Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Leg Cutter - Annoyingly misused terms in spin bowling number 1.

The Leg cutter

This term often is used by commentators (most of whom should know better) to describe a seam-up quick bowler's delivery which hits the seam as it bounces and moves away from a right handed batter. The bowler has delivered the ball with both fingers together along the seam, and the seam has been pointing towards the batter (or slightly angled one way or another).

The above is *not* a leg cutter.

In reality, this delivery is just the ball seaming away - as it bounced the orientation of the seam caused it to change direction - or else the seam hit an irregularity on the pitch which made it bounce away from the batter.

A true leg cutter is a spun delivery in which the bowler 'cuts' his fingers down the left hand side of the ball at the time of release, to make the ball spin anticlockwise, and move away from the right handed batter on bouncing. In a leg cutter the palm of the hand faces the batter at the moment of release (in contrast to a leg spinner where the back of the hand faces the batter on release).

This is a rare ability for a quick bowler. Apparently the greatest exponent of the leg cutter was England's Alec Bedser. I saw India's Venkatesh Prasad bowling leg cutters about 15 years ago.

More recently, New Zealand's Chris Harris bowled medium paced, very slowly spinning leg cutters - but Harris was more accurately a stock user of the leg-cutter version of the slow ball, credited to Steve Waugh - and deployed by many one day 'death' bowlers.

In this leg-cutter slow ball, the ball does not spin much, nor turn much; and the leg cut is merely a way of 'taking pace off the ball' while retaining a fast arm speed - as a surprise slow delivery.

The true leg cutter is a rare and difficult delivery to master - and seems to require abnormally large hands...