Australia need a serious leg spinner to compete in India

David Lord Columnist

By , David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Of the 68 Test bowlers who have taken 200 wickets or more, 51 are pacemen, headed by Glenn McGrath with 563.

    Nine are finger-spinners, with Muttiah Muralitharan the record-holder on 800, and eight are leggies, with Shane Warne’s 708 on top.

    But pace won’t beat India in India, and Indian batsmen are constantly facing the current world’s best bowler – off-spinner Ravi Ashwin – in the nets, but rarely do they play against a right-arm over-the-wrist spinner.

    And Australia has never been better served in the past than the incredible pairing of Warne and McGrath.

    In their 104 Tests together they are the only Australian bowling combination to take 1001 wickets between them – serious numbers

    Little wonder with Warne, the greatest leg-spinner of all-time, and McGrath, the most successful quick in history, with metronome accuracy.

    And it’s Warne who keeps cropping up among Australia’s most successful combinations.

    1001 wickets – Warne (513), McGrath (488) in 104 Tests together, average 23.17, claiming 9.63 wickets a Test.

    435 – Warne (269), Jason Gillespie (176) in 53 Tests, average 27.50, with 8.20 wickets a Test.

    421 – Warne (246), Brett Lee (175) in 45 Tests, average 27.26, with 9.35 wickets a Test.

    346 – Richie Benaud (169), Alan Davidson (177) in 41 Tests, average 23,89, with 7.71 wickets a Test

    171 – Warne (82), Stuart MacGill (89) in 17 Tests, average 25.18, with 10.06 wickets a Test.

    157 – Clarrie Grimmett (86), Bill O’Reilly (71) in 14 Tests, average 21.81, with 11.21 wickets a Test.

    But like batsman Don Bradman, there will never be another Shane Warne, nor will any future Australian bowling combinations crack 1000 Test wickets.

    But leg spinners will always be high on the priority list as proved by Grimmett and O’Reilly with the lowest average in their partnership, and the most wickets per Test,

    That’s why Warne keeps promoting 23-year-old Queensland leggie Mitchell Swepson’s selection for the four-Test series against India in India starting next month.

    It does’t faze Warne that Swepson has played only 14 Sheffield Shield games, taking 41 wickets at 32.82.

    Nor is Warne concerned Swepson’s played just four Shield games this season, taking 10 wickets at 43, having claimed David Warner, Michael Klinger, Jono Wells, and Matthew Wade among his scalps
    “He’s the leg spinner of tomorrow, and the quicker he’s in the Test environment the better,” is Warne’s prediction.

    The other serious leg spinning contender is 24-year-old Adam Zampa, who owns a curious set of stats.

    Zampa is far more experienced than Swepson, having played 19 ODIs, and eight T20 internationals with excellent figures. His 30 ODI wickets have cost 27.80, his nine T20 wickets just 17.88. In formats where the best international limited-over batsmen in the world constantly attack the spinners.

    On the other side of the coin, Zampa’s 25 Sheffield Shield stats are in the wrong direction with 62 wickets costing an expensive 50.35.

    But in the absence of a Shane Warne, Mitchell Swepson and Adam Zampa are genuine leg spinning alternatives for India.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles