The constant changing of rules in limited overs cricket has made life for bowlers quite difficult; there is absolutely no margin for error. If a bowler bowls the ball slightly outside leg stump, it will be called a wide; a no-ball costs bowlers the penalties of an extra run and also a free hit. A year back, the ICC decided to make the bowler’s life harder still by implementing the rule of keeping four fielders in the circle in ODIs.
Batsmen are forever innovating, so bowlers have had to try to experiment with new tricks such as slower balls, pauses in the delivery stride and other techniques. But, the fact is that the need to stick with the basics has never been more important. Whether you bowl pace or spin, the mantra for success in the modern game rests with the basics of bowling. So what are the basics for a bowler? They are, for seamers and spinners alike, keeping a tight line and length and focusing on your individual strengths.
How to bowl inswing and outswing
The first rule in bowling the inswinger is to keep the seam upright. Make sure that the shiny side of the ball is facing the opposite direction from which you want the ball to swing. Wrist position is essential; the seam of the ball should be towards the leg slip. The ideal line to bowl the inswinger is to start it around the fourth stump line and end it on middle or middle-and-off.
The main difference between bowling an effective inswinger and outswinger is the wrist position. Bowlers like Nuwan Kulasekara bowl threatening in-dippers that come naturally through their bowling action. All the principles are same for bowling an outswinger, except the wrist position; Dale Steyn bowls some amazing outswingers because of his natural wrist position. Of current cricketers, James Anderson and Bhuwaneshwar Kumar are two who have command of swinging both ways, which is why they are successful.
How to bowl finger spin
When T20 arrived on the scene, cricket pundits predicted that it would be the death of spin bowling. How wrong they were. The likes of Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Ajantha Mendis are all leading T20 wicket takers.
The art of off-spin bowling is not the toughest and there are a number of off-spinners around the world. On the same note, it is one of bowling styles that right-hand batsmen prefer to face as the ball generally turns into them and is easier to play. Graeme Swann’s record against right-hand bats compared to left-hand bats illustrates this point. Bowlers like Saeed Ajmal and Muralitharan are exceptions, with their ability to turn the ball the other way with the doosra.
To bowl orthodox off-spin, it is preferable to hold the ball cross seamed for better grip, as giving the ball revolutions with the index finger is not an easy task. Bowl the delivery on off stump and try to bring it back to middle stump. It is important to land with the front foot pointing towards leg slip, and the body should be rolling on the foot to end pointing towards the first slip. Mixing up the off-spinners with the straight (arm) balls can be a lethal combination.
How to Bowl Leg-spin
Bowling leg-spin is probably the toughest art to master in bowling. Players like Stuart McGill used to bowl some amazing leg-break deliveries, but were unable to maintain their line and length. McGill too frequently used to bowl too short or too full. Shane Warne is the best leg-spinner the world has seen.
As conventional leg-break bowlers turn the bowl with their wrist, this is why they are able to get such exaggerated revolutions on the ball. The method of holding the ball and landing the front foot is not dissimilar from the off-spinners. The effective line of bowling leg-breaks is from a middle and off stump line, turning the ball to fourth stump. Pitching the ball in the middle-and-off stump line makes your back-of-the-hand deliveries (Googlies) more effective, since they will threaten the stumps.
The above were some of the basics of spin bowling and pace bowling that can trouble the batsmen around the world in any format of the game. Stick to your basics, they will never let you down. Keep practicing hard for the basics and bowl some cute deliveries between them to get unpredictable.
By Arslan Sheikh