The Ultimate Guide To Reverse Swing

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WHAT EVERYBODY OUGHT TO KNOW ABOUT REVERSE SWING

  • What is reverse swing?
  • Its devastating effects
  • Who are the masters of reverse swing?
  • How does reverse swing work?
  • When does it happen?

WHAT IS REVERSE SWING?

Once the ball becomes older and more worn, it will begin to move in the opposite direction to where it would usually swing with no great change in the bowling grip.

reverse swing grips

reverse swing grips

For example, an outswinger’s grip will move towards the batsman in the air while an inswinger will move away from the bat.

All this tends to happen very late on in the delivery, making it difficult for the batsman to pick up the changes in the air.

Not every single bowler can obtain reverse swing – the ball needs to be propelled above 80mph or thereabouts to make it move in the air.

THE DEVASTATING EFFECTS OF REVERSE SWING

Reverse swing was one of the most significant contributing factors to England’s 2005 Ashes victory. Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones found prolific late reverse swing very early in innings that simply tied the Aussies in knots. The ball to dismiss Michael Clarke was truly out of this world. But where and when did the art of reverse swing originate?

THE MASTERS OF REVERSE SWING

Former Pakistan international Sarfraz Nawaz was the founder of reverse swing during the late 1970s, and he passed his knowledge on to former team-mate Imran Khan.

It was Imran who schooled bowlers Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, who brought the art to the cricket world’s attention during the late 1980s and 1990s.

The dynamic duo managed to make the old ball swing a considerable distance at pace in both directions, a skill few bowlers can master.

Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram certainly mastered the art to amazing effect. Reverse swinging yorkers are their legacy. Watch this reverse inswinging yorker from Waqar that smashes a stump in half . . .

HOW DOES IT WORK?

There have been plenty of theories about why, but here’s the simplest explanation from Australia fast bowling coach Troy Cooley:

“Reverse swing is all to do with the deterioration of the ball and the seam position in flight.

“As the ball becomes rougher, it will take on a different characteristic as it deteriorates.

“So if you present the ball as an outswinger, the ball has deteriorated so much on the rough side that it takes on the characteristics of the shiny side.

Which means a natural outswinger will become an inswinger and conversely, an inswinger into an outswinger.”

How England miss Troy Cooley these days.

WHEN DOES THE BALL START TO REVERSE?

Since reverse swing favours the older ball, it will usually start to move around the 40-over mark.

However, England‘s bowlers in 2005 were able to make the ball reverse after just 15 to 20 overs.

But how can bowlers manage to do this so early in the innings?

One theory could be the ball. In England, Test balls are manufactured by Dukes, while in Australia and the sub-continent the Kookaburra brand is usually used.

Like footballs, each manufacturers’ cricket balls are different. Some have more pronounced seams while others deteriorate slower, all of which have an influence on how the ball will move in the air.

Another theory is how some players are able to rough the ball up faster than other teams.

In England triumphant 2005 Ashes series Jones, Harmison and Flintoff all banged the ball hard into the pitch. The fielders also threw the ball back to wicket-keeper Geraint Jones on the bounce to aid the deterioration of the ball.

However, nothing has been scientifically proved – but batsmen the world over know what to expect when the ball starts to get older.

Reverse swing remains a fascinating aspect of cricket and a hotly debated intricacy of the game we all love.

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