This article needs additional citations for
There are different types of bowlers, from
|Part of |
In the early days of cricket,
In 1706 William Goldwyn published the first description of the game. He wrote that two teams were first seen carrying their curving bats to the venue, choosing a pitch and arguing over the rules to be played. They pitched two sets of wickets, each with a "milk-white" bail perched on two stumps; toss a coin for first knock, the umpire called "play" and the "leathern orb" was bowled. They had four-ball overs, the umpires leant on their staves (which the batters had to touch to complete a run), and the scorers sat on a mound making notches.
The first written "
During the 1760s and 1770s it became common to pitch the ball through the air, rather than roll it along the ground. This innovation gave bowlers the weapons of length, deception through the air, plus increased pace. It also opened new possibilities for spin and swerve. In response, batters had to master timing and shot selection. One immediate consequence was the replacement of the curving bat with the straight one. All of this raised the premium on skill and lessened the influence of rough ground and brute force. It was in the 1770s that the modern game began to take shape. The weight of the ball was limited to between five and a half and five and three-quarter ounces, and the width of the bat to four inches. The latter ruling followed an innings by a batter called
The 19th century saw a series of significant changes. Wide deliveries were outlawed in 1811. The circumference of the ball was specified for the first time in 1838 (its weight had been dictated 60 years earlier). Pads, made of cork, became available for the first time in 1841, and these were further developed following the invention of vulcanised rubber, which was also used to introduce protective gloves in 1848. In the 1870s, boundaries were introduced – previously, all hits had to be run; if the ball went into the crowd, the spectators would clear a way for the fieldsman to fetch it. The biggest change, however, was in how the ball was delivered by the bowler.
At the start of the century, all bowlers were still delivering the ball under-arm. However, so the story goes, John Willes became the first bowler to use a "round-arm" technique after practising with his sister Christina, who had used the technique, as she was unable to bowl underarm due to her wide dress impeding her delivery of the ball.
The round-arm action came to be employed widely in matches but was quickly determined to be illegal and banned by the MCC, who stated that "the ball must be delivered underhand, not thrown or jerked, with the hand underneath the elbow at the time of delivering the ball". When it was accepted the rules stated that the arm could not be raised above the shoulder. It was quickly found, however, that a raised arm imparted more accuracy and generated more bounce than the roundarm method. Again, the governing body banned the method. It was not until the method was finally accepted by the MCC in 1835 that it grew rapidly in popularity amongst all players. Underarm bowling hitherto had almost disappeared from the game.
An infamous "
As a result of this incident underarm bowling was subsequently made illegal in all grades of cricket, except by prior agreement of both teams, as it was not considered to be within the spirit of the game.
Bowling the ball is distinguished from simply throwing the ball by a strictly specified biomechanical definition.
Originally, this definition said that the elbow joint must not straighten out during the bowling action. Bowlers generally hold their elbows fully extended and rotate the arm vertically about the shoulder joint to impart velocity to the ball, releasing it near the top of the arc. Flexion at the elbow is not allowed, but any extension of the elbow was deemed to be a throw and would be liable to be called a no-ball. This was thought to be possible only if the bowler's elbow was originally held in a slightly flexed position.
In 2005, this definition was deemed to be physically impossible by a scientific investigative commission. Biomechanical studies that showed that almost all bowlers extend their elbows somewhat throughout the bowling action, because the stress of swinging the arm around hyperextends the elbow joint. A guideline was introduced to allow extensions or hyperextensions of angles up to 15 degrees before deeming the ball illegally thrown.
Bowling actions are typically divided into side on and front on actions. In the side on action, the back foot lands parallel to the bowling crease and the bowler aims at the wicket by looking over his front shoulder. In the front on action, the back foot lands pointing down the pitch and the bowler aims at the wicket by looking inside the line of his front arm. Many bowlers operate with a mid-way action with the back foot landing at roughly 45 degrees and the upper body aligned somewhere between side on and front on. This differs from a mixed action, which mixes distinct elements of both side on and front on actions, and is generally discouraged amongst young bowlers as it can lead to problems in later life due to the twisting of the back inherent in the action.
