Cricket is one of the sports that changes and develops over time. As a result, a fresh breed of talent keeps emerging time after time. It is important to nurture and back them in the first place such that they yield great returns in big-game events.
For the record, the conditions in England are green tops, which ideally offer swing and seam movement, making it a complete paradise for the fast bowlers to showcase their mettle. England weren’t as successful in producing spinners as some other cricketing nations like India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Needless to say, the Three Lions can still take pride in the fact that they did produce some significant spinners who contributed to the team’s success. Let’s learn more about the five best spinners in the history of England cricket.
5. Monty Panesar
Monty Panesar has been one of the spinners who contributed to England’s success in international cricket. He played 50 Tests, 26 ODIs and 1 T20I, taking 167 wickets, 24 wickets and 1 wicket respectively. He took 12 fifers in Tests, registering his best bowling figures of 6/37.
It is worth noting that he had certain physical attributes that aided his spin bowling because of his uncommonly large hands. He was able to rotate his hand at his wrist through 360 degrees, making him one of the unique spinners in the sport.
Nicknamed “Monty”, the Luton-born operated as a left-arm finger spin bowler. During the initial stages of his career, the former England head coach Duncan Fletcher labelled him “the best finger spinner in the world”.
4. Tony Lock
Tony Lock was one of the most effective spinners for England in the longest format of the game. He primarily operated as a slow left-arm orthodox spinner wherein he represented the nation in 49 Tests. England benefitted from his services in Test cricket from 1952 to 1968.
Overall, he took 174 wickets to his credit wherein he registered his personal best bowling figures of 7/35. On the other side of the coin, he bagged 9 five-wicket hauls during the heydays of his cricketing career.
He changed his bowling action twice during his career in order to continue at the country and international level. Tony Lock is remembered for taking the remaining wicket when his counterpart, Jim Laker registered 19/90 against Australia in 1956 at Old Trafford.
3. Jim Laker
Jim Laker who represented England cricket team and Surrey County Cricket Club played as many as 46 Tests from 1948 to 1959 in his cricketing journey. He was one of the greatest spin bowlers in the history of the sport, taking 193 wickets in 46 Tests.
Overall, he bagged 9 fifers in the longest format. It is worth mentioning here that in 1956, he made a telling impact with the ball by registering his best bowling figures of 10/53 against Australia, becoming the first bowler to take a record 10 wickets in a Test inning.
In the first innings, he took nine wickets and helped England bundle out Australia for 84. In the second innings, Jim Laker took all the 10 wickets and registered 19/90, helping the team win the game by an innings and 170 runs.
2. Derek Underwood
Derek Underwood is widely acknowledged as one of the best bowlers in Test cricket. He has made a significant contribution to England cricket team during his playing days. Underwood represented the nation in 86 Tests and 26 ODIs throughout his career.
Having been a part of the team’s history from 1966 to 1982, he carved out a reputation for himself as one of the best in the business. He accounted for 297 wickets, which is the most by any England spinner in Tests. On the other hand, he took 32 wickets in 26 ODIs.
Derek Underwood who was known for his consistent accuracy, troubled the batters with his inswinging arm deliveries which yielded positive results. Notably, he bagged as many as 17 fifers in Tests. He registered his personal best bowling figures of 8/51.
1. Graeme Swann
Traditionally, the pitches in England are green and seam-friendly. As a result, the majority of the fast bowlers have gone on to achieve success as compared to the spinners in the first place. Regardless of how the pitch conditions in England favoured the pacers, Graeme Swann still became a potent spin weapon for England across formats.
He braved the challenges when it mattered the most and turned out to be the best spinner in the history of English cricket. Swann played a crucial role in England’s rise to emerge as the No.1 Test team in the world in the early 2010s.
He was best known for his accuracy and potential to take wickets in clutch moments. Swann took 255 wickets in Tests, 104 wickets in ODIs and 51 wickets in T20Is. Overall, he bagged 17 five-wicket hauls in Tests and 1 fifer in ODIs. He registered his best bowling figures of 6/65 in Tests, 5/28 in ODIs and 3/13 in T20Is.
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