Making it Big As a Bowler

Looking at the Object of Bowling

Each over bowled consists of six balls, or deliveries. Every time the bowler runs into bowl a new contest begins with the batsman. When delivering the ball the bowler is trying to dismiss the batsman or limit the number of runs that he scores off each delivery

Getting to Grips with Bowling Basics

The act of bowling, or delivering the ball, can be broken down into three elements. Get these three elements right and you will take a big stride towards becoming a good bowler and a batsman’s worst nightmare!

  1. The approach to the bowling crease to deliver the ball, unsurprisingly called the run-up.
  2. The position of the bowler’s body, head and arms when propelling the ball out of the hand, called the bowler’s action.
  3. Coming to a halt after delivering the ball, called the bowler’s follow through.

Getting started

If you’ve never bowled before and are wondering how to do it, start by standing with a bit of space around you. If you’re inside, make sure no fan or light fitting is dangling from the ceiling in case your bowling claims an unexpected victim when you bring your arm over.

If you’re not sure whether you’re a left- or right-arm bowler, decide which arm you would naturally throw with: that is your bowling arm. Stand comfortably, and if you’re a right-hander turn your head 90 degrees and look along your left shoulder. Everything is the opposite if you’re a left-armer. You’re now facing the batsman, even though he may look more like a wall or fence.

Bring both hands comfortably up to your chest with your elbows loosely by your sides and put your left hand on your right hand. Imagine you’re holding the ball in your right hand. Now raise your left arm up straight and slightly towards the batsman. At the same time step forward with your left foot, your ‘front’ foot – this is called the delivery stride – and bring your right arm down beside you.

The run-up

The run-up is sometimes called the bowler’s approach to the wicket. The term covers the bowler’s forward movement before releasing the ball, culminating in the delivery stride – the point at which the ball leaves the hand as he reaches the crease.

The idea is to pick up enough momentum to be able to propel the ball at the speed the bowler wants. Fast bowlers need to run-up faster than spin bowlers. The very fastest bowler’s run-up at top speed for 20 or 30 meters in order to build up the momentum they need. As a result, fast bowlers tire more quickly than their spin bowler colleagues whose run-ups are usually only a few meters long.

The action

Changing from your run-up into your bowling action involves slowing a little in the last couple of strides to be balanced going into the delivery stride. The bowler then jumps a little and brings his body side-on to the batsman to deliver the ball.

The direction of your back foot, the right foot for a right-arm bowler, on landing dictates what sort of an action you should develop. With our imaginary bowling earlier in the chapter the back foot was parallel to the bowling crease and at 90 degrees to the direction of the ball’s trajectory down the pitch.

The follow through

After you have gone through the bowling action and released the ball you probably won’t be able to come to a dead stop. The momentum you have built up to propel the ball at the pace and direction you want still carries you along. These extra strides you take are called the follow through.

Examining the line and length of the delivery

When releasing the ball you want to have a good idea where you would like it to land. Aim for the part of the pitch that is going to give you the best chance of dismissing the batsman. The direction of the delivery – the line – and how close it bounces in front of the batsman – the length – are crucial to what happens next; whether the batsman scores runs off the delivery or whether he fails to score or is dismissed.

Last word

Of all the fuss made about stretching and preparing properly to play sport, never is it truer than for bowlers, particularly fast bowlers. Before a match have a few gentle run-throughs to warm up, then bowl some gentle deliveries off a couple of paces in the nets or to a team-mate on the outfield. Then have a good stretch ensuring the calves, hamstrings, groin, and back are all loosened before doing some more serious pre-match bowling if you want. But don’t get carried away. You need all your energy for a big day in the field.

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