Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Off-spin and Leg-spin - shurely shome mishtake?

Terminology may get so entrenched in sports that there is no chance of changing usage - but some names can so misleading as to confuse the neophyte.

For example, in baseball a pitcher's surpise slow delivery (which looks like a fast ball) is called a 'change-up'. Yet you would expect a change *up* to be a faster delivery, wouldn't you? It certainly confused me when I first began to grapple with baseball.

The same paradox or illogic applies to the definitions of off-spin and leg-spin. You would expect an off-spinner to be spinning and turning towards the off side, in the sense that you would expect the ball to turn to the off-side after landing. Well wouldn't you? But of course that is wrong.

An off-spinner is defined as a ball that *pitches* on the off side and turns to the leg side. However, this is rubbish, because an off spinner may well be pitched on the middle stump, or even on the leg stump.

Where a ball hits the pitch varies, according to the bowler's tactical plan, and within the constraints of his accuracy; but it will always turn to the leg - if it does turn.

So why did it get the wrong name? Beats me, but I guess it is too late to change.