Sunday, 12 December 2010

The Flipper

The Flipper and its variations (Under construction and being re-edited). Copyright Dave Thompson 2010

With the Flipper and its variations we’re now moving into the more advanced techniques. Again I have to mention that if you’re still struggling with your basic stock delivery – The Leg Break, you should work on that before moving on to bowling any of the following variations. There’s another warning that comes with the Flipper and this has to do with the stresses that the technique for imparting the spin on the ball puts on your body. During Warne’s career he went through a phase where he lost or didn’t bowl the Flipper due to surgery on his shoulder. It appears that because of the surgery or maybe because the Flipper was a part of the problem that led to the injury, Warne was Flipper-less for quite some time. The inference is that during the rehabilitation process Warne was either advised not to bowl the Flipper or simply couldn’t bowl the Flipper, suggesting that the strain the technique puts on the body needs to be recognized. Anecdotally Richie Benaud another exponent of the Flipper warns that people under the age of 18 whose bodies are still developing, should steer away from the Flipper as a variation because of the stresses and strains that it puts on the body. My own experience can pay testament to the fact that it can cause a condition called Medial Epicondylitis, also known as ‘Golfers Elbow’. The exertion of clicking the ball from between the finger and thumb whilst holding the ball in peculiar wrist configurations causes strain from the fingers through the hand and wrist right up the arm to the inner elbow. This causes a fair bit of pain in the inner elbow that becomes evident when performing a whole range of different non-cricket activities and requires attention and re-habilitation in order to rectify.

The Flipper Click
- How the spin is imparted.

Unlike all of the classic Wrist Spin deliveries that impart the spin through the use of the third finger and wrist action (at the hand-stage of the delivery), the Flipper uses a completely different mechanical action. First described by the inventor of the Flippers - Clarrie Grimmett in his book Getting Wickets in 1930 the spin is imparted using the fingers and the thumb.............

The ball is held between the second finger and the thumb, and I spin it or twist it. The method of spinning is similar to that used in clicking the finger and thumb to attract attention.

Clarrie Grimmett; Getting Wickets: Hodder & Stoughton:London; 1930.

Or in a more up to-date rendition – clicking the fingers in the manner you would to the beat of music. It’s easily understood by using a small light-weight ball such as a table tennis ball or a tennis ball even. Place the ball between the clicking fingers and thumb and squeeze them together to click the ball out of the them.

Pre-bowling training and drills

If you’re serious about this delivery, you should start to incorporate the flick into your Philpott-esque drills. In the same way that Philpott advocates that you “Spin,spin,spin”! As much as you can at every opportunity to get the wrist working over the top of the ball giving it a good flick, you should do the same with your Flipper. At every opportunity in amongst your daily spinning of oranges, apples, cricket balls and tennis balls - learning the wrist spin techniques as you sit watching the tele etc. You now need to incorporate the clicking of the same objects from hand to hand using the Flipper technique. Initially try it with something lighter and smaller such as a tennis ball and just do it as much as you can and as often as you can. You’ll probably start out with very little control over it, but given time and practice you’ll be able to click it from one hand to the other with control and ease. If, you do experience any muscle strain you would probably be advised to stop and rest it for a couple of weeks before resuming the drills. If this happens you should be cautious when you resume the practice you should consider looking into some warm up exercises used in medial epicondylitis rehabilitation...........

Beyond that if you do the stretches and then resume the training with a ball and still experience the pain I’d advise leaving the Flipper and seeking advice from a doctor before resuming. It may be that your lifestyle is pretty sedentary and that you need to look at fitness programs that help develop muscle strength and flexibility.

