Off spin

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Animation of a typical off spin delivery, bowled from over the wicket.

Off spin is a type of finger spin bowling in cricket. A bowler who uses this technique is called an off spinner. Off spinners are right-handed spin bowlers who use their fingers to spin the ball. Their normal delivery is an off break,[1] which spins from left to right (from the bowler's perspective) when the ball bounces on the pitch. For a right-handed batsman, this is from his off side to the leg side (that is, towards the right-handed batsman, or away from a left-handed batsman). The ball breaks away from the off side,[2] hence the name 'off break'.

Off spinners bowl mostly off breaks, varying them by adjusting the line and length of the deliveries. Off spinners also bowl other types of delivery, which spin differently. Aside from these variations in spin, varying the speed, length and flight of the ball are also important for the off spinner.

The bowler with the most wickets in the history of both Test matches and ODIs, Muttiah Muralitharan, was an off spinner.[3]


Although rare now, in the past there were bowlers who used the off-break action who deliberately did not impart any considerable spin on the ball but relied on line and length (or even speed variations) to frustrate batsmen. They endeavoured to pitch the ball in an area that the batsman was unable to play a scoring shot, even making last moment adjustments to "follow" a batsman should they move within the crease to negate the bowlers tactics. Whilst this is primarily a defensive style, wickets were achieved by forcing a batsman to make a rash stroke or even bowling at the stumps instead of the retreating batsman. Another wicket taking method was to impart more spin on the ball than usual, and surprise the batsman. An exponent of this style of bowling was "Flat" Jack Simmons who played for Lancashire and Tasmania in the 1970s and 1980s. With the advent of limited overs cricket promoting more adventurous batting styles and the use of ever heavier bats this style of bowling has declined, although some off-spinners will still use this tactic when the pitch is offering very little or no turn. It is a tactic often used by Kane Williamson when he bowls occasionally in limited overs format because his bowling style tends to be flatter and faster.

Comparison with other types of spin bowling[edit]

Nathan Lyon bowling off spin

Off spin contrasts with leg spin, in which the ball spins from leg to off and which is bowled with a very different action (wrist spin).[4] Off spin is generally considered less difficult to play than leg spin, as off breaks typically spin less than leg breaks, and do not generally possess the same loopy, potentially deceptive flight. In addition, off spinners tend to have a smaller repertoire of deliveries to choose from. For a right-handed batsman, the ball moves in towards the batsman's body, meaning the batsman's legs are usually in the path of the ball if it misses the bat or takes an edge. This makes it difficult for the bowler to get the batsman out bowled or caught from an off break, but it does mean there is a chance of leg before wicket, assuming the ball has not turned enough to miss the leg stump. However, the off spinner often bowls faster and more accurately than a leg spinner, and can therefore deceive the batsman with changes in the pace of the ball. A left-handed batsman has more difficulty facing off break bowling, because the ball moves away from his body. This means that any miscalculation can more easily result in an outside edge off the bat and a catch going to the wicket-keeper or slips fielders.

A left-handed bowler who bowls with the same (finger spin) action as an off spinner is known as a left-arm orthodox spin bowler. While the orthodox spinner has the same action as an off-spinner, the ball itself spins in the opposite direction (akin to a right arm leg spinner).[5] Such a ball is not normally called an off break, but a left-arm orthodox spinner.


Off spin: Sometimes the term off spin is used to mean the off break delivery.[6][7][8][9] At other times the term off spin has a wider meaning, to include all deliveries bowled by an off spinner, including non-off break deliveries.[10][11][12]

Off spinner: The term off spinner can be used to mean either the bowler[13][14] or the off break delivery.[15][16][17][9]

Offie: The term offie can also be used to mean either the bowler[18][19] or the off break delivery.[20][21]


An off break is bowled by holding the cricket ball in the palm of the hand with the seam running across under all the fingers.[2] As the ball is released, the fingers roll down the right side of the ball (for a right-handed bowler), giving the ball a clockwise spin as seen from behind.

Notable off spinners[edit]

Notable off spinners include:

and more...

