Thursday, 4 April 2013

The feeling of a perfect leg-break

It's the feeling that someone like myself might get a few times in a lifetime, but Shane Warne might get several times a spell. The moment that your wrist flicks, the ball flicks off four fingers perfectly in sync, and both fizzes and floats towards the batsman, a grenade wrapped in candy-floss.

Because, of course, the batsman never knows what a great ball it is until he's beaten by it. One leggie – possibly that incorrigible rouge Cec Pepper – once shouted his glee at the ball he'd just released, before it had even hit the pitch. When it's a good 'un, you just know.

Like I said, I've bowled very few of these. One is notable for being the best ball of mine that's ever been hit for six. It came out as perfectly as anything, landed on middle and leg, and was swatted over mid-wicket, on to the pavilion roof. Such is life.

When you're having a bad day, any reasonable leg-break feels like a great one. After toiling for three games without a single wicket for my new club, I felt like an imposter, a waste of oxygen in the dressing room. Then, in the penultimate over of my allowable eight, I release a leg-break that just has a little less flight than the donkey drops I'd been bowling for an hour. When a leggie is out of form, he starts to toss the ball higher and higher in the vague hope that he might regain his loop. That hadn't worked, but eventually I bowled one that felt perfect.

That ball pitched on leg, drew the batsman forward, took the edge and went straight into the keepers gloves. Then out on to his chest, back into his gloves, and by the time he took it I was almost under him to take the catch myself. He must have juggled it seven or eight times before it stuck properly.

I'm under no (some) illusions over my skill as a leggie, but with a couple of months to go before the start of my season I'm just hoping to bowl one or two of those balls. A great leg-break doesn't always get the rewards it deserves, I'll likely get more wickets off filthy long hops, but when everything comes together, feet, legs, hips, shoulders, wrist and fingers all align, there's no more perfect feeling.  

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