Flipper History

The Flipper like the Big Leg Break and the Orthodox Back-Spinner and even to some extent the Wrong Un are not seen that much in club cricket or indeed the higher levels of cricket. With slow bowling falling out of favour in the 1970’s and 80’s and the fact that most Wrist Spinners focus on using their stock ball to good effect with only the Top-Spinner as a variation, the Flipper amongst others has disappeared into obscurity. This is not surprising when you consider that Peter Philpott in his book ‘The art of wrist spin’ which surely must be seen as the definitive work on the subject of Wrist Spin Bowling spends very little time describing the flipper and comes across as being unsure about this variation and writing as though it’s not a variation that he has ever used himself? Philpott then shrouds the ball in further mystery by commenting on the fact that expert cricket commentators continually embarrass themselves again and again on TV claiming that they have just seen someone bowl a Flipper. The only detailed instructions relating to bowling the Flipper can be found in Grimmetts book Getting Wickets and even in there Grimmett describes the variations as experimental and isn’t sure at this stage in his career as to whether they will ever be used in first class cricket.

So obscure is the Flipper with regards to written descriptions of it, that again and again people mistakenly call ‘Flipper’ when in fact the ball bowled was an Orthodox Back-Spinner or one of the more advanced deliveries that has gone wrong and simply skidded through because the seam didn’t bite. The obscurity of the delivery has meant that some commentators on the subject like this one which you’ll find on the Cricinfo website (See link below) almost goes as far as claiming that it doesn’t actually exist. The writer purports to undo the ‘The Physics’ of Leg Spin bowling and the piece reads like the comments of an expert until it comes to The Flipper. The bloke points out some contradictions between Benuad’s and Jenner’s description of the Flipper and ends the article with…….

‘I'm reasonably convinced the ball is not just an exercise in mind-games, but I've yet to be convinced I've seen one’.

Rest assured Mr Whittaker the Flipper does exist and it does so in several variations. With Wrist Spin Bowling there is a great tradition of bowlers claiming to have a mystery ball, one that no-one else bowls or one that the bowler bowls better than all the others for some reason or another. Much of it is bluff and hot air, but it’s all a part of the psychological game. Maybe because of the very nature of the bowling e.g. slow there’s always been a need to compliment the ability of the bowler with the ability to deceive the batsman into pre-empting the delivery in a number of ways and one of those is the talking up of the individuals abilities and variations and setting an expectation prior to the duel on the pitch. Shane Warne in our lifetime has proven to be the master of this, using every opportunity to sell his abilities to every batsman that’s ever faced him. Warne claims again and again before each series to have an array of deliveries that will see him rip through a batting order like like an adult bowling at a bunch of 7 year olds. We all know that more often than not he succeeds and in my opinion this is down to the way that his career started out with the ball to Gatting that has gone on to be described as the ball of the century. This ball set him up to be super-human, but it wasn’t entirely bluff, because he did go on to repeat similar deliveries again and again, but he never let up with the psychological bombardment, promoting himself in anyway possible to always be at the forefront of a batsman’s nightmares – a slow bowler that would make virtually any batsman look like fools. The Flipper fitted into this scheme nicely, a delivery that probably hadn’t been seen on a regular basis since Abdul Quadir a ball that most of the batsmen had never faced in their careers – a mystery ball. It would have had the commentators scrambling around looking for obscure references to it and probably unable to find any descriptions of it other than the briefest of mentions. Benaud I’m sure would have been at the centre of any clarification on the matter and it may have been around this time that the notion arose that Benaud was the inventor of the delivery? The emergence of the Flipper would have fitted into Shane Warne’s smoke and mirrors approach to talking about his bowling, never quite telling the truth, always playing with the anxieties of the batsmen, talking up his mystery balls and playing with the fact that Wrist Spinning deliveries are extremely esoteric and un-impenetrable. But, as a Wrist Spinner with a copy of Clarrie Grimmett Getting Wickets I can tell you that not only does the Flipper exist in the form that Both Warne and Jenner demonstrate in several video demos on-line, but it exists in 3 or 4 other variations! Including one variation that Clarrie Grimmett would tell you is the better of the four which has been lost in the annals of time.