Other deliveries bowled by off spin bowlers[edit]

Another common weapon of the off spinner is the arm ball, which does not spin but goes straight on "with the arm".[25] More skilled offspinners also have the topspinner.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Difference between Off Break and Off Spin". 15 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b "How to Grip the Ball to Bowl Offspin".
  3. ^ "Muttiah Muralitharan's rise to the top of the world". ICC. 17 April 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020. On the occasion of the legendary Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan's 48th birthday, we revisit his rise to the top of the international wicket-takers' charts through an animated graph.
  4. ^ "Off spin". BBC Sport. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  5. ^ "How to bowl left-arm spin". BBC Sport. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  6. ^ "A glossary of cricket terms". ESPN. 17 April 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2020. Off-break/spin - A ball turning into the right hander- from off to leg (from left to right)
  7. ^ "Definition of offspin". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 31 July 2020. spin imparted to a bowled ball in cricket that tends to cause it to break from the off side to the leg side.
  8. ^ "The man behind Murali". ESPN. 15 July 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2020. "A coach cannot change a bowler like Murali. If anyone tried to do that he will be lost. What made Murali so special was his off-spin. It was his main weapon. With his experience he added the doosra. But he got most of his wickets with off-spin," Fernando continued.
  9. ^ a b "Sunil Narine banned from bowling his off-spinner in IPL". 29 April 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2020. West Indies 'mystery spinner' Sunil Narine has been banned from bowling his off-spin delivery at the Indian Premier League... A statement from the IPL read: "...the committee has concluded that Mr. Narine's bowling action for his off-spinner, contravenes Law 24.2 (as read with Law 24.3) of the Laws of Cricket. Therefore the player is now banned from bowling the off-spinner in matches organised by the BCCI, including the IPL."
  10. ^ Peter Such. "Simple And Common Variations In Off Spin". Retrieved 31 July 2020. Once the basics of bowling off spin have been mastered (the mechanics of finger spin bowling) to become a complete off spin bowler one must develop and have the ability to consistently deliver a range of variations... The Arm Ball, Swinger Or Floater
  11. ^ "From cow corner to Mankads - your cricket questions answered". BBC. 17 April 2020. Retrieved 7 August 2020. When the ball spins the opposite way to how a batsman would expect, it is called a doosra (when an off-spin bowler turns it away from a right-hander)
  12. ^ "Off Spin Variations: How to Bowl Off Spin". YouTube. 19 August 2017. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 1 August 2020. The one you've all been asking for, here's Kieran talking us through how to bowl the different off spin variations.
  13. ^ "'Ashwin is the best off-spinner in the world' – Graeme Swann". ICC. 28 August 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2020. Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann has rated India's Ravichandran Ashwin as the best Test spinner in the world while picking Afghanistan's Rashid Khan as the best in Twenty20s. "Ashwin is easily the best off-spinner in the world."
  14. ^ "England's Graeme Swann maintains a rich Old Trafford off-spin tradition". The Guardian. 2 August 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2020. But there have been matches here that were not so memorable for off-spinners... Two fine English off-spinners, Fred Titmus and John Mortimore, bowled 93 overs between them in that match, yielding 222 runs without a wicket... Australia had one off-spinner, Tom Veivers
  15. ^ "Pakistan v Australia". ESPN. Retrieved 4 August 2020. MacKay, bowling off-spinners on a perfect length
  16. ^ "The Definitive: Michael Vaughan". Wisden. 26 June 2014. Archived from the original on 28 September 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020. I was in the Yorkshire under 15 side and batting regularly at number seven and bowling off-spinners.
  17. ^ "Ashes 2015: England and Australia's spinners prove a threat in a big-hitter's era". The Guardian. 15 July 2015. Retrieved 4 August 2020. Bowling off-spinners was a peaceful occupation then.
  18. ^ "Three thrilling quicks and an offie with a seven-for". ESPN. 19 January 2020. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  19. ^ "Top five: Most runs conceded by a bowler in an innings in IPL". Times of India. 12 June 2020. Retrieved 26 July 2020. The young offie from Afghanistan has often troubled the batsmen with his precise line and length and variations.
  20. ^ "The doosra ain't the only game in town". ESPN. 27 February 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2020. In Perth grade cricket I bowled offies and would keep bowling that way until inevitably the day would come when offbreaks didn't bring enough wickets... So if Laker was brought on, I would bowl offies, but if "Tich" Freeman was in action, I would bowl legspin.
  21. ^ "Ponting gets a BBL wicket, bowling offies". Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  22. ^ "Records / Test matches / Bowling records / Most wickets in career". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  23. ^ "Records / One-Day Internationals / Bowling records / Most wickets in career". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  24. ^ Cricinfo staff (29 April 2009). "I can teach Australians the doosra - Saqlain". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  25. ^ Eastaway, Rob (2003). What is a googly?. Robson Books. p. 118. ISBN 1-86105-629-X.
  26. ^ Eastaway, Rob (2003). What is a googly?. Robson Books. p. 141. ISBN 1-86105-629-X.

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