A friend, who trained at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, once reminisced about an interesting tussle he had at the academy nets. A right-handed batsman, he was receiving hard lessons on the perils of spin bowling. He began with a cover drive off the first delivery—a flighted, juicy, regulation off-spin ball. The next five deliveries were a blur for my friend, while the mentor, well into his 60s, indulged in banter and some old-fashioned joking, just like one of his teenaged teammates would. EAS Prasanna, the artist who gave my friend the masterclass, had, in his peak, schooled some of the best batsmen in the world with similar ease, guile, craft and an innocent air of jest.
Spin bowling mesmerizes everyone—from the batsmen, bamboozled by the ball which seems to have a mind of its own, to the fielders waiting for the delicately baited trap to spring, to the skipper who has set it, the umpires kept on their toes by the variations, and lastly the spectators transfixed by the patient art of deception.