Leg spin

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A leg spin or leg break delivery bowled from over the wicket. Leg break small.gif
A leg spin or leg break delivery bowled from over the wicket.
A leg spin or leg break delivery bowled from around the wicket. Slow left arm small.gif
A leg spin or leg break delivery bowled from around the wicket.

Leg spin is a type of spin bowling in cricket. A leg spinner bowls right-arm with a wrist spin action. The leg spinner's normal delivery causes the ball to spin from right to left (from the bowler's perspective) in the cricket pitch when the ball bounces. For a right-handed batsman, that is away from the leg side, and this is where it gets the name leg break, [1] meaning it breaks away from the leg. The turn is mostly when the ball pitches.


Leg spinners bowl mostly leg breaks, varying them by adjusting the line and length, and amount of side spin versus topspin of the deliveries. Leg spinners also typically use variations of flight by sometimes looping the ball in the air, allowing any cross-breeze and the aerodynamic effects of the spinning ball to cause the ball to dip and drift before bouncing and spinning (usually called ‘turning’) sharply. Leg spinners also bowl other types of delivery, which spin differently, such as the googly.

The terms 'leg spin', 'leg spinner', 'leg break' and 'leggie' are used in slightly different ways by different sources.

The bowlers with the second and third highest number of wickets in the history of Test cricket, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble, were leg spinners. [2] One famous example of leg spin is Warne's Ball of the Century.


In the 1970s and 1980s it was thought that leg spin would disappear from the game due to the success of West Indian, and later Australian teams, exclusively using fast bowlers. During this time Abdul Qadir of Pakistan was the highest-profile leg spinner in the world and is sometimes credited with "keeping the art alive". [3] [4] However, leg spin has again become popular with cricket fans and a successful part of cricket teams, driven largely by the success of Shane Warne, beginning with his spectacular Ball of the Century to Mike Gatting in 1993.

Comparison with other types of bowling

A left-handed bowler who bowls with the same (wrist spin) action as a leg spinner is known as a left-arm unorthodox spin bowler. The ball itself spins in the opposite direction.

The same kind of trajectory, which spins from right to left on pitching, when performed by a left-arm bowler is known as left-arm orthodox spin bowling. [5] [6]

As with all spinners, leg spinners bowl the ball far more slowly (70–90 km/h or 45–55 mph) than fast bowlers. The fastest leg spinners will sometimes top 100 km/h (60 mph). While very difficult to bowl accurately, good leg spin is considered one of the most threatening types of bowling to bat against for a right-handed batsman, since the flight and sharp turn make the ball's movement extremely hard to read, and the turn away from the right-handed batsman is more dangerous than the turn into the right-handed batsman generated by an off spinner. Any miscalculation can result in an outside edge off the bat and a catch going to the wicket-keeper or slip fielders. Alternatively, for a ball aimed outside the leg stump, the breaking may be so sharp that the ball goes behind a right-handed batsman and hits the stumps – the batsman is then said (informally) to be "bowled around his legs". A left-handed batsman has less difficulty facing leg spin bowling, because the ball moves in towards the batsman's body, meaning the batsman's legs are usually in the path of the ball if it misses the bat or takes an edge. This makes it difficult for the bowler to get the batsman out bowled or caught from a leg break.


Leg spin: Some sources make the term 'leg spin' synonymous with leg break, [7] [8] [9] implying that other deliveries bowled by a leg spinner do not count as 'leg spin'. However, other sources use the term 'leg spin' more widely, to include all deliveries bowled by a leg spinner, including non-leg break deliveries. [10] [11] [12]

Leg break: In the definition of a leg break, some sources actually include the bowler being a leg spinner, [13] [14] [15] which implies that only leg spinners can bowl leg breaks; all leg breaks are bowled by leg spinners. Other sources do not include the bowler being a leg spinner in the definition of a leg break, and say a leg break is simply a delivery that spins from the legside to the offside, [16] [17] [18] and so can also be bowled by other types of bowler. [19] [20] [21] [22] In this case, leg breaks are (only) mostly bowled by leg spinners. [23]

