Analysing Off-spinners Decline In ODI Cricket

Nathan Lyon is one of the best off-spinners in the world and yet still struggles to make Australia's ODI and T20 squads ahead of Adam Zampa

The Best Off-Spinners Declining?

In the past few years, with the extravagant use of flat pitches in one day cricket, the importance of off-spinners have certainly been brushed aside. Teams off late have resorted to the use of wrist spinners rather than opting for traditional right arm off-spinners.

With the likes of Ashwin and Lyon getting replaced by Chahal and Zampa, let us see how the spinners have fared in recent years.

The Best Off-spinners vs Other Spinners In Recent Years

The following table shows the 15 most successful spinners in one day cricket since the start of 2017. However, this includes spinners from the top nine teams only as other teams often play against the associate countries.

Bowler

K.Yadav

A.Rashid

Y.Chahal

I.Tahir

S.Khan

A.Dananjaya

M.Santner

A.Zampa

M.Ali

A.Nurse

R.Jadeja

M.Hasan

S.Al Hasan

I.Sodhi

I.Wasim

Wkts

104

95

85

62

59

51

46

45

42

41

41

40

40

30

23

Avg

26.16

29.51

26.75

27.33

29.66

29.52

37.15

41.48

52.95

47.29

43.97

40.62

42.02

31.30

59.78

Econ

5.11

5.62

5.17

4.65

5.02

5.09

4.74

5.72

5.51

5.39

4.97

4.65

4.99

5.59

4.93

 

Amongst the 15 most successful spinners in the last three years, only three of them are right arm off-spinners. Out of those three, only Akila Dananjaya has looked good while Moeen Ali and Ashley Nurse have been far from satisfactory with a poor bowling average and economy rate. It is perhaps clear that the best off-spinners have been on a steady decline in the past few years.

Also, Read – England’s ODI Squad Prepare For Ireland Series

Moeen Ali bowling in the intra-group friendly between England's ODI Squad
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 21: Moeen Ali of England bowls during a England One Day Squad Warm Up Match at The Ageas Bowl on July 21, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images for ECB)

Unsurprisingly, all the top five spinners in the same period have been wrist-spinners as shown in the table. The modern-day pitches have barely anything to offer for even the best off-spinners. As a result the wrist spinners and left-arm orthodox bowlers are preferred ahead of them.

Off-spinners vs Wrist-Spinners

The following tables show the five most successful off-spinners and wrist-spinners since the start of 2017 from the top nine teams.

Bowler

K.Yadav

A.Rashid

Y.Chahal

I.Tahir

S.Khan

 

Wkts

104

95

85

62

59

 

Avg

26.16

29.51

26.75

27.33

29.66

 

Econ

5.11

5.62

5.17

4.65

5.02

 

 

Name

A. Dananjaya

M.Ali

A.Nurse

K.Jadhav

D.de.Silva

Wkts

51

42

41

21

19

Avg

29.52

52.95

47.29

45.09

43.15

Econ

5.09

5.51

5.39

5.26

5.17

 

These tables show how the right arm off-spinners have struggled in recent years as compared to the wrist spinners. The present-day flat pitches might have led to the decline of off-spinners. However, is have also led to the rise of wrist spinners who often pick up wickets when the batsmen go on to charge them.

Even the world-class bowlers like Ravi Ashwin and Nathan Lyon have failed to perform and lost their places to Kuldeep Yadav and Chahal or Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar. Moeen Ali would also find it difficult to make it to the starting eleven if not for his batting prowess. This is because his counterpart Adil Rashid is the country’s first-choice spinner.

Watch – Nathan Lyon Takes Six Wickets To Help Australia Win At Edgbaston In The 2019 Ashes

In conclusion

The stats suggest that the wrist spinners have been way more instrumental than the off-spinners. The wrist spinners and left-arm orthodox bowlers will always be preferred ahead of them and the off-spinners do not have a future in one day cricket.

The best off-spinners do offer economical bowling but they are not as wicket-taking perhaps as wrist-spinners. Off-spinners, in general, have fewer variations ( Narine or Ashwin being exceptions). As a result, on flat ODI pitches, they struggle to pick wickets easily.

 

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