Googly - the different grips

Gripping it like traditional leg spinner, Gripping it like Anil Kumble and the reverse carrom ball which doesn't exist

A leg spinner bowling a googly to a left hander is something that has dominated the scenes of limited overs cricket in recent years. It has been the single most useful delivery for a leg spinner to avoid the swinging blades of the southpaws in T20s. Even in the longest format, it is such a handy delivery to have. A right handed batsman can comfortably keep leaving a leg spinner all day long if the line is slightly off. But things change dramatically if the bowler is capable of bowling the other one. They are no longer sure whether to play or leave, making the away going delivery doubly effective.

Every leg spinner of today has one. In fact, most of them turn their googly much more than their stock delivery. It is difficult to call the leg spinner a stock delivery anymore for them in limited overs cricket, for there is so much use of the ‘wrong ones’. There are more than one way of delivering a googly though. I will try my best to describe 2 of the most common grips. Earlier, I penned down on the topic of why finger spinners are dominating the scenes of test cricket.

Gripping it just like the traditional leg spinner :

Almost every leg spinner with the exception of a few employ the same grip as their stock delivery for the googly. It is just the wrist position that changes. The spin is still imparted by the ring finger, with the middle and index finger for support. The wrist is almost turned 180 degrees, with the back of the hand facing the batsman and the palm almost facing aerial. The seam points towards the fine leg and the ball turns the other way.

The speed tends to be the difficult thing to master with this grip. To bowl this type of googly as quickly as a conventional leg spinner requires a lot of skill.

Gripping it like Kumble :

The other way to bowl the googly is the way Kumble bowled it later on in his career. Only the middle, index and thumb pressed the ball, with the ring finger playing almost no part. The back of the hand would still face the batsman and everything else remained the same. If you happen to look at the footages of Kumble, it is fairly distinguishable when he bowled that variety of the googly, though I am not entirely sure if the batsmen too had a better sight of the googly coming out of his hand. Kumble did have the usual googly as well, but bowled it lesser as his career progressed.

Other exponents : Ajantha Mendis, the mystery bowler, too possessed a googly which was very similar to Anil Kumble’s. Rashid Khan, who has different varieties of the googly, does use this grip from time to time.

The reverse carrom ball (Doesn’t exist):

A carrom ball is the one that an off-spinner bowls to get the ball to go the other way. The name stems from the way the ball is flicked out of the middle finger, like striking a carrom striker. Among the variations, it is the most easily spottable one, courtesy the little finger popping out when delivering it. The reverse carrom though is entirely my idea of a leg spinner bowling the carrom ball. It is just turning your wrists just like you do for a conventional leg break, but then flicking it out like a carrom ball. Boom, the ball does go the other way and sharply too. Again, this is entirely my idea and have tried it quite a bit with both tennis and cricket ball. And for all good reasons, I am not able to get back to back decent deliveries with this grip, for it is so difficult to execute. The ball just slips out of the hand so often.

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This is one way of bowling the googly that I think will make its way into international cricket soon enough with T20s and T10s leagues being played everywhere. If someone goes on to master this one, we can probably declare them ‘a magician’

Googly has given today’s leg spinners a big lifeline. Many leg spinners today are finding it difficult today to turn their stock delivery. The continuous change in wrist position for the top spinner and googly is clearly having an impact on this generation of leg spinners. Fans of wrist spin bowling like me are waiting for the day when we would see them being a common theme in the longest format as well.

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