Length – the length of the pitch, that is, the distance on the pitch that the ball overcomes in the direction of the batsman after the bounce. It is almost always mentioned in the same context with line.
There are three main types of length:
- Short (the ball bounced closer to the bowler);
- Full (the ball bounced closer to the batsman);
- Good length (the ball landed in the gap, which is considered the best option).
Length actually determines the height that the ball has reached after the bounce until it comes into contact with the batsman’s bat or the player himself. A ball that is served too short a distance is easy enough to hit; a ball from the full category also poses almost no serious danger to a player with a bat since it rarely goes sideways horizontally. That is why good length is defined as a compromise option: such a ball bounces at a sufficient distance from the batsman so that the deviation is sensitive enough for him; on the other hand, a player with a bat is still able to reach the projectile, which significantly reduces the probability of an out.
For pace bowlers, a good length is a gap of six to eight meters in front of the batsman, from three to four for slow ones. However, it should be borne in mind that the optimal length may vary slightly depending on the state of the pitch, weather conditions, the height of the player with the bat, as well as his playing style.
Proper use of length is an effective weapon in the hands of a professional bowler who knows how to disable an opponent without breaking the rules quickly. So, for example, a very common tactic involves applying a number of blows to the short zone to force the batsman to change his position in an attempt to reach the ball. After that, the bowler switches to full serves, directing the ball closer to the batsman’s feet. If a player with a bat does not have time to react quickly enough by transferring his body weight from one leg to the other, then he will most likely miss the ball or get into an out (in addition, the option with a leg before wicket is possible).
Another popular tactical move is to serve the ball as close to the batsman as possible with such force that the projectile bounces to his head level. In such a situation, a player with a bat will probably try to dodge, and even if he avoids an out, it will break his concentration.
As for line, its difference from length is that this term is primarily understood as the ball’s trajectory on the serve in a horizontal plane. Simply put, it gives an idea of how much the projectile has deviated relative to the center line of the pitch. As a rule, the line is spoken about either with an adjustment for Off (that is, in front of the batsman) or Leg (that is, behind him), rather than with an indication of a specific direction (left/right side of the pitch).
Another specific cricket term is associated with the line – namely, “corridor of uncertainty”. To understand exactly where it is, it is enough to remember that commentators usually talk about the ball going towards Off stump, Middle stump or Leg stump, meaning one of the three stumps of a cricket wicket. The “corridor of uncertainty” is a space with a radius of about thirty centimeters along the Off stump line, since hitting the ball in this zone increases the risk of a batsman’s mistake (if the ball went beyond the specified boundaries, then with a high probability the serve will be called “wide”).
It is customary to talk about serves in the Leg stump zone as going down the Leg side or on the pads (in the second case, the part of the batsman’s protective equipment that covers the legs is meant). Short serves on the Leg side are called Bodyline, that is, directed along the line of the player’s body with the bat.
In fact, the line determines whether the batsman has room for maneuver, and if so, how large it is, which in turn gives him the opportunity to choose a suitable stroke for a particular episode. So, for example, if the ball was directed directly to the center, that is, into the wicket, the player with the bat must protect it at all costs; otherwise, he risks getting into an out with the wording Bowled. Interestingly, bowlers, as a rule, try not to abuse this type of serve, directing the ball into the “corridor of uncertainty” in order to force the batsman to make a mistake, but not to make a mistake himself.
This is interesting: according to statistics, in test matches, wickets are most often destroyed at Length Full (22%). In second place – Good length (10%).