The Carrom Ball (also known as the sodukku ball in parts of India) is a style of spin bowling delivery used in cricket. The ball is released by flicking it between the thumb and a bent middle finger in order to impart spin. Though the delivery is known to date from at least the 1940s, it was re-introduced into mainstream international cricket in 2008 by Ravichandran Ashwin and Ajantha Mendis.
Origin and history
The first bowler known to have used this style of delivery was the Australian Jack Iverson from Victoria, who used it throughout his Test career in the period after the Second World War, although he did not use the name "carrom ball". Fellow countryman John Gleeson used a similar grip a decade later, but by the 1970s the method was almost forgotten; however, it has since re-entered cricketing consciousness because of its use by Ajantha Mendis of Sri Lanka, with the new name of carrom ball. Ravichandran Ashwin calls his variation the 'sodukku ball'. In Tamil language, sodukku means "snapping of fingers". This is reflected by the way the ball is delivered, by a "snap" of the middle finger and the thumb. Ashwin went on record to say that he first learned to bowl this type of delivery playing street cricket in Chennai, while using a tennis ball, and later in his childhood, he perfected the delivery with a real cricket ball. Ashwin used this ball in the 2008 IPL (Indian Premier League) weeks before Mendis unveiled it in the international arena during Asia cup 2008, thus rejecting any views that either of them copied it from the other, as perfecting such a ball can take months of practice. He took 9 wickets in his debut test against West Indies in 2011-2012 and used the carrom ball to dismiss Marlon Samuels in the second innings.
The ball is held between the thumb, forefinger and the middle finger and, instead of a conventional release, the ball is squeezed out and flicked by the fingers like a carrom player flicking the disc on a carrom board. It is different from wrist-bowled deliveries. Traditional leg-spin is bowled with anti-clockwise wrist movement for a right-armed bowler, while Muttiah Muralitharan's special type of off-spin is bowled with clockwise wrist movement. A finger-bowled delivery such as traditional off-spin is bowled with a clockwise finger movement. Carrom spin can be considered a third category of spin bowling after leg spin and off spin, as the middle finger and thumb flick or squeeze the ball out of the hand, like a carrom player flicking a striker in the indoor game of carrom. When the centre finger is gripped towards the leg side, the ball spins from leg to off; when the centre finger is gripped towards the off side, the ball spins from off to leg. Depending on the degree the ball is gripped towards the leg side, the carrom ball could also travel straight. The carrom ball can therefore spin to either the off or leg sides or travel straight (as opposed to the popular misconception that it only spins towards the off side).
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