Graeme Swann - Gripping the ball
Many pundits claimed the art of conventional off-spin bowling was dieing, with headline grabbing spinners like Shane Warne and Daniel Vettori turning the ball away from the right hander. The success of those finger spinners at the top level was attributed to having a well disguised doosra. Were the days of dropping well-flighted off-spinners on the right line and length over at international level?
Graeme Swann has answered the question emphatically. He can turn the ball sharply into the right hander, and mixes his pace, drift, bounce and flight cleverly, but he does not turn the ball away from the right hander.
Swann’s success has been surprising, not just because he has snubbed the finger spinner doom-mongers claiming their time was nigh. He has served a long apprenticeship in county cricket before making the step up to international cricket.
He has also been successful in every format of the game. His match-winning contributions have come all round the world, on all sorts of different surfaces, during the traditional five-day Test Match, the conventional 50-over match, and the hurly burley of Twenty20. It is perhaps in this last format his success is truly astonishing.
When Twenty20 was first introduced, nearly 10 years ago, wise old sages announced it was another nail in the coffin for finger spinners. Despite this, Swann was an automatic selection for Andy Flower’s team that reached the final of the ICC World Twenty20 - and his bowling was a major part in their victory over Australia.
So how has he been so successful? Clearly great control, a good temperament, and tactical intelligence are all key ingredients.
Here, exclusively talking to the ECB CA website, Swann explains how he grips the ball for his stock and variation deliveries, to generate spin, dip and bounce.