Fast bowling

Last updated

Fast bowling (also referred to as 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 pacers. 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 in modern times.There are different categories in fast bowling known in international cricket such as fast bowling, medium fast bowling, medium bowling etc.



Pace bowlers may be classified based on quantitative or qualitative attributes.

A widespread method of classification is based on average ball release speed. However, there is no universally accepted set of definitions and the categorization of bowlers according to speed may take into account competition level [1] and gender. [2] Terms used in different classifications include "slow medium", "medium", "fast medium", "fast" and "express". [3] ESPNcricinfo, a popular cricket news website, uses both "medium fast" [4] and "fast medium" [5] in addition to "medium" [6] and "fast". [7]

Bowlers may be categorised according to their use of swing bowling or seam bowling techniques, although the term "seamer" is also commonly used to refer to pace bowlers in general. [8] [9]

Strike bowling

Strike bowling is the term usually applied to bowlers who are used primarily to take wickets rather than restrict runs. Typically, strike bowlers work in short spells, either at the start of an innings or to confront new batters, although they are also employed tactically at other times. [10] For fast bowlers, results can be achieved through sheer speed and aggression, rather than by trying to make the ball move through the air (swing bowling) or off the pitch (seam bowling). More commonly, however, a combined approach is adopted to produce balls that the batter finds difficult or impossible to play, whatever the speed at which they are delivered. In this respect, the inswinging yorker is a good example of delivery that, even when bowled relatively slowly, can nevertheless be highly effective.

Swing bowling

Swing bowlers cause the ball to move laterally through the air, rather than off the pitch like seam bowlers. Normal or conventional swing bowling is encouraged by the raised seam of the ball, [11] and conventional swing is usually greatest when the ball is new and therefore has a pronounced seam. As the ball gets older, the wear makes swing more difficult to achieve, but this can be countered if the fielding team systematically polishes one side of the ball while allowing the other to become rough. When the ball has been polished highly on one side and not on the other and if the ball is bowled very fast (over 85 miles per hour (140 km/h)), it produces a reverse swing such that the ball swings in the opposite direction as in conventional swing. Contrary to popular opinion, this swing is not produced by air flowing faster over the smooth or "shiny" side as compared to the rough side.

Swing is produced due to a net force acting on the ball from one side; that is, the side with the more turbulent boundary layer. For conventional swing bowling, the raised seam and the direction it points governs the direction of swing. Due to the angled seam of the ball, air flowing over the seam produces turbulence on the side that the seam is angled toward. This causes the boundary layer to separate from the surface of the ball later (farther toward the rear of the ball) than the other side where it separates earlier (farther forward on the surface). The resulting net force acts so as to move or swing the ball in the direction of the angled seam. Conventional swing bowling is delivered with the seam angled such that the smooth or polished side of the ball faces forward to move the ball in the direction of the seam i.e. toward the rough side.

A swinging ball is classed as either an outswinger, which moves away from the batter, or an inswinger, which moves in toward the batter. [11] In most cases the outswinger is seen as the more dangerous ball because, if the batter fails to recognise it, it catches the outside edge of the bat instead of the middle and fly up to be caught in the slips. Inswingers have their place too, especially combined with the yorker as this can result in the ball either breaking the wicket (by going clean "through the gate" or getting an inside edge) or hitting the pad rather than the bat (resulting in a possible LBW decision).

Swing bowling can also be roughly categorised as early swing or late swing, corresponding to when in the trajectory the ball changes direction. The later the ball swings, the less chance the batter has of adjusting to account for the swing.

Bowlers usually use the same grip and technique on swing balls as fast balls, though they usually keep the seam slightly rather than straight, and may use the slower ball grip. It is difficult to achieve swing with a cutter grip since the ball spins in flight, varying the orientation of the shiny and rough surfaces as it moves through the air. Many players, commentators on the game, and fans agree that swing is easier to achieve in humid or overcast conditions, and also that the red ball used in Test cricket swings more than the white ball used in the one-day game.

Reverse swing

Reverse swing is a phenomenon that makes the ball swing in the opposite direction to that usually produced by the orientation of the shiny and rough sides of the ball. [11] When the ball is reverse swinging, the ball swings towards the shiny side. Balls that reverse swing move much later and much more sharply than those swinging conventionally, both factors increasing the difficulty the batter has in trying to hit the ball. At speeds of over 90 mph a ball always exhibits reverse swing, but as roughness increases on the leading side, the speed at which reverse swing occurs decreases. [11] This means that an older ball is more likely to be delivered with reverse swing as its surface is roughened through use.

In reverse swing the seam is angled in the same way as in conventional swing (10–20 degrees to one side) but the boundary layer on both sides is turbulent. The net effect of the seam and rough side is that the ball swings in the direction opposite to where the seam is pointing to. The turbulent boundary layer separating later is similar to the effect produced by dimples in a golf ball. In case of the golf ball, turbulence is produced on both sides of the ball and the net effect is a later separation of the boundary layer on both sides and smaller wake in the back of the ball and a lower net drag due to pressure differential between the front and the back – this enables the golf ball to travel farther.