The Basic Flipper

The Zeitgeist Flipper of the moment is back-spinning Flipper as demonstrated by both Warne and Jenner on a number of videos to be found on Youtube

The general consensus is that the click between the fingers and thumb is done with the use of the index finger and the middle finger and this will work quite well. When Grimmett first conceived the idea of the Flipper back in the 1920’s he had no idea that he’d be able to convert the concept into a bowling delivery. He initially came up with the method as a means to demonstrate how the mobility of the wrist worked in conjunction with the regular Wrist Spin deliveries – Leg-Break, Googly etc. Not able to demonstrate a full wrist spin delivery in seminars and to friends, Grimmett realised that by twisting the ball out of the thumb and fingers in the Flipper manner he could show that by rotating the wrist as you do with the regular wrist spin deliveries, he could demonstrate on a table top that the ball would spin forwards, backwards, to off and leg. By the 1930’s when he published Getting Wickets he had explored the possibility of bowling his new Flipper deliveries on a wicket and wrote that he was able to affect Top/Back/Off and Leg-Spinners over a distance of ten yards. Writing about the development of the Flipper later in his book Grimmett on Cricket, Grimmet says about the Flipper ………..

By this means I could apply much more spin than I could in bowling my Leg Break. To apply this kind of spin to overarm bowling was difficult, however. I was comparatively easy to get it to spin this way, but extremely difficult to bowl a ball that made pace off the pitch: and I had long since decided that it was useless bowling a ball that did not make pace from the pitch except as an occasional variation. For twelve years, summer and winter, I practiced, goaded on by the fact that I could do it for a short distance. It was difficult but I kept at it, bowling a few yards first and then and then increasing the length. I discovered that the position of the hand at the moment of release was what I had to concentrate on. As I spun the ball the hand had to be pointed to the left across towards cover. The wrist had to be bent, and the ball allowed to leave over the top of the hand, the back of which was facing the batsman.

Clarrie Grimmett: Grimmett On Cricket: Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd: Edinburgh:1948.

The thing that I find amazing about this is the fact that with no fore-knowledge of whether there was any guarantee that this would pan out to be successful, it took Grimmett twelve years of trial and error making sense of what he was trying to do. Once the discovery is made and someone is able to tell the next person how to do it with the fore-knowledge that there will be a positive outcome. The time in the new scenario, that is required to develop and master the delivery is exponentially reduced. Warne I’m pretty certain talks about picking it up in a matter of a month or so. I picked up the basics over a period of about 2 months and found it pretty easy bowling the basic back-spinning version and it was for some time my stock ball.

Anyway, so for arguments sake we’ll refer to the Basic Flipper as the one demonstrated by Warne and Jenner. If you’ve followed the initial instructions with regards developing your finger and thumb action the next stage is relatively easy assuming that you bowl with a fair degree of accuracy anyway. By way of not wanting to give away the fact that you are bowling a variation – your movement through the crease should be identical to your Leg Break bowling action. I bowl with a fairly high, almost vertical bowling action and bring the arm over quite close to my ear. As the arm comes over in the action the batsman would see the hand coming over in a similar manner to a Top-Spinner except that the grip of the ball would be that of Flipper grip.
See image.

The basic Flipper is modeled on Shane Warne and Terry Jenners versions as seen on line as that’s the most easily referenced illustration of how it’s bowled, although there is at least two videos of Warne explaining and demonstrating the method in a slightly different way, which I’ll examine later. Their Basic version is very slightly different to Grimmetts back-spinning version, but I’ll address that later too. When bowled in this manner the seam is presented up-right and back-spin is imparted with the use of the click release. The amount of spin that can be imparted will be down to the individuals strength and dexterity, but it’s interesting to read(1) that Grimmett claimed that he could impart more spin using the flipper click than he could flicking the ball with his fingers and wrist in the conventional Wrist Spinners method.


