Advanced Swing Bowling- How To Reverse Swing A Cricket Ball

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Following on form our orthodox swing tips on delivering the out swinger and in swinger, we have moved on to what some consider an even deadlier weapon. Reverse swing. Bowlers brought up on sub continent pitches have long been fantastic exponents of reverse swing. This is because unlike orthodox swing that thrives with a new ball, reverse swing is best with an old ball. Usually, this will be between 30-40 overs old when it starts to happen. The reason it is better in the subcontinent is because the ball rarely swings very much in places like India and Pakistan. Therefore, you need a different weapon for pace bowlers to take their wickets, and the rough dusty surfaces can really help deteriorate a ball to deliver the perfect reverse swing. Bowlers like Wasim Akram and Irfan Pathan have been masters at it, and England’s Tim Bresnan has also been known to be very good at it in the modern game.

So what actually is reverse swing and why does it happen?

Basically reverse swing is when the ball shape and aerodynamics change so much, it can start to swing towards the shiny side. As we said in our previous article about orthodox swing, you want the rough side pointing away from the direction you want the ball to mover. However when the ball starts to reverse, it would wobble slightly away from a batsmen, before zipping back in towards him. Yeah I can tell you probably like the sound of it. When done well, it can be extremely hard to play, and really help unsettle batsmen that think they can read you out of the hand, or that are in an established partnership.

Reverse swing will take advantage of the difference in weight that has been caused by the shining of the ball by the fielders and bowler. In the search of orthodox swing, one side will be looked after and the other will naturally become rough as we discussed in our last article on swing bowling.

How do I Know If The Ball Is Ready To Reverse Swing?

First you need to see if the ball is ready for reverse swing. Once the ball is around 25-35 overs old, and the rough side has really started to become rough and worn down, really shine up the shiny side as much as you can. Make sure the rough side has no repairs undertaken on it, and is as rough as it can be. This is why those rough subcontinental pitches really help rough up a cricket ball, and create the most legitimate damage without ball tampering. Then Simply throw it through the air a few times to a fielder. Both be on the lookout to see if it moves towards the shiny side, and if it does, your ready to start confusing those batsmen with devastating reverse swing.

How Do I Bowl It?

You want to try and mirror your usual swing bowling stance and actions, so as you are harder to read by the batsmen. However, the seam position is what really changes. If you want a ball that will reverse back into the batsmen, hold the ball as you normally would for an away swinger. This is with your fingers along the seam, and the rough side on the off side, and the shiny side on the leg side.

Then cock your wrist to about a 20-30 degree angle in towards the batsmen. Think of it as bowling a conventional in swinger, yet you have set the shiny and rough side of the ball on the wrong side. Try not to cover the seem too much, as you would with your normal swing deliveries, and instead make it more about the flex of your wrist. Keeping about a 40-50 degree angle between your bowling arm and head at shoulder, is just about the perfect position to reverse the ball. Yet this can really vary depending on different bowlers techniques, and this can be why some can not reverse swing the ball. Then when following through, do not let your hand fall away from the stumps. Try and keep it travelling between your body and the stumps.
After that is is all about practice and keeping at it. Try not to change your natural delivery stride too much, and always try and deliver with your fingers straight down the seem, relying on that fast cock of the wrist to bring about your reverse swing.

Also, remember that like any swing bowling, it is not an exact science, and if you find it is not working and interfering with your natural deliveries or your strengths, come away form it and go back to the practice nets. Have fun and always make sure you play in the spirit of the game, and never resort to any ball tampering techniques to try and bring about reverse swing in a quicker manner.

For more help, here is more from England star James Anderson

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