The discovery of reverse swing is credited to Pakistan's cricketers, with Sarfraz Nawaz and Farrukh Ahmed Khan, both named as originators of the delivery. [12]

Risks of injuries

Fast bowlers typically experience the highest incidence of injury of all player roles in cricket. [13] The largest time-loss injuries are typically associated with overuse at the site of the lumbar spine. Common injuries include spondylolisthesis (stress fracture of the lower back), navicular stress fractures in the foot, SLAP tears or lesions, side strains or intercostal strains and muscular strains of the calves, hamstrings or spinal erectors. Popular media and commentators are often critical of the number of injuries suffered by fast bowlers. However, as of 2019, injury rates are at their lowest in decades, in many parts thanks to advances in physical conditioning, sport science, and load management interventions.

Top five fast bowlers

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leg spin</span> 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 when the ball bounces on the pitch. For a right-handed batter, that is away from the leg side, and this is where it gets the name leg break.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bowling (cricket)</span> 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fielding (cricket)</span> Collecting the ball to force dismissal

Fielding in the sport of cricket is the action of fielders in collecting the ball after it is struck by the striking batter, to limit the number of runs that the striker scores and/or to get a batter out by either catching a hit ball before it bounces, or by running out either batter before they can complete their current run. There are a number of recognised fielding positions and they can be categorised into the offside and leg side of the field. Fielding also involves trying to prevent the ball from making a boundary where four "runs" are awarded for reaching the perimeter and six for crossing it without touching the grass.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chaminda Vaas</span> Sri Lankan cricketer

Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushantha Joseph Chaminda Vaas is a former Sri Lankan international cricketer who represented the Sri Lanka national cricket team. He is a fast medium pace bowler and one of the most successful bowlers in international cricket.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glossary of cricket terms</span> Cricketing terminology

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).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cricket ball</span> Ball used to play cricket

A cricket ball is a hard, solid ball used to play cricket. A cricket ball consists of a cork core wound with string then a leather cover stitched on, and manufacture is regulated by cricket law at first-class level. The trajectory of a cricket ball when bowled, through movement in the air, and off the ground, is influenced by the action of the bowler and the condition of the ball and the pitch, while working on the cricket ball to obtain optimal condition is a key role of the fielding side. The principal method through which the batter scores runs is by hitting the ball, with the bat, into a position where it would be safe to take a run, or by directing the ball through or over the boundary. Cricket balls are harder and heavier than baseballs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Batting (cricket)</span> Cricket terminology

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, since September 2021, officially referred to as a batter —regardless of whether batting is their particular area of expertise. Batters 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 quick reflexes, excellent decision-making skills, and be good strategists. Although batsman is still widely used.

Swing bowling is a technique used for bowling in the sport of cricket. Practitioners are known as swing bowlers. Swing bowling is generally classed as a subtype of fast bowling.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zaheer Khan</span> Indian cricketer

Zaheer Khan is an Indian former professional cricketer who played all forms of the game for the Indian national team from 2000 till 2014. He is a fast-medium left-arm bowler. He was the second-most successful Indian pace bowler in Test cricket, behind Kapil Dev. Zaheer Khan started his domestic career by playing for Baroda. In the early years of his career, Zaheer Khan was known for his hostile seam and pace bowling, especially fast inch-perfect yorkers. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest bowlers to have represented India.

Seam bowling is a bowling technique in cricket whereby the ball is deliberately bowled on to its seam, to cause a random deviation when the ball bounces. Practitioners are known as seam bowlers or seamers.

An outswinger is a type of delivery of the ball in the sport of cricket. In such a delivery the ball curves—or "swings"—out and away from the batter's body and the wicket. By contrast, an inswinger swings in toward the batter and the wicket. Outswingers are bowled by swing bowlers.

An inswinger is a type of delivery of the ball in the sport of cricket. In such a delivery the ball curves—or "swings"—in toward the batter's body and the wicket. By contrast, an outswinger swings away from the line of the batter and the wicket. Inswingers are bowled by swing bowlers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Off cutter</span> Bowling style in Cricket

An off cutter is a type of delivery in the game of cricket. It is bowled by fast bowlers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Waqar Younis</span> Pakistani cricketer

Waqar Younis Maitla HI is a Pakistani cricket coach, commentator and former cricketer who captained Pakistan national cricket team. A right-arm fast bowler, he is regarded as one of the greatest bowlers in cricket. He is the former head coach of the Pakistani cricket team.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Umar Gul</span> Pakistani cricket coach and former cricketer

Umar Gul is a Pakistani cricket coach and former cricketer who is the current bowling coach of Quetta Gladiators and interim bowling coach of the Pakistan national cricket team. Gul was a member of the Pakistan team that won the 2009 ICC World Twenty20, being the highest wicket taker of the tournament, along with being the runner-up of the 2007 tournament, in which he was also the highest wicket taker.

