Not many leg-spinners have Test ambitions these days: L Sivaramakrishnan

Former India player Laxman Sivaramakrishnan on Wednesday rued that the current leg-spinners don’t have the ambition to play Test cricket and he partially blamed it on too much stress on reverse swinging the ball these days.

Leg-spinners would form the core of a team’s attack in the past. But since the retirement of legendary Shane Warne and Anil Kumble, there has been less impact from leg-spinners in the gruelling Test format.

“I don’t see too many leg-spinners have the ambitions to play Test cricket, they’re quite happy with playing white-ball cricket. It really pains me,” Sivaramakrishnan, himself a former India leg-spinner, said in a virtual interaction.

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“I’m really disappointed with the kind of results that the leg-spinners have shown. Basically, because they are only successful in white ball cricket when batters are looking to attack, they get wickets.”

Sivaramakrishnan, who has played nine Tests and 16 ODIs for India, said the quality of a leg-spinner can be tested only when they play in a Test with three close-in fielders.

“In modern day cricket, all these leg-spinners have been successful only because the batters go for big shots, and make the mistake. I don’t know if I can remember when a leg-spinner played a Test match (for India).”

Amit Mishra was the last leg-spinner to play Test cricket for India in 2016.The story is similar in world cricket too as the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa (Australia) and Adil Rashid (England) are mostly preferred in white ball formats.

Blaming it on reversing the ball, he said, “A lot of reverse swing has ruined the careers of some of the spinners overall. Because the old ball is now being used for reverse swing and one of the spinners that miss out may be the leg-spinner. So the onus is on the captain to manage his bowler.”

Sivaramakrishnan, who made his India debut as a 17-year-old during the tour of West Indies, said the initiative has to come from the cricketer.

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“They should have the mindset to bowl even if they go for a boundary, to flight the ball if there’s nothing in the pitch then deceive him in the air. If the pitches are good, you have to have a lot of variations and to bowl with accuracy and bowl in the right zones. I think the modern day leg-spinners do not have that. I don’t see any leg-spinner in the world having that kind of control.”

He said a leg-spinner has to be ready to bowl long spells, for which they have to practice hard at the nets.

“If you have to bowl 180 balls, you have to work really really hard. You can’t just bowl 30-40 balls and run away,” he added.

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