There’s something about a leg-spinner that automatically makes them more interesting to watch than any other kind of bowler. It’s the sort of thing that made a Sky commentator describe Will Beer as a “more unorthodox bowler” than the rest of the bowlers in the match. Whilst that makes little sense as Beer bowls a fairly orthodox style of a long standing type of spin – he’s no Murali – there is a grain of truth hidden in the comment; the fact that leg-spinners have been rare in English cricket for a while.
Not now though, there are a better crop of leg-spinners around than for a long time. Adil Rashid and Scott Borthwick have both been selected for England, and below them there are some other talented players, from Tom Craddock at Essex, to Max Waller at Somerset, and Will Beer at Sussex.
Whilst the first two are regular first team players, Beer is one of those who struggles to get a place in the first team at his county. He’s only played five first class matches with his way blocked by Monty Panesar, but he gets the limited over job regularly for the county.
That’s what happened last night against Warwickshire at Hove; he was preferred over Panesar despite the fact that he’s never replicated his T20 form in List A cricket. Still, he started well after being brought on in the 18th over, immediately settling into a good line and length with just a fraction of flight.
In his third over he missed a sharp caught and bowled chance off a full toss, but after than almost everything he bowled was gold. He got rid of Tim Ambrose with a perfect leg-spinners delivery, drifting in to pitch on off stump before spinning and taking the edge on the way through to the keeper.
His second wicket was a stumping, beating Jim Troughton in the flight, and getting lucky that the batsman was lazy in thinking he had his foot back in. He hadn’t and he had to go. His third wicket came in his penultimate over, a leg break kept low outside off stump and Darren Maddy chopped on trying to cut. He ended up with figures of 8-0-27-3, his best performance yet in List A cricket.
Given that it was in the end a match winning performance, I’ll start with the positive attributes the young leggie has. He gives the ball just enough flight, has a pretty decent googly (I couldn’t pick it), keeps it accurate, and never looked flustered.
On the negative side, his fairly low arm action could make him susceptible to dragging the ball down, though he’s showed no evidence of that so far. He also bowls fairly slowly, which will help him to spin the ball on helpful wickets, but he may need to push his pace up on unhelpful ones. The wicket he bowled on tonight didn’t offer much turn, so I couldn’t judge how much he turns the ball, but it looked to me that he may need a little bit more rip. That’s a difficult judgement to make though.
Originally published 16-Aug-2012