Bouncer (cricket)

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In the sport of cricket, a bouncer (or bumper) is a type of short-pitched delivery, usually bowled by a fast bowler, which bounces once and then reaches the batsman at head-height.



Bouncers are used to drive the batsman back on to his back foot if he has been freely playing front foot scoring shots, such as drives. To this end, bouncers are usually directed more or less at the line of the batsman's body. Aiming at the batsman is legal provided the ball bounces on the pitch; or upon reaching the batsman, the ball is below the batsman's waist. Aiming at the batsman's head without bouncing on the pitch, known as a beamer, is illegal.

A batsman attempting to play a hook shot against a bouncer. Playing a hook shot.jpg
A batsman attempting to play a hook shot against a bouncer.

A batsman may play a bouncer in either a defensive or an attacking way. If the batsman plays it defensively he aims primarily to avoid getting out, and secondarily to avoid being hit by the ball. For a head-high bouncer, these goals are achieved most easily by ducking under the ball. If the ball is at chest height, the batsman's best defence is to move on to his back foot, raise his bat vertically to chest height, and attempt to block the ball and direct it downwards to the pitch so as to avoid presenting a catch to a fielder. Sometimes the batsman will need to jump into the air to gain the necessary height to defend with the bat. He may also sway out of the way. Given these approaches, the bowler can hope to both intimidate the batsman somewhat, and possibly have the ball deflect off the bat at an awkward angle and produce a catch for a nearby fielder.

Bouncer in purple. Cricket delivery lengths en.svg
Bouncer in purple.

Conversely, the bouncer can be a very productive ball for the batsman, if he plays it in an attacking manner. The shot that is used to attack the bouncer is the hook shot. To play the hook shot the batsman moves his back foot backwards and towards the off side as the ball is being delivered. As the ball approaches, the batsman swivels from facing the off side to facing the leg side, while holding the bat horizontally. The batsman's aim is to hit the ball at high speed towards, into or over the leg side boundary. However, despite their run-scoring potential, hook shots frequently lead to wickets falling, particularly through balls hitting the top edge of the bat and being caught by leg side fielders. However, if the bouncer is misdirected by the bowler, and reaches the batsman on the off side of his wicket, the cut, uppercut or late cut can be played, either with the intention of guiding the ball along the ground, through a gap in the field setting or over the infield for four or six. [1]

There is an unspoken agreement, particularly in the time before the widespread use of batting helmets, that fast bowlers will not bowl bouncers at each other, because less skilled batsmen are less likely to effectively defend and therefore more likely to be struck. [2] Breaking of this rule can lead to "bouncer wars" – that is, the targeted bowler engaging in retaliatory hostile short-pitched bowling at his opponent during the following innings. [3]

The delivery is primarily used by fast bowlers, however, during a BBL match between the Hobart Hurricanes and Melbourne Renegades in 2020, Hurricanes leg-spinner Qais Ahmad bowled a 121 km/h bouncer to the Renegades' Shaun Marsh. It came as a surprise to keeper Ben McDermott, who, standing up to the stumps, could not react fast enough to catch the ball and thus conceded four byes. [4]

ICC rules

Because of the potential danger to batsmen of being hit and to stop bowlers bowling bouncers all the time, there are Laws in the Laws of Cricket governing how frequently a bowler may bowl bouncers, as well as how many fielders may field backward of square leg. These laws take into account the relative skill of the batsmen.

During the 1970s to 1980s, bouncers were used as part of a team's intimidatory tactics, especially by the West Indies team. In 1991, the International Cricket Council (ICC) introduced a "one bouncer per batsman per over" rule in an attempt to discourage the use of intimidation. However, the ruling was not well received by players and umpires alike, with English umpire Dickie Bird describing it as "farcical" as he felt that calling intimidatory tactics should be left to the umpire. [5] The ICC changed it to two bouncers per over in 1994, with a two-run no-ball penalty (rather than one-run no-ball) if the bowler exceeded two bouncers an over. [6] One Day International cricket allowed one bouncer per over in 2001 (and a one-run no-ball in case a bowler exceeded the limit). [7]

On 29 October 2012 the ICC increased the number of bouncers that could be bowled during a One Day International to two per over. [8] The number of bouncers per over allowed in T20s was kept to one.


Fast leg theory, the deliberate and sustained bowling of bouncers aimed at the body, coupled with a cordon of legside catching fieldsmen to catch deflections, was a tactic used by England against Australia in 1932/33, dubbed the Bodyline series by the Australians. This controversial tactic caused the Laws of Cricket to be reformed to prevent any recurrence.

In 1954–55 in Sydney, [9] England fast bowler Frank Tyson bowled bouncers at Australian Ray Lindwall, who returned the favour by hospitalising Tyson with one of his own. An angry Tyson returned with a large lump on his head and took 6/85 in the second innings to give England a 38-run victory.

