Home > Cricket Development > Why are there so many Left Arm Orthodox Spinners in Associate Cricket?

Why are there so many Left Arm Orthodox Spinners in Associate Cricket?

Let me lay down the facts straight away and go country by country right from the top:

There is atleast one left arm orthodox spinner in the squads of most Associate nations:

Scotland – Glenn Rogers, Ross Lyons

Bangladesh – Abdur Razzaq, Saqib ul Hasan, Mohammed Rafique, Enamul Haque

Bermuda – Dwayne Leverock, Hasan Durham

 Canada – Kevin Sandher, Sunil Dhaniram, Barry Seebaran

Kenya – Hiren Varaiya, (the only proper spinner in Kenya)

Netherlands – Pietar Seelar

Zimbabwe – Keith Dabengwa, Sean Williams, Ray Price

Tanzania – Kakonzi

Namibia – Nicolaas Scholtz, Lenny Louw

UAE – Shadeep Silva, Ahmed Raza, Khurram Khan, Rizwan Latif, Obaid Hameed

Nepal – Raj Shrestha, Shakti Gauchan, Basanta Regmi

Hong Kong – Nadeem Ahmed, Najeeb Amar, Shakeel

Singapore – Jackie Manoj, A Balaji

Kuwait  – Ali Shezhad, one more

Afghanistan – Naseer Khan

Maldives – Mohammed Mafafooz

Germany – Hamid Mehmood

Oman – Hemal Mehta, Tariq Syed

Qatar – Qamar Sadeq

Thailand – 3 left armers

 If you look at statistics, most of these spinners are the mainstays of their countries’ spin bowling attacks, and usually have a right arm offspinner supporting them. In an era where people say that the art of left arm spin is dying out with only Monty, Vettori, and Rafique, how come left arm spinners are dominating associate and lower rung cricket?

Is it simply because left arm orthodox spin comes naturally to left handers, and the fact that it is easy to be a left arm spinner with good control in one-day cricket?

any ideas?

Categories: Cricket Development
  1. Art
    January 29, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    This is an interesting question. My wife, a school teacher of many years, has suggested there are more left handers in general since various education systems stopped try to make everyone right handed.

    We certainly have a lot of left arm orthodox spinners in our local competition with the leading spinner being left arm. I am wondering what will happen in the Australian team now that Warne has retired. McGill is aging but young Cameron White has some potential and so have one or two at state level. Perhaps we might see a left armer bringing the ball from that way rather than a leggie.

  2. rego
    January 29, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    The fact is though..that are very few proper left armers in full international cricket..3 or 4..however..almost every associate team has at least one specialist left armer..leading their spin attack..why the big contradiction?

  3. Art
    January 29, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    Perhaps it is a question of attack balance.

    Australia has for a number of years now gone in with four specialist bowlers only (in general) and those are three quicks and a leg spinner. The so called all rounder has been the wicket keeper. There are part timers of course.

    So before we look at the left arm orthodox spinners in isolation perhaps we should look at the rest of the attack and see what sort of balance the whole attack has and whether or not it is predominantly specilaists or some are all rounders.

  4. January 29, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Kenya only has one spinner?

    Um, get your facts right.
    Tikolo is also classed as a quality spinner – he is in the top 100 ODI bowlers.
    Kamande has also stopped bowling medium and is also a genuine spiner of the ball.
    That is just mentioning the three in the WCL squad.
    We also have Gami, Laxman, Jesani, Kayne all who perform well in the domestic game and are on the fringes of the national side.

  5. rego
    January 29, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    Varaiya is Kenya’s main specialist spinner..Tikolo..well yes..mainly in the one-day game..but he plays second fiddle to Varaiya..and half the time does not even bowl..Kamande..just a run stopper i would reckon..The point i’m trying to make is that Hiren Varaiya is Kenya’s main spinner..

    Kayne, Gami etc..well they are on the fringes..im talking about players who have played consistently for the country

  6. Art
    January 30, 2007 at 2:20 am

    International one day game playing currently here in Perth, England v NZ. The number one spinner in each team is left arm orthodox.

    The question is of course would you play a good left arm orthodox in favour of a good leg spinner. My answer would be no. I guess left arm orthodox is easier to master than right arm leg spin (Given of course that is your natural arm lol.)

