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Warne's top leg-spinners

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 27-05-2016


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Having taken 708 Test wickets and another 293 in ODIs, it is fair to say that Shane Warne knows a thing or two about leg-spin bowling.

Indeed, for many cricket fans, Warne is the best spin bowler ever to play the game, so who better to ask about the art?

Here, the Australian legend discusses the leggies who influenced him as a youngster, the best he came up against in his playing days and who from the current crop could reach the very top...

Leg-spin hero

When I was younger playing backyard cricket with my brother, I really admired Pakistan's Abdul Qadir at the time. He was the leading guy around in the late 1970s and early 80s. But as I got to learn more about cricket, Richie Benaud was obviously a huge hero for me as an Australian. He is sort of the godfather of leg-spin, the guru, and we all still miss him now.

I was very lucky that Richie, and a lot of ex-leg-spinners for Australia in fact, took a lot of interest in me - Terry Jenner became a very close friend and a real mentor with my leg-breaks, and taught me a lot about how to take wickets. There were a lot of guys prepared to help me, which I really appreciated as a youngster trying to make it in first class cricket, especially in the 80s when it was all about fast bowling.

Best of Warne's era

I suppose I stopped a few guys playing; we were very lucky in Australia at the time. Stuart MacGill was a very good leg-spinner, but also Adrian Tucker and Craig Howard.

The best I played against? Mushtaq Ahmed was outstanding, but it has to be Anil Kumble. Given he wasn't a big turner of the ball, to take 619 Test wickets as he did, shows his skill. He thought about the game, had a great strategy, great tactics, and was a real competitor. He was a gentle giant off the field, and many underestimated him because of it, but he was fierce on the field. He has become a good friend since - us leg-spinners stick together.

Best of the IPL

It is great to see the importance placed on leg-spin in the game currently. I was at the World T20 and there were about eight or nine in the tournament who had an impact. It is great to see captains have faith in those leg-spinners, and are not only picking them but throwing the ball to them in those tough situations.

Piyush Chawla stands out for me in the IPL. I wish India would pick him because I really enjoy watching him bowl. I don't think a lot of batsmen pick him out of the hand and although he might bowl a little bit of buffet stuff at times, mostly he seems to do well. I'd certainly like him in my T20 side.

Most underrated

For me, I actually think the young English batting all-rounder, Scott Borthwick, is very underrated. It is very hard playing up in Durham as a leg-spinner - freezing cold all the time and it seams around all over the place. It may be best for his development if he were to move counties - sorry, Durham!

His batting has really come on, but I hope he hasn't shelved his leg-spin, as I think he could play for England as a genuine all-rounder.

Promising youngster

There are a few. Adam Zampa is very promising, and is doing well for Australia. Plus I've worked with a few of the young English leggies, Josh Poysden as Warwickshire - he's pretty good. Plus there's Mason Crane down at Hampshire, although I've only seen video footage of him.

Borthwick is still pretty young and I really enjoyed working with him, plus Adil Rashid still has a lot to offer, but again, I think Borthwick is the guy of the future, and could be outstanding for England, if he can just stick at his bowling. He can take you wickets on the last day, and do a job with the bat.

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