Its a fine morning of 1993, Gatting was standing in utter surprise. He and many others were stunned. It wasn’t because Gatting lost his wicket; it was the manner in which he got out. The ball turned from way outside the leg stump to disturb the off stump of the right hander. Yes, it was the “ball of the century” and the bowler was none other Shane Keith Warne, one of the greats of the game.
Legspin has always been known as an art rather than a style of bowling. Time and again cricket has produced many such exciting leg spinners like Bill O’Reilly, Clarrie Grimmet, Shane Warne, Abdul Qadir and Anil Kumble to name a few. Apart from these greats, there were always other formidable legspinners like Chandrashekhar and Stuart McGill who played their part in the shadow of legends.
Since the likes of Shane Warne and Anil Kumble have retired, there have been a huge vacuum in this department. No good leg spinner from any country has been able to make his mark in world cricket. Its of course very hard to find the replacements of legends but having no specialist leg spinner in world cricket to have cemented his place in the national side is a big concern over the continuance of the art called leg spin.
There are a few bowlers like Devendra Bishoo or Amit Mishra or even Piyush Chawla who have come to the scene of late but they have been consistently inconsistent and as a result they haven’t been able to make their mark at International level. The likes of Shahid Afridi who was, not so long ago, treated as a part timer, is now probably the best leg spinner around. Add to that, he doesn’t play test cricket, has just returned from controversial retirement and it remains to be seen how long he carries on. On top of that, he only plays a second fiddle role for Saeed Ajmal in ODIs and T20Is which shows the absence of quality leg spinners at the highest level.
Imran Tahir has been pretty impressive right through his domestic career and his short stint in the South African side but South Africa who is known to produce great pacers and their mindset to choose pacers ahead of spinners has left Imran playing only a role of second fiddle to the pacers.
Its quite astonishing that even the subcontinent countries, who are known to produce champion spinners is not able to produce even a single leg spinner who looks good enough for being a first choice spinner for coming years. It seems that the art of leg spin is fading and young cricketers are choosing to go with the orthodox or off spin bowling. Perhaps the slam-bang T20 cricket has also contributed to the fading art as in T20, even spinners are expected to bowl fast and at yorker length which is of course extremely tough job for a leg spinner who depends on his skill, stock delivery and turn to get a wicket.