Leg spinner: The term leg spinner can be used to mean either the bowler [24] [25] or the leg break delivery. [26] [27]

Leggie: The term leggie can also be used to mean either the bowler [28] or the leg break delivery. [29] [22]


Amelia Kerr getting ready to bowl leg spin during the 2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020 ICC W T20 WC NZ v SL 02-22 A Kerr (02).jpg
Amelia Kerr getting ready to bowl leg spin during the 2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup

A leg break is bowled by holding the cricket ball in the palm of the hand with the seam running across under all the fingers. As the ball is released, the wrist is rotated to the left and the ball flicked by the ring finger, giving the ball an anti-clockwise spin as seen from behind.

To grip the ball for a leg-spinning delivery, the ball is placed into the palm with the seam parallel to the palm. The first two fingers then spread and grip the ball, and the third and fourth fingers close together and rest against the side of the ball. The first bend of the third finger should grasp the seam. The thumb resting against the side is up to the bowler but should impart no pressure. When the ball is bowled, the third finger will apply most of the spin. The wrist is cocked as it comes down by the hip, and the wrist moves sharply from right to left as the ball is released, adding more spin. The ball is tossed up to provide flight. The batsman will see the hand with the palm facing towards them when the ball is released.

Notable leg spin bowlers

Shane Warne bowling a leg spin delivery Shane Warne bowling 2009.jpg
Shane Warne bowling a leg spin delivery

Players listed below have been included as they meet specific criteria which the general cricketing public would recognise as having achieved significant success in the art of leg spin bowling. For example: leading wicket-takers, and inventors of new deliveries.

Other deliveries bowled by leg spin bowlers

Highly skilled leg spin bowlers are also able to bowl deliveries that behave unexpectedly, including the googly, which turns the opposite way to a normal leg break and the topspinner, which does not turn but dips sharply and bounces higher than other deliveries. A few leg spinners such as Abdul Qadir, Anil Kumble, Shane Warne and Mushtaq Ahmed have also mastered the flipper, a delivery that like a topspinner goes straight on landing, but floats through the air before skidding and keeping low, often dismissing batsmen leg before wicket or bowled. Another variation in the arsenal of some leg spinners is the slider, a leg break pushed out of the hand somewhat faster, so that it does not spin as much, but travels more straight on.

See also

Related Research Articles

Left-arm orthodox spin Type of spin bowling in cricket

Left-arm orthodox spin, also known as slow left-arm orthodox spin bowling, is a type of left-arm finger spin bowling in the sport of cricket. Left-arm orthodox spin is bowled by a left-arm bowler using the fingers to spin the ball from right to left of the cricket pitch.

Left-arm unorthodox spin Type of spin bowling in cricket

Left-arm unorthodox spin, also known as slow left-arm wrist-spin bowling and formerly as a chinaman, is a type of spin bowling in the sport of cricket. Left-arm unorthodox spin bowlers use wrist spin to spin the ball, and make it deviate, or ‘turn’ from left to right after pitching. The direction of turn is the same as that of a traditional right-handed off spin bowler; however, the ball will usually turn more sharply due to the spin being imparted predominantly by the wrist.

The flipper is the name of a particular bowling delivery used in cricket, generally by a leg spin bowler. In essence it is a back spin ball. Squeezed out of the front of the hand with the thumb and first and second fingers, it keeps deceptively low after pitching and can accordingly be very difficult to play. The flipper is comparable to a riseball in fast-pitch softball.

Off spin Type of bowling in cricket

Off spin is a type of finger spin bowling in cricket. A bowler who uses this technique is called an off spinner. Off spinners are right-handed spin bowlers who use their fingers to spin the ball. Their normal delivery is an off break, which spins from left to right when the ball bounces on the pitch. For a right-handed batsman, this is from his off side to the leg side. The ball breaks away from the off side, hence the name 'off break'.

