A History Of Cricket’s “Twirlymen”

The Economist reviews a new book on the history of spin bowling. An interesting point to note:

Spin bowlers are the game’s revolutionaries. Even their mysterious lexicon—googlies, Chinamen, flippers, doosras—suggests constant innovation. When the googly was first unleashed at the end of the 19th century, batsmen huffed that it wasn’t in the spirit of the game because they couldn’t tell which way the ball was about to spin.

You see these protests about bowling methods from time to time. In recent history, we have seen controversies over the doosra and reverse-swing fast bowling, debates made all the more intractable and difficult by racial/post-colonial issues (i.e., West v. South Asia). That’s not to say opposition to these deliveries is prima facie racial or motivated by less-than-honorable motives. It just helps explain why we get so touchy when these issues arise.


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