Cricket is referred to as the game of roles and responsibilities. The playing XI of a team comprises batsmen, bowlers, wicketkeepers, and fielders. For a team to register a victory in a match, all the players need to collectively outclass the counter-part. While the task of the batting unit is to register a sound total or chase the target, the role of bowlers is to put the batting order on the back foot by picking up quick wickets. Among bowlers, Spinners always play a huge role in deciding the fate of the match. The world has seen some of the best spin bowlers of all time who have earned huge respect with their performances all across the globe.
Since the inception of the game in the late 18th century, spinners have persistently added a skillful color to the vibrant game. The art of deception is integral to the spinner's club. With time, variations become natural. Off-spinners, leg-spinners, leg-break, and wrist spinners have emerged as the most ruthless cricketers on the field.
Therefore, spinners have always been in the limelight in the match. Players like Shane Warne have dominated generations with his craft. Moreover, the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan, Anil Kumble, Abdul Qadir, and many more have left an everlasting imprint in the minds of every cricket fan across the globe. We attempt to figure out the top Spin bowlers of all time.
Here's a list of the top 10 Best Spin Bowlers of All Time:
10. Ravichandran Ashwin
India's Ravichandran Ashwin made his debut in the white ball contest against Sri Lanka in 2010. The Tamil Nadu-based cricketer has cemented his position in International cricket owing to his artistry with the ball in hand. One of India's greatest off spin bowlers of all time, Ashwin has proved to be a nemesis for some heavyweights in all formats of the game. His strength lies in his ability to fox the batter with his wits and variations.
As far as his statistics tally is concerned, Ashwin has left no stones unturned as soon as he steps on the cricket field. In nearly 250 international appearances for India across all formats, he has bagged as many as 615 wickets collectively. With still more than a few years of cricket left in him, the 35-year old might potentially finish as one of the best Indian spin bowlers of all time.
9. Lance Gibbs
Lance Gibbs was a West Indies cricketer back in the 20th century. Gibbs debuted against Pakistan in 1958 at the iconic Queen's Oval situated in England. He was a renowned spinner and was known for his wicket-taking capability. During his career, Lance played a significant role in the victory of the West Indies cricket team.
Having played 79 Test matches and 3 ODIs, the legend went on to grab 309 wickets and 2 wickets respectively. Moreover, he outclassed his counterpart as he boasts 18 five-wicket hauls and 2 ten-wicket hauls during his entire stint as a Test bowler. The 86-year-old is still alive and will continue to be the guiding light for the new generations of spinners around the world.
8. Jim Laker
Jim Laker is one of the most impressive spinners of all time. He made his Test debut for England against West Indies at Oval in 1948. As seasons were short and tours were not too regular, players did not get opportunities to play regular International cricket during his era. Hence, Laker featured in 46 Test matches during his entire cricket career.
Interestingly, he was a force to reckon with as he went on to pick up 193 wickets and 9 five-wicket hauls, and 3 ten-wicket hauls. It was his lethal spinning prowess with short run-up which gave him immense success in the International arena. He is famously remembered as the first bowler in the history of the game to pick all ten wickets in an innings. He achieved this feat against Australia at Manchester in 1956.
7. Saqlain Mushtaq
The Pakistan spin wizard had an incredible cricket career playing for Pakistan since his debut in 1995. Mushtaq is widely regarded as the best spinner of all time in Pakistan. His numbers do justice to all the accolades that he continues to receive even today. In 49 Test matches, the right-arm off-spinner collected 208 wickets with 13 five-wicket hauls and 3 10 wicket hauls. In the 50 over format, he graced the field and helped Pakistan register victories against cricketing superpowers on the other side.
Hence, he makes it comfortable to this list of stalwarts in World Cricket. His spinning rendition will inspire the young generation to take up the ball and love the sport. Mushtaq was majorly renowned for his mastery to bowl a Doosra – a special kind of off-spin delivery.
