Types of bowlers in cricket: Bowling techniques explained

There are many types of bowlers in cricket who have shown their class and calibre across all three formats of international competition. Over the years cricket has evolved with the inception of the T20 and T10 formats.

Hence, bowling techniques hold a lot of importance.

The more bowling techniques one has, the more the chance of succeeding. Bowlers put a lid on the run-scoring and keep the batters in check. But the task is not easy for them. Among the many types of bowlers, a lot of them burst onto the scene and promised a whole lot.

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But with time, they faded away as they did not add a lot of skills to their bowling technique. Gradually, they became predictable and easy to read for batters around the world. However, some of them kept adding new skills to their bowling technique and survived the rigours of top-level cricket.

In the article, we will look at the many types of bowlers along with the names of a few exemplary cricketers. We will also talk about bowling techniques and the different variations bowlers need to succeed in international cricket.

Right-arm fast bowler

There are many right-arm bowlers who have done exceptionally both in international cricket and around the world. In Test cricket, the pacers generally stick to a good length, but the same may not work in the shorter formats where batters are always looking to score runs. Hence, bowlers need to resort to yorkers and slower bouncers to keep the batters in check.

In T20 cricket, bowlers also bowl wide yorkers and keep a packed off-side field to restrict batters from scoring runs in the death overs. Right-arm pacers are among the many types of fast bowlers and some of the examples are Glenn McGrath, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Shaun Pollock, Waqar Younis, Courtney Walsh, Brett Lee, and many others.

Among them, Anderson is the most successful right-arm pacer. In 394 international matches for England, Anderson has picked up 975 wickets with 34 five-wicket hauls and three 10-wicket hauls at the highest level. Anderson is currently taking part in the Ashes and is also on the verge of becoming the third bowler after Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne to pick up 700 Test wickets.

Anderson is also 25 wickets short of becoming the third after Muralitharan and Warne to pick up 1000 wickets in international cricket.  The above-mentioned right-arm bowlers are known for their bowling techniques and many youngsters have tried to copy their bowling actions.

Left-arm fast bowler

Left-arm pace bowling holds quite a bit of significance among the many types of fast bowlers. Left-arm pacers swinging the ball back into the right-handed batters is a treat to watch. For them, bowling techniques are also crucial. The pacers must also know how to move the ball away from the right-handers to make life more difficult for the opposition teams.

The most successful left-arm seamer is the legendary Wasim Akram, who not only used to swing the ball, but beat the batters with pace too. He played until the 2003 World Cup and showed what he was capable of at the peak of his powers. He finished his career with 916 wickets from 460 matches at an economy rate of 3.17 with 31 five-wicket hauls and five 10-wicket hauls.

Sri Lanka’s Chaminda Vaas is second on the list of all-time leading wicket-takers among left-arm pacers. He finished with career with 761 wickets from 439 matches with 16 five-wicket hauls and two 10-wicket hauls. Back in 2003, Vaas also picked up a hat-trick with his first three balls in the World Cup match against Bangladesh. Among the current crop of fast bowlers, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mustafizur Rahman and Mitchell Starc are the ones who have made left-arm fast bowling a popular art among the next generation of cricketers.

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Right-arm off-spinner

Among the many types of bowlers, right-arm off-spinners have had their fair share of success in international cricket. Their stock delivery is the one that moves into the right-handed batters. But then, they have the doosra, the carrom ball and top spin as a part of their bowling techniques.

The likes of Saqlain Mushtaq and Harbhajan Singh popularised the doosra by beating the best of batters from around the world. Muralitharan was equally lethal with the delivery and batters failed to counter them even after knowing what was coming at them.

India’s Ravi Ashwin made the carrom ball popular and has dismissed plenty of batters with the variation. Among the right-arm off-break bowlers, Muralitharan happens to be the most successful. He has picked up 1347 wickets from 495 matches with 77 five-wicket hauls and 22 10-wicket hauls to his name.

It is safe to say that a few of records will be tough to break even in the next 100 years of international cricket. He is also the all-time top wicket-taker in Tests, having taken 800 scalps from 133 matches with 45 four-wicket hauls, 67 five-wicket hauls and 22 10-wicket hauls.

Among the current crop of spinners, India’s Ashwin is second on the list of most wickets by an off-spinner in international cricket. Ashwin has picked up 697 wickets from 270 matches at an economy rate of 3.37 with 32 five-wicket hauls and seven 10-wicket hauls.

Bowling techniques explained
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Left-arm orthodox spinner

Left-arm spinners have ruled the roost for a long time among the many types of bowlers in international cricket. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and other sub-continent teams have produced a number of left-arm orthodox spinners over the years. Like other bowlers, they need to make good use of the crease and put enough revs on the ball to get success.

Daniel Vettori is the leading wicket-taker in international cricket among left-arm spinners from around the world. The former New Zealand cricketer has picked up 705 wickets 442 matches at an economy rate of 3.14 with 22 five-wicket hauls and three 10-wicket hauls to his name.

One bowler, who is fast approaching him is Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan, who is not far away from toppling Vettori. Shakib has picked up 671 wickets from 414 matches at an economy rate of 3.88 with 25 five-wicket hauls and two 10-wicket hauls.

Shakib has been a bedrock of the Tigers’ bowling attack across all three formats and is known for his bowling techniques. He is also expected to play a key role for Bangladesh in the upcoming World Cup to be played in India from October 5 to November 19.

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Among the many types of bowlers, leg-spinners have been genuine wicket-takers over the years. Leg-spin is a difficult art to master, but once mastered, it can create a lot of troubles. The Ball of the Century to Mike Gatting was bowled by none other than a leg-spinner, Shane Warne. The former Australian bowler took small strides and made brilliant use of the crease.

He was mostly accurate with his line and lengths. He bowled former English skipper Andrew Strauss around his legs that hit on the roughs and turned sharply. Warne finished his career with 1001 wickets in international cricket.

Anil Kumble is the second-highest wicket-taker among leg-spinners in international cricket. The former Indian spinner picked up 956 wickets in his career from 403 matches at an economy rate of 3.11, with 37 five-wicket hauls and eight 10-wicket hauls to show for his efforts.

Former Pakistani leg-spinner Shahid Afridi is among the greatest leg-spinners to have played the game. He took 541 wickets from 524 matches at an economy rate of 4.62 with 10 five-wicket hauls to his name. Among the current leg-spinners, Rashid Khan is known for his bowling techniques and is tipped to break a number of records in the future.

Left-arm wrist spinner

Among the many types of bowlers, left-arm wrist spinners are few and far between. There has not been a whole of bowlers with the arm of bowling wrist spin, left-handed. Hence, demand rises for such bowlers whenever they come to the fore.

Among the left-arm wrist spinners, India’s Kuldeep Yadav is the most successful. He has picked up 214 wickets from 117 matches at an economy rate of 4.99 with 5 five-wicket hauls to his name. He made his debut for India back in 2017 and has played brilliantly for them across all three formats.

Australia’s Brad Hogg is second on the list. The former spinner has picked up 180 wickets from 145 matches with two five-wicket hauls to his name. He mostly had to warm the benches after his debut back in 1996. It is because the Aussies already had one specialist spinner, Warne in their lineups.

Paul Adams, who used to be known for his unorthodox bowling technique, is third in the list of leading wicket-taker. The former South African cricketer played 69 matches from 1995 to 2004 and picked up 163 wickets. Lakshan Sandakan, Jake Lintott are some of the other left-arm wrist spinners in world cricket.


Rohit is an experienced cricket writer based in India