, who had been the assistant coach of Australia and the technical consultant of Bangladesh, also felt spinning the ball is paramount, be it a finger spinner or a wrist spinner.
Secret to success
“Batters being aggressive is good as it gives the spinners more opportunities to take wickets. The ability to spin the ball [more] and control the 5 to 6.5-foot length gives him the upper hand. Ravichandran Ashwin and Rashid Khan do it regularly. If you want to be the best, then you should have a template to follow. There is no secret to success, it is plain hard work. All the best players have done that. You have to own that area and if you can spin it both ways from that area, you are the king,” he added.
Sivaramakrishnan, however, has a word of advice to aspiring spinners. “Develop the consistency and the ability to turn the ball. Have variations and have control over the line and length with all the deliveries. Practise seven-over spells in the nets and dream of playing Test cricket. Don’t dream of playing T20, it is entertainment. Test is the real cricket,” he said.