The tide turns: How spinners are winning the big battles
Once in the fringes of decision-making, spin bowlers are the flavour of the season as coaches of many international cricket teams.cricket Updated: Jul 25, 2016 19:17 IST
Spinners are match winners but seldom do they become captain or coach. But things have begun to change. It seems the cricket world now revolves around them with five Test playing nations having former spinners as their coach. India are in the Caribbean and it is former leg spinner Anil Kumble’s first assignment as head coach. The veteran of 132 Tests (619 wickets), surprised everyone when he applied for the job. He was the first choice of BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee comprising his former team mates Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman.
Kumble started with a victory with India wrapping up the first Test in Antigua in four days.
England and Pakistan are playing the second Test at Old Trafford and former leg-spin great Mushtaq Ahmed has made an impact as Pakistan’s bowling coach.
In the first Test at Lord’s, Pakistan’s bowling attack was led by leg spinner Yasir Shah, who took 10 wickets. Yasir has become the number 1 ranked Test bowler in the ICC rankings after his exploits in the 75-run win.
Ahead of second Test at Old Trafford, the focus was on England coach Trevor Bayliss, whether he would field both off-spinner Moeen Ali as well as leg spinner Adil Rashid. Former New South Wales player Bayliss never played international cricket, but he was an off spinner.
Following the Lord’s Test defeat, the England board hired Mushtaq’s spin twin Saqlain Mushtaq to solve the mystery of Shah’s bowling as well as to infuse life into the home spinners. It seemed to have paid some dividends as Yasir managed one wicket from 63 overs, though the pitch didn’t look conducive for spin bowling.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann, an all-rounder, used to be a handy left-arm spinner. More importantly, they have hired Sri Lanka spin great Muttiah Muralitharan, once the focal point of a major showdown between the two teams, to guide off-spinner Nathan Lyon and left-arm Steve O’Keefe.
Cricket Sri Lanka, on the other hand, recently appointed South African Graham Ford as a new coach. Ford was an off-spinner during his university days.