In a game of cricket, the ultimate priority of the fielding side is to restrict the total number of runs scored by the batting side, and the actions of the bowlers will be fundamental to achieving this objective. The primary means of achieving this is by dismissing the batting side by getting all ten of the opposition wickets as quickly as possible. A secondary objective will be to keep the batting side's run rate as low as possible. In fact, in most forms of cricket, the twin aims of the fielding side are targeted concurrently, as the achievement of one aim tends to have a positive effect upon the other. Taking regular opposition wickets will remove the better batsmen from the crease, typically leading to a slowing of the scoring rate. Conversely, slowing the scoring rate can put additional pressure on the batsmen and force them into taking extra risks, which will often lead to wickets.
Depending upon the format of the match, these two strategies will be given different weights. In an unlimited, timed or declaration match, the main aim of the bowling attack will be to take wickets, so attacking bowling and fielding strategies will be used. In a limited overs match, this aim will also be supplemented by the secondary need to prevent the batting side from scoring quickly, so more defensive strategies will be used. In general, the shorter the number of overs per side, the more priority will be given to this secondary target of maintaining a low run-rate. It is also highly probable that the need for attacking or defensive strategies can switch frequently as a cricket match progresses. It is the sign of a good cricket captain to be able to tell which strategy is most appropriate in any set of circumstances and the best way of implementing it.
The simultaneous twin objectives of bowling are to take wickets and prevent run scoring opportunities. Both objectives are achieved through the underlying aim of bowling the ball in such a way that the batsman is unable to connect with the ball in the middle of the bat and control its movement after contact. There are three distinct means of achieving this aim: by bowling the ball on a good line and length, by bowling with sufficient pace that the batsman struggles to react to the delivery, or by bowling the ball in such a way that it has lateral movement as it approaches the batsman, either in the air or off the ground. A good bowler may be able to combine two of these skills, a truly great bowler may be able to combine all three.
The fundamental skill of bowling on a good length incorporates the ability to pitch the ball such a distance from the batsman that he is unable to move forward and drive the ball on the half volley, and is also unable to step back and play the ball on the back foot. This removes many of the batsman's attacking options, and also increases the probability of him misjudging a delivery and losing his wicket. A good length delivery is one in which the ball has had sufficient time to move far enough off the pitch to beat the bat but the batsman has not had time to react to the movement and adjust his shot. The faster the bowler and the greater the movement he is able to generate, the larger the area of the pitch that can be designated an effective "good" length.
Other areas of the pitch may also often be used as a variation to a good length delivery. Primarily these are the
The line a bowler chooses to bowl will depend on several factors: the movement he is generating on the ball, the shots the batsman is able to play, and the field the captain has set. The two most common tactics are to either bowl directly at the stumps, or to bowl 3 inches to 6 inches outside the line of off stump. Bowling at the stumps is an attacking tactic with the intention of dismissing the batsman
Some different types of bowling tactic:
Other than the ability to land the ball on a strategically optimum line and length, the main weapons of the bowler are his ability to move the ball sideways as it approaches the batsman and his ability to deliver the ball at a high velocity.
The velocities of cricket bowlers vary between 40 and 100 mph (64 and 161 km/h). In professional cricket, a bowler in the 40–60 mph range would be said to be a slow bowler, in the 60–80 mph range a medium pace bowler, and a bowler 80 mph+ a fast bowler. In the amateur game, these distinctions would be approximately 10 mph slower. Many professional fast bowlers are able to reach speeds of over 85 mph, with a handful of bowlers in the world able to bowl at 95 mph+. The ability to react to a cricket ball travelling at 85 mph is a skill that only professional and high level amateur cricketers possess. The pace of a bowler not only challenges the reaction speed of the batsman, but also his physical courage. Fast bowlers are able to exploit this by bowling bouncers, either regularly or as an occasional surprise delivery.
Bowlers are also able to get the ball to move sideways by using either spin or swing. Adding a spin to a cricket ball will make it deviate due to the
In order to avoid becoming predictable, a bowler will typically bowl a variety of different deliveries with different combinations of pace and movement. A tactically astute bowler may be able to spot a potential weakness in a batsman that a particular delivery may be able to exploit. Bowlers will often also bowl deliveries in preplanned sets, with the intention of dismissing the batsman with the final delivery in the set. This is known as "setting a trap" for the batsman. Batsmen and bowlers will often also engage in a game of "cat and mouse", in which the bowler varies his tactics in order to try and trap and dismiss the batsman, but the batsman also keeps adjusting his tactics in response.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bowling (cricket).|