Spin to win as WBBL's leggies go to another level
Two leg-spinners stood out in WBBL|07 and their performances should have them in Australia colours this summer, but which one will play the Ashes Test match remains unknown
Another Big Bash season is done and dusted and WBBL|07 delivered in a big way.
The competition’s Golden Bat, Beth Mooney (547 runs), and Golden Arm, Amanda-Jade Wellington (23 wickets), both featured in what proved to be the enthralling finale this Weber WBBL season deserved.
And 15,511 fans found their way to Optus Stadium to make it the biggest stand-alone WBBL crowd ever, while a record TV audience watched from home.
And what about the hero, Marizanne Kapp, fighting off illness to get her team over the line as her unbeaten 31 and 1-25 earned her player-of-the-match honours.
In wrapping up the season, I thought I would take the opportunity to highlight the role that leg spin played in WBBL|07, particularly the two leg-spinners who dominated the competition and were key factors in their respective teams making the final.
The leggies of WBBL|07 took 60 wickets and the reality is that number likely would have been even higher if not for the injury to Renegades star Georgia Wareham in the early stages of the competition and Maisy Gibson being unable to return from injury for the Hobart Hurricanes.
So why is leg spin so effective? I’m glad you asked…
First and foremost, it’s the revolutions the bowlers can put on the ball and we see this (generally) higher in leg spinners versus finger spinners. These revolutions allow for more deception whether that be the bowlers ability to get drift in and then spin the ball away to the right hander, it can also mean more bounce and of course sideways movement. This has long been a feature of the craft.
But what most modern-day leg spinners now have in their repertoire is the ability to beat both sides of the bat.
This can be through a traditional wrong ‘un or other deliveries such as sliders and back spinners – the list goes on with subtle variations – and it really does change the game for batters as they need to try to read the ball out of the hand, every single delivery.
Batters will have in the back of their mind, ‘Is this the one that goes the other way?’
Finally, leg-spinners tend to offer more flight on the ball as they ‘spin the ball up’ because of the turning over of the wrist. This is all about getting the ball above the batters' eye-line making them want to dance down the track.
Well, at least that’s what I’ve heard and observed about why leg-spin is so effective, I can’t speak from experience as I never did any of those things as a leggie!
Alana King and Amanda-Jade Wellington both dominated this competition and they have some similarities and differences that added so much to their respective line-ups.
Let’s start with Wellington, who never apologises for giving the ball flight and why would you when you get that amount of turn. The flight is what draws the batters in to use their feet and she is often rewarded with a lot of stumpings.
She is blessed with a quality keeper in Tegan McPharlin and the pair have played all their WNCL and WBBL cricket alongside one another. That combination cannot be underestimated as a quality keeper is a leg-spinner’s best friend.
Wellington is the perfect bowler to follow up the Darcie Brown-Megan Schutt combination for the Strikers as batters have been required to contend with out-and-out pace, swing and then in comes big spin at a time when batters need to get the game moving.
It’s also ideal to have a spinner who can bowl in each phase of the game. This is one of the reasons we have seen her break the game open, with the 5-8 against the Brisbane Heat in the finals being the perfect example of this.
Speaking of impact, there is no doubt Alana King was a major factor in the Scorchers going all the way this season. King bowled more into the wicket in this campaign and was able to get the ball to skid on as well as being able to get the ball above the batters' eye-line and challenge with good spin.
It was all about the spin combination for the Scorchers, with King and Lilly Mills both picking up 16 wickets during this competition. For Sophie Devine, having two wicket-taking spinners is absolute gold and the way she used them had a real impact.
King bowled some unbelievable balls during this competition and for a leg-spinner to have an economy rate of under six runs an over is incredible, especially considering that she bowled 50 out of a possible 56 overs in this campaign.
What are their similarities? For me it’s their confidence, they are both at the batter all of the time and you can tell they love their craft. They also both want the ball in their hand and bowl the big overs, this is great for captains knowing they have bowlers who want to get the job done for their side.
Most teams used a leg-spinner in WBBL|07 and I’m tipping we could potentially see every team use one in WBBL|08 – I’ve got my fingers crossed for that!
Matches 17 | Overs 57 | Maidens 2 | Runs 374 | Wickets 23 | Best 5-8 | Average 16.26 | Econ 6.56 | Strike rate 14.8
Matches 14 | Overs 50 | Maidens 0 | Runs 292 | Wickets 16 | Best 4-11 | Average 18.25 | Econ 5.84 | Strike rate 18.7
There has been a lot of talk during WBBL|07 that one of these bowlers will get an opportunity in the Ashes due to the injury to Wareham.
I think it is likely one will be added to the squad as a minimum as leg-spin can have a big impact in any format and I would be surprised if there wasn’t a leg-spinner in the Test match. What a headache for the selectors – both players have put their best foot forward not just from a pure stats perspective but in the impact they have had for their teams.
And let us not forget that both these players can play a role with the bat down the order as well.
I’m sure we will see both players in Australian colours this summer but whether that will be in the Australia A series or Ashes series is the burning question.
One thing is for certain, Australia has some incredible spinners and another of those is Jess Jonassen who was outstanding in WBBL|07 and that girl knows how to perform on the big stage.
Spin to win this summer!