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Summary

The Times Best Sports Books 2021 - 'the sporting nerd's book of the year'

How valuable is winning the toss? And how should captains use it to their advantage? Why does a cricket ball swing? Why don't Indians bat left-handed? What is a good length and why? Why are leg-spinners so successful in T20 cricket? Why did England win the World Cup? Why do all Test bowlers bowl at either 55 or 85mph? Why don't they pitch it up?

All cricketers long to know the answer to these questions and many more. Only 15 years ago, it would have been difficult to answer them - cricket was guided only by decades-old tradition and received wisdom. 

Data has changed everything. Today we can track every ball to within millimetres; its release point, speed and bounce point are measured as are how much the ball swings, how much it deviates off the pitch, the exact height and line that it passes the stumps and multiple other variables. Hitting Against the Spin is the story of that data, and what it can tell us about how cricket really works. 

Leading cricket thinkers Nathan Leamon and Ben Jones lift the lid on international cricket and explain its hidden workings and dynamics - the forces that shape cricket and, in turn, the cricketers who play it. They analyse the unseen hands that determine which players succeed and which fail, which tactics work and which don't, which teams win and which lose. They also explore the new world of franchise cricket as well as the rapid evolution of the T20 format. 

Revolutionary in its insights, Hitting Against the Spin takes you on a fascinating whistle-stop tour of modern cricket and sports analytics, bringing cricket firmly into the 21st century by revealing its long-kept secrets. This is the most important cricket book in decades.

©2021 Nathan Leamon and Ben Jones (P)2021 Hachette Audio UK

Critic reviews

"Fascinating and insightful...lifts the curtain to reveal the inner workings of international cricket. A must-read for any cricketer, coach or fan." (Eoin Morgan)

"This path-breaking book should be compulsory reading for commentators and captains - and all cricket fans." (Mervyn King) 

"Clever and original but also wise." (Ed Smith)

What listeners say about Hitting Against the Spin

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Playback Speed x1.2

would definitely recommend sliding the playback speed up to 1.2x at the very least, unless you are suffering from insomnia!

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Very interesting and clear to understand

Insights into how cricket has changed and continues to change put clearly. it was thought provoking and entertaining.

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A bit limited

The absence of many first hand cricket stories beyond descriptions of the principle make it quite a dry book.

I'd say of technical interest to the cricket fan, but not really a gem.

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The best cricket book I've read

An absolute must read if you're interested in cricket analysis. I read a lot about cricket, but almost every few minutes there was something I'd not considered before. Yes, you might want to listen on a slightly higher speed, but Nathan Leamon is still very listenable.