What is the difference between a Googly and Doosra in Cricket?

Spin bowlers have an array of different deliveries in their armory, and two variations are particularly well known: the googly and the doosra. The art of spinning a cricket ball is one of craft, guile, and mystery. But what is the difference between googly and doosra in cricket?

The difference between a Googly and a Doosra is that a Googly is bowled by a leg-spinner and the ball spins from left to right. Whereas, the Doosra is bowled by an off-spinner and the ball spins from right to left. The Doosra is a more recent creation and more difficult to master than a Googly.

Let’s take a closer look at both the googly and the doosra to understand the deliveries, how to bowl them, why they are bowled, when they are bowled and which cricketers are the best at bowling them.

What is a Googly?

A googly is a delivery that a leg-spinner employs which spins the ball the opposite way to his normal stock delivery. To a right-handed batsman, a typical leg-break delivery would spin from the leg side to the off side and away from the batsman.

Using the same bowling action, however, a googly instead spins from the off side to the leg side and into a right-handed batsman.

Did You Know?
The Googly was first bowled by an English Cricketer Bernard Bosanquet during a match in 1900 for Middlesex vs. Leicestershire at Lord’s! He is known as the inventor of Googly!

The googly was invented by English cricketer Bernard Bosanquet. He initially created it as way to amuse team-mates, but began using the delivery in matches in 1900 when he quit fast bowling.

The first time ‘googly’ was used in print was when Bosanquet bowled on Lord Hawke’s tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1902. Although it was a later following a flurry of wickets that his googly – or ‘Bosey’ as it was also referred to at the time – began to capture the interest of the cricket world.

What is a Doosra?

A doosra is a delivery which an off-spinner uses that spins the ball in the opposite direction to his normal stock delivery. To a right-handed batsman, a normal off-break would spin from off side to the leg side and into the batsman. Trying not to change their action, a doosra would instead spin from the leg side to the off side and away from a right-handed batsman.

Harbhajan Singh bowling a Doosra against Australia

Unlike the googly, the doosra is a more recent creation. It was invented by Pakistan bowler Saqlain Mushtaq during their 1999-2000 tour of Australia. Pakistan wicketkeeper Moin Khan is credited with using the word from behind the stumps when he urged his team-mate to “bowl the doosra” which means ‘(the) second (one)’, or ‘(the) other (one)’ in Hindustani.

TV commentator Tony Greig picked up on the word via the stump microphone and matched it with Saqlain’s new mystery delivery and the player himself explained it further in the post-match interview.

What is the Difference Between a Googly and a Doosra?

The major differences are the direction the ball spins, the action and grip required to bowl the ball, and the time at which the arrived on the cricket scene, as we have already mentioned.

Another difference is the controversial nature of the doosra when compared with the googly. A doosra is much more difficult to bowl than a googly without resorting to chucking (throwing) the ball.

In 2009, Australian cricket authorities decided not to teach young spinners how to bowl the delivery because they felt it could not be taught legally.

Are There any Similarities Between the Deliveries?

Both of the deliveries are similar because they attempt to use an element of surprise to trick or fool a batsman. They are similar in the sense that a spinner will use a normal action to try to disguise the ball being bowled.

In both cases, the bowler must work on trying to hide his grip and not make any discernible change to his action. The effectiveness of both deliveries in taking wickets is to not try to over bowl it as a batsman will start to observe any subtle changes and the surprise factor may be lost.

How Do you Bowl a Googly?

Bowling a deceptive delivery such as a Googly is an art. There are a several intricate steps that are involved to master this art. Let’s look at them in detail –

The Correct Grip for Bowling a Googly

Shane Warne of Australia Bowling a Googly

The googly is a delivery which can be learned quite easily for most capable leg-spinners and here are some basic instructions – but watching a video may help too! To bowl a googly, you need to grip a cricket ball for a leg-spinning delivery, making sure the seam is parallel to your palm.

Your first two fingers should spread to grip the ball, with your third and fourth (ring) fingers closer together resting on the side of the ball. Your third finger should bend to grip the seam while most bowlers put their thumb on the side but should remain inactive in the delivery.

Releasing the Ball for Bowling a Googly

When bowling the ball the third finger should try to generate the level of spin with a cocked wrist which moves from right to left during release. At the point of release, the palm of your hand should be open upwards, towards the sky, with the back of your hand facing the batsman.

Video explaining how to bowl a Googly Properly

Your main aim to land you googly in a place which will force the batsman to play a shot to an expected leg-break, which to a right-handed batsman would be in an off-stump line.

How Do you Bowl a Doosra?

Just like the Googly, bowling a Doosra requires you to not only have the right skills, but it also takes a lot of practise. Let’s get to know how to Bowl a Doosra –

The Grip for Bowling a Doosra

The doosra is a very tricky ball for many off-spinners to learn how to bowl – at least one that is both legal and the bowler would feel comfortable using in a match setting.

The grip used is the same as a normal grip for an off-spinner. The means gripping the ball between your index (first) finger and your ring (fourth) finger, with your thumb off the ball to keep it out of the way.

Releasing the Ball for Bowling a Doosra

The seam of the ball should be across the fingers and the spin is created by the index and middle fingers. It is important that you do not hold the ball too tightly. When you come to release the ball during your delivery rotate your wrist so the back of the hand is facing square leg.

It is necessary to drop your shoulder and bend your elbow more than the regular off-break and at the point of delivery you should be a little lower. The change in the wrist position should create the different direction of spin. Aim to bowl the doosra on a line of middle and off stump.

Tips of Bowling a Doosra

Well-known Bowlers of a Doosra and a Googly!

Pakistan’s Saqlain Mushtaq bowled his doosra without any question marks over the legitimacy of his technique, although he was perhaps guilty of trying too many variations too quickly.

Some of the best Doosra’s bowled by Saqlain Mustaq

Arguably the most famous bowler of the doosra – but not without some controversy – was Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan, who holds the record for most Test wickets with 800 victims. Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal and India’s Harbhajan Singh have also been exponents of the doosra, but found their bowling actions brought into question by cricket authorities and fans.

Masters of Bowling a Googly

Australia’s Shane Warne is largely regarded as the greatest leg-spinner to play the game – but maybe not the best bowler of a googly! Warne’s action struggled to hide his ‘wrong ‘un’ as the delivery is also known Down Under.

Some of the best Googly’s bowled by Pakistan’s Abdul Qadir

One of the best bowlers of the googly in more modern times is India’s Anil Kumble, although his stock leg-break did not really spin much. Perhaps the best bowler of the googly is Pakistan’s Abdul Qadir who was able to bring control, disguise as a large degree of turn with his version of the delivery.

Final Thoughts

The googly and the doosra are both vital weapons which can be used by a spin bowler in a range of different conditions, match situations and formats of cricket. The key for bowlers of leg-spin and off-spin is perfecting the delivery, knowing when to use them, and being sure not to overbowl them so the element of surprise is lost.

Learning to bowl a googly should be possible for most leg-spin bowlers, but the doosra is much more difficult for their off-spin counterparts. Even the best off-spinners in the world find can find it hard to legally bowl a doosra. If the doosra can be bowled properly, though, it can be one of cricket’s most exciting deliveries.

Shrot Katewa

Shrot is an avid cricket fan! He has played and endorsed the sport ever since he was in School. In fact, he played as a professional cricketer represented his state team in National Indoor Cricket Championship held in Pune, India. Shrot loves the game, loves talking to other people who play the game and share his learnings with other interested individuals. He is the founder of CricketMastery.com. This website is a culmination of his desire to help others understand this wonderful Game of Cricket!

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