Spin bowlers: we even love the ones who are complete bastards

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Are You A Left-Arm Chinaman? will shortly be celebrating its first birthday. In honour of its bias towards spin and to join in the festivities, we’re contributing this.

We thought we’d write about our favourite spinner. So who is that? Well, it’s probably Monty Panesar, but this doesn’t quite sit right. Monty can’t be our favourite spinner of all time, after all, because we already loved spin bowling when he arrived.

Who then? Eddie Hemmings, Peter Such, Robert Croft? No. Any spinner whose wicket-taking delivery was ‘the one that goes straight on’ isn’t for us.

Phil Tufnell bowling with his tongueWhat about Tuffers then? Phil ‘The Cat’ Tufnell – a man the selectors never wanted to pick but occasionally had to, because every now and again he’d single-handedly win a Test match. Mike Atherton was certain of Tufnell’s worth and his autobiography (definitely one of the better ones) depicts a constant battle to get the bowling attack that he wants, of which Tufnell is a major part.

But something’s still awry. For just those selectorial reasons, we never saw enough of Tufnell to form a lifetime devotion to the art of spin, although he surely played a part. So what spin bowler did have that sort of impact on us?

No. It couldn’t be. He can’t be our favourite spinner. We hate him. Everyone hates him. Believe us, we were more surprised than you, but we’ve had to accept it: Shane Warne‘s our favourite spin bowler.

We’re currently working our way through a review copy of If It Was Raining Palaces, I’d Get Hit By The Dunny Door by Nigel Henderson. At one point during the infamous Adelaide Test, an Australian sitting next to Henderson in the crowd turns to him and says: “He’s great Warnie, isn’t he? But I can’t stand the man, he’s a total cockhead. If he walked into my local, I’d smack him straight in the face.”

'a total cockhead'Now at least that guy had the benefit of Warne doing great things for his team, rather than against them. Imagine how we feel. The guy’s ‘a total cockhead’ and he’s humiliating the team you support, yet still you want to watch every ball, because you admire the guy so much. Bastard.

There are other spinners we love, but Warne’s the one who taught us that spin bowling’s a great way of turning a match your way and he also taught us that while a batsman can be intimidated by fast bowling, he can never look quite so bewildered and humiliated as he can when he’s being worked-over by a brilliant spin bowler.

Spin bowling’s bloody brilliant. Batsmen play at balls and miss them by two feet and they leave balls that hit the stumps. The deliveries come thick and fast and the fielders are all crowded round like a makeshift human batting net.

To spin! [Raises mug of tea, spilling contents over keyboard slightly.]

Shane Warne’s 700th Test wicket
Justin Langer about Shane Warne
Shane Warne retires – our view of the man


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  1. Are you sure they said SW was a cockhead not a coke…? My Favourite Aussie spin bowler was Tim May.

  2. Have you tried liking Murali instead? Murali is all nice and friendly. Even when he’s humiliating English players you don’t get the impression that he’d like to steal their wives as well.

  3. I’m with Lemon Bella. I can watch Murali just as much as Warne, but instead of murderous intentions, i get all warm and fuzzy and want to hug him.

  4. You could hug Murali, he wouldn’t mind. That’s another thing that makes him better than Warne.

  5. Spin bowlers are always a bit special, apart from those ‘occasional’ ones who are generally a bit crap.

    Warne is obviously a class act (ON the field), and always knew exactly how to put pressure on a batsman – even watching the Trent Bridge Ashes Test of 2005, I was still in awe of the fella.

    Here, though, are my Top Five Favourite Spin Bowlers Who Aren’t Shane Warne

    (1) Murali – In a word, Immense. In two words – Really Good.

    (2) Jim Laker – Never saw him play, but neither have I seen anyone else take 19 wickets in a Test

    (3) Richie Benaud – Master bowler, master wit

    (4) Ashley Giles – Not really a world-beater, but for a few years between 2002 and 2005, you’d never have guessed.

    (5) Monty Panesar – What’s not to like?

  6. Shane Warne will always be an utter wanker, but he was great, much as it pains me to admit it. There’s a certain mysterious appeal to legspinners that means I can’t help but like them.

    Naturally, this means there’s almost nothing better than watching Murali bowl legbreaks. Murali’s ace, legspin’s ace – could there be a more perfect combination?

  7. Spinners I love to watch:

    1. Murali
    2. Warne
    3. Tuffers

    Spinners I’d love to go to the pub with:

    1. Tuffers
    2. Murali
    3. Richie Benaud

  8. ‘I get all warm and fuzzy and want to hug him’

    NO thanks! So who wants a nice, politically-correct cricketer you can take home to mother? give me a character any day over the modern milksops

    Murali is a good bowler but a bore. He’s the pretender to Warne’s throne. Nothing compared to the way Warne only had to look at a batsman to see him crumble into his boots and lie quivering on the pitch. Though the best moment ever was when, after telling the world he had Warnie all worked out during the last Ashes, Pieterson was bowled round the legs by him, a la Mike Gatting. The look on KP’s face – priceless!

    ( though a Sri Lankan friend of mine who had to deal with Murali a few years ago, told me he was an arrogant jerk. So perhaps there is hope after all)

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