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How To Swing A Cricket Ball: Know The Techniques To Perfect Your Swing Bowling

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While on the surface cricket may seem like a fairly simple sport, a bowler bowls the ball, the batter hits it and tries to score as many runs as possible, while the other team tries to get them out as quickly as they can. But in reality, there is more than what meets the eye. From the batting stance of the batsmen to even minute details like the gripping position of the cricket ball by the bowler, in one way or another plays a key factor in the game. Talking about the fast bowlers, they usually have a lot in their arsenal: Cutters, Yorkers, and Swingers. Amongst these, swing deliveries play a pivotal role in their barrage against the batsmen. A subtype of fast/pace bowling, swing bowling is a technique used by bowlers in cricket. It should be mentioned here that swing and spin bowling are completely different from each other. Spin bowling involves slow deliveries paced and changing their direction after making contact with the ground/pitch.

Swing bowling primarily involves moving the ball in the air while delivering fast-paced deliveries to the batsmen. This is done with the hope that the change in direction of the ball mid-flight will deceive the batsman and cause them to play incorrectly, thereby securing their wicket.

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Swing bowling plays a vital role in a match. A ball offering decent swing can often determine the course of the game. Swing is dependent on the condition of the ball, many times, the players have tried illegal means to get the ball to swing; such as using sandpaper and other such materials, often resulting in quite a few controversies.


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Factor for Swing Bowling in Cricket

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The main motive behind swing bowling is to get the ball to move or deviate as it moves through the air, either towards or away from the batsman. Now to achieve that, the bowler makes use of the following:

  •       The raised seam of the cricket ball
  •       The angle of the seam to the direction of travel
  •       The wear and tear on the ball
  •       The polishing liquid used on the ball
  •       The speed of the delivery
  •       The bowler’s action

How Cricket Ball Swing

Image Source- Eduauraa

Now, swing bowling is primarily a feature of the new ball, which is only a bit worn. The bowling team will continuously try and polish one side of the ball by various methods such as applying sweat and saliva to it, as well as rubbing that side against their clothes to shine it; while leaving the other side unshined or unpolished.

The speed of the airflow over the rough and smooth sides of the ball will cause the ball to move in flight towards the rough side and away from the shiny side, thereby bringing the aforementioned swing of the ball. Furthermore, the bowlers will occasionally use a bit of minutely altered grip on the ball to enhance this effect, to a bit more extent.

Types of Swing Ball

How cricket ball swing- KreedOn
Image Source- Wiki How

There are primarily two forms of swing, which are inswing and outswing. The former involves the ball starting wide from the batsman and moving into the batsman’s body, angling towards the stumps. Whereas the latter involves the ball starting in line with the stumps but gradually moving away, so that by the time it reaches the batsman, it widens and has a tendency to move away from the body of the batsman.

Throughout the play, the shiny side will also become worn, due to which swing bowling is considered effective when the ball is rather new. It is the change in the aerodynamic properties of these two sides that result in the swinging of the ball. Nevertheless, with the worn-out ball, spin bowling is preferred as it provides much more grip which in turn helps in producing more spin. However, other forms of swing bowling involve the use of worn balls, such as reverse swing.

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Read More | Top 10 greatest Indian spinners of all-time


In Swing: How to bowl a in swing

Inswinger delivery in cricket: An in-swinger delivery can be bowled to a right-handed batsman by keeping the seam of the ball slightly towards the right side and placing the rough side of the ball to the right.

To bowl consistent swing deliveries, bowlers usually rotate or “open up” up their wrist towards leg slip. To a right-handed batsman, this action by a bowler results in the ball moving in to the leg side of the batter.

Tips to bowl In swing

  • Grip the cricket ball in such a way so that the seam position is upright and it must be pointing towards fine leg.

  • The shiny side of the ball should be facing the off-side of the cricket field.

  • The seam of the cricket ball should stay vertical and it must be angled as it moves through the air.

  • The cricket ball will swing from off to leg-side of the batsmen.

Out Swing: How to bowl a out swing delivery

Outswing in cricket: An outswinger delivery in cricket can be bowled to a right-handed batsman by keeping the seam of the cricket ball slightly to the left, pointing towards the slips of the cricket field. Moreover, the rough side of the ball should be kept on the left side.

To bowl a consistent swing delivery, a bowler usually rotate their wrist toward the slips and keep their arm straight. To a right-handed batsman, this action by a bowler results in the movements of ball to the off side.

Tips to bowl out swing

  • The grip pf the cricket ball seam should be upright and pointed to third man.

  • The shiny side of the ball should be towards the leg-side of the cricket field.

  • Seam should be vertical and angled as it moves through the air

  • The cricket ball will swing from leg-side to off-side, moving away from a right-handed batsman.

Role of Airflow in Swing Bowling

The two other important factors which play a key role in swing bowling are laminar airflow and turbulent airflow. The air in laminar flow separates from the surface of the ball earlier than the air in turbulent flow, as a result of which the separation point moves toward the front of the ball on the laminar side. Now, on the turbulent flow side, it remains towards the back, thereby inducing a greater lift force on the turbulent airflow side of the ball. 

The curvature of the swing deliveries makes it difficult for the batsman to pick the ball and hit it. More often than not, the bowlers prefer to bowl outswingers to the batsman, as these deliveries tend to deviate/move away from the batsman’s body, due to which he has to chase the ball and try to hit it. This is risky from the batsman’s perspective, as hitting away leaves a gap between the bat and the body, through which the ball may travel and hit the stumps. Furthermore, there is always the risk of edging the ball which may be caught behind by the fielders stationed at the slip position or by the wicket keeper.

Some of the bowlers who had mastered the art of swing bowling are England’s Simone Jones, India’s Zaheer Khan, Sri Lanka’s Chaminda Vaas, and Australia’s Glenn McGrath.

Conventional & Reverse Swing Bowling

Conventional swing- KreedOn
Image Source-ESPNcricinfo
Reverse swing- KreedOn
Image Source-ESPNcricinfo

The reverse swing is a bit contradictory to the conventional swing. While the conventional swing is offered by a new ball, the reverse swing is offered by a ball that becomes very old and worn out after which it begins to swing towards the shine. This is extremely helpful to bowlers, especially in test cricket. In reverse swing, a conventional/natural outswinger will become an inswinger and vice versa. Pakistan’s Waseem Akram and Waqar Younis were two of the greats who had mastered the art of reverse swing.


test cricket KreedOnRead More | The Rise Of India in Test Cricket: A Glimpse of our Cricket History 


Best Swing Bowlers

  • Wasim Akram, Pakistan: The Sultan of Swing
  • James Anderson, England: The King of Swing
  • Imran Khan, Pakistan
  • Waqar Younis, Pakistan
  • Allan Donald, South Africa
  • Sir Richard “Paddles” Hadlee, New Zealand
  • Dale Steyn, South Africa
  • Bhuvneshwar Kumar, India
  • Shane Bond, New Zealand
  • Chaminda Vaas, Sri Lanka
  • Glenn McGrath, Australia
  • Malcolm Marshall, West Indies

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