Because of the up-right seam and back-spin, the ball is subject to similar aero-dynamics as seam bowling deliveries and where we saw that Top-Spin with the Top-Spinner made the ball dip, the reverse happens with the Flipper because of the back-spin. Through its trajectory from being propelled from the hand, the ball takes a far straighter line seemingly being held in the air longer and strikes the ground on a fuller length. Mixed in with your stock Leg-Break which would have a proportion of Top-Spin and therefore dip, the Flipper could see that batsman playing for a ball that would be expected to bounce and catch them unawares? There’s also the potential for the delivery to be bowled a great deal faster than the conventional wrist spin deliveries because of the exclusion of the wrist flick, but the down-side to this is the delivery is potentially picked because of the different level of exertion put into getting the ball up the wicket at a faster speed. A recent discovery I’ve noted only in the last season is that the ball swings massively in certain atmospheric conditions. Initially I thought that I was bowling badly, but on closer examination I noticed that the ball was swerving radically about half way down the pitch moving from Off-to leg swinging into the RH batsman.

Many people that bowl the Flipper also note that the ball breaks slightly when bowled in this way, my own personal experience is that it tends to break like a small Leg Break and might simply be due to bad seam presentation during the release, but this slight turn off the pitch coupled with the in-swinging properties presents a ball that can surprise the batsman and catch him off-guard. Bowled with prodigious back-spin on grassy or damp wickets the ball also stalls and loses momentum and batsman play through the shot before the ball has even arrived.

The Top Spinning Flipper

The jury is still out for me whether Grimmett favoured the Top-Spinning Flipper or the Off-Spinning Flipper combined with some Top-Spin. Grimmett, I think would be surprised at seeing Warne and Jenner promoting the back-spinning version of the delivery over and above the Top-Spinner and the Off-Spinner. There are no records as far as I’m aware of Grimmett ever using the back-spinner in first class cricket and he seems to have disregarded it as having any potential. The evidence suggests that Grimmett favoured a ball that increased in pace on hitting the pitch so he would have gone for a ball that was overspun. Interestingly it does seem that at least up until 1930 he wasn’t and I’m assuming the rest of the slow bowling fraternity wasn’t too, aware of the potential of bowling back-spinners. As nowhere in his Getting Wickets book does he ever go anywhere near exploring a ball that sounds anything like the Orthodox Back-Spinner.

The same theory of going round the loop as exemplified by Peter Philpott in The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling can be applied as mentioned earlier in the execution of the Flipper deliveries, so with that in mind you might be asking why have I gone 180 degrees round the loop straight to the Top-Spinner, shouldn’t there be an out the front of the hand delivery first? Well, yes, but the out the front of the hand delivery I think is far more difficult to execute than the Top-Spinning variation. My own experience was that on trying the out the front of the hand (Off-Spinner) it was virtually impossible to bowl and caused all sorts of issues with Medial Epincondylitis and I had to stop. With further reading of Grimmetts books and through discussion on line with an Australian wrist spinner from NSW Chris McDonnel the consensus seemed to be that Grimmett was an advocate of the Top-Spinner. There’s also evidence that Bradman was impressed with the Top-Spinner referring to it as Grimmetts Mystery Ball with stories of him being dismissed by it. So, I went 180 degrees and skipped the off-spinner in favour of exploring the potential of this version.

If you’ve mastered the back-spinning variety I’ll assume that you’ve developed the muscles in the thumb and forearm to put the revs on the ball. To produce the Top-Spinner I would advise that you put in some time – 2 weeks or so flicking a smaller light weight ball such as a tennis ball using the new wrist position. In the same way that you practice for the Big Leg Break and the Orthodox back-spinner with your bowling arm extended out in front of you – do the same with this Flipper. If you were to stand looking down the wicket have your arm extended forwards pointed towards the batsman. Your wrist should be presented so that your palm faces the Off-side and the back of your hand naturally the On-side. With the ball in the hand the thumb will be on top and the fingers beneath the ball. Now click the fingers and you’ll see that the ball clicks out of the hand and if allowed to fall to the floor will bounce forwards e.g. making pace off the pitch. If you get a lightweight ball mark a circle round the ball with a marker pen or a piece of tape to emulate the seam. With this action you can flick the ball so that it spins forwards and catch it in your other hand. Do this again and again until you’re able to do it with your ‘Seam’ aligned so that it rotates perfectly upright to produce the Top-spin that we’re looking for.

