Sample this: The batsman plants his front foot outside the off-stump to cover the off-spin, expecting the ball to come in.
To his surprise, the ball drifts away in the air sowing seeds of doubt. Did he misread a floater for an off-spinner? The moment he commits himself to a straighter
one, the ball pitches and turns back into him. All he can do is offer meek defence - the ball tickles the inside edge before falling safely into the hands of the waiting fielder at short-leg.
Unfortunately, this is no longer a regular mode of dismissal in first-class cricket. Today's spinner isn't confident of flighting the ball and taking it above the eye level of the batsman. He's more inclined to bowl flat, while the pace can vary. Yes, the tracks have become more conducive to batting and the SG Test ball encourages swing bowlers to stay in the game for a longer duration, but is this enough to abandon the art of spinning/flighting the ball?
The same SG Test ball also has a very pronounced seam to help the spinners get more out of the surface. If a bowler is willing to put enough revolutions on the ball while delivering, he's sure to get a bit of bounce and spin after pitching.
Yes, the wickets are either flat or assisting seam bowlers but isn't a wrist spinner supposed to turn the ball on any surface? A good spinner is the one who bowls slowly but thinks like a fast bowler.
He must always plan to take wickets and not just contain runs. A good spinner is the one who tries to spin the ball off the surface and not just focus on line and length. He should be willing to take the ball above the eye line of the batsman, for that forces the batsman to use his feet and come out of the crease.
Coaches seem to be putting undue emphasis on line and length, far more than spin and drift. To go back to the heydays of spin bowling in India, we must train our coaches to teach the right basics, increase the size of the grounds and give the younger crop of spinners a healthy dose of days' cricket.
The writer plays domestic cricket for Rajasthan