Delivery (cricket)

Delivery (cricket)

A delivery or ball in cricket is a single action of bowling a cricket ball towards the batsman.

During play of the game, a member of the fielding team is designated as the bowler, and bowls deliveries towards the batsman. Six balls in a row constitutes an over, after which a different member of the fielding side takes over the role of bowler for the next over. Two wickets, consisting of three wooden stakes driven into the ground in opposition to each other at either ends of the cricket pitch are called wickets . The bowler delivers the ball from his or her end of the pitch towards the batsman standing at the opposite wicket at the other end of the pitch. Bowlers can be either left handed or right handed. This approach to their delivery, in addition to their decision of bowling around the wicket (from the sides of the wicket on the bowler’s end) or over the wicket is knowledge which the umpire and the batsman should be aware of.


Types of delivery

Bowling techniques
Historical Styles

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There are two distinct deliveries which are given by two types of bowlers. The first is a ‘seam’ delivery given by what are generally the faster bowlers often called ‘pace bowlers.’ The second approach to bowling in cricket is the spin, delivered by players referred to as ‘spinners.’ Fast bowlers, or pacers, are capable of giving deliveries that are launched towards the batsman at 100 mph.3 Supplementing their ability to send the ball down the field at such velocities are their long-run ups, which are usually longer than spinners’ run-ups. As variations in a bowler’s deliveries are a common tool to attack the batsman, pacers can alternate between bouncers (shorter length deliveries) and yorkers (full-length deliveries with the initial bounce occurring at the feet of the batsman). Spinners in cricket are dubbed as the opposite of pace bowlers, due to their reliance on technique to deceive the opponent, in contrast to a pacer’s dependency on the velocity of the ball in order to overwhelm the batsman.3 In comparison to fast bowlers, spinners generally have a shorter run-up prior to the release of the ball.2 The spin on the ball applied by the bowler is intensified with the bouncing of the ball. Suresh Menon quotes Anil Kumble in explaining that spinning aims to deceive the batsman, “rendering them illiterate” and unable to anticipate the delivery they are facing. Much like pace bowlers, spinners tend to use different variations of spin deliveries in their over, such as the ‘googly’, where the ball switches to the opposite direction in relation to the trajectory it was initially following preceding the bounce.

There are many different types of delivery that a bowler can bowl. These deliveries vary by; technique, the hand the bowler bowls with, use of the fingers, use of the seam, how the ball is positioned in the hand, where the ball is pitched on the wicket, the speed of the ball, and the tactical intent of the bowler.

Tactical considerations

The variations in different types of delivery, as well as variations caused by directing the ball with differing line and length, are major weapons in a bowler's arsenal. Throughout an over, the bowler will choose a sequence of deliveries designed to attack the batsman's concentration and technique, in an effort to get him out.

The bowler also varies the amount of loop and pace imparted to various deliveries to try to cause the batsman to misjudge and make a mistake. As the crease has a width, the bowler can change the angle from which he delivers to the batsman in an attempt to induce a misjudgement.

Usually, the bowler decides what type of delivery to bowl next, without consultation or even informing any other member of his team. Sometimes, the team captain will offer advice or even issue a direct order regarding what deliveries to bowl, based on his observations of the batsman and the strategic state of the game. Another player who occasionally offers advice to the bowler is the wicket-keeper, since he has a unique view of the batsman and may be able to spot weaknesses of technique.

Another piece of information important for the bowlers to consider prior to their deliveries is the state of pitch. The pitch is a natural ground and its state is subjected to variation over the course of the cricket, some of which are multi-day events such as test matches. Spinners find an old pitch, one that hasn’t been frequently utilized, more suitable to their deliveries rather than a fresh pitch, one that hasn’t come under use as much such as a pitch at the start of the match.

The Batsman’s anticipation of the delivery

While a bowler, with the use of variations in his/her delivery aims to target the concentration of batsmen as well as their skill and technique of batting, anticipation of the delivery is crucial for the batmen, as emphasized by Jodi Richardson. Richardson reveals the world class batsman’s dilemma while facing fast bowlers, stating that the time between the batsmen’s anticipation of the trajectory of the ball and positioning themselves for the appropriate shot can be twice as long as the interval between the bowl leaving the bowler’s hand and reaching the batsman’s crease. Side by side, Richardson alludes to the research undertaken by Dr. Sean Miller in Australia which was partly funded by The Cricket Australia Centre of Excellence. The results of the research demonstrated the importance of anticipation of the delivery for batsmen in cricket. They revealed that experienced batsmen possessed a unique ability which enabled them to adjust their feet as well as their positioning on the crease accordingly based upon their reading of the body language and movements enacted by the bowler prior to the release of the ball. This foresight that batsmen utilize while on the crease is referred to as ‘advance information’ by Richardson. Moreover, Miller’s research outlined that the presence of this ‘advance information’ was not as evident among the lesser skilled batsmen in comparison to the experienced ones.

Controversies and Debate Involving Deliveries

Deliveries by bowlers have been subjected to a number of controversies and disputes. One such incident occurred in 1981, which was dubbed by the Prime Minister of New Zealand at the time as “the most disgusting incident” which he could recall in the sport. Abishek Ragunath’s article published in Forbes India magazine gives an account of the events that unfolded on the day. The match between Australia and New Zealand for the Hedges Cup came right down to the last delivery of the game, where the New Zealand batsman Brian McKechnie required six runs off it to draw the game. In an effort to disable the batsman from hitting six runs off the last ball, the Australian captain Greg Chappell instructed his bowler to execute an underarm delivery along the ground. Such underarm deliveries render the batsman unable to score six runs, as to accomplish such a feat requires the batsman to hit the ball outside the cricket ground without any bounce of the ball while it is on its path to clear the boundary. While New Zealand required six runs to draw the game, the Australian team executed the underarm delivery which the batsman confronted the delivery with a simple deflection, leaving Australia victors. At the time, such deliveries in cricket were legal, but after the incident and the series which Australia went on to win, underarm deliveries were banned. A recently retired cricketer who was greatly embroiled in controversy and under scrutiny from critics over his method of executing deliveries was the Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan. Michael Selvey describes the accusations placed on the bowler in relation to his widely disputed bowling action and delivery, stating the Australian president’s reference to the Sri Lankan as a ‘chucker.’ The controversy linked to Muralitharan’s delivery emerged in 1995, when the umpire of the test match between Sri Lanka and Australia deemed Muralitharan’s delivery as illegal on the suspicion that he was throwing the ball. Selvey acknowledges this as the factor sparking an ‘international cricket incident,’ with critics and some extremists going as far as insisting on the exclusion of all of the Sri Lankan’s accomplishments throughout his career from the records of cricket. However, Suresh Menon takes an adamant stance on the topic of the controversy surrounding the spinner by displaying appreciation for Muralitharan’s actions. Menon suggests that investigation into Muralitharan’s deliveries led to the revelation of imperfections present in the bowling action and deliveries of the previously considered ‘picture-perfect’ fast bowler, Glenn McGrath. This was made possible with the usage of technology and its replacement of the earlier system, which Menon refers to as ‘the naked eye.’ Eventually, it was declared legal for the bowlers to bend their arm fifteen degrees for deliveries in cricket.

Comparison to baseball

A delivery or ball in cricket is analogous to a pitch in baseball. The word ball in cricket usage does not imply anything about the accuracy of the delivery, unlike baseball's usage of ball to indicate a pitch outside the strike zone. The cricket equivalent of a baseball ball is a wide or a no ball.

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