In the game of cricket, a googly refers to a type of delivery bowled by a right-arm leg spin bowler. The googly is a variation of the typical leg spin type of delivery, in that the cricket ball is presented from the bowler's hand in such a way that once the ball pitches, it deviates in the opposite direction of a leg spinning type of delivery. It has also been colloquially and affectionately referred to as the wrong'un, Bosie or Bosey, with those latter two eponyms referring to Bernard Bosanquet, the bowler who initially discovered and began using the googly.

A topspinner is a type of delivery bowled by a cricketer bowling either wrist spin or finger spin. In either case, the bowler imparts the ball with top spin by twisting it with his or her fingers prior to delivery. In both cases, the topspinner is the halfway house between the stock delivery and the wrong'un - in the wrist spinner's case his googly, and in the finger spinner's case his doosra. Eddie ‘king of spin’ McGuire and the Collingwood football club are at the top of the spinners club for 2020.

Anil Kumble Former Indian cricketer

Anil Kumble is a former Indian cricketer, coach, and commentator, who played Tests and ODIs for 18 years. A right-arm leg spin bowler, he took 619 wickets in Test cricket and remains the third-highest wicket taker of all time. In 1999 while playing against Pakistan, Kumble dismissed all ten batsmen in a Test match innings, joining England's Jim Laker as the only players to achieve the feat. Unlike his contemporaries, Kumble was not a big turner of the ball, but relied primarily on pace, bounce, and accuracy. He was nicknamed "Jumbo". Kumble was selected as the Cricketer of the Year in 1993 Indian Cricket, and one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year three years later.

Glossary of cricket terms

This is a general glossary of the terminology used in the sport of cricket. Where words in a sentence are also defined elsewhere in this article, they appear in italics. Certain aspects of cricket terminology are explained in more detail in cricket statistics and the naming of fielding positions is explained at fielding (cricket).

A doosra is a particular type of delivery by an off-spin bowler in the sport of cricket. The doosra spins in the opposite direction to an off break, and aims to confuse the batsman into playing a poor shot.

In the sport of cricket there are two broad categories of bowlers: pace and spin. Pace bowlers rely mostly on the speed of the ball to dismiss batsmen, whereas spin bowlers rely on the rotation of the ball.

Abdul Qadir (cricketer) Pakistani cricketer

Abdul Qadir Khan was an international cricketer who bowled leg spin for Pakistan. Qadir is widely regarded as the best leg spinner of the 1970s and 1980s and was a role model for up and coming leg spinners. Later he was a commentator and Chief Selector of the Pakistan Cricket Board, from which he resigned due to differences of opinion with leading Pakistan cricket administrators.

Delivery (cricket) Single action of bowling a cricket ball

A delivery or ball in cricket is a single action of bowling a cricket ball toward the batsman. These terms can also refer to the events that occur after the ball is bowled while the ball is not dead.

The Ball of the Century, also referred to as the Gatting Ball or simply That Ball, is the name given to a cricket delivery bowled by Australian spin bowler Shane Warne to English batsman Mike Gatting on Day Two during the first Test of the 1993 Ashes series, which took place at Old Trafford, Manchester. With his first ball against England, in his first Ashes Test, Warne produced a spectacular delivery that bowled Gatting out. It became recognised as being of considerable significance in not just the context of the match or series, but in cricket in general in that it signalled the revival of leg spin bowling.

Wrist spin Type of spin bowling in cricket

Wrist spin is a type of bowling in the sport of cricket. It refers to the cricket technique and specific hand movements associated with imparting a particular direction of spin to the cricket ball. The other spinning technique, usually used to spin the ball in the opposite direction, is finger spin. Wrist spin is bowled by releasing the ball from the back of the hand, so that it passes over the little finger. Done by a right-handed bowler, this imparts an anticlockwise rotation to the ball, as seen from the bowler's perspective; a left-handed wrist spinner rotates the ball clockwise.

Finger spin is a type of bowling in the sport of cricket. It refers to the cricket technique and specific hand movements associated with imparting a particular direction of spin to the cricket ball. The other spinning technique, generally used to spin the ball in the opposite direction, is wrist spin. Although there are exceptions, finger spinners generally turn the ball less than wrist spinners. However, because the technique is simpler and easier to master, finger spinners tend to be more accurate.

