Spinners play a vital role in cricket. Over the years, spinners have been able to control the flow of opposition batsmen with their rapid rotations on the ball. As a result, teams often thrive on them during crucial stages in the game.
Great spinners also know about the condition of the pitch in the early overs of the game itself. Hence, they are able to settle into their rhythm and become effective as the match progresses.
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In order of their reputation, we take a look at the three greatest spinners across all formats in the history of cricket.
#3 Anil Kumble
Anil Kumble is considered as one of the greatest leg-spinners to have ever played the game. He represented India for almost two decades. In spite of not being a big turner of the ball, he used his accuracy to good use and extracted bounce with his height.
Kumble made his Test debut in 1990 against England. In the traditional format, he is the second bowler to scalp all ten wickets in an innings after Jim Laker. In Tests, he played 132 matches and picked 619 wickets. In ODIs, he featured in 271 games and picked 337 wickets.
The Indian legend is the third highest wicket-taker in Tests after Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne. In his Test career, he has bowled the most number of balls (40850) among all Indian bowlers.
Kumble was also renowned for his tenacity. Despite nursing an injury, he once returned to the field and picked the wicket of Brian Lara with a broken jaw. He made his ODI debut in 1990 against Sri Lanka. In the 50-over format, he holds the record for most wickets taken by an Indian bowler.
#2 Muttiah Muralitharan
Muttiah Muralitharan is widely rated as the best ever off-spinner in cricket history. He made his Test debut in 1992 against Australia. The Sri Lankan legend holds the record for the most number of Test wickets.
From just 133 Tests, Muralitharan picked a record 800 wickets. The wily off-spinner is the only bowler to take 10 wickets in four consecutive Test matches and is also the only bowler to take more than 50 wickets against every Test playing nation.
At the Sinhalese Sports Club ground in Colombo, Muralitharan is the only bowler to scalp more than 100 Test wickets. Across both Tests and ODIs, he has received 32 Man of the Match awards.
Muralitharan made his ODI debut in 1993 against India. He is the most prolific wicket-taker in the history of the format. From 350 ODIs, he picked 534 wickets. The spin wizard also collected 13 wickets from 12 T20Is.
#1 Shane Warne
Most experts in the game regard Shane Warne as the best ever spinner in cricket history. The legendary cricketer is also credited to have revived leg-spin by his magical performances on various types of pitches across the globe.
Warne made his Test debut in 1992 against India. He played 145 matches and picked 708 wickets at an average of 25.41. Only Muralitharan has picked more wickets than the Australian icon in the history of Test cricket.
Warne made his ODI debut in 1993 against New Zealand. From 194 matches, the leg-spinner picked 293 wickets. His remarkable spells helped Australia win the World Cup on English soil in 1999.
While Muralitharan picked more wickets than him in both Tests and ODIs, Warne's larger than life stature in the game was derived from his capacity to produce magical spells.