Over a period of time, you’ll start to feel the stress on the new muscles as you stretch them enabling you to hold the wrist in position and affect the spin. If you sense the stress is too much, as with any of these variations err towards caution as the Medial Epicondylitis condition is painful and debilitating for you as a bowler. Once you get the hand of it try turning your arm over across a short distance and see if it is working for you. Once you get the necessary mobility and flexibility in the arm, wrist and thumb to release the ball with some accuracy over a decent distance move on to a 4 ¼ ounce ball and work with that gradually working up to 22 yards eventually bringing in the 5 ½ ounce ball and the full length.

If you’ve already got the back-spinner and you practice it consistently you may find that you convert the Top-Spinner into a promising prospect relatively easily and quickly as I did. The attribute that I liked about this delivery was that very quickly I was able to bowl it with very good accuracy and far more speed than my stock ball. Theoretically because of the Top-Spin it should dip, but I’m not 100% certain that I’ve ever been aware of the dip being a key factor in my own bowling despite the fact that I say that it is an attribute of the ball in my video clip on Youtube.

Unlike the back-spinning Flipper I can’t say that I’ve ever noticed this swinging or doing anything through the air. Its best feature I find is that it’s easily bowled with very good accuracy and increased speed and in amongst my stock balls this is a wicket taker. An interesting note is that Terry Jenner has been quoted by both Ashley Mallet in his biography on Grimmett that the Top-Spinning Flipper is physically impossible to bowl and at best you might be able to get it a few yards up the wicket. Interestingly there’s been a few newer demo’s of Warne bowling the Flipper and these have differed from those as demo’s by both Warne in the example shot talking to Mark Nicholas and Jenners demo’s for the BBC and the Cloverdale series. In those cases the variation that both these blokes show us are the back-spinning variety whereas the newer uploads show us deliveries more akin to the Top-Spinner, but are probably a hybrid of the next variation.

The Off-Spinning Flipper

Again, another pretty obscure variant of the Flipper, but one that I’m fairly convinced that Warne demo’s in at least one of the on-line video clips although without mentioning the fact that it is a variant of what is seemingly perceived to be the common version of the Flipper (The back-spinner). Again using the theory first identified by Grimmett in 1930 that if you bowl with the wrist in different positions you’ll get the ball to spin all ways – Back, top, off and Legspin. This was then taken up by Philpott using his round the loop explanation. Assuming that you’ve followed my advice and gone 180 degrees from the back-spinner to the top spinner and got that sussed? I’m now going to suggest going back round the loop 90 degrees towards the back-spinner. You use exactly the same grip as any of the other Flippers, but with this one you present the wrist so that as your arm comes over the palm of the hand is facing the batsman and herein lies this balls magic the delivery looks like a Leg Break delivery, but because of the method of imparting the spin the ball is going to leave the hand rotating clock-wise to effect off-spin!

I found this a very difficult delivery to master and as you’ve read previously eventually came to it by learning the top-spinning delivery first which helped to train the hand and the wrist to become more dexterous so that I click the fingers and hold the wrist up-right and present it with the palm facing the batsman. I then added another aspect to the delivery after reading Bob Woolmers analysis of Shane Warne’s now partly discredited Ball of the century

In the analysis of the ball, Woolmer observes that in order for the ball to drift as much as it does in this instance the ball needs to have been spinning through a tilted axis. It’s normally assumed that in order to produce the most devastating Big Leg Break the seam needs to be spinning 90 degrees to the direction of flight
With the seam rotating on the same plane as the direction of flight. Woolmer suggests that this isn’t the case and comments –

If the axis of rotation of the delivery is the same direction as the direction of the forward movement of the delivery, then the delivery will not drift. Thus to bowl his ‘Ball from Hell’, Warne had to have the axis of the rotation of the delivery at an angle to its direction of movement. Most likely, the seam was tilted slightly backwards from vertical (When seen from above), with the seam on the left side of the ball slightly ahead. In this position, the axis of rotation (seen from behind the ball) is upwards and to the leg side.

