In modern cricket, every team wants their players to be versatile. A versatile player is one who can fill a number of roles within a team. For example, all rounders like Hardik Pandya can offer their team great batting as well as bowling abilities. Versatile batsmen like Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler can bat at almost every position in the order. The more versatile players a team has, the better they will be prepared to deal with changing scenarios during matches.
Given that versatile players are so valuable these days, it’s only natural that players will try to build as many skills as they can in order to win a spot in the starting 11 of a top national team or franchise. But what are the limits to this versatility? Could a bowler bowl off spin and leg spin in the same game? Or in the same over? This is the question I’ll be exploring in todays post. If you read on, I’ll tell you whether bowlers are allowed to bowl off spin and leg spin, and we’ll also explore how this impacts the game of cricket.
So, can a bowler bowl off spin and leg spin?
Yes, it is within the laws of cricket for a bowler to bowl both off spin and leg spin. They can even bowl both in the same over! The bowler does not have to inform the umpire which type of spin they are intending to bowl. The only times that the bowler needs to inform the umpire of a change to their bowling style are:
- When they are switching from over to around the wicket, or from around the wicket to over the wicket
- When they are intending to bowl a delivery with their opposite arm (this happens incredibly rarely!)
Why Would A Bowler Want To Bowl Off Spin and Leg Spin?
Being able to bowl off spin and leg spin offers a number of advantages for a spin bowler. Let’s go through them:
- Batsmen are more likely to struggle against variations – If a spin bowler can only spin the ball one way, the batsman will find it easier to line the ball up and set themselves for a big shot against that type of spin. A spin bowler that can bowl both off spin and leg spin causes a problem for batsmen, because they are never sure which way the ball is going to spin until it leaves the hand. This means that batsmen can’t pre-meditate their shots as freely, which is a win for the bowler!
- The bowler always has an option to spin the ball away from the bat – It is much easier for batsmen to hit sixes on the leg side of the field. Therefore, deliveries that spin away from the bat (towards the off side of the batsman) are harder to hit for six. A bowler who can bowl both off spin and leg spin can always spin the ball towards the off side of the batsman! If a left handed batsman is on strike, a right arm spin bowler could bowl off spin to take the ball away from them. If a right hander is on strike, a right arm spin bowler could bowl leg spin to move the ball away from them.
- Allows you to bowl in a way that protects a certain side of the ground – Some cricket grounds have strange dimensions, meaning that one side of the groundcan often be smaller than the other side. Most batsmen will try to target the smaller side of the ground when batting against spinners. A spin bowler that can bowl both off spin and leg spin always has the ability to spin the ball away from the shorter side of the ground, making it harder for batsmen to hit big shots towards that area.
Which Bowlers Have Bowled Both Off Spin and Leg Spin?
So, which bowlers have actually bowled both types of spin regularly? More often than not, the bowler that is likely to bowl both types of spin is a part time bowler. Or, in other words, a batsman who bowls a little bit.
Two of the most recent examples actually come from the England cricket team. All cricket fans know that Joe Root is an amazing batsman, and many of them also know that he bowls a bit of part-time off spin as and when the team needs him to. What fewer people know is that in the last year or so he has developed the ability to bowl a bit of leg spin too, something which makes him a bit more of a challenge to face in limited overs matches and on turning surfaces.
Liam Livingstone – the Lancashire and England batsman – has also developed this skill, and has used it to great effect for Lancashire this year in their T20 matches, as well as for England in their limited overs games against Sri Lanka.
Lastly, let’s look at the legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who is the first cricketer that I remember seeing bowling off spin and leg spin. As most people will know, Tendulkar was a highly skilled batsman, but in his younger years he was also a threatening bowler. He bowled leg spin, off spin, and even bowled medium pace deliveries from time to time. This versatile skill set enabled him to claim over 200 wickets at the international level. In this article Sachin says that he would bowl off spin to left handers, and leg breaks to right handers, which emphasises a point I made earlier in this post about being able to spin the ball away from the bat at all times.
How To Bowl Both Off Spin and Leg Spin
Leg spin bowling and off spin bowling are different disciplines that have a few similarities. If you want to learn how to bowl a traditional leg break (the stock delivery of a leg spin bowler), I’d recommend reading the detailed guide I put together by clicking here. On the other hand, if you want to know how to bowl an off break (the stock delivery of an off spin bowler), you should start with my guide on that which is linked here.
As cricket continues to develop as a sport and the urge to innovate becomes even stronger, we may see even more bowlers that can bowl both off spin and leg spin at the elite levels of the game. If I were a betting man, I’d also bet that we start to see an influx of bowlers that can bowl with their left arm as well as their right arm! This would be an incredibly difficult skill to master – much more difficult than bowling off spin and leg spin, but as this article here shows, we’re already seeing players emerging that are able to do it!