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Carrom ball in cricket: All you need to know

The carrom ball is a unique delivery in cricket that is often utilised by spin bowlers, where the grip is unusual as the ball is held between the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger of the bowling hand. When he’s about to bowl the delivery, the spinner ends up flicking his thumb and the bent middle finger in order to impart spin to the delivery which batsmen fail to negotiate. This is a carrom ball.

In the current era of cricket, spinners are becoming more important than ever and in order to outsmart the batters, spinners are constantly tinkering and innovating their game with the addition of new deliveries or changing the way they bowl the regular deliveries.

In a batsman-dominated game where T20 cricket is becoming increasingly popular, the spin bowlers often rely on this outside-the-box thinking and creative skills to decide the course of a match. Creative thinking like this had originally resulted in the birth of the famous carrom ball delivery which is said to be one of the most unusual deliveries in cricket.

Revived by Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis and India’s Ravichandran Ashwin in the modern days of spin bowling, it has become a useful tool in any off-spinner‘s arsenal. So what is the carrom ball, why is it called so and how did it originate? Let’s find out:

What is carrom ball and how did it originate?

The carrom ball (also called as Sodukku ball in some parts of India) is a style of spin-bowling conveyance utilized in cricket to this day. The ball is released by strongly flicking it between the thumb and the bent middle finger in order to impart spin on the delivery.

The origins of the carrom ball can be traced back to the early 1950s when Australian Jack Iverson from the state of Victoria used the delivery strongly during his Test cricket career shortly after the Second World War.

Iverson’s action saw him flick the ball out of the hand with his fingers. The delivery became known as the carrom ball because it was similar to the action of a carrom player flicking a carrom disk on a carrom board. Carrom was a popular tabletop indoor game at the time.

The delivery has re-emerged once again in the modern era thanks to Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis who had popularised it during the 2008 Asia Cup. The variation of the carrom ball that Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, another famous exponent of the delivery in the modern era, uses is called the’sodukku ball’. In his native Tamil language, sodukku means “snapping of fingers”.

This is reflected in the way the ball is delivered, by a “snap” of the middle finger and the thumb. Ashwin says that he first learned to bowl this type of delivery playing street cricket in Chennai, from another youth whom he only knew by the initials SK. He then went on to perfect the delivery style with a genuine cricket ball.

Ashwin took nine wickets in his debut Test match against West Indies in 2011 and got rid of Marlon Samuels with the carrom ball in the second innings. New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner is also said to be the primary left-handed spin bowler to have utilized the method in international cricket, getting rid of Pakistan batter Fakhar Zaman with a conveyance within the carrom ball fashion amid a one-day international match on January 16, 2018. The carrom ball style delivery sent ripples across the world of cricket.

Best Carrom ball bowlers in the world: Top 3

BowlerNationCareer SpanInternational matchesInternational wickets
Ajantha MendisSri Lanka2008-2015145288
Ravichandran AshwinIndia2010 – present255659
Sunil NarineWest Indies2011 – present122165

Ajantha Mendis

Ajantha Mendis is credit for bringing the carrom ball back to the modern era with his popular usage. Mendis utilised the carrom ball to brutal effect and hailed as a ‘mystery spinner’ during his peak, he was almost unplayable by batsmen. Mendis made history by taking charge of the Asia Cup final against India in 2008 and his carrom ball deliveries helped him pick up plenty of wickets and put plenty of pressure on the opposition.

Despite his golden debut years, Mendis’ action and delivery later became more readable by the batters as he failed to innovate further. As a result, he got found out and his prominence for Sri Lanka diminished slowly until he fell out of favour in 2015. Mendis retired from cricket in 2019.

Ravichandran Ashwin

The defining carrom ball bowler of his generation, Ravichandran Ashwin has had a long and glorious career at the top. The secret behind has been his constant tinkering and looking for ways to improve his game. Ashwin often ends up using the carrom ball even more than his stock delivery and he has a tendency to place the ball deeper into his palm and that was something of a giveaway.

Ashwin also uses the reverse carrom where he moves the seam around and approaches the delivery from different angles in order to be more unpredictable. He has picked up over 440 wickets in his Test career and has more than 650 international wickets to his name.

Sunil Narine

Sunil Narine’s rise to prominence was star-studded and golden as he made a name for himself in the Indian Premier League. Narine’s performances with Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2012 and 2014 were a major reason behind the franchise winning the IPL titles in those two seasons. He also had a similar impact at the international level and batsmen were left clueless in their ways to approach him and his bowling. Not only did he bowl the carrom ball beautifully, but Narine also had several variations of the doosra in his arsenal.

The problem with Narine was the fact that he barely changed his grip for any type of delivery and that’s why batters found him so hard to contend with. Unfortunately, he’s had to modify his action after being ordered by the ICC a number of times and those variations aren’t so evident, but he’s still a very effective bowler and was one of the greatest exponents of the carrom ball.


Who is known to be the inventor of the carrom ball?

Australian Jack Iverson who played cricket in the early 1950s is said to be the inventor of the carrom ball in cricket.

What is Ravichandran Ashwin’s carrom ball grip?

Ravichandran Ashwin places the ball in his palm deeper than usual in order to bowl the carrom ball and he usually bowls it more than his stock delivery as well.


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