Swing bowling is one of the finest art forms the game of cricket has to offer. Huge modern day names such as James Anderson of England and Dale Steyn of South Africa have got it down to a fine art. Joining the likes to legends of the game such as all rounders Ian Botham and Richard Hadlee, and Pakistan duo Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. All these men perfected the art of swinging a cricket ball both ways, becoming much more deadly and skill full than just bowling out and out pace. They all had plenty of pace in their armoury, but swing adds so much more.
Imagine facing deliveries of 85mph plus, that start to move in the air after being released from the hand. This has a huge advantage, as the batsmen will play down the line of the ball upon release, only to see it deviating as it gets closer to him. Out swingers can provide prime opportunities for outside edges that can be caught in the slips or the gully, and the in swinger brings LBW and bowled into play. Yet how can we achieve this fantastic ability, and add a much needed trump card to the deck in a fast bowlers continuing battles with the batsmen. First Rate Sports is here to help you down the road to becoming a swing bowling machine.
Why Does the ball Swing?
The first thing you should know is that even if you get every technical aspect of the delivery correct, the ball just may not swing. A certain amount of it is down to conditions, both in the weather and the ball. It is generally considered that humid, overcast conditions are perfect for swing bowling. A shiny new ball is also usually key to produce orthodox swing. This is why bowling on the morning of a game, in grey conditions with a brand new ball is usually the time when you see the most swing. the ball and keeping its shine can be crucial, and this is done by shining one side of the ball. Pick a side early on that you will look after in the field, and keep rubbing this on your cricket whites to maintain the shine. Let the other side naturally diminish in conditions and become rough and abrasive. Applying sweat from your hands can also help polish up one side of the ball. Make sure the fielders and other bowlers know which side you are looking after, usually before the game or during the first couple of overs.
Taking care of the ball and keeping its shine can be crucial, and this is done by shining one side of the ball. Pick a side early on that you will look after in the field, and keep rubbing this on your cricket whites to maintain the shine. Let the other side naturally diminish in conditions and become rough and abrasive. Applying sweat from your hands can also help polish up one side of the ball. Make sure the fielders and other bowlers know which side you are looking after, usually before the game or during the first couple of overs.
All of this coupled with the correct seam position will react with the resistance in the air and produce balls that swing either to the leg side or the off side.
Bowling Out Swing
As we said earlier, and out swinger will increase the chances of producing an edge that can be taken by close catchers either in
the slips or even by the wicketkeeper. The ball will start on a more leg side line and move away towards the off side as the ball travels through the air when bowled to a right handed batsmen. The out swinger will become a cutting in swinger when attacking a left hander, so the skill will offer you different options to different batsmen throughout the opponent’s order.
You want to bowl a line that is just outside the off stump of the batsmen, This is so he is forced to play at the ball for worry of it hitting his stumps, or swinging back in and getting him out LBW or bowled. You then want to make sure you can hit a full length on this line. The fuller the ball, the more time it has to move in the air. We find generally just full of a good length is the consistently good area to hit, but some conditions will require it to be a bit fuller.
You then want to hold the cricket ball with the seam angled towards first and second slip, causing your fingers to ever so slightly overlap the seam. The angle is generally advised to be between 15-25 degrees. Make sure the side of the ball you have been looking after and keeping shiny faces away from the direction you want to swing it. In this case on the leg side. The correct seam position, in combination with the air resistance on the abrasive side of the ball, should cause it to move away from the batsmen through the air. Hopefully encouraging him to drive and induce the edge through to your waiting catchers.
Some bowlers find angling the run up slightly, and delivering from a little closer to the stumps can help with away swingers. A batsmen may see the angled run up and play for a ball angling down the leg side, only to have it straighten on him with the away swing, and take the edge of his bat.
Bowling In Swing
As you can probably guess an in swing delivery is the opposite of the delivery we just talked about. It is handy to learn both types as it means you can threaten a batsmen numerous ways regardless of if he is left handed or right handed. It also adds uncertainty in the batsmen’s mind, as he will know you are not a one trick pony, and makes both types of delivery more effective. For example, if a batsmen knows you can move the ball back into him with an in swinger, he is more likely to play at the out swinger you start down the line of off stump, for fear of it coming back in. This makes the likelihood of an edge much higher. Also, it will mean you can produce an out swinger to left handers, a deadly delivery especially when delivered from around the wicket.
The ball will move back in towards the leg side when bowled to a right hander, requires some small tweaks in your run up and line. A straighter run up is usually favoured and you do not want to start your line off too straight. This could cause the ball to swing down the leg side and be easy pickings for the batsmen. You want it starting off wide of off stump, and coming back to hit the middle and off stump. Once again a fuller delivery length is usually a good option, especially as you don’t want to beat the batsmen, and watch the ball sail over the top of the stumps as it is too short in length.
Hold the seam This time with the rough side pointing in at the batsmen and the shiny part of the ball on the outside. Angle the seam again about 15 degrees, but this time, point the seam inwards as if pointing at a leg slip fielder. Essentially reversing the position you would have bowled for your away swinger.
After this, it is all about practice and lots if it. Develop it during game situations as well so you know it can hold up under pressure. It takes some time to achieve but is well worth it for any quick bowler. Make sure you take into account that on some days due to weather and atmospheric conditions, it just will not swing. Do not become down heartened by this, and work in conjuncture with your captain so he knows your strengths, and can suitably look after the shiny side if the ball properly, to stack the deck in your favour.
Look at our extra article on the deadly art of reverse swing, to really add the final piece of the jigsaw to any swing bowlers arsenal, and make sure you master the basics first, before delving too far into reverse swing deliveries, get out there, and have loads of fun bamboozling those batsmen.
Have a look at swing bowling legend Jimmy Anderson taking you through some of his top tips!