Art & Science of Cricket; Bob Woolmer; New Holland Publishers; London; 2008.

Rotation Diagram A.

The image here below indicates the 90 degree seam presentation to the direction of flight. Woolmer suggests along with physicists that have conducted tests in wind tunnels that the ball spun perfectly from the hand with the seam rotating perfectly at 90 degrees to the direction of flight will not drift. Whereas the image above (rotation diagram A.) with the seam angled forwards towards the direction of flight rotating off axis and with the seam angled slightly forwards of 90 degrees, the ball will produce the most pronounced amounts of drift.

Rotation diagram B.

With this in mind and realising there was potential to impart drift with a Flipper and with potentially more ease (for me at least). The position of the wrist when bowling this delivery seems to be subject to more rigidity through the arm, elbow and wrist than the conventional Wrist Spin deliveries and for some reason in order to tilt the ball backward or forward so that the axis differs to the horizontal plane of flight is only a matter of maintaining rigidity through the wrist and angling it slightly different. My experimentation through the last season seemed to suggest wholly different characteristics with the ball definitely drifting in flight and possibly dipping as well in a fairly dramatic manner and this is with an Off-Spinner that looks like a Leg Break.

I wouldn’t say that I’m anywhere near being an expert at this, but in a year bowling sporadically in nets and practice situations, my ability levels with it have increased exponentially and I have taken at least one wicket with it where the batsman read it as a Leg Break and it went the other way and hit the stump between bat and pads. It’s definitely one that I’ll be working with and exploring further.

Sub variations and accidents
For the purpose of the blog and trying to explain things as clearly as possible when talking about these variations in relation to going round the loop, I’ve tended to talk in terms of moving from one variation to the other in 90 degree jumps focusing on what would be the perfect delivery. It’s obvious that all of these deliveries would work in intermediate forms in some way or another, the classic example being with the Leg Break. The leg break is generally a ball that is spun with the seam aligned at 45 degrees further round the loop if you move on from the top spinner, anything with lesser angle has more Top-Spin emphasis and may dip more, but will still turn a little. So anything that goes further than 45 degrees is still going to dip a little but have an increase in the amount of turn off the wicket as it’s moving towards the realms of being a Big Leg Break. The Flippers are exactly the same, so it’s entirely likely that you may bowl with a scrambled seam and might not be able to get absolutely perfect seam presentation, but it will still be a valid variation if it’s bowled with your Stock ball.
2 Fingers or 3?

In my experience at club level and watching Warne and partly because Wrist Spin Bowling is such an underrated and dark art not many batsmen have been subjected to the Flipper, so if used with scarcity this can be a devastating delivery that can take the batsman by surprise. The Flipper can also be used as a slow ball as well and this works particularly well with not very experienced batsmen. I find the slower and loopier the ball is thrown up, the more it tends to turn (Towards the off-side) but better still the back-spin causes the ball to almost stop which can catch people out.

At club level I’ve only ever come across it used by one other person, my mate ‘The Wizard’ and he bowls it as I have till recently as the Bog Standard Flipper as seen on Youtube demonstrated by Warne & Jenner. (BBC, Channel 9, Cloverdale videos). But if you delve further into crickets history you will come across the balls originator a bloke called Clarrie Grimmett arguably the best Wrist Spinner ever. Between 1928 and 1940 he spent 12 years developing the ball using the same principle as Peter Philpotts ‘Around the loop’ theory but applied to the ball being spun using the Index finger and thumb to ‘click’ it out of the hand.

