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