“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.” – Albert Einstein
In Cricket, we have witnessed many mysterious things happening on the field of cricket. Be it a magical delivery, or an out-of-the-box cricket stroke, Cricket has never been short of unearthing the unpredictable.
Spin bowling is an art and many nuances of it are still a mystery for even the pundits. In its long illustrious history, the gentleman’s game has witnessed some great spinners over the years who have made their mark with some exemplary performances. Apart from the traditional lot, the game of cricket has also seen some outrageously mysterious spinners who took the cricketing world by storm with their quirky deliveries.
Let us have a look at some of those mysterious tricksters who have made their presence felt through the ages
Note: We haven’t included the name of Jack Potter who was probably the inventor of the ‘doosra’ as he didn’t play a single international game.
1. Bernard Bosanquet
Probably, the inventor of the ‘googly’, the ball that turns the other way for a leg-spinner, Bernard Bosanquet wrote about his invention: “Somewhere about the year 1897 I was playing a game with a tennis ball, known as `Twisti-Twosti.' The object was to bounce the ball on a table so that your opponent sitting opposite could not catch it... After a little experimenting I managed to pitch the ball which broke in a certain direction; then with more or less the same delivery make the next ball go in the opposite direction! I practised the same thing with a soft ball at `Stump-cricket.' From this I progressed to the cricket ball.”
Notably, the first public recognition of the delivery was obtained in July 1900 when playing for Middlesex against Leicestershire at Lord's, Bosanquet flummoxed a left-hander with that ‘special’ delivery which bounced four times.
The man himself wrote that the first time it was bowled against the Australians at Lord's in 1902 when he had two overs and saw two very puzzled Australians return to the pavilion. He also added that the first googly ever bowled in Australia, in March 1903 when the Australian great Victor Trumper was batting on 40. Trumper played two conventional leg-breaks to cover with consummate ease but saw his middle stump uprooted in the next ball which was possibly the ‘wrong-one’.
More than a useful all-rounder, Bosanquet played 7 Tests for England in which he picked up 25 wickets at an average of 24.16. According to him, some of the most memorable performances of his career came in the First Class cricket when he took five wickets in each inning in three consecutive matches against Yorkshire, six in each versus Nottinghamshire, and seven in each against Sussex.
Six feet tall, Bosanquet used to deliver the ball over from a great height and he went on to master one of the most talked about deliveries in the world cricket which was later sharpened by a generation of leggies.