Reverse swing

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Reverse swing

Reverse swing is one of the types of the technique used by swing bowlers in cricket. It is based on the principle of reverse rotation of the ball.

The essence of traditional swing bowling is to give the projectile an unpredictable trajectory on the pitch, which should deceive the player with the bat, and ideally – send him out or destroy the wicket. As a rule, fast bowlers prefer to use new and unworn balls, as this allows you to polish one of the sides at your discretion (for example, using saliva or rubbing it on clothes). Changing the physical characteristics of the ball, coupled with a slightly modified grip, makes it possible not only to experiment with the serve speed, but also to make its direction as unreadable as possible for the batsman.

Reverse swing does not require the mandatory use of a new ball. Moreover, players often prefer more worn-out projectiles since their aerodynamics noticeably change compared to the original one. So, if the rough side twists with a classic swing serve, then after about fifty overs, the projectile naturally begins to deviate in the opposite direction.

Even though ball wear is an absolutely natural process, many swing bowlers do everything to speed it up. For this purpose, not only saliva or sweat can be used, but also some substances from the list of prohibited by Laws (for example, vaseline, hair gel, sunscreen, etc.) Penetrating through the porous surface of the projectile, they accelerate its deformation, and this, in turn, allows you to increase the surface of the polished side while reducing the static effect. Thus, with Reverse swing, the twisting appears gradually, which makes it difficult for the batsman to determine the correct direction of the projectile’s flight.

However, Reverse swing can also be performed with a new ball – provided that the player can accelerate it to a speed of at least 145 km / h. In this case, the separation of the airflow flowing around the projectile occurs earlier, and the polished (i.e., fast) side of the ball starts moving first, while the rough side gradually slows down. Thus, the trajectory of Reverse swing directly depends on:

  1. The grip used;
  2. Methods of throwing;
  3. Speed.

In general, Reverse swing is not only more powerful than traditional swing, but is also rightly considered one of the most insidious serves. The fact is that batsmen encounter reverse swing relatively infrequently, so not all of them can boast of having the necessary experience that would allow them to block it effectively. In addition, bowlers who use Reverse swing often complicate the opponent’s task by forcing the ball to change its trajectory not at an early stage, but closer to the player with the bat. There are two ways to do this:

  • By sending a projectile along the S-trajectory;
  • Forcing it to deviate more to the side without changing the direction of flight.

Both options greatly complicate the task of the batsman. So, in the first case, he usually manages to take the correct pose from his point of view and is not ready for a sharp change in the ball’s trajectory. In the second case, he may make a mistake with the angle of rotation of the bat or not calculate the force of the pitch, which dramatically increases the probability of Leg before wicket.

It is interesting to note that the first popularizers of Reverse swing were Pakistani bowlers, who initially faced accusations of unsportsmanlike behavior, since batsmen could not calculate the trajectory of such a pitch. The representatives of the attack really weren’t going to make it easier for them by experimenting with direction, speed and trajectory, changing hands and trying to cover the ball with the palm of their hand to deceive the opponent.

According to Shaharyar Khan, the actual inventor of Reverse swing is Saleem Mir, who taught it to his colleague Sarfraz Nawaz during his performances for Punjab Cricket Club (Lahore). Nawaz, in turn, used Reverse swing for the first time internationally, sharing the features of the technique with Imran Khan, who later passed them on to Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Other Reverse swing masters include Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones (both from England), Zahir Khan and Ajit Agarkar (both from India).

This is interesting: Wasim Akram consistently used two types of Reverse swing in the 1992 World Cup final, which allowed the Pakistan national team to turn the tide of the game.

Nisha Bhavani
Author: Nisha Bhavani Position: Cricket Expert

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