Kamindu Mendis and the 10 Most Unorthodox Bowlers in Cricket History

Rob Lancaster@RobLancs79Featured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2016

Kamindu Mendis and the 10 Most Unorthodox Bowlers in Cricket History

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    Paul Adams found an unusual method of bowling that worked perfectly well for him.
    Paul Adams found an unusual method of bowling that worked perfectly well for him.WILLIAM WEST/Getty Images

    The 2016 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup has provided fans with the opportunity to get an early look at the international stars of tomorrow.

    Kamindu Mendis certainly made a name for himself during the tournament.

    The Sri Lankan all-rounder bowled left-arm spin for his country. He bowled right-arm spin, too.

    Bowling for Sri Lanka in the Group B game against Pakistan in Mirpur, Bangladesh, on Feb. 3, Mendis didn't just switch from over to around the wicket.

    When a left-handed player was on strike, he opted to bowl with his right arm, meaning he was turning the ball away from the batsman. He took the same policy when a right-handed batter was facing, although not before he had informed the umpire of his mid-over switch.

    The ICC's official website issued a video of the ambidextrous Mendis in action. To take a look, click here.

    What Mendis once again proves is that you don't have to own the perfect technique to succeed. It's not about how you take wickets or score runs, it's just about how many you get.

    Here, Bleacher Report has ranked the top 10 unorthodox bowlers to appear in international cricket.

10. Jeff Thomson

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    Long before Lasith Malinga came along for Sri Lanka, Australia had a slingshot paceman by the name of Jeffrey Robert Thomson.

    The Sydney-born strike bowler—who formed a fearsome combination for his country with Dennis Lillee—finished with exactly 200 wickets in 51 Tests.

    In his prime, Thomson tearing in was a fearsome sight—particularly if you were standing at the other end facing him.

    He crossed his feet before arching his head back to give as much room as possible to whip his right arm through. It was all about strength and power, putting tremendous stress on his body.

    Per former Australia team-mate Ian Chappell, writing for ESPN Cricinfo: "When someone asked Thommo to describe his action, he painted the perfect picture: 'Ah mate, I just shuffle up and go whang.'"

9. Ajantha Mendis

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    Ajantha Mendis flicks the ball out of the front of his hand.
    Ajantha Mendis flicks the ball out of the front of his hand.AFP/Getty Images

    Ajantha Mendis will always be linked to one specific delivery—the carrom ball.

    The Sri Lankan spinner holds the ball between his thumb and bent middle finger, before flicking it out the front of his hand toward the batsman.

    It works as a leg-spinning ball to the right-handed batsmen, despite there appearing to be little obvious change in the method of delivery.

    Australian Johnny Gleeson also perfected the skill in his career, but Mendis' technique caught the cricketing world by surprise. He took eight wickets on Test debut against India and impressed in limited-overs action.

    However, in an age of analysts and improved video technology, sides quickly worked Mendis out. Never a big turner of the ball, he found life at the top level much tougher once batsmen could pick him.

8. Abdul Qadir

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    Abdul Qadir fought a lone hand for leg-spin during his international career with Pakistan.

    During the 1970s and '80s, it was all about pace in world cricket, although ESPN Cricinfo's profile of Qadir notes he was "blessed with a fast bowler's temperament and fire."

    However, there was a great amount of artistry to his bowling, too. His googly—which turned the opposite way to his standard leg-spinner—was a thing of beauty.

    The slow bowler would dip down at the start of his run before attacking the crease from a wide angle. His route in allowed him to bowl with a lovely high, straight arm.

    Qadir claimed 960 first-class wickets in a career that spanned two decades.

7. Jasprit Bumrah

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    Jasprit Bumrah barely makes any use of his front arm when delivering the ball.
    Jasprit Bumrah barely makes any use of his front arm when delivering the ball.CRAIG GOLDING/Getty Images

    When coaches teach youngsters to bowl, they talk extensively about using the front arm to point at the batsman.

    Jasprit Bumrah, however, has given the conventional method the cold shoulder. The India seamer makes a first with his left hand while keeping the front arm unusually low as he releases the ball.

    His pre-delivery motion sees him thrust his right arm—the one holding the ball—away from his body. It is an odd way of doing things, but it works for Bumrah.

    The seamer developed his bowling with help from Mumbai Indians team-mate Lasith Malinga, telling Shilarze Saharoy of the Times of India: "[Malinga] taught me how and when to use yorkers. He would tell me how to vary the pace of the yorker and not to be predictable. In fact, I learnt to bowl the slow yorker from him."

6. Colin Croft

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    Plenty of bowlers ran in from a wide angle before straightening up as they reached the crease. Dominic Cork was a notable exponent of the tactic.

