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About the book
  • Published: 30 November 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446483718
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 400


The Unlikely History of Cricket's Greatest Spin Bowlers

From W. G. Grace to Shane Warne, Twirlymen is an essential look at that most eccentric of cricketers - the spin bowler

They are the masters of deception, the jokers in the pack; illusionists conjuring wickets out of thin air with nothing more than an ambled approach and a wonky grip. Not for them the brutish physicality of the pace bowler nor the reactive slogging of the batsman. Theirs is a more cerebral art. They stand alone in a team sport. They are Twirlymen.

Having himself failed through a combination of injury and indolence to become a leg-spinner of renown, Amol Rajan pays homage to that most eccentric of all sporting heroes - the spin bowler. On a journey through cricket history Rajan introduces us to the greatest purveyors of that craft, from W. G. Grace to Graeme Swann via Clarrie Grimmet's flipper, Muttiah Muralitharan's helicopter wrist, Shane Warne's ball-of-the-century and all the rest.

  • Pub date: 30 November 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446483718
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 400

About the Author

Amol Rajan

Amol Rajan is Comment Editor at the Independent, having previously been a news reporter and Sports News Correspondent for the newspaper. He is also a columnist for the Independent and Evening Standard, and a restaurant critic for the Independent on Sunday. He grew up in Tooting, south London, and from the age of 11 played for Sinjuns Cricket Club (now Sinjuns & Grammarians) in Wandsworth, becoming the youngest captain of a men's team when leading the Sunday First XI in 2002, aged eighteen.


Praise for Twirlymen

“Enchanting. Twirlymen is packed with anecdotes that fizz like a Murali doosra”



The Economist

“Erudite... Charming and insightful... Knowledgeable, obsessed and astute”

New Statesman

“Rajan captures the distinctiveness of spin bowlers, a tribe within the wider nation of cricketers”

Literary Review

“I could not stop picking it up... A history of spin bowling, diligently researched but written with wit and, most tellingly, an obsessive's eye for detail”

Andy Bull, Guardian

“Full of compelling anecdotes and perceptive analysis, and I would heartily recommend it even if it didn't also include a few excerpts from my own encounters with notable characters from the world of spin.”

Brian Viner, Independent

“Get hold of a copy of Amol Rajan's Twirlymen...This is a forensic and often lyrical examination of the history of spin”

James Lawton, Independent

“In Amol Rajan the twirlers have found a historian worthy of their deceptive art...a brilliant, revisionist book...which should be compulsory reading for anyone who claims to love the game even half as much as the author evidently does.”

Simon Redfern, Independent

“An eloquent, page-turning series of biographies about cricket's finest spin bowlers.'”

Sunday Express

“Amol Rajan provides a natty introduction to the spin bowler.”


“A charming history of spin-bowling”

The Lady

“Twirlymen is a splendid romp through the history of spin bowling. A delight from start to finish, it's a book I dearly wish I'd written myself.”

Alex Massie, Spectator

“A fine book”

William Leith, Scotsman

“Entertaining and informative”

Brandon Robshaw, Independent on Sunday

“This seductive book will engage those who don’t know a googly from a doosra and enlighten those who do”


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