KYRI ELISSEOU

The popularity of shorter formats of the game of cricket are yielding less and less time to alter the ball to achieve reverse swing or, frankly, any movement of the ball. The ten over game will soon be upon us. The slower deliveries will become more important to add variation and create uncertainty in the batsman’s mind and these variations will become more evident. Bouncers and shorter deliveries are more dangerous than ever to deliver.

Giving a skilled batsman any leeway to hit the ball over the boundary line is suicidal in the modern game. The following techniques will be seen more evidently to add to the arsenal of any fast bowler. They include the traditional slower ball variations, such as the “off-cutter”. It seems to be the first “pace-off the ball delivery” all seamers learn. The ease of learning and perfecting this delivery can be very effective, as proven by the Netherlands at the 2011 cricket world cup. The “leg cutter”, which is more difficult to control, however, presents a very significant threat to being bowled around the legs or edging the ball to second slip. Zaheer Khan’s knuckleball, like the knuckleball observed in baseball where the grip has the ring finger knuckle pressed against the ball, has a lower speed and an unpredictable ball flight. Additionally, in a world in which the conditions of a cricket pitch determine the success, there are two “dark arts” techniques that have always plagued club and school cricket alike.

Two new techniques that are not as well documented will add an edge to a well-developed repertoire of slower balls: The SLOB (slow obsolete delivery) or slower ball Yorker, which is a delivery which is widely used in English club cricket. The difference between the SLOB and the traditional “slower ball Yorker” is the purposefulness of the delivery. The SLOB is delivered with only the two fingers gripping the seam and requires much less timing and control. The “arm” in swinger delivery is caused by the opposite of a round arm bowling action. Chris Morris had a large amount of success with this type of delivery as a variation and Jasprit Bumrah has frequently demolished middle stump, much in the style of Sohail Tanvir before him. Imran Khan, the great Pakistani fast bowler was a proponent of a faster ball. The addition would be an interesting way to unleash a surprise element. Most spinners employ this tactic, however, it is rarely used by fast bowlers as it seems to be against intuition – how can a fast bowler, have a “faster delivery”?

In reality, delivering the ball at 140 km/h for 4 to 10 overs is very difficult. Many fast bowlers like Umesh Yadav and Wahab Riaz regularly deliver the ball at 147 km/h but cannot maintain the speed. Using this delivery more strategically would be potent and the easiest way to counter the issue of a lack of movement.

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