Bowling Figures in need of Analysis

Anyone who has ever tried to bowl it, can appreciate how difficult and precarious the art of leg-spin bowling is. Hard to control the ball, to get it to land consistently right where you want it and then spin away sharply. And hard to perfect and execute the variation ball that goes the other way. Notwithstanding the success of SK Warne and a very select band of other international ‘leggies’, wrist spinners have tended to come off the worst among all bowlers when the batsmen get the upper hand … of the 10 most expensive test match analyses recorded, eight have been achieved by leg-spinners (or left-arm ‘Chinamen’) – in order of most runs conceded (written in English style, runs for wickets) the 11 worst analyses (and the 10 highest-conceding bowlers) are:

Tommy Scott 374-9 WI v E 1930
Jason Krejza 358-12 A v I 2008
Arthur Mailey• 308-7 A v E 1924
Arthur Mailey• 302-10 A v E 1921
Clarrie Grimmett 298-9 A v E 1928
Chuck Fleetwood-Smith^ 298-1 A v E 1938
Roly Jenkins 290-9 E v WI 1950
Doug Wright 288-5 E v SA 1939
Saqlain Mustaq 286-5 P v SL 1997
Nathan Lyon 286-12 A v I 2014

1. Only Krejza, Lyon & Saqlain were not leg-spinners (all three are off-spinners)

2. Seven of the first eleven are Australian bowlers

3. Special mention has to also go to Imran Tahir’s 260-0 SA v A 2012. Although not making the top tier of conceders, it was by popular consent a truly ‘Tahir-able’ performance!

• the affable Arthur Mailey was famous for spectacular figures with the ball in hand, he also achieved one of the worst ever returns in a first class innings: 362-4 bowling against Vic for NSW in the Vics’ all-time world record score of 1107 in 1926-27. Mailey bowled 64 8-ball overs without a single maiden!

^ Fleetwood-Smith’s 298-1 was in a single innings, he thus remains the record-holder for the one innings in tests.

About Pagan Maven

Outside left for Gorky Park Cadres U12s; Kremlin Gremlins U14s - Stalinovskiy Vodka Juvenile League. Ricky Lenin B & F medal winner 1966-67. Mascot for Felchester Rovers senior side in the Q-League. Bolshevikskaya Primary School cadet sports journalist covering the USSR V Australia international amateur boxing tournament "From Russia With Glove" (Melbourne 1963). Emeritus Left Winger, Trotskiy Collectivisation Colts.


  1. Gee whiz, Bryce McGain was lucky/unlucky to only bowl in one innings, or else he’d be in this list.


  2. Goes to show, Sydney and Shane Warne aside, Australia is not a great place to be a spin bowler

  3. Leggies have always done well in Brisbane. So well, we used to pick two of them.

    The leggies have by far the best bowling averages – and strike rates – of Australian spinners.

    I’d pick 4 of them at the moment -including the skipper and vice. One good one will come out of it.

    1981, 2009, 2013, 2015 – no leggie…. yes cry!

  4. Thesaurus Rex says

    Australian leg-spinners have traditionally been more successful than the off-spinners – the top four slow bowlers in terms of test wickets taken are all leggies (Warne, Benaud, Grimmett, MacGill) but the most successfull offie, Nathan Lyon, is moving up the list, currently (pre-Boxing Day test) 175 wkts. I think Australia have had talented off-spinners in the past (Trumble, Mallett, Yardley, Ian Johnson, Giffen) but for various reasons none of them had a tenure in the test team long enough to get beyond 140 or so scalps … Lyon has the opportunity to be the exception & go very high into the list – if his fingers hold up.

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