In 1994 at the Oval [10] Devon Malcolm was hit on the helmet by a bouncer from Fanie de Villiers. The incensed Malcolm told the South Africans "You guys are history" and took apart their second innings with 9/57.

Injuries and deaths caused by bouncers

Justin Langer spent time in hospital in 2006 after being struck in the head by a bouncer Justin Langer Portrait.jpg
Justin Langer spent time in hospital in 2006 after being struck in the head by a bouncer

The bouncer is an aggressive delivery and the very nature of the delivery by a fast bowler and aimed at the head can lead to batsmen being hit in the chest, neck or head.

In 1962, Indian captain Nari Contractor was hit above his right ear by a Charlie Griffith bouncer which resulted in severe loss of blood and left Contractor critically ill. He regained full consciousness after six days and returned to first-class cricket ten months later. [11]

In 2006, playing in his 100th test, Australian opener Justin Langer was struck on the head by a bouncer from Makhaya Ntini and hospitalised. In 2008 West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul was knocked out for several minutes after being hit by a bouncer from Australian fast bowler Brett Lee during a test match. [12] Shoaib Akhtar injured both Gary Kirsten (2003) and Brian Lara (2004) with fast bouncers. Both batsmen had to be taken off the field. [13]

In November 2014, Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes was knocked unconscious by a bouncer from Sean Abbott, which hit the side of his head, between the grille and shell of his helmet, during a Sheffield Shield match. [14] He was taken to hospital in a critical condition, suffering from a subarachnoid haemorrhage, but died from his injuries two days later, never having regained consciousness. [15]

During the semifinal of the 2019 Cricket World Cup, against England, Alex Carey injured his chin from a deadly bouncer bowled by Jofra Archer. The resulting blow knocked the helmet off Carey's head; he caught it mid-air, potentially saving himself from dismissal.

During the second test of the 2019 Ashes Series, Australian batsman Steve Smith was hit on the neck by a 92.4mph(148.7 Kmph) delivery from England fast bowler Jofra Archer. After retiring concussed, Smith returned to play 45 minutes later. [16] The Australian medical team's decision to let him play was criticised by the brain injury charity Headway, as "incredibly dangerous". [17] Smith's replacement, Marnus Labuschagne, became the first concussion substitute in a Test match. [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

Leg theory is a bowling tactic in the sport of cricket. The term leg theory is somewhat archaic and seldom used any longer, but the basic tactic remains a play in modern cricket.

Bodyline Cricket bowling technique

Bodyline, also known as fast leg theory bowling, was a cricketing tactic devised by the English cricket team for their 1932–33 Ashes tour of Australia, created to combat the extraordinary batting skill of Australia's Don Bradman. A bodyline delivery was one in which the cricket ball was bowled, at pace, at the body of the batsman in the expectation that when he defended himself with his bat a resulting deflection could be caught by one of several fielders standing close by on the leg side.

Leg spin Type of spin bowling in cricket

Leg spin is a type of spin bowling in cricket. A leg spinner bowls right-arm with a wrist spin action. The leg spinner's normal delivery causes the ball to spin from right to left in the cricket pitch when the ball bounces. For a right-handed batsman, that is away from the leg side, and this is where it gets the name leg break, meaning it breaks away from the leg. The turn is mostly when the ball pitches.

Bowling (cricket) Cricket delivery

Bowling, in cricket, is the action of propelling the ball toward the wicket defended by a batter. A player skilled at bowling is called a bowler; a bowler who is also a competent batter is known as an all-rounder. Bowling the ball is distinguished from throwing the ball by a strictly specified biomechanical definition, which restricts the angle of extension of the elbow. A single act of bowling the ball towards the batsman is called a ball or a delivery. Bowlers bowl deliveries in sets of six, called an over. Once a bowler has bowled an over, a teammate will bowl an over from the other end of the pitch. The Laws of Cricket govern how a ball must be bowled. If a ball is bowled illegally, an umpire will rule it a no-ball. If a ball is bowled too wide of the striker for the batsman to be able to play at it with a proper cricket shot, the bowler's end umpire will rule it a wide.

Fielding (cricket)

Fielding in the sport of cricket is the action of fielders in collecting the ball after it is struck by the batsman, to limit the number of runs that the batsman scores and/or to get the batsman out by catching the ball in flight or by running the batsman out. There are a number of recognised fielding positions, and they can be categorised into the offside and leg side of the field. Fielding generally involves preventing the ball from going to or over the edge of the field, and getting the ball to either wicket as quickly as possible.

In cricket, an umpire is a person who has the authority to make decisions about events on the cricket field, according to the Laws of Cricket. Besides making decisions about legality of delivery, appeals for wickets and general conduct of the game in a legal manner, the umpire also keeps a record of the deliveries and announces the completion of an over.

