SLOWER BALLS

Slower Balls are deliveries that are purposefully bowled at a slower speed to deceive the batsmen. They are an essential part of any fast bowler's toolkit, and knowing how and when to bowl them could increase your ability to take wickets in cricket matches.  

Jade Dernbach bowls a back of the hand slower ball for Surrey - Photo © by Andy 

WHY ARE SLOWER BALLS IMPORTANT?

 

In the modern age of Twenty20 cricket, batsmen are becoming more aggressive and looking to score more quickly. If you can keep the batsman guessing by bowling the occasional slower ball, they’ll be more likely to make a mistake. 

Andrew Tye bowls a knuckleball in the IPL - Embed from DailyExcelcior

A good slower ball might make the batsman commit to their shot too early, hit the ball up in the air and get caught, or miss it completely which gives you a chance of getting them out. As a fast bowler, you can vary your speed while keeping your bowling action the same, which will make it very difficult for a batsman to pick up on any clues before you release the cricket ball.

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HOW DO I BOWL A SLOWER BALL?

To bowl an effective slower ball:

  • Keep your fast bowling action as similar as possible to when you would bowl a normal delivery

  • Still try to bowl fast as the delivery will naturally come out slower due to how you grip and release the ball

  • Use it to disrupt a batsman's rhythm and create uncertainty

  • Explore ways to disguise your slower ball in your grip and Run Up

Below are five of the most common slower balls and how to bowl them. With each one, experiment with different ways to grip and bowl the cricket ball so that they are effective. Ask a batsman or wicketkeeper to see if they can pick your slower balls, then try to disguise each one to make it more difficult to play. 

 
 

OFF-CUTTER

  • Bounces and moves from a right-handed batsman's off-side to leg-side 

  • Drag your fingers down the leg-side of the ball as you release it

  • Explore how to grip the cricket ball to get as much movement off the pitch as possible

PRO TO WATCH: Lasith Malinga

 

LEG-CUTTER

  • Bounces and moves from a right-handed batsman's leg-side to off-side 

  • Drag your fingers down the off-side of the ball as you release the ball

  • Explore how to grip the cricket ball to get as much movement off the pitch as possible

PRO TO WATCH: Anya Shrubsole

BACK-OF-THE-HAND

 
  • Grip the ball normally but as you release you want the back of your hand to be facing the batsman

  • Aim to release the ball with the seam upright so it looks like a regular "seam up" delivery

  • When bowled correctly the cricket ball will dip sharply because of the topspin applied

PRO TO WATCH: Jade Dernbach

 

SPLIT-FINGER

  • Grip the cricket ball with your first two fingers much wider apart than normal

  • The ball comes out much slower as your fingers are not behind it to force it forward

  • Change your grip as late as possible to disguise this slower ball

PRO TO WATCH: Glenn McGrath

 

KNUCKLEBALL

  • Grip the cricket ball between your fingertips (or fingernails) and your thumb

  • Try to release the ball so that it rotates as little as possible as it moves towards the batsman 

  • When bowled correctly, the ball should "wobble" in the air, making it difficult for the batsman to hit

PRO TO WATCH: Andrew Tye

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COMMON ISSUES WITH SLOWER BALLS

 

You may experience some of the following issues when trying to bowl slower balls. If you experience any of these, you could be missing out on taking more wickets and becoming a more effective fast bowler:

BATSMEN CAN PICK YOUR SLOWER BALL

If your slower ball is obvious, batsmen have more time to adjust how they play it, meaning that there is less chance of them making a mistake and getting out. Practice hiding your slower delivery until the last possible moment.

YOUR SLOWER BALL IS HARD TO CONTROL

Although you might deceive the batsmen with a good slower ball, you may struggle to get them out or stop them scoring runs if you cannot bowl your slower ball on target. Work on developing your grip on the cricket ball, as well as practicing a consistent release point.

 

SUMMARY - SLOWER BALLS

  • A good slower ball can cause batsmen to play their shots early and make mistakes

  • Bowl a slower ball to disrupt a batsman's rhythm or create a chance of taking a wicket

  • There are many ways to bowl a slower ball, but your action needs to look similar to your regular delivery

  • Bowl the ball at your normal speed as it will naturally come out slower

  • Use practice sessions to ask batsmen or wicket-keepers if your slower ball is difficult to pick or too obvious

FAST BOWLERS TO WATCH

Jade Dernbach (ENG, 144.3 km/h)

Lasith Malinga (SRI,  152.1 km/h)

Anya Shrubsole (ENG-W, 118.1 km/h)

Dwayne Bravo (WIN, 132.2 km/h)

James Faulkner (AUS, 139.9 km/h)

Jade Dernbach (ENG) Back-of-the-Hand @ 37s

Sandeep Thakur (IND) Knuckleball @ 2m 27s

DJ Bravo (WIN) Off-Cutter @ 02s

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