Spin bowling is perhaps the most arcane and elegant element of cricket, a sport well known for its embrace of all things arcane and elegant. Ever since the first tentative balls were rolled along the ground to men holding a crudely carved piece of wood, bowlers have tried to come up with ever-more inventive and ingenious ways to get the batsman out. Not for them the crude hammers of speed and intimidation; guile, craft and cunning are the name of the spinner’s game.

In the age of money, and Twenty20, many thought spin-bowling would wither on the vine. But according to Amol Rajan in this beautifully written, amusing and eye-opening history, we are in fact experiencing a new flourishing of the art. Thanks to recent legends like Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan, and emerging talents like Ajantha Mendis, the form continues to innovate. Twirlymen is both an exploration of these dark arts and a celebration of their greatest practitioners.