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In the recent Test series against South Africa, the Australian right arm off-spinner Nathan Lyon occasionally employed a delivery that spun the other way (away from a right hand batsmen instead of towards). I understand he has named this delivery "Jeff" for unknown reasons. There has been some sparse media coverage of this, see for instance here, but I have not managed to find any suitable footage to work out how he is doing it, such as a super slo-mo zoomed in view of the bowling hand or any articles explaining the details.

There are several ways off spinners can get a ball to go the other way. The most famous is the 'doosra' employed most notably by Muttiah Muralitharan, which requires extremely flexible elbows and wrists and long fingers in order to rotate the hand around to impart spin in the desired direction. No non south asian player has ever been able to deliver this ball legally due to the different physiology of Anglo/European players, so I doubt that this is it exactly but a modified version something along these lines might be possible.

The other option is to use the fingers to flick the ball the other way, almost like a regular leg break but using the middle finger to impart spin instead of the whole hand and wrist. Ajantha Mendis uses this and calls it a 'caroom' ball, while Ravichandran Ashwin calls it his 'sudoku' ball. I believe that Jason Krejza has also experimented with this (and probably a number of other spinners as well).

So, does anyone know if "Jeff" falls into either of these categories or is it something else? It has also been described as a 'backspinner', which makes it more likely to be the caroom ball style delivery, or some variant of that.

I'm really looking for a definitive answer here, if one can be obtained, rather than speculation or an explanation of different possibilities, which is why I've outlined at least some of them myself here in the question.

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2 Answers 2

I reckon he just rolls his first finger the other way, hence he gets a lot of drift into a RH batsman and it's easy to pick. The dismissal of Jacques Rudolph in the second innings at Brisbane wasn't the variation I've discovered despite what many others have said, he simply bowled an arm ball which slid on. He may be using the caroom ball method though, it's hard to tell.

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When you say "I've discovered", how exactly did you discover this? Do you have access to relevant footage that sheds some light on this? I still can't find anything useful on youtube etc that would help answer this question. If you could provide a link to some hard evidence, that would be great, even if as you say it is hard to tell exactly what he is doing. –  Bogdanovist Jan 2 '13 at 6:22

There's no mystery - it's a doosra, he admits so himself here -

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/opinion/nathan-lyon-lifts-the-covers-on-jeff-the-bastard-son/story-e6frg7uf-1226521541045

The doosra is the off spinners version of the googly explained here -

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/skills/4174244.stm

The doosra and googly are both essentially the same thing, they're balls that spin in the opposite direction to the way you're expecting them to spin.

How he's achieving it is irrelevant - there are many different ways of getting the ball to spin in the opposite direction mostly by using a combination of wrist flick and finger spin, with some backwards and sideways movement, each bowler has his own way of achieving this. There is no one single way of bowling doosras or googlys.

The real secret to effective doosra's and googly's is to keep (as far as possible) the same arm action and wrist movement as the bowlers stock or standard ball for the simple reason that the bowler does not want to give thr batsman any indication that the ball the bowler will bowl will be any different to his stock or standard ball. This is the reason you will not find any specific details as to what the bowler is doing to achieve the doosra or googly ball.

The doosra and googly don't generally spin as much (in terms of revolutions) as the bowlers stock ball due predominantly to the difficulty in achieving the change in spin direction but usually the very fact the ball does something quite different to what the batsman expects is enough to put doubts in his mind as to either how to deal with it or what he's going to get next.

It's a fallacy that balls that spin the most get the most wickets, they don't. Spin bowlers wickets are achieved by deception and quite frequently it's the ball that doesn't spin at all that gets the wicket.

Note: The Australian link may not work as it's a pay site.

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I appreciate the effort, but I think if you re-read the question (particularly the last paragraph!) you'll see that this is not what it was asking. The Australian article doesn't make it clear whether 'doosra' is being used in the generic sense of 'one going the other way' or specific to one technique for making it go the other way, of which there are several. You may thinks it is irrelevant how a particular bowler achieves this, but that's what the question was asking. –  Bogdanovist Dec 11 '12 at 20:54
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@Bogdanovist Then you've asked an unanswerable question and the question should be closed. No bowler is going to tell you the exact method he uses for making the ball spin in the opposite direction for the simple reason that he doesn't want batsmen to be able to 'pick' that ball. If they know how he does it they can 'pick' it. The 'Jeff' ball is a 'doosra' how he achieves it will not be explained to you in the detail you're looking for. –  spiceyokooko Dec 11 '12 at 22:08
    
The question doesn't ask for Nathon Lyon to respond in person, so I'm not sure how that is unanswerable? You could ask "How does Murali bowl the Doosra?" or "How does Mendis bowl the Caroom ball?" and both are very much answerable and the answer are quite different. There are numerous good example of video clips comparing the stock ball of a bowler to the variations side by side on e.g. YouTube (there are also plenty of bad attempts at doing so, but none the less...). Plenty of technical articles have also discussed the different techniques each player uses. –  Bogdanovist Dec 12 '12 at 2:59
    
Nathan Lyon has only been bowling this variation publicly for a short period (without a huge amount of success) so the same level of information is not available yet, however there is a reasonable chance that some footage showing the details of Lyon's delivery has been made and may reside somewhere (e.g. YouTube). I cannot find any but it is perfectly conceivable that it exists. You answer is a very reasonable comment, but it doesn't answer what is a reasonable and answerable question. –  Bogdanovist Dec 12 '12 at 3:01
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Your question title asks: 'What kind of delivery is Nathan Lyon's 'Jeff'?. I've answered it - it's a 'doosra'. If you don't like the answer (which you clearly don't) perhaps you might like to consider rephrasing your question? –  spiceyokooko Dec 12 '12 at 15:58

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