The leg-side trap has become famous since India used it in Australia, but its real deployers have been English captains. If Douglas Jardine used it with rhythm against Don Bradman, Nasser Hussain imposed it with the rotation of Ashley Giles’ left arm against Sachin Tendulkar in 2001.
Joe Root has Jack Leach’s left arm rotation at his disposal. The 29-year-old got 10 wickets in both tests in Sri Lanka. His 44 wickets in 12 tests came at a hitting rate of a shade of over 62. Indian batsmen, however, are widely regarded as the best spin players. So does Leach fall back on Giles’ method against Virat Kohli and Co?
“It could be, definitely. This is something we talked about in Sri Lanka; changing our angles… Talk to Joe Root; something he found very useful at the box office bowling alley. I prefer to walk around the ticket office. I feel like I have more layoffs in the game (from the wicket) and I don’t want to change something just because someone else did. I think it’s about sticking to your strengths. But maybe it’s something we can use at some point for sure, ”Leach said on Monday.
In 2001, against an Indian line-up of hitters including Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag, Hussain successfully used the leg trap, with Giles bowling in a crowded field on the right side and targeting the stump area of the leg. Giles had six wickets in two tests with a saving of less than two races per over. And although England lost the series 1-0, Hussain has been praised for his tactical ingenuity.
Left arm spinners typically use the leg trap as a defensive option. The ploy cancels out LBW, to begin with. It’s about testing the patience of drummers and forcing them to make mistakes. India has several first order stroke players who don’t like to get stuck in the crease.
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At the same time, unlike their English counterparts who rely heavily on balayage, Indian drummers revel in their wrist. In addition, their firing range allows them to spot gaps. Due to the proliferation of T20 cricket, modern day batsmen are much more comfortable playing the reverse sweep against left arm spinners who are playing a leg trap.
In 2012, during the winning Test Series campaign in England, the rapid rotation of Monty Panesar’s left arm proved to be very effective. He launched an attack line and captured 17 wickets in three tests. But Leach would like to play at his own pace.
“Monty played at an incredible pace, a sustained pace (which) on the revolving windows can be very tricky. For me, I’m probably not going to bowling at the same speed.