While England, selectors and supporters alike, bemoan the lack of a truly world-class spinner in the Test reckoning – with apologies to Messrs Croft, Giles and Tufnell – may I suggest that David Graveney take a look at club cricket.
The amateur spin bowler – slow bowler is more accurate – enjoys plenty of success at the lower levels. While these purveyors of the dying trade may not possess the "zooters", "toppies" and "flippers" that have brought Shane Warne so much success, those old virtues of flight and guile always stand them in good stead – and the more flight the better.
Every club in the country has at least one slow bowler, red-faced and rotund, who is not afraid to give the ball plenty of "air". They persevere with this masochistic mode of attack despite the 10-minute delay that invariably follows each delivery, dispatched with gusto, as fielders curse their way through the thorns in search of the ball.
Once the ball has been returned, you can bet your favourite cricket bat that the bowler will toss the next ball even higher, challenging the batsmen to hit it even further. This always brings the bowler reward.
As the ball takes to the sky, the batsman's eyes light up like a Lottery winner in a Ferrari garage. Another six, surely. No. Seconds later, they are back in the pavilion in a mild state of shock.
The problem for the batsman is the ball takes so long to reach him, he has already thought of at least six types of shot he should play before plumping for the agricultural, and frankly more enjoyable, option of smashing it into the car park.
Of course, your car is parked in just about the safest place in the ground, as the batsman will either be: a) stumped eight yards down the track; b) bowled after three futile swishes at the ball fail to stop it dislodging the bails; or c) caught, either in the deep or at extra cover after a top-edge heave.
It never fails. The spinner's devious plan has worked. His snow-capped deliveries are far too tempting. Seven others follow, and the spinner walks off to rapturous applause with figures of 8 for 90 off 10 overs. By the way, Mr Graveney, I bowl off-spin and I am available.Reuse content