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Opinion

The death of the leg spinner

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Roar Guru
30th January, 2021
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The era of Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill in the Test frame is slowly vanishing with the leg spinner being almost irrelevant in Test cricket for Australia.

The king of spin Shane Warne has not inspired the next generation of bowlers to take up the tweak.

Nathan Lyon is Australia’s only front-line spinner, taking just shy of 400 Test wickets. Lyon had his work cut out for him on the final days of the Sydney and Brisbane Test matches against India.

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The ball wasn’t spinning out of the rough enough to the left or right handers to trouble the batsmen. Tim Paine could have done with the help of the leg spinner just to provide more variation on an ageing Day 5 wicket.

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Australian cricket seems to be in short supply of a producer of the flipper or googly. Adam Zampa, Lloyd Pope and Mitchell Swepson could be next to take the mantle of the premier leg spinner in Australia.

Mitchell Swepson bowls

Mitchell Swepson (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Both Zampa and Pope are cementing themselves in the shorter form of the game, playing starring roles in the Big Bash, and Zampa is playing his role in the T20 international series.

Mitchell Swepson has a swag of wickets to show his proof for being selected in the Test squad to face South Africa in March.

Swepson goes into the series as part of the extended squad as one of only two uncapped Test players.

Swepson could provide the difference on fifth-day pitches on dry, arid surfaces.

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An impressive performance by Swepson could turn the heat up on Lyon after a less than impressive tour on home soil for the off spinner.

Leg spin is growing to be a more valued skill to have and use at a strong level. This year’s Big Bash tournament was again dominated by Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who can whip the ball in quicker with a variation of spin in the air and grip on flatter Australian pitches.

Adam Zampa also featured in the top ten wicket-takers with 19 wickets for the tournament.

The Warne and Anil Kumble style of leg spin – tossing the ball up – might have gone by in a previous generation, but the new technique of quick balls that grip and spin faster than the batsman has time to react to is the new way of leg spin.

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