The carrom ball is a style of spin bowling delivery used in cricket. The ball is released by flicking it between the thumb and a bent middle finger in order to impart spin. Though the delivery is known to date from at least the 1940s, it was re-introduced into mainstream international cricket in the late 2000s by Ajantha Mendis and is also regularly used by Ravichandran Ashwin.
The first bowler known to have used this style of delivery was the Australian Jack Iverson from Victoria, who used it throughout his Test career in the period after the Second World War, although he did not use the name "carrom ball". Fellow countryman John Gleeson used a similar grip a decade later, but by the 1970s the method was almost forgotten; however, it has since re-entered cricketing consciousness because of its use by Ajantha Mendis of Sri Lanka during 2007-2008, with the new name of carrom ball.
The ball is held between the thumb, forefinger and the middle finger and, instead of a conventional release, the ball is squeezed out and flicked by the fingers like a Carrom player flicking the disc on a Carrom board.
Carrom spin can be considered a third category of spin bowling after leg spin and off spin, as the middle finger and thumb flick or squeeze the ball out of the hand, like a carrom player flicking a striker in the indoor game of carrom.
When the centre finger is gripped towards the leg side, the ball spins from leg to off; when the centre finger is gripped towards the off side, the ball spins from off to leg.
Depending on the degree the ball is gripped towards the leg side, the carrom ball could also travel straight.
The carrom ball can therefore spin to either the off or leg sides or travel straight (as opposed to the popular misconception that it only spins towards the off side).