Capability to Bowl at an international level is certainly exceptional. But, a bowler having the capability to bowl both fast & spin bowling is really rare. But, even though a bowler may have the skills, is a bowler even allowed to bowl both fast and spin bowling? We get into the bottom of this in today’s article.
But first, can a bowler bowl both fast & spin bowling in the game of cricket? Yes, a bowler is allowed to bowl both fast & spin bowling in Cricket. There is no such rule that prohibits a bowler from doing so. If the bowler, however, decides to change the bowling hand or the side from which he intends to bowl, he will need to first inform the umpire.
But what makes a bowler decide to change the type of bowl he wants to deliver? After all, it takes YEARS to master just one type of bowling! Let’s look at that in detail along with a few examples of such cases that have happened in cricketing history.
Reasons to Switch to Spin Bowling from Fast Bowling & vice-versa
It is quite rare for a bowler to change the type of bowling to spin bowling over fast bowling or vice-versa in a cricket match or in a cricket career. So, the reasons for this are quite limited as well.
But there have been instances in the history of cricket that such events have occurred. So, let’s disect the reasons in such cases –
1. Injury to the Bowler forces to choose spin over fast bowling
An injury to any sportsperson is probably the most unfortunate event that can happen in the career of a player. This is especially true for a bowler in cricket.
Unfortunately, however, fast bowlers are most prone to an injury in the game of cricket as it requires great levels of fitness to be able to bowl fast consistently.
More often than not, if a bowler gets injured, he doesn’t get selected anymore. Unless, you are Mark Waugh – who was selected in the side to play as an allrounder. Mark Waugh bowled fast balls early in his career. Stricken by injury, he was forced to continue balling off-spin bowling later in his career.
2. Sheer Capability of the Bowler to bowl both Spin & Fast balls
Very few rare players have the capability to bowl both as a spin as well as a fast bowler. Even more rare is to be able to take wickets doing so. However, there have been cases of bowlers capability to bowl both spin and fast bowling due to their sheer ability.
3. Adapt to the Condition (Pitch or Other Situations)
Sometimes, players recognise that the best thing to do is to change the type of delivery that needs to be balled. Change the bowling from spin to fast or otherwise.
The desire to do so could be either due to the change in pitch conditions that favour either fast or spin type of bowling. For eg. Sohail Tanveer of Pakistan.
Alternatively, sometimes the match conditions force a bowler to change the type of bowling. For eg. Manoj Prabhakar of India in a match against Sri Lanka was forced to bowl spin bowling.
Examples of Bowler who Bowled both Fast & Spin
As mentioned above, there have been situations in the past when a bowler in cricket chose to change the type of bowling. The reasons for the players mentioned below mostly fall under one of the three mentioned above.
Please keep in mind that the bowlers may have bowled the two types of deliveries either across their career or even in the same match.
Let’s look at some of the examples of players who bowled both fast and spin in cricket –
Sohail Tanvir (Pakistan)
Sohail Tanvir was famous for his unorthodox left-arm fast bowling. He bowled with great pace and was a threat in ODIs and especially the T20 format of the game. His hard-hitting quickfire knocks lower down the order were also quite famous.
But a little known fact about Sohail Tanvir is that not only was he a good fast bowler, he could also bowl great left-arm orthodox spin bowling. He took everyone by surprise when he decided to bowl left-arm spin bowling in a test match against India at Eden Gardens, Kolkatta in 2007.
Unfortunately, his career has been filled with injuries and the promising fast bowler hasn’t had the chance to live up to the expectations from someone with his skills.
Manoj Prabhakar (India)
The name of Manoj Prabhakar has been often linked with cricketing scandals. Those factors apart, Manoj Prabhakar was a great talent and one that any team would choose to keep.
This bowling all-rounder was known for his fast swing ball including the banana swing bowling often linked with the great Pakistani Swing Bowler Waqar Younis.
But, the curious case of Manoj Prabhakar’s decision to change the bowling type from fast to spin was barely a surprise.