Grimmetts Flipper is slightly different to Warnes and Jenners who’s version owe more to Richie Benuads adaption of Grimmetts original. Benuads bowling action was near vertical with the seam being upright like a seam bowlers delivery. Whereas Grimmetts action was far more round armed almost to the point where it resembles Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga but then corrected by the fact that he then dipped his head and body through the action so that the arm came through in a more vertical manner. Grimmetts grip as described by himself and Philpott meant that his hand through the delivery was over the top of the ball whereas Benauds version is virtually the same as the one demonstrated by Warne and Jenner. The intricacies of Grimmetts grip I’ve not fully grasped, but Benauds version is easily understood.


This variation is possibly the way that Murali bowls his Doosra but requires ridiculous flexibility in the wrist and arm, but Philpott describes it in the Flipper section of his book. Start at the ‘Mystery ball’ position and rotate your wrist another 90 degrees clockwise so that at the point of release the palm of your hand is facing up-wards with the flipper grip. The more the hand is bent inwards towards the body at the point that you flick the ball the more it’s going to produce a Leg-Break action when pitching on the wicket. To be honest without you being able to bowl with the same inward arm/wrist action that Murali uses this variation looks physically impossible.

Supple wrist and strong thumb.

The key to these deliveries is the practice that you’re able to do off the field. In his book Peter Philpott advocates spinning the ball back in towards yourself initially and the description reads as though he is going to take you on to explain ‘The Mystery Ball’ but he doesn’t. So why you would go through the process of spinning the ball in towards yourself as you do when learning The Big Legbreak I’m kind of baffled when he doesn’t then go on to describe the ‘Mystery Ball’. I think most people would practice bowling the ball from one hand to the other across the body marvelling at the amazing backspin you eventually get through the clicking of the fingers.

Once you’ve got the back-spin, go back to Philpotts description of how you should learn the action. Hold the ball out at arms length in front of you holding it with the Flipper grip. Cock the wrist so that the back of the hand faces away from you almost and the thumb is under the ball and the fingers over the top with the seam up facing you. The clicking of the fingers in this position will now propel the ball back towards your face with over-spin (Top-spin). Keep doing this being careful not to strain any tendons (Medial Epicondylitis). In his book Philpott overlooks the potential of this as a way of bowling and then suggests that you go from this practice action to the hand to hand action which then produces back-spin. But it’s this spinning towards yourself producing Top Spin that is Clarrie Grimmetts ‘Mystery Ball’ action that Grimmett was so protective of and held in high regard. The same practice action also has the duel purpose of being good training to enable you to bowl the awkward Variant 4.

The Wrong Wrong Un

Probably the most obscure wrist spin variation and possibly the most difficult to bowl with any effectiveness. I stumbled across this a few years ago before reading Grimmetts Getting Wickets. Frustrated at losing my Leg Break to the Googly Syndrome I was aware of Philpotts Round the Loop theory and how it’s applied to the position of the wrist in order to effect the different variations – Leg-Break, Googly etc. I’d already looked into the potential of the Off-Spinning Flipper, but discarded that idea as seeming almost impossible having tried it. But with the Wrong Wrong Un I had instant success because of the combination of the principles and action of the Wrong Un combined with the Flipper finger and thumb click technique used to impart spin on the ball.

I’d completely lost my Leg-Break so only bowled Flippers and Wrong Uns, both of which I’d become pretty adept at. My Wrong Un was very strong being able to bowl a delivery that was like the Big Wrong Un and because of the constant practice with the delivery I had increased mobility in all the joints making it possible. The Flipper in the exact same way was pretty good too and I was able to impart a lot of revs on the ball by clicking the finger and thumb together. On the day in question I was bowling and thought what would be the outcome of me combining the Flipper and the Googly – looking at the position of the wrist, fingers and thumb it struck me that this would potentially produce a ball that would break towards the Off-side like a Leg Break but would come out of the hand and be delivered looking like an extreme version of the Wrong Un and sure enough the first attempt at it, although very short across 22 yards turned almost square to the wicket!