Glossary of cricket terms

This is a general glossary of the terminology used in the sport of cricket. Where words in a sentence are also defined elsewhere in this article, they appear in italics. Certain aspects of cricket terminology are explained in more detail in cricket statistics and the naming of fielding positions is explained at fielding (cricket).

In cricket, a no-ball is an illegal delivery to a batsman. It is also the Extra run awarded to the batting team as a consequence. For most cricket games, especially amateur the definition of all forms of no-ball is from the MCC Laws of Cricket

Batting (cricket) The act of hitting the ball with a bat to score runs

In cricket, batting is the act or skill of hitting the ball with a bat to score runs and prevent the loss of one's wicket. Any player who is currently batting is denoted as a batsman, batswoman, or batter, regardless of whether batting is their particular area of expertise. Batting players have to adapt to various conditions when playing on different cricket pitches, especially in different countries - therefore, as well as having outstanding physical batting skills, top-level batters will have lightning reflexes, excellent decision-making and be good strategists.

Fast bowling Bowling technique in cricket

Pace bowling is one of two main approaches to bowling in the sport of cricket, the other being spin bowling. Practitioners of pace bowling are usually known as fast bowlers, quicks, or pacemen. They can also be referred to as a seam bowler, a swing bowler or a fast bowler who can swing it to reflect the predominant characteristic of their deliveries. Strictly speaking, a pure swing bowler does not need to have a high degree of pace, though dedicated medium-pace swing bowlers are rarely seen at Test level these days.

Extra (cricket) Cricket term

In cricket, an extra is a run scored by, or awarded to, a batting team which is not credited to any individual batsman. They are the runs scored by methods other than striking the ball with the bat.

Dismissal (cricket)

In cricket, a dismissal occurs when a batsman's period of batting is brought to an end by the opposing team. It is also known as the batsman being out, the batting side losing a wicket, and the fielding side taking a wicket. The ball becomes dead, and the dismissed batsman must leave the field of play permanently for the rest of their team's innings, and is replaced by a teammate. A team's innings ends if 10 of the 11 team members are dismissed—as players bat in pairs, when only one person is undismissed it is not possible for the team to bat any longer. This is known as bowling out the batting team, who are said to be all out.

Cricket clothing and equipment

Cricket clothing and equipment is regulated by the laws of cricket. Cricket whites, sometimes called flannels, are the loose fitting clothes which are worn while playing cricket so as not to restrict the player's movement. Use of protective equipment, such as cricket helmets, gloves and pads, is also regulated.

Comparison of baseball and cricket

Cricket and Baseball are the best-known members of a family of related bat-and-ball games. Both have fields that are 400 feet (120 m) or more in diameter, offensive players who can hit a thrown ball out of the field and run between safe areas to score runs (points), and have a major game format lasting about 3 hours.

Hit wicket is a method of dismissal in the sport of cricket. This method of dismissal is governed by Law 35 of the Laws of Cricket. The striker is out "hit wicket" if, after the bowler has entered his delivery stride and while the ball is in play, his wicket is put down by his bat or his person. The striker may do this whilst preparing to receive or receiving a delivery or in setting off for his first run after playing the delivery. In simple language, if the striking batsman knocks the bails off the stumps or uproots the stumps, while attempting to hit the ball or take off for a run, he is out hit wicket.

Delivery (cricket) Single action of bowling a cricket ball

A delivery or ball in cricket is a single action of bowling a cricket ball toward the batsman. These terms can also refer to the events that occur after the ball is bowled while the ball is not dead.

Line and length in cricket refers to the direction and point of bouncing on the pitch of a delivery. The two concepts are frequently discussed together.

Ray Lindwall was a key member of Donald Bradman's famous Australian cricket team, which toured England in 1948. The Australians went undefeated in their 34 matches; this unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned them the sobriquet The Invincibles.

First Test, 1948 Ashes series One of five tests in a 1948 cricket series between Australia and England

The First Test of the 1948 Ashes series was one of five Tests in the Ashes cricket series between Australia and England. The match was played at Trent Bridge in Nottingham from 10 to 15 June with a rest day on 13 June 1948. Australia won the match by eight wickets to take a 1–0 series lead.

Cricket Team sport played with bats and balls

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a field at the centre of which is a 22-yard (20-metre) pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two bails balanced on three stumps. The batting side scores runs by striking the ball bowled at the wicket with the bat, while the bowling and fielding side tries to prevent this and dismiss each batter. Means of dismissal include being bowled, when the ball hits the stumps and dislodges the bails, and by the fielding side either catching the ball after it is hit by the bat and before it hits the ground, or hitting a wicket with the ball before a batter can cross the crease in front of the wicket. When ten batters have been dismissed, the innings ends and the teams swap roles. The game is adjudicated by two umpires, aided by a third umpire and match referee in international matches.


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