The situation occurred during a group match against Sri Lanka in the World Cup of 1996. Manoj Prabhakar was one of the main fast bowlers of India, and was sent to open the bowling.
However, Sri Lankan opening batsman Sanath Jayasuriya tore apart Prabhakar’s bowling. In the first 2 overs of his spell, Prabhakar conceded 33 runs and was removed from the attack.
The attack was with such vigour that when he returned to bowl, he was forced to bowl off-spin bowling. He conceded another 14 runs while bowling off-spin.
Until that match, Manoj Prabhakar had played 127 matches in his career. Post this beating from Jayasuriya, Prabhakar’s career was short lived which ended soon after with 130 international ODI matches to his name.
Phil DeFreitas (England)
Phil DeFreitas was another example of a bowler being slaughtered by Sanath Jayasuriya and being forced to bowl with a completely different tactics.
Phil DeFreitas, famously known as “Daffy” within the dressing room, was a strong bowling all rounder who played for England. He suffered a similar fate as that of Manoj Prabhakar in the same world cup.
Originally a fast bowler, Phil DeFreitas was thrashed all over the ground during his spell of fast bowling. When he returned to bowl in the 40th over, he was forced to bowl spin bowling with Sri Lanka winning the match comfortably.
Sir Garfield Sobers (West Indies)
Sir Garfield Sobers, affectionately known as “Garry” Sobers was by far one of the greatest players the game has ever seen.
There is very little that Garry Sobers could not do. He held the world record for 36 years for scoring the highest individual score in a test innings of 365 in 1958 against Pakistan! This is a legendary “batting” achievement. He scored over 8000 runs in a test career. That, in itself, is commendable!
But, he started as a bowling all-rounder. He mostly bowled left-arm fast medium deliveries and also occasionally bowled slow left-arm spin bowling. In his test career, Garry Sobers ended up taking 235 wickets! A very talented bowler who definitely didn’t shy away from experimenting when needed.
Tony Greig (England)
A lot of us may remember and associate Tony Greig with his unique cricket commentary style in the 1990s.
Tony Greig was a tall (6 feet 6 inch) English all-rounder known for both his bowling as well as batting. He started out as a fast bowler, soon became the captain of his side, and ended up bowling spin deliveries in the latter part of his career.
Another great cricketer who balled both fast and spin bowling in cricket.
Sachin Tendulkar (India)
Sachin Tendulkar was also known as the God of Indian Cricket! Another master player who still holds records, some of which seem like they may never be broken!
A legend known for his batting prowess – he was often compared to Sir Donald Bradman himself.
But, a very few people know that Tendulkar wanted to initially become a fast bowler. He got shortlisted as a nomination in the Dennis Lillie MRF pace foundation, but soon got rejected for his bowling. However, his batting talent was unearthed as a result of this.
Even though Tendulkar made his debut as a 16 year old batsman, however, his desire to bowl never really left him.
Tendulkar was often seen bamboozling cricket players with his swing bowling, leg spin as well as off spin deliveries.
Mark Waugh (Australia)
Mark Waugh was originally selected for the Australian team as a batting all-rounder.
When he started playing the game at the international level, he mostly bowled fast balls. However, owing to an injury, Mark Waugh could bowl with the same pace anymore and was mostly restricted to bowling spin deliveries.
Fortunately for Mark Waugh, he was an exceptional batting talent. He often opened the innings for Australia and was known for destructive partnerships with the Australian wicket keeper Adam Gilchrist.
As a result of his batting prowess, Mark Waugh was often referred to as a part-time bowler during the latter part of his career.
Andrew Symonds (Australia)
Another Australian cricketer who was known not just for his bowling skills, but also for his destructive batting lower down the order. Symonds was also very well known for his exceptional fielding skills.
Andrew Symonds bowled both right arm spin balls as well as right arm medium pace; switching between the two at will occasionally. In fact, his spin bowling often had a variation of a quicker delivery that touched speeds of 120 kms per hour which is equivalent to that of a medium paced bowler in cricket.