6. Erapalli Prasanna
One of the best off spin bowlers of all time, Erapalli Prasanna represented India during the 1960s and 1970s. He was widely revered for his unmatchable skills to deceive a batsman in the air. Taking the batsmen by surprise, plenty of his balls were unplayable in the true sense of the term. He debuted against England in 1962 at the Nehru stadium.
His illustrious career of 16 years in the Indian cricket team is unmatched and unparallel. In 49 Test matches, he got the better of the batsmen and went on to take 189 wickets. Eventually, he hung his boots in the year 1978 after playing the last match against arch-rival Pakistan at Gadaffi cricket stadium. Thus, he cements the 6th position in this list of heavyweights.
5. Abdul Qadir
Another Pakistani-origin cricketer went on to grab fame for his beloved nation on the back of a stupendous career for the ‘Men in Green'. Abdul Qadir has contributed immensely to the world of cricket. One of the most highly rated leg spin bowlers of all time, Qadir started his career in 1977 against England on the home turf.
Interestingly, he opened his account with a solitary wicket in his debut game. The leg-break specialist represented his nation in 67 Tests and 104 ODIs. He proved his mettle as he picked up 236 wickets in the Test format and 132 wickets in the ODIs. Therefore, he was a monumental cricketer for Pakistan and his undisputable records with the ball will inspire generations to come.
4. Rangana Herath
The left-hand orthodox bowler, Rangana Herath cherishes his short run-up-style bowling action. He represented the Island nation, Sri Lanka, for 19 years before he hung his boots in 2018. His impeccable bowling strength helped the team to cross the winning mark plenty of times.
The 19-year long career saw plenty of highs and lows for him. He played in 93 Test matches and 71 ODIs during his stint. As far as his statistics are concerned, Rangana grabbed 433 test wickets and 74 in ODIs which speaks volumes about his strength. Herath holds the record for most Test wickets for any left-arm spinner in the history of the game. He makes his entry into this list of greats with vigor and takes up the 4th position.
3. Anil Kumble
Anil Kumble is arguably the greatest match-winner India has ever produced. Kumble continues to be honored for his contribution to the game even to date. He was often criticized for the lack of spin that he bought into his deliveries. However, despite his limitations, the Bangalore-lad is an idol for most leg spin bowlers in India. His pace, height bought venom to his bowling which eventually helped him sustain a 16-year at the international level.
His famous 10-wicket haul against Pakistan at Feroz Shah Kotla in 1999 saw him register a page in the history books. Interestingly, the achievement is marked by the odds he faced during the course of the match. Having played 132 Tests, 271 ODIs during his International career, Kumble bagged as many as 619 wickets and 337 wickets respectively. Therefore, it goes without saying that Anil Kumble adds honor to this list of the greatest spinners of all time.
2. Muttiah Muralidharan
Muttiah Muralidharan represented the Sri Lankan cricket team for more than a decade. His unusual bowling action garnered plenty of unnecessary noise both on and off the field. He made his debut against Australia in 1992 claiming three wickets on his maiden outing. Muralitharan was the leader of the pack for his side and often delivered the goods irrespective of the bowling conditions.
In 133 Test matches, he was able to draw 800 wickets which is a phenomenal record in itself. As far as his record in the 50 overs is concerned, he managed to pick 534 wickets to find himself at the cliff in the list of most wickets by any bowler. Although he has retired from cricket in 2010, his records will remain planted in the hearts of his fans till time immemorial.
1. Shane Warne
Shane Warne is arguably amongst the greatest bowlers ever to play the game. He went on to redefine spin bowling as no other bowler could ever do. He had a strong bowling action which gave him a grip to turn the ball massively. Shane Warne made his debut for Australia back in 1992 against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground. While it wasn't the most pleasant outing for the greatest leg spin bowler of all time, very few know what was in store in the years to come.
He went on to dominate an entire generation with his unbelievable spinning art. He gathered 708 wickets in 145 Test matches and 293 wickets in 194 ODI matches. Therefore, Shane Warne rightly finds the top spot in this hall of fame list of spinners. He's famously known to have bowled the ‘Ball of Century' in the 1993 Ashes at Manchester that amazingly took off Mike Gatting's off-stump out of the ground.