Jack Iverson Australian cricketer

John Brian Iverson, known as Jack Iverson, was an Australian cricketer who played in five Test matches from 1950 to 1951. He was known for his unique "bent finger" grip, with which he briefly perplexed batsmen across Australia as well as the touring English cricket team. His five Tests were all against England, in the 1950–51 series, but was forced to retire to look after his ailing father's business; he "could have the world's best batsmen at his mercy, if he could spare the time".


In ball sports, topspin is a property of a ball that rotates forwards as it is moving. Topspin on a ball propelled through the air imparts a downward force that causes the ball to drop, due to its interaction with the air. Topspin is the opposite of backspin.

In cricket, a slider is a type of delivery bowled by a wrist spin bowler. While a topspinner is released with the thumb facing the batsman, a slider is bowled in a similar manner to a legbreak, but instead of imparting sidespin with the third finger, the bowler allows his fingers to roll down the back of the ball, providing a mixture of sidespin and backspin. Whereas a topspinner tends to dip more quickly and bounce higher than a normal delivery, a slider does the opposite: it carries to a fuller length and bounces less than the batsman might expect. The sliders will typically head towards the batsman with a scrambled seam. This has less effect on the flight and bounce but absence of leg spin may deceive the batsman. Frequently the slider is bowled with a mixture of side spin and backspin. This has the effect of making the ball harder to differentiate from the leg break for the batsmen without reducing the mechanical effects caused by the backspin. This delivery may skid straight on or it may turn a small amount.

Ajantha Mendis

Balapuwaduge Ajantha Winslow Mendis known as Ajantha Mendis is a former Sri Lankan cricketer who played for Sri Lankan national cricket team in all three formats. He was known as the "mystery spinner" due to the unusual bowling action and widely regarded as one of the best limited over bowlers in the world arena. In August 2019, he retired from all formats of cricket.

Bernard Bosanquet (cricketer) English cricketer

Bernard James Tindal Bosanquet was an English cricketer best known for inventing the googly, a delivery designed to deceive the batsman. When bowled, it appears to be a leg break, but after pitching the ball turns in the opposite direction to that which is expected, behaving as an off break instead. Bosanquet, who played first-class cricket for Middlesex between 1898 and 1919, appeared in seven Test matches for England as an all-rounder. He was chosen as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1905.