  7. Roland Ilube
    January 30, 2007 at 3:06 am

    As a pseudo left-arm spinner myself (my detractors claim that I don’t spin the ball, but I put it down to a combination of their myopia and jealousy), my theory, based on no scientific evidence whatsoever, is this:

    – Generally speaking, the ball turning away from the bat is a trickier proposition than the ball turning in, and as the majority of batsmen are right-handed, this means left-arm orthodox spinners or leggies

    – Most teams at all levels look for someone who can therefore provide this angle of attack. Indulge me for a moment while I run through the current test sides first-choice (as per their last tests) spinners:

    Australia – Shane Warne (remember I said last test, we shall see what the future holds)

    England – Monty

    India – Kumble (you could argue as to whether he turns the ball away, but then you can argue whether he is a spinner in the generally accepted sense at all)

    NZ – Vettori

    Pakistan – Kaneria

    SA – Harris

    SL – Murali (unique)

    WI – Dave Mohammed (Gayle is not picked to be a spinner). Dave doesn’t fit my theory so well, but falls into the category of “unusual” like Murali, although obviously not in the same class

    Rego has already covered Bangladesh, and I haven’t seen Zim recently so I can’t really say anything them

    Although not perfect, I offer this as support of my initial contention that teams want bowlers who turn the ball away from right-handers

    When you come down to associate level, I am guessing that the quality (and consistency of leg-spinners falls away, and so for most associate teams the leggie option becomes too high-risk, and so they prefer to go the left-arm spinner route, which generally offers more control

    A theory full of holes I know, but its the best I can do for now. It has however always been a mystery to me how Bangladesh regularly put out a 3 or 4-pronged left arm spin attack, there must be a secret factory that produces them over there

  8. Martin Lauritsen
    January 30, 2007 at 4:18 am


    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head! The ball turning away is the issue, given the quality of leg spin at test level they are generally preferred with the left arm orthodox the option if there is no quality leggie available. Even most right arm orthodox finger spinners are attempting to develop a “doosra” spinning away from right handers. At associate level, given the time and effort needed to develop quality leg spin bowling, it is extremely difficult to cultivate such a player (really need to be full time professional to develop such an art) so left arm orthodox is preferred as it is easier to master.
    The question now would be how many right arm off spinners are left, most that are need to be able to give the ball a real rip and/or possess a well disguised doosra (Murali, Saqlain, Harbhajan). The days of the pure Indian spinners of the seventies, reliant on flight, speed and spin variation seem to be gone.

  9. rego
    January 30, 2007 at 6:55 am

    Roland, I was thinking along the same lines about the fact there aren’t enough quality left arm spinners at the associate level, which means that teams turn to left arm orthodox spinners..I also think that the ability to decent spin bowling in the associate leagues is very poor, which means that even a mediocre accurate spinner can destroy attacks..getting them selected in the team..maybe im talking too early..but Glenn Rogers seems a prime example of this..

    The trend in Associate Cricket seems to be that most teams have a pace/medium pace dominated attack..with one accurate left arm tweaker..and a couple of part time off spinners..Have we come to the conclusion that it is easier to produce quality pace bowlers than quality spinners?

  10. rego
    January 30, 2007 at 6:57 am

    Bangladesh are really quite interesting..something that takes more looking into to understand..

  11. Art
    January 30, 2007 at 5:53 pm


    I am not sure we will ever get the real answer to this.

    However after last Saturday’s match here I think left arm spinners will be stamped out rapidly. It was 40 degrees in the shade and one team was pushing for an outright. They had two very fast young quicks (one left one right)balanced with a couple of medium pacers and two part time left arm spinners. The medium pacers are the only ‘oldies’ in the team and the heat got to them earlt. Given over restrictions applying to you ng quicks the captain called for an all out effort at one end by the quicks. So at one end he had the left arm spinners operating taking about 2 minutes an over. Imagine what sort of rest the quicks for getting after they finished their over. The spinners twirled away, the quicks got nastier and shorter and thankfully both innings folded rather quickly. After the match the discussion between the quicks and the spinners was rather short and sharp.

    I wonder if right arm offspinners would have been more thoughtful. lol.

  12. January 30, 2007 at 9:43 pm


    I acknowledge the point you were making about the spinners being the main ones in the national team, but I suggest you take a closer look at Tikolo’s figures from the beginning of last year. You will note that he is one of the key figures bowling for Kenya and that the only matches he does not bowl are dead rubbers or where he is trying to give his younger players experience. Several times, he has won matches for Kenya with his spin.
    Kamande is not as good as the other two perhaps, but he is a genuine spinner of the ball and has also contributed to Kenyan wins.
    Saying Varaiya is Kenya’s only spinner is like saying Warne is Australia’s only spinner. They may be the best in the country, but there are plenty of others out there who are also quality bowlers.

  13. rego
    January 31, 2007 at 12:45 am

    I admit my wording was probably a bit off..the point i was making was that most associate nations have left arm orthodox spinners as their strike bowlers..Varaiya is Kenya’s main specialist spinner..Tikolo is certainly good..but Varaiya is the first choice spinner…i realize the language was rather off target..srry about that

  14. January 31, 2007 at 10:33 am

    No worries, just I wanted to make sure the others weren’t forgotten.

    Talking of Varaiya – how good a find he has been!
    so far this WCL he has the following figures:


    Hope he keeps it up!

  15. Efaz
    February 1, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    As mentioned already, SLAs are preferred because they produce away movement from right handers. I think once those countries start producing more left hand batsmen, the dominance of SLAs will go away.

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