From the time cricket entered my system in 1996, I became very fond of the art of leg-spin. A leg-spin delivery is that which spins away from the right-handers and comes back in for the lefties. I grew up watching Shane Warne and Anil Kumble in their prime. Today, in modern times the art has somehow fizzled out. The credit directly goes to the smaller grounds and heavier bats and of course over a period of time the skills of players developed. Today, leg-spinners are extinct like the dinosaurs. But even in this age and time there is a ray of hope for leggies, thanks to Imran Tahir.
You for sure, have not missed the familiar celebratory sprint after taking a wicket speaks quite a bit about Imran Tahir. For the 35-year-old leg-spinner, who had almost lost all motivation of playing international cricket a decade ago, is now fuelling South Africa's World Cup dream is a lot about destiny and fair bit of luck.
If one track his roadmap, one can see that the journey to topflight cricket had many turns and twists, also hiccups, which started with learning the art of leg-break with Abdul Qadir's family in Pakistan. Making it to the Staffordshire county side after arriving England in 2000, took a long time.
Leggies flight the ball, hence the batters usually find them to be soft targets in limited over games. But Tahir somehow has revamped the art, with floaters, flippers, and then he has the fast and flat and also the tossed-up googly to bamboozle the batter.
He has been so refreshing to watch, this World Cup. He has picked up 15 wickets so far and has been a miser at giving away runs, going at 4. 20/ over. The entire repertoire was on display and in a way became the go-to bowler for SA in the tournament. Tahir has also shown tremendous confidence and he bowled with a heart, throughout the tourney. Imran surely has inspired many across the world who were in a dilemma over bowling the leg-spin. Surprisingly, the leg-spinner bowls every ball with the effort and intensity that he would put into the last ball he will ever bowl, and no matter what the outcome, he has a reaction. Even his appealing for a wicket holds an appeal, also when he beats the outside edge; he reacts as if it is the ‘ultimate act of deception’. This shows that he is a character, and the game needs more of such men.
Crafty as he is, he has shown the world that leg-spinners forever will remain special entities in whichever team they play.
Samuel Badree was another leggie who impressed me a lot but he vanished from the scene, without any big success. India is also looking to nurse leggies back home, the current crop of leggies are brimming with talent. The likes of Shreyas Gopal and Karanveer Singh are surely the leg-spinning future of India.
To all the coaches around the world, let us revive the art of leg-spin, so that the generation to follow experiences the beauty of leg-spin.
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