Bowling off-spin is no less than an art in the game of cricket. The new varieties and innovations of the off-spinners make the life difficult for batsmen, especially in test cricket. They have grown gradually, with the change in the game.
There have been many great off-spinners graced the game over the years. They have completely changed the cognition of looking at the finger spinners. They are looked at as a wicket-taking option now, unlike the earlier times.
In this article, we look at five all-time great off-spinners in the history of cricket:
1. Muttiah Muralitharan (SL):
The Sri Lankan legend, Muttiah Muralitharan, is the first spinner to feature in this article. The Kandy-born is probably the greatest off-spinner ever to spin the cricket ball. The 48-years old boasts of having the record of taking the most number of wickets in both Tests (800) and ODIs (534), at a sensational bowling average of 22.72 and 23.08 with the ball.
Murali could turn the ball sharply and trouble any batsman on any pitch under any bowling conditions. The off-spinner also holds the record of taking the most number of ten-wickets hauls (22) in a Test match, with the next bowler having 12 fewer ten-for than him. Muralitharan has also the most number of fifers (67) in the tests and second-most (10) in the ODIs.
2. Ravichandran Ashwin (IND):
Ravichandran Ashwin, the Indian bowler, is one of the best off-spinners in test cricket at the moment. Ashwin’s growth has been phenomenal over the years, especially in the tests. The 34-years old has been instrumental in his team’s victory on many occasions.
In his cricketing career, the Chennai-born has taken 394 test wickets, 150 ODI wickets and 52 wickets in the T20Is. The bowling all-rounder has the second-most number of fifers (29) and ten-for (7) in white-ball cricket. With 400 test wickets not too far, Ravichandran Ashwin will be hoping to reach the milestone in the ongoing test series against England.
3. Jim Laker (ENG):
James Charles Laker, the English spinner, is the third off-spinner to become a part of this list. Jim Laker was the first bowler and second overall to take all the ten wickets in a Test inning. Only Anil Kumble has managed to replicate this achievement.
In his career of 46 test matches, the Frizinghall-born has snared 193 wickets at a sumptuous bowling average of 21.24 in the whites. The off-spinner was also a domestic giant, having played county cricket for Surrey and Essex. In 450 First-class matches, Laker grabbed 1944 wickets.
4. Nathan Lyon (AUS):
Nathan Lyon, the Australian veteran, is one of the greatest off-spinners ever to play for Australia. He has taken the third-most number of wickets (399) for Australia in Tests. The New South Wales spinner has a bowling average of 32.12 in the tests, with his best figures (13/154) coming against Bangladesh.
The 33-years old has 18 fifers and three ten-wicket hauls while playing for Australia in the tests. Despite being mediocre in white-ball cricket, the off-spinner is one of the best spinners in the world cricket at the moment. Nathan Lyon will be looking to complete 400 wickets, and more dismissals to his name.
5. Saqlain Mushtaq (PAK):
Saqlain Mushtaq, the Pakistani off-spinner, is assumed to be the first bowler to discover ‘Doosra’. Doosra is a delivery that spins in the opposite direction to an off-break. The Lahore-born has taken 496 international wickets i.e., 208 in tests and 288 wickets in the ODIs.
The 44-years old has picked up the second-most number of wickets for a Pakistani spinner in the international circuit – only behind Shahid Afridi’s 538. His best bowling performance came against Zimbabwe, where he took ten wickets at Bulawayo in 2002. The legendary spinner has taken up the role of a coach post-retirement.