2016: Just Another Year Of The Subcontinental Spinner

Water is wet and spinners from the sub-continent are really quite marvellous. Two forever constants it would seem. This year, sub-continental spinners plying their trade at home have been emphatic, thrifty and dependable. Teams from other parts of the globe do partake in spin but India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and now Bangladesh have a monopoly over the art. When you look at some of the big players statistically, you start to see why they are so worthy of their reputation.

2016 Test Matches


Matches Overs Wickets Runs Average Economy 5W
Ravichandran Ashwin 9 406 55 1223 22.23 3.00 6
Ravindra Jadeja 6 281.3 23 609 26.47 2.16 1

With Ashwin and Jadeja positioned respectively at no.1 and 7 in the ICC Player Rankings for test bowlers, it comes as little surprise that England struggled so hugely in the 2nd test. Obviously Ashwin is the crème de la crème, but Jadeja’s efficiency and impressive wicket tally means that the opposition are constantly burdened by scoreboard pressure.


Matches Overs Wickets Runs Average Economy 5W 10W
Yasir Shah 8 444.1 40 1399 34.97 3.14 4 2

Pakistan heavily rely on the world No.5 to maintain a lengthy spell while rotating their seamers. Not for the first time, Yasir was mentioned in the same breath as Shane Warne amidst his relentless attack on England at Lords. Leg spin is all about control and Yasir is leading the line with his wrist.

Sri Lanka

Matches Overs Wickets Runs Average Economy 5W 10W
Rangana Herath 8 367.3 54 947 17.53 2.57 5 2
Dilruwan Perera 5 190.3 23 565 24.56 2.96 1 1

Herath’s quite simply astonishing record comes as little surprise to Australian’s who faced the full wrath of the veteran spinner in the Warne-Muliritharan Trophy. A test series named after two of the spinning greats was fittingly dominated the world no.2 test bowler who came in to fill the void left by Murali. A notable mention to Dilruwan Perera who alongside Herath, also tormented Australia with simple and fluent offspin.


Matches Overs Wickets Runs Average Economy 5W 10W
Mehedi Hasan 2 109.2 19 297 15.63 2.71 3 1
Shakib Al Hasan 2 81 12 221 18.41 2.72 1 0

Bangladesh have only played two tests in 2016 but England played enough to endure the vigour of their spin duo. In an inspiring series draw, Bangladesh exploited England’s fragility against spin. 19-year-old Mehedi assured line and length bowling reaped its benefits against a somewhat ordinary England batting order. Alongside the more qualified Shakib, the pair took 31 of England’s allotted 40 over two test matches, an incredible return.

The rest of the world

Matches Overs Wickets Runs Average Economy 5W 10W
Moeen Ali (Eng) 14 422 34 1,552 45.64 3.67 1
Adil Rashid (Eng) 4 159 20 579 28.95 3.64
Nathan Lyon (Aus) 8 325 31 1,089 35.41 3.37
Devendra Bishoo (WI)  6  212.5 22  756  34.36  3.55  1  1
Mitchell Santner (NZ) 7  258.2 19  776  40.84  3.00  –

The best of the rest I suppose. While some reputable names miss out on the list, they remain just that. The sub-continental world of spin shines in all aspects of statistical analysis. From this list, the two that stand out are legbreakers Adil Rashid and Devendra Bishoo. It is possible and most likely probable that legbreak has a way of mystifying batsman with natural inconsistency and variation, but offbreak is struggling. Offbreakers like Ashwin, Herath et al all have the ability to put the ball on the same line and length still catering for those wicket-taking magical balls. The rest of the world can’t keep up. For what Nathan Lyon has in wickets, he deficits in the ability to individually roll over a batting line up. He’s a very good spinner ranked 18th in the world, but no 5 wicket hauls implies that he does not possess the ability to individually steam through batting line-ups. For what Moeen Ali infrequently has in wickets, he also lacks in dependability on halting the flow of runs. For what Mitchell Santner possesses in a gallant economy rate, he misses out on in wickets. These sub-continental bowlers have been cultivated and educated in spin and for the rest of the world, it just does not come so naturally.


Written digitally for The Cricketer Magazine, the world’s no.1 selling cricket magazine. Available via http://www.thecricketer.com/2016-just-another-year-of-the-subcontinental-spinner.aspx

Also compiled the graphics and statistics.


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