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the mechanics of finger spin bowling

By Peter Such

To bowl finger spin effectively the basics must be mastered. If as a bowler you fail to do this, it will be difficult to achieve the consistency that you require. Master the basics or the whole wall will fall down under pressure. 

The Grip

• An orthodox grip is one with index and middle fingers spread widely on the seam
• Ideally the thumb should apply no pressure to the ball
• Spin is imparted on the ball primarily through the index finger
• Place the ball in the ends of the fingers to maximise spin


• A strong body action creates power and rotations required to deliver the ball. These rotations are imparted on the ball with a flick of the wrist
• The index finger goes over the top of the ball and pulls down on the seam. You are striving for both side and top spin so as to maximise the effect of spin, a dip in flight and bounce off the pitch

The Action

• A key component and you should be looking to develop a solid side on action that repeats itself, particularly when under pressure

Back foot contact (when the back foot lands and before the front foot has landed)

• Back foot lands parallel to the crease
• Look through or behind the front arm or non bowling arm
• Hips & shoulders need to be aligned and should be pointing at the target
• Head upright with the eyes steady

Delivery Stride (when both back and front feet are planted on the ground prior to releasing the ball)

• Feet need to be aligned or slightly crossed over towards target (front foot may be slightly inside the line of the back foot)
• Delivery stride should within the crease. A delivery stride that is too long can reduce height at the crease and prevent you getting through the action. May also lead to bowling around front foot rather than over it. Too short and it can give you an unstable base.
• Front arm pushes upwards to help gain the necessary height prior to release and out towards target
• Shoulder to shoulder rotation commences, this is the beginning of the release process
• Head as upright as possible


• Bowling arm should be high, but not past the perpendicular, ideally it should be at 11 o’clock
• Weight entirely through a braced front leg
• Head as upright as possible

Follow through

• Shoulder to shoulder 180 degree rotation completes (bowling shoulder should now have rotated so that it is now facing the target)
• Forward momentum towards the target causes the back leg drives through
• Hips rotate over the front leg
• Head upright
• Entire body should be driving towards the target area

The approach or run up

• This is an individual thing that varies in terms of length and pace but:
o It must give the bowler enough momentum to deliver the ball and fully complete the action
o It must not affect the balanced and controlled position at the crease

Other ‘Common Basics’

• A run up that gives you enough momentum to deliver the ball without upsetting balance and control at the crease
• Cocking of the wrist so that fingers can come over the top of the ball
• A slight pause at the crease prior to release
• A delivery stride of appropriate length
• A strong, long front arm sustaining momentum towards the target
• A complete shoulder to shoulder rotation through 180 degrees (bowling shoulder to end up pointing at target)
• Bowling arm to finish across the body
• Driving through over a braced front leg and following through towards the target

To bowl finger spin well there is a need to produce a consistently repeating action, one that maximises spin on the ball and produces the desired accuracy. Master the basics of the bowling action or the whole wall will fall down under pressure. 

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©2007 Peter Such. Copyright and trademark information