In the sport of cricket there are two broad categories of bowlers: pace and spin. Pace bowlers rely mostly on the speed of the ball to dismiss batsmen, whereas spin bowlers rely on the rotation and turn of the ball.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Delivery (cricket)</span> Single action of bowling a cricket ball

A delivery or ball in cricket is a single action of bowling a cricket ball toward the batter. Once the ball has been delivered, batters may attempt to score runs, with the bowler and other fielders attempting to stop this by getting the batters out. When the ball becomes dead, the next delivery can begin.

Wrist spin is a type of bowling in the sport of cricket. It refers to the cricket technique and specific hand movements associated with imparting a particular direction of spin to the cricket ball. The other spinning technique, usually used to spin the ball in the opposite direction, is finger spin. Wrist spin is bowled by releasing the ball from the back of the hand, so that it passes over the little finger. Done by a right-handed bowler, this imparts an anticlockwise rotation to the ball, as seen from the bowler's perspective; a left-handed wrist spinner rotates the ball clockwise.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ishant Sharma</span> Indian cricketer

Ishant Sharma is an Indian cricketer who has represented India in Tests, ODIs and T20Is. He is a 6 ft 4 in tall right-arm fast-medium bowler. At the age of 18, Sharma was called to join the Indian squad for the tour of South Africa in 2006–07. However, after receiving the call and organising travel arrangements, he was deselected. In reference to his height and lean physique in his Under-19 days, the bowler was nicknamed Lambu. In 2011, he became the fifth youngest player to take 100 Test wickets. Against South Africa in 2013, Ishant Sharma became the fifth quickest Indian to grab 100 ODI wickets. While being a "rhythm" bowler, he still is considered one of the fastest Indian bowlers having bowled in excess of 150 km/h on several occasions in international cricket as well as the IPL, his fastest being 152.2 km/h bowled to Ricky Ponting on Boxing Day Test in 2011. In 2020, Indian government has awarded him the Arjuna Award to recognize his outstanding achievement in cricket. Sharma was a member of the Indian team that won the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cricket</span> Bat-and-ball game

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. Two players from the batting team stand in front of either wicket, with one player from the fielding team bowling the ball towards the striker's wicket from the opposite end of the pitch. The striker's goal is to hit the bowled ball and then switch places with the nonstriker, with the batting team scoring one run for each exchange. Runs are also scored when the ball reaches or crosses the boundary of the field or when the ball is bowled illegally.


  1. Ferdinands, Rene; Marshall, Robert N.; Kersting, Uwe (2010). "Centre of mass kinematics of fast bowling in cricket". Sports Biomechanics. 9 (3): 139–152. doi:10.1080/14763141.2010.523844. PMID   21162360. S2CID   205827474 . Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  2. On average, female fast bowlers produce slower ball release speeds than male fast bowlers: Felton, P. J.; Lister, S. L.; Worthington, P. J.; King, M. A. (2019). "Comparison of biomechanical characteristics between male and female elite fast bowlers". Journal of Sports Sciences. 37 (6): 665–670. doi:10.1080/02640414.2018.1522700. PMID   30244646. S2CID   52344823 . Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  3. Justham, L; West, A; Cork, A (2008). "Quantification and characterization of cricket bowling technique for the development of the parameters required for a novel training system for cricket". Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology. 222 (2): 61–76. doi:10.1243/17543371JSET25. S2CID   110189438 . Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  4. See, for example, "Jason Holder". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  5. See, for example, "Steven Finn". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  6. See, for example, "Steve Waugh". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  7. See, for example, "Shoaib Akhtar". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  8. Atherton, Michael (25 January 2021). "James Anderson 'the complete bowler', says Michael Atherton, after bowling masterclass for England". Sky Sports. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  9. Stern, John (May 2004). "Fast work". Wisden Cricket Monthly. ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  10. Rundell, Michael (2006). The Wisden Dictionary of Cricket (3rd ed.). London: Wisden. p. 178. ISBN   0713679158.
  11. 1 2 3 4 "The science of swing bowling" . Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  12. Oborne, Peter (12 July 2014). "How Pakistan became the kings of swing". The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  13. Link text, Orchard et al. 2011, Injury report 2011: Cricket Australia, Sports Health, vo, 29, iss. 4.
  14. "Records – Test Matches – Bowling records – Most wickets in career – ESPNcricinfo" . Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  15. "Records – One Day Internationals – Bowling records – Most wickets in career – ESPNcricinfo" . Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  16. "Records – Twenty20 Internationals – Bowling records – Most wickets in career – ESPNcricinfo" . Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  17. Bren Gray (17 October 2023). "Top 10 fastest bowlers in cricket history - Fastest bowler in the world in 2023" . Retrieved 21 October 2023.
  18. "Records for All Matches-Bowling speeds(1)". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 October 2023.
  19. "Top 10 Fastest Bowlers in Cricket History". Sports Monkey. Retrieved 7 August 2013.