- By Polly Umrigar
Considering that bowlers have a hard time in
modern-day cricket, it is important that they make
the most of all the factors that are within their
control. They can deceive the batsmen by expanding
their repertoire and mixing up their deliveries.
There are also other things that they can do.
Bowlers can alter the angle of delivery by 'using
the crease'. They could deliver one ball from close
to the stumps, the following one from the edge of
the crease, and so on. Generally, a bowler goes
close to the stumps when he wants to run the ball
away outside the off stump, and goes wide of the
crease when he wants to push one towards the
The bowler is said to have 'changed his pace' when
he delivers a ball that is either faster or slower
than his stock delivery. A bowler should vary his
pace in a subtle fashion. He should endeavour to
maintain exactly the same run-up and action when he
decides to change his pace. If he gives it away by
say running in quicker to bowl a faster one, a
quality batsman can easily make out what he is upto.
The objectives of changing pace are to lure the
batsman into playing the wrong stroke, or to
deceive him into playing the correct stroke too
early or too late, and thus prevent him from timing
deliver a slower ball, the bowler should push the
ball further into his palm. If he wants to deliver
a faster one, he should hold the ball with his
fingers, with minimal contact with the palm.
Bowlers would also do well to learn to 'flight' the
ball. If the ball forms an arc in flight and dips
down, it can cause the batsman to hit the ball in
the air quite unintentionally. It will also
probably bounce a little higher than the normal
delivery after pitching, and this increases the
possibility of an unwary batsman getting out
'Cutters' constitute an important part of a quick
bowler's repertoire. They can play an important
part in deceiving a batsman and leading him to his
The 'leg' cutter is like a fast leg-break. The
middle or third finger plays an important part in
this delivery. The ball 'cuts' from leg to off
after pitching. In the 'off' cutter, the index
finger plays a significant part and the ball 'cuts'
from off to leg after pitching.
Wasim 'Wizard' Akram
In both cases, the seam of the ball touches the
finger that plays a prominent part. At the moment
of release, the hand and fingers 'cut' down the
right side of the ball (of the seam) for off cutter
and the left side for the leg cutter. The great
value of cutters is the speed at which they can be
delivered. The batsman gets hardly any time to make
up his mind.
combination of physical strength and suppleness
apart, fast bowlers should also possess an element
of hostility. No fielding captain will complain if
his fast bowler looks aggressive as he runs in to
deliver the ball! His run-up should be sufficiently
long to work up pace. A needlessly long run-up
should be avoided, as it is a waste of energy. When
the ball is new, a fast bowler should target the
stumps with most of their deliveries. The 'bumper'
can be an effective 'shock' ball. No batsman likes
to face deliveries that are chest-high,
shoulder-high or even head-high. It is balls like
these that make them play hasty shots.
The ideal 'bumper' is one that rises without being
pitched too short. A fast bowler of 6' 3" will be
able to bring the ball down from a sharper angle
than a man of say 5' 6", and thereby gain more lift
from a ball of the same length. The bumper should
normally be bowled at full pace to give the batsman
hardly any time to think. It should be bowled
directly over the stumps, so as to get him caught
on the wrong foot, literally!
Fast bowling is a taxing activity, mentally and
physically. The legs, back muscles and stomach
muscles are stretched to the maximum and hence, a
fast bowler has to look after these parts of his
body. Ideally, fast bowlers should not be given
long spells. Bowling in short spells will enable
them to be reasonably fresh when they are brought
back after a break.
The 'Yorker' can be as dangerous a delivery as the
'bumper'. The Yorker demands a greater degree of
accuracy. It should be aimed at the middle or
leg-stump. It becomes even more lethal if the
bowler is able to swing the ball.
We all know that bowlers who are marginally slower
than out-and-out fast bowlers are called 'medium
pacers'. There are some bowlers who are
medium-pacers throughout their careers, and there
are others who may have started out as fast
bowlers, but have become medium-pacers after
reaching their early 30s. What a quality
medium-pacer doesn't have in terms of speed, he is
expected to have in terms of variations.