Between his debut in 1978 and his final Test in 1995, John Emburey was nearly always first choice spinner for England. At 6ft 2in he had an ideal height to generate bounce and his action, a sideways affair with the front foot landing where the batsman stands when the action is coming from the other end, allowed him to perfect the negative wicket to wicket line with the variety coming from bounce and drift.
This type of spin blocks up an end while the quicks take a breather. The action is not best suited to converting the spin into turn.
Here he is on YouTube
The modern approach, as we saw with our look at Graeme Swann a few weeks ago, is to come in straighter, bowl more chest on and position the wrist at the point of release so that the seam of the spinning points to leg-slip. This offers far more turn and allows a bowler to bowl the attacking line outside the right-hander’s off stump which turns to hit off-stump with natural variation of the turn and drift produced providing the uncertainty that brings both edges of the bat into play.
Here is film of Harbhajan Singh from YouTube to compare with that of Emburey.
Finally here is a reminder from yesterday of Lance Gibbs who started his run from an almost identical position to that of ‘Bhaji’.
Yesterday, in the final of IPL2010, Harbhajan Singh opened the bowling for the Mumbai Indians and the 23 year old ‘off-spinner’ Ravichandson Ashwin opened the attack for the Chennai Super Kings.
There is such a wealth of spin in cricket today that the relegation of spin bowling to defensive time filling seems like an old nightmare. The new spin, which is the old spin restored to its rightful place, is winning matches in T20, Pro40, 50 over ODIs, Championship and Test matches bringing its fair share of spectacle to the game.
Skill is triumphing and entertaining as it always will. And the batsmen are developing their reply.