That same day practicing over another half an hour or so I managed to get the length and line right several times producing a ball that turned like a big slow loopy leg break. Because of the combining of the two deliveries Googly and Flipper, I christened the ball The Gipper completely unaware that Clarrie Grimmett had explored the same delivery in the 1920’s and identified and explained it in his book Getting Wickets in 1930.

To get some understanding of the delivery look at the image here,

which is an approximation of the view the batsman would see at the point of delivery. If you think of the wrist position in the image being rotated 180 degree anti-clockwise, you’ll see that the wrist and fingers would end up being poised for the classic Flipper.

In order to get the rotation of the wrist round 180 degrees it necessitates the additional twisting of the arm in the manner that the Wrong un requires to bowl the bigger turning Wrong Un. With the distortion of both the wrist and the arm the delivery position is then attained.

I practiced with the ball over a winter in the nets and across one season exploring its potential, but at the same time I was also looking to overcome the Googly Syndrome and was focusing on bowling the Leg Break the majority of the time. This may have affected the outcome of whether there is any real merit in this delivery because I gradually lost the ability to twist my arm and wrist as far as I could when I was bowling massively turning wrong uns. Because of the focus on re-attaining the Leg Break and limiting the amount of variations that I bowled, I discarded the Wrong Wrong Un, dropping it with the general feeling that it didn’t fit with my overall strategy and wasn’t required.

Grimmett explaining the principle of using the Flipper action to impart variations in break off the pitch……….

It is possible, however, to bowl a Leg-Break with a Googly action in this way, and also an Off-Break with a Leg-Break action.

Clarrie Grimmett; Getting Wickets: Hodder & Stoughton:London; 1930.

By Varying the hand position slightly at the moment of release I could bowl several different balls, but they were slow off the pitch and I hardly ever used them. If I twisted my hand right over as for the Googly I could make the ball turn from the leg, in what I call a Wrong Wrong Un, coming out of the back of the hand is usually deceived a batsman, but it was so slow off the pitch he had plenty of time to play it.

Clarrie Grimmett: Grimmett On Cricket: Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd: Edinburgh:1948.

As you can see I eventually came across the description of the very same ball that I thought I’d discovered and christened The Gipper, Grimmett too drew the same conclusions with regards the usefulness of the ball in that it was difficult to propel down the pitch with any great speed. There’s a pay off between speed and break and the initial feeling with this variation is that its key attribute is the amount of break caused by the Flipper technique to impart the spin. But I found that the more speed you put into the delivery the less it turned which is pretty obvious. The other issue I had with it is that I couldn’t bowl it that well without having a pre-positioned arm at the start of the gather, so when winding up for the delivery it signaled something odd was going to happen and alerted batsmen to the fact that I was about to bowl a variation of some kind. As Grimmett says it’s one of the balls you might use once in a spell against a batsman. Very difficult and possibly not worth the effort learning it, but a variation none the less.


  1. Really like this blog and this article on the flipper, I'm a leg spinner based in Hampshire playing in the southern electric premier division. The difficult thing is incorporating the clicking mechanism into your normal bowling action and in suck a way that looks similar to a leg break.....difficult stuff. If you have any tips of building it up into a normal leg break action id be extremely grateful ! Good luck with your pursuits !
    Harry Henley-Smith (totton and eking 1st X1)

  2. Hi - I really enjoyed reading this article on the flipper. I have also found the ball seriously in swings when bowling the seam-up back-spinning flipper. Concerning this delivery the author (of this article) writes "the ball swings massively in certain conditions". I would be interested to know what these conditions are.

    1. Hello mate 2 years late with the reply, but it seems to be evenings when the atmosphere is damp and dewy. No idea why, but that's when I notice it happening. I'm re-vamping this blog as I'm progressed a lot in the last two years and have plenty more to say.