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The Basics of Swing Bowling

Hello friends, welcome to the Cricket Coaching Section of I am M.R.Baig, Senior Cricket Coach of the M.L.Jaisimha Cricket Academy, Hyderabad, India. In this episode, I would be talking about the basics of swing bowling. Go through the article and I am sure once you implement the things discussed, you would become a better swing bowler. Feel free to drop in your queries, feedback about the lessons, I will try my best to answer all of these. Email your queries to our editor at [email protected] .

What is Swing?

The phenomenon of a cricket ball moving in the air is called as ‘swing’. If the ball moves away from left to right of a batsman (considering that he is a right handed batsman), then it is called as ‘outswing’ and if it moves from right to left of a batsman (considering that he is a right handed batsman), then it is called as ‘inswing’.

The layout of a cricket pitch is from North to South. Geographically the wind moves from west to east or east to west. The ball moves in the air according to the velocity of the wind. Since a long time, no scientific theory has been able to prove that moisture (water in the air or on the surface or grass) and humidity (dry air) induces the ball to swing in the air. The ball moves in the air due to wind. No wind means no life, so the wind will always be there at low or high velocities and if the ball is not swinging then that’s because of a technical mistake in the action or delivery of the cricket ball which has to be corrected or rectified by a coach.

Why does a cricket ball swing?

The aerodynamics of swing is that the wind moves very close to the ball towards the shiny portion and disturbs over the seam on the other side of the ball at a distance, creating a vacuum area. So the process of the ball moving towards the vacuum side is ‘Swing’. This process influences the ball many a times in the 22 yards distance. Therefore the coaches advise the bowlers to release the ball and make a parabola in the air and not to press or hit the ball on the ground, i.e. low trajectory, to induce the air on the ball. There is a misconception that the other side of the ball is a ‘rough side’, both sides are shiny sides. Study the diagram carefully to understand the Aerodynamics of swing bowling.

For an ‘outswinger’, the ideal wind is from fine leg, if the wind goes from the mid wicket region, the ball drags more towards the off-side with outswing movement and it is very difficult for the bowler to control the direction, it goes for a wide delivery outside the offstump. If the wind goes from mid on, mostly the ball moves further towards the batsman and goes mostly full toss. In this wind condition the bowler requires experience and maturity to control the directions and lengths. Same way the ideal wind for inswing is from the slip direction. If the wind comes from covers, the ball drags more towards the legside and becomes a wide ball. The bowler has to control the wind movement very intelligently. If the wind comes from mid off, the ball goes mostly full tosses or carried away towards the batsman. Bowlers have to control the swing in these directions.

The ball also moves in the air with the help of spin. The off spin tweaking the ball clockwise, the ball moves in the air like an outswing and turns towards the onside i.e. off spin after pitching. A leg spin tweaking the ball anti clockwise, the ball moves in the air like an inswing and turns towards the off side i.e. leg spin after the pitch. This is known as ‘Swerve’. Slow spinners are effective with this delivery.

Shining of a cricket ball

Shining of a cricket ball has been misconceived by most bowlers. To shine the ball many bowlers use sweat or saliva which makes the ball heavy on one side. Heavy balls will not swing or spin much. It is a habit not science when it comes to shining a cricket ball. The old ball being heavy on one side and lighter on the other side creates to Reverse Swing which I will talk about in detail in one of the next episodes. Bowlers have to learn the technique of ‘Reverse Swing’ from experienced and qualified coaches. They cannot just emulate the international players to perfect this art.

Coming back to shining a ball, the players have to rub the ball, but only cream and oil can shine the leather, which is not permissible according to the laws of the game. Many players consider that sweat is oily, which is a wrong conception.

To swing the ball effectively, the following techniques are very essential :

1. Selection of the bowling end for effective movement of the ball. The ideal wind will be from the fine leg region for Outswing and for Inswing bowling it is from the slip region.

2. Correct action and delivery for effective movement

3. Shiny position towards the wind

4. Keep the seam erect, with the help of ‘back spin’

5. Correct line of attack, according to swing

6. Correct length of the ball for proper result

All the above points are essential for swing, if any one of the points is missing, then the ball would not swing. I hope the above information will help the young budding swing bowlers to bowl effectively and successfully.