The Art of bowling and its evolution over time
The game of cricket wouldn’t be what it is today without both the sport, and the players that make it so entertaining, evolve and adapt as time goes on. If cricket were to still be played today the way it was played in its primal years from the 16th -19th century, I doubt tickets at Lord’s would be selling out the way it is today! Many improvements have been made to all aspects of the game, not just where the skills of players are concerned, but to the facilitation of matches, the sportsmanship, the training and nutrition, and of course, the rules too. In this blog I’ll be exploring changes in one particular aspect of the game: Bowling.
In the recent history of competitive cricket on an international level (since the birth of the ICC), there have been a plethora of talented and inspirational players who have made a name for themselves and their teams. Seeing these players both on-screen and live in matches has had a lasting effect on the passion and love that youngsters express for the game as a result of their consistent performances, and many a time it also stems from their unique styles and techniques they have adopted. When it comes to the bowlers that fit this category for me, a few names instantly come to mind. I presume many of you may be like me where you grew up with influence and inspiration from bowlers across a few generations, for whatever reasons they may be! Well, what better a way to see the changes that have occurred in the art of bowling than to see them in action in