Bowling-Length and direction
- By Polly Umrigar
It is true that there is more glamour attached to
batting than bowling. However, a bowler's task is
far more severe in physical terms than that of a
batsman. To become a good bowler, it is normal and
wise for a youngster to determine what type of
bowling is likely to suit him the most. Once he
does this, the hard work should commence.
Length and direction,
thy name is
One of the first things a bowler should realise is
that for every wicket he takes, he is sure to send
down a certain amount of balls and concede a
certain amount of runs.
are many ways of dismissing batsmen, but statistics
reveal that over 50% of them are out 'caught'.
Hence, bowlers must learn to utilise their fielders
well. Never run them down. It is the bowler who in
conjunction with his captain decides where the
fieldsmen will be stationed.
A bowler should be more than a mechanical propeller
of a ball. He who can assess the strengths and
weaknesses of his opponents and accordingly vary
his methods to achieve the best results will have a
headstart on his less-observant rivals.
A bowler's priority should be to 'attack' - get the
batsman out. Very rarely does an all-out negative
approach work. It is only natural for the bowler to
want the field to be set in a particular manner,
but if the captain has a good reason to make an
alteration and insists upon doing so, the bowler
should obey him and do his best. After all, the
captain is the boss. Loyalty to him is essential.
An erratic fast bowler can sometimes get away with
punishment, but slow bowlers seldom get an
opportunity to come back.
The basic essentials for bowling are LENGTH and
They are followed by secondary factors like
variation in pace, flight, spin, swing etc. The
ball should be grasped in the fingers and not the
After a youngster has made up his mind on whether
he wants to bowl fast, medium-fast or slow, he
should decide on the most appropriate action for
The purpose of a bowling action is to enable the
release of the ball from a comfortable and
well-balanced position, whereby the maximum
efficiency is obtained from the coordination of the
fingers, wrist, arms, shoulders and body. The
run-up should be of the precise length required for
the purpose, not too short and certainly not too
long. It should be smooth. A bowler should not
experiment too much with it in his formative years.
Anil Kumble on the 'attack'
The run-up need not be straight. It could be
angular. Everything boils down to what the bowler
in question is comfortable with. A fast bowler
should aim to achieve the maximum momentum at the
point of delivery and get the body into the best
position in order to put punch into the delivery.
types of right-handed bowlers seem to place the
right foot parallel to the bowling crease in their
delivery stride. The body should turn so much that
the left side should point towards the batsman. The
left arm pushes upwards, the weight is transferred
onto the right foot and the body leans backwards.
The head should be steady and upright, looking down
the wicket over the left arm.
The left leg being raised slightly off the ground
is part of the 'winding up' of the bowling action.
As the left leg hits the ground, it is braced to
take all the weight and also the force of the right
arm delivering the ball. The head should be kept up
and the right arm should swing towards the batsman
after delivery of the ball.
The bowler should quickly move away from the pitch
on their follow-through, so that they do not damage
it with their boot spikes. If they keep stepping on
the 'danger area', the umpires can stop them from
bowling after a couple of warnings.
Most fast bowlers have a drag. This enables them to
retain body balance.
Quicker bowlers would do well to "keep the arm
high". Delivery from a higher point will help fast
bowlers and medium-pacers extract 'lift' off the
pitch - a most valuable asset. No batsman likes the
ball to rise sharply after bouncing.
Spin bowlers usually release the ball from a
slightly lower point than fast bowlers. This to an
extent makes it easier for them to turn the ball,
and enables them to vary their turn and pace.
Having said all this, irrespective of the type of
bowler you are, length and direction are most