Types of fast bowling techniques explained

There are many different kinds of fast bowling techniques bowlers need to master and batsmen need to learn to face.

In this article, we are going to delve into this integral part of the cricketing world.

Cricket is a batter's sport, they say. Boundaries being hit, batsmen wielding their willows like a sword (no, we’re not just talking about Ravindra Jadeja!) and sending fast bowlers into the stands. We all know this is what fills up stadiums.

What about the fast bowlers, those who thunder in at full pace six times per over, for hours on end? Don’t they deserve a mention, too?

As the great Kapil Dev once said, bowlers are like labourers, the cricketing toilers, known to win a side not only matches but tournaments.

More so, the fast bowlers are the ones who generally set up the games, as they are mostly also used with the new ball. Be it ODIs, T20s, or Tests, pacers' first job is to get wickets with the beaming cherry. Captains often give them an over or two for a middle-overs burst while trying to keep them fresh for the end part of the innings in an ideal world.

Types of fast bowling in cricket

Fast bowlers
Photo by Icon Sport

With regards to their speed and bowling hand, pacers are divided into three categories:

  • Right- and left-arm medium-pace bowlers
  • Right- and left-arm fast-medium bowlers
  • Right- and left-arm fast bowlers

1. Right- and left-arm medium-pace bowlers

The fast bowlers who bowl at a speed of 100–120 kmph or 60–75 mph fit into the category of medium pacers.

While it is clear from the name, the ones bowling with their right hand are regarded as the right-arm pace bowlers; it is vice versa for the left-arm pace bowlers.

In the present-day context, Dasun Shanka of Sri Lanka is a famous right-arm medium-pace bowler.

2. Right- and left-arm fast-medium bowlers

While the concept of bowling hands will remain similar in every type, the speed will vary.

Fast-medium bowlers generally bowl at a speed of 120–145 kmph, or 75–90 mph.

India's Hardik Pandya perfectly fits into this class of fast bowlers.

3. Right- and left-arm fast bowlers

These are the speedsters. Their average speed is over 145 kmph, or 90 mph.

A prime example of this is Mark Wood, who rattled Usman Khawaja with a 95 mph screamer during the Ashes.

Right-arm fast bowlers vs. left-arm fast bowlers

Ask a right-handed batter: who is tougher to face, right-arm or left-arm pacers? Without a doubt, the general notion will be to side with the left-armers.

The reason being the angle from which they release the ball. It creates a blind spot for the right-handers, and they are then required to tweak their stance and open up their shoulders a tad bit.

Though, for a left-handed batter, this statement does not hold true. However, in their case, right-arm pacers would naturally move the ball away from them, and this could be difficult to handle.

Fast bowling techniques used in cricket

1. Swing

A fast bowler swings the ball if it moves in the air. For the ball to swing, the conditions on offer play a huge role. In an overcast environment, the ball tends to swing more, and if it is new, double will be the effect, as a cloudy atmosphere makes the seam more raised, which helps the ball move towards or away from the batter.

A pacer can swing the bowl in three ways:

  • In-swing

When the ball moves towards the batter in the air, it is said to be an in-swinging delivery. For a fast bowler to execute it perfectly, he or she must keep the seam of the ball slightly tilted towards the batter.

  • Out-swing

In an out-swinger, the ball shapes away from the batter in the air. It is bowled by keeping the seam of the delivery tilted away from the batter.

  • Reverse-swing

It is done with the old ball when one side gets rough while the other is purposely kept shiny. A bowler must keep the seam of the delivery tilted in the opposite direction and also ensure the shiny side of it is in the same direction he or she wants the ball to swing.

2. Seam

This fast bowling technique implies extracting movement off the pitch. Generally, a green and grassy wicket makes the ball seam in either of the two ways.

3. Yorker

A delivery that generally pitches into the boots of the batter is known as yorker. These are tough to get under, and ergo, batters find them hard to pick. However, fast bowlers too face trouble mastering it as it can result in a full-toss as there is no scope for an error and they can then be at the other end of the stick.

4. Bouncer

A ball that, after pitching, is above the shoulder height of a batter is called a bouncer. A bouncer is a touch higher than a short-pitch delivery. Bowlers can only bowl it twice in Test and ODI cricket and only once in T20s.

Types of fast bowling technique

5. Slower deliveries

As fast bowlers can get monotonous with speed, they often rely on a change of pace, especially in white-ball formats, to deceive the batters.

Fast bowlers roll over their fingers to reduce the ball's speed. In another way, back-of-the-hand slower balls are delivered, in which bowlers roll and flick their wrists forward to deceive the batters.

6. Off-cutter

An off-cutter is a variation of the slower delivery. While the speed of the ball takes a dip, it also cuts from the off-stump and ends up on the leg stick as the fast-bowlers make use of the grip of the seam.

7. Leg-cutter

This fast bowling technique is the reverse of the off-cutter. In this, the bowl after pitching on the leg stump cuts towards the off stump.

8. Knuckleball

The knuckleball is another type of slower ball. While the fast bowlers employ this to dupe a batter, they are required to change their grip and hold the ball under the knuckles of their index and middle fingers and release it from there.

With so many different types of fast bowling techniques, spare a thought for all the fast bowlers in today’s cricket who are overshadowed by the glitz and glam of the big-hitting batsmen. While the stands may be filled because of batting stars, the game exists because of bowlers.

Bren GrayBren Gray

Bren is our resident Kiwi, and has been playing or watching sports down under in New Zealand for the better part of three decades. With 12+ years' experience as a professional writer, Bren loves to dive deep into all things cricket to bring the best betting analysis, predictions and news here at CricNerds.com.