Rare talent in a spin

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Q. The recent Test match between South Africa and Australia featured two left-arm wrist-spinners in Paul Adams and Michael Bevan. Has this ever been seen before?

A. It has happened, but rarely. The first left-arm wrist-spinner in Test cricket seems to have been the West Indian E E Achong. He played once against an England side, including Maurice Leyland, the great Yorkshire left-hand batsman and an occasional practitioner of left-arm wrist-spin, who also played in Tests against the Australian "Chuck" Fleetwood-Smith, the first significant exponent of the art of Chinaman and googly bowling. Leyland bowled seldom in these matches, as did Denis Compton, in the three Tests he played against the Australian George Tribe in 1946-47.

The best English left-arm wrist-spinner was Johnny Wardle: he played a couple of times against Garfield Sobers, in the latter's debut at Kingston in 1953-54 and again in 1957. Sobers at that date, however, bowled orthodox left-arm spin. He later added the Chinaman and googly. In 1960-61 in Australia, Sobers played in all five Tests. Australia played a left-arm wrist-spinner in every Test, Lindsay Kline in two, Johnny Martin in three. At Port of Spain in 1964-65, Sobers was bowled by David Sincock, the Australian left- arm wrist-spinner, who played in only three Tests in all.

West Indies later fielded a specialist of this this type in Inshan Ali, who played a dozen Tests in the mid-Seventies, but I cannot find that he ever played against another similar bowler, though against England at Port of Spain in 1973-74 he played in a West Indian side that also included Sobers and Bernard Julien, mostly a left-arm seam bowler but who also sometimes bowled finger-spin or wrist-spin.

It is not unprecedented for there to be a left-arm wrist-spinner in both teams, one of them has often been merely an occasional practitioner, such as Compton or Leyland, and they have never been both significantly successful Test bowlers. Adams, however, is recognised as a potential match-winner and Bevan has already proved himself against West Indies, so it is perhaps fair to say that no previous Test match has included two such successful exponents of the left-arm wrist-spinner's art as these two. It would be nice to think that they are setting a trend. - Michael Moriarty, London N16

ANSWERS PLEASE

Q. Damon Hill, the Formula One World Champion, has scored no points so far this season and looks on course for a points-free campaign. Is there any precedent for this? - Adrian Brodkin, London N2

If you know the answers to any of these questions or have a sporting question of your own, write to Q&A, Sports Desk, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. Fax: 0171-293 2894.

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