    Colin Croft, however, did it the other way around.

    The West Indian paceman galloped in from behind the umpire—only to then veer out wide as he launched himself into his delivery stride.

    Croft would lean his body away and whip his arms through, meaning the batsman always felt the ball was coming at him. That was particularly concerning when the right-armer sent down a bouncer—a tactic he was never afraid to use.

    He finished his career with 125 Test wickets in just 27 appearances, including claiming eight for 29 against Pakistan in 1977.

5. Sohail Tanvir

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    Sohail Tanvir is tall, tricky to pick up and quick through the air.
    Sohail Tanvir is tall, tricky to pick up and quick through the air.INEKE ZONDAG/Getty Images

    Pakistan's Sohail Tanvir is able to generate good pace while bowling off the wrong foot. A batsman simply doesn't have a lot of time to work out the bowler's unusual action.

    Standing tall at 6'5", the left-arm paceman also makes life tough for batters with windmilling arms during his delivery motion.

    It's much like high-paced hopscotch at the crease, then suddenly the ball is fired out from a great height.

    Injuries have hampered Tanvir's career, and he appeared in only two Tests. He even sent down a bit of left-arm off-spin in his final appearance in the longest format.

    However, he has become a limited-overs specialist for his country while also appearing in Twenty20 leagues around the globe.

4. Mike Procter

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    With a chest-on action, a windmilling bowling arm and an early release point that suggested he bowled off the wrong foot, Mike Procter was a whirling dervish who took wickets.

    It also didn't help batsmen that the all-rounder could bowl not only fast, but also with late movement in the air, despite his rather unique method.

    South Africa's isolation from the international arena during the 1970s meant Procter only played seven Tests in his career.

    However, he is remembered fondly in England for his time spent playing domestic cricket with Gloucestershire.

    Such was his impact on the team and the county's reliance on their overseas star, they were dubbed "Proctershire."

3. Muttiah Muralitharan

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    Muttiah Muralitharan took over 800 Test wickets for Sri Lanka.
    Muttiah Muralitharan took over 800 Test wickets for Sri Lanka.LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/Getty Images

    Muttiah Muralitharan is the leading wicket-taker in the history of Test cricket. He finished his long career with 800 scalps at an average of 22.72.

    He also took over 500 wickets in one-day cricket for Sri Lanka, and he helped his country win the 1996 Cricket World Cup.

    But, for all his success, the legality of his action was questioned so often that the rules were eventually changed—a bowler could only extend the elbow by 15 degrees.

    An inability to straighten his arm completely, as well as ridiculously supple wrists, allowed him to get not only huge turn with his off-spinner, but also bowl a brilliant doosra.

    What could not be questioned was the effort Murali put into every delivery. He was a bundle of energy from the moment he set off to bowl, all while staring at his opponent with his eyes wide open.

    In writing the player's ESPN Cricinfo profile, Dileep Premachandran said: "What was undeniable was his ability to turn the ball sharply on just about any surface and bowl the sort of marathon spells that would have seen a lesser man retire after five seasons rather than 18." 

2. Lasith Malinga

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    Lasith Malinga's round arm at the point of delivery led to him being given the nickname "The Slinga."

    A quick bowler with an ability to bowl yorkers on request, the Sri Lankan has made a career as a limited-overs specialist, both for his country and also playing domestic cricket around the world.

    People questioned his action, yet he actually has a perfectly straight arm. It's just a lot lower than you're used to seeing from a paceman.

    Able to produce a yorker at will, he has also developed a devious slower ball without noticeably changing his action, making him even harder to cope with.

    With his flowing hair, long run-up and unorthodox technique, Malinga—who has taken three hat-tricks in one-day international cricket—has become a real crowd favourite.

1. Paul Adams

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    Paul Adams had the frog-in-a-blender action (WARNING: Do not put any frogs into blenders to find out how that actually looks).

    The slow left-arm chinaman bowler astonishingly wasn't even looking at the target at the point of delivery, instead dipping his head down toward the floor as he twisted his body to propel the ball down the pitch.

    He told BBC Sport: "Ever since I picked up a cricket ball that's been the way I've bowled. When I was a kid they tried to change me and get me to bowl with my head up but that didn't work, I couldn't bowl like that."

    For a while, Adam bamboozled batsmen. They had to work out just when the ball was being released, considering the bowler's flailing limbs and odd head position.

    After injuries hampered his career, Adams retired in 2008 after collecting 134 Test wickets at an average of 32.87.

    He emphatically proves that you don't need to follow any cricket textbook to reach the top level, so he therefore deserves to take top spot in these rankings.