  1. "The Science of Spin Bowling: Basics of a Leg Break". Cricbuzz. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  2. "Records / Test matches / Bowling records / Most wickets in career". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  3. Abdul Qadir, player profile Scyld Berry et al., Cricinfo, 1998 and November 2008.
  4. Farewell to Shane Warne as cricket's great teaser bowls his final ball Mike Selvey, The Guardian , 19 May 2011.
  5. "How to bowl leg spin". BBC. 23 August 2005. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  6. "Learn to bowl leg spin". BBC. 30 October 2003. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  7. "ESPN glossary of cricket terms". ESPN. 17 April 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2020. Leg-break/spin - When the ball pitches and turns from leg to off for a right-hander.
  8. "Spin". BBC. Retrieved 11 July 2020. Leg spin involves turning a ball off the pitch from the leg-side of a right-handed batsman, to the off-side.
  9. "Leg-spin". The West Yorkshire Cricket website. Retrieved 23 July 2020. Leg spin involves turning a ball off the pitch from the leg-side of a right-handed batsman, to the off-side.
  10. "Bowling leg-spin with Adil Rashid". wisden.com. 31 January 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020. I’ve got four deliveries: the leg-break, the top-spinner, the googly and the slider. Which deliveries I bowl depends on the situation on the day. I started bowling wrist-spin at the age of eight, so I’ve had a lot of practice! It was something that came naturally to me, but then I practised it all the time. It was always leg-spin.
  11. "R Ashwin, now a legspinner too?". ESPN. 23 December 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2020. The ESPNcricinfo style sheet makes a fine distinction between legbreak and legspin. Legbreak is a delivery, legspin is an art form of which legbreak is a part. Legbreak is a delivery that turns away from a right-hand batsman, legspin is the whole set: legbreaks, wrong'uns, topspinners, sliders, flippers; zooters, if you believe Shane Warne.
  12. "Shane Warne Masterclass: Australia great talks leg-spin in The Zone". skysports.com. 12 June 2016. Retrieved 23 July 2020. Shane Warne lit up a drizzly Lord's when he entered The Zone to deliver a masterclass on the art of leg spin... Warne went into huge detail on the pace leg-spinners should bowl at and when to bowl your variations, including the wrong 'un and flipper.
  13. "Leg-break". yourdictionary.com. Retrieved 23 July 2020. (cricket) a normal ball bowled by a leg spin bowler, moving from leg to off (for a right-handed batsman).
  14. "Glossary of Cricket terms". 888sport.com. Retrieved 23 July 2020. Leg break - A spin bowling delivery bowled by a leg spinner that turns from the leg side to the offside of a right-handed batsman.
  15. "Leg Break". definitions.net. Retrieved 25 July 2020. leg break (Noun) a normal ball bowled by a leg spin bowler, moving from leg to off (for a right-handed batsman).
  16. "Leg-break". dictionary.com. Retrieved 23 July 2020. a ball deviating to the off side from the leg side when bowled.
  17. "Leg break". Collins. Retrieved 23 July 2020. a bowled ball that spins from leg to off on pitching.
  18. "Leg-break". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 23 July 2020. a bowled ball in cricket that breaks from the leg side to the off side.
  19. "Dananjaya – the offspinner picking wickets with leg-breaks and googlies". ICC. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 23 July 2020. When asked about what sort of a bowler he was, Dananjaya’s response was: "I am an offspinner. My wicket-taking balls are leg-spin and the googly."
  20. "Sonny Ramadhin: A self-taught bowler of remarkable merit – Almanack". Wisden. 9 May 2020. Retrieved 25 July 2020. His orthodox attack was the off-break... His variations, which kept the batsmen on tenterhooks, were the leg-break and plain straight ball.
  21. "Off-spinner with leg-breaks is like a multi-lingual: Sachin Tendulkar". economictimes. 24 April 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2020. An off-spinner who can bowl leg-breaks is like a multi-lingual, said Sachin Tendulkar.
  22. 1 2 "Ashwin set to bowl leggies in IPL". cricket.com.au. 7 February 2018. Retrieved 23 July 2020. I am just trying to build my armoury," Ashwin said after bowling leggies in a domestic 50-over match in Chennai on Monday. "I used to bowl good leg-breaks with my off-spin action when I was playing league cricket in Chennai.
  23. "Leg Break". sportspundit.com. Retrieved 25 July 2020. A leg break is a kind of delivery bowled usually by leg spinners.
  24. "How does a leg-spinner get a stress fracture?". Wisden. 20 May 2020. Retrieved 7 August 2020. Mason Crane, the Hampshire leg-spinner
  25. "The Cricket World Cup's greatest leg-spinners". ICC. 30 September 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2020. we look back at the top leg-spinners to have graced the ICC Cricket World Cup
  26. "England And The Leg-Spinner: A Terribly Awkward Romance". Wisden. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2020. Then there was Eric Hollies. Doing Bradman with a googly was no fluke; the week before he’d bowled him with a regulation leg-spinner but noticed The Don couldn’t pick the wrong ’un.
  27. "Learn Warne's five spin deliveries". BBC. Retrieved 7 August 2020. Leg-spinners have five different balls in their armoury: Leg-spinner Top-spinner Googly Slider Flipper
  28. "Ben Stokes the hero again as England secure thrilling last-gasp Test victory in Cape Town to level South Africa series". Daily Telegraph. 7 January 2020. Retrieved 8 January 2020. Well that wasn't the way I expected him to pick up the wicket, but that's why you throw the ball to your leggie.
  29. "The doosra ain't the only game in town". ESPN. 27 February 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2020. And indeed, I never bowled another leggie in international cricket... Having bowled offies and leggies as a kid.
  30. "Wisden – Five cricketers of the century". Cricinfo.