Former Australian off-spinner and head coach and director of Elite Cricket, Jason Krejza, takes you through the technique to perfect off-spin bowling.
Off-spin bowling is a fantastic art to learn and lots of fun to develop through experimentation. It takes time to learn the subtleties, tactics, variations and strategies involved to deceive the batsman, which is your primary objective. Off-spin is arguably the hardest cricketing art to master because the variations aren’t as vast as leg spin. An ‘offie’ needs to work hard on coming up with ways of getting the batsman out.
- The basic grip. Your first finger is the spinning finger and should rest on the seam to control the spin direction. Spin the cricket ball with the seam spinning straight to get maximum grip off the surface. To get maximum revs, curl your index finger back, ’torque’ it up a bit for more spin on the ball and get it fizzing.
- Your run-up should be nice and straight. You often see weird angled approaches to the crease, especially when some spinners bowl from around the wicket, but the straighter it is, the simpler it is. You want momentum going towards where you want the ball to go, so having a straight approach will ensure your weight is going in that direction.
- Increase your speed and momentum as you get closer to delivering the ball to create power. Also, try and stay nice and high – bounce is a spinner’s best friend, so the taller you are during your run up and delivery stride, the better.
- A high front arm gets you nice and high at the crease and you will have more to pull down when you are bowling, not unlike a fast bowler’s action. As you land with your back foot, stretch your front arm high in the air and actually feel a stretch in your side – then you know you are high enough!
- Jump to the crease and try and get yourself side-on when you land on your back foot – Nathan Lyon is a great one to watch for this. He has quite a purposeful leap while getting his back foot side-on to the crease.
- Your shoulders should be aligned at your target when you land, putting you in a great position to bowl an offie. Rotate around your front foot after you bowl to help with spin and power, so starting in a side-on position lines you up with the target and is good place to start the rotation.
- Note what the grip we discussed earlier looks like by the time the ball is released. The wrist will turn anti-clockwise, so the back of the hand faces mid-wicket at the moment of release. Imagine turning a dial, or opening a door, and you get a broad idea of the action.
- Feet should line up towards the target as you are bowling. Once again, this keeps everything simple and helps get your weight towards where you want the ball to go. If you close yourself off too much (your front foot going across your body too much) then your alignment will be out of whack and you will have to either bowl around yourself or your bowling arm’s release point will be from directly over your head. This can affect line, drift, turn and consistency.
- Bowl the ball with energy and your hand should finish past your opposite hip. And don’t forget to follow through with your body too! Then be ready for a return catch!
Jason Krejza’s biggest tip: You aren’t going to get a lot of spin on the ball if you just roll your arm over. You need a nice, fast bowling arm to create the revs on the ball, so put a big effort into bowling it and you will see more revs, meaning more turn and more dip if you have over spin on it. It’s tough to get the hang of it, but with lots of practice you will master it. You need patience, resilience and commitment to being the best you can be.
So work hard and have fun!
Jason Krejza applies his vast experience working with the world’s best players and coaches to his own coaching. Jason had a history-making Test debut when his 12 wickets for the match against India in 2010 included eight wickets in the first innings.