SWING BOWLING

Swing Bowling in cricket is where the ball moves sideways through the air after it has been released by the bowler. This happens because of how the seam on the cricket ball is positioned and how air moves around the ball as it travels towards the batsman.

James Anderson, the "King of Swing", bowls against Australia (original)CC2.0 Photo by Nic Redhead

WHY PRACTISE SWING BOWLING?

 

When the cricket ball swings, it becomes difficult for batsmen to commit to their shots early because they are unsure where the ball will end up. Even if you can only swing the ball a small amount, batsmen are more likely to make a mistake, giving you more chances to take wickets.

Zaheer Khan takes the wicket of Michael Vaughan by swinging the ball (original)CC2.0 Photo by Nic Redhead

If you can swing the ball both ways at good pace, scoring runs becomes extremely difficult for batsmen. The weather does not need to be cloudy or overcast for you to be able to swing a cricket ball – you just need knowledge and practice!

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HOW DO YOU GET THE BALL TO SWING?

 

There are three main types of swing bowling:

 

The way you release the cricket ball will determine how the ball will swing. If you have an excellent fast bowling technique, you will have more chance of being able to swing the ball both ways at good pace because you can release the ball with your wrist and the seam in a good position

 

IN-SWING (Right-Hand Batsman)

fast bowling in swing cricket ball grip and example
how to grip the cricket ball to bowl in swing
  • Grip the cricket ball properly. Keep the seam upright and pointing to fine leg

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

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

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

 

OUT-SWING (Right-Hand Batsman)

Cricket fast bowler swing bowling out-swing seam position and good cricket fast bowling technique
how to grip the cricket ball to bowl out swing
  • Grip the cricket ball properly. Keep the seam upright and pointing to third man

  • The shiny side of the cricket ball should be facing the leg-side

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

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

 

REVERSE-SWING

  • One side of the cricket ball should be very scuffed, old and dry

  • The other side should be shiny, smooth and damp (from moisture/shining)

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

  • At high speeds, the ball will move towards the shiny side rather than away

For example: with a new cricket ball you may bowl out-swing to a right handed batsmen. When the ball becomes older and ready to reverse, you will start bowling in-swing despite no change in your grip or your fast bowling action

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COMMON ISSUES WITH SWING BOWLING

You may experience some of the following issues when trying to swing the cricket ball, and you could potentially be missing out on taking more wickets and becoming a more effective fast bowler in cricket matches:

THE SEAM DOES NOT COME OUT UPRIGHT

When the seam comes out scrambled, the cricket ball is unlikely to swing. This makes it easier for batsmen to judge the line and length of the delivery, giving them more chance to score runs, and making it less likely that they will make a mistake and get out.  

THE BALL ONLY SWINGS IN ONE DIRECTION

Swinging the cricket ball in one direction is more threatening than not being able to swing the ball at all, but it can become predictable and easy for the batsmen to score runs against if they know which way it is swinging. Take time to practise bowling in-swing and out-swing during your cricket training sessions to give yourself more opportunities to take wickets. 

SUMMARY - SWING BOWLING

 
  • Swing bowling is an important skill to help you take wickets​​

  • Point the seam in the direction you want the cricket ball to swing

  • Keep your wrist upright and behind the ball as you release it

  • Aim to keep the seam steady as it moves towards the batsman

  • Spend time shining one side of the cricket ball to keep it swinging

  • Work on improving your fast bowling technique so that you can swing the ball both ways at pace

FAST BOWLERS TO WATCH

James Anderson (ENG,  137.9 km/h)

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (IND, 135.7 km/h)

Nat Sciver (ENG-W,  107.2 km/h)

Mohammed Amir (PAK, 145.2 km/h)

Trent Boult (NZ, 141.4 km/h)

James Anderson (ENG) Inswing @ 1m 42s

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (IND) Outswing @ 13s

Tim Bresnan (ENG) Reverse Swing @ 12s

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In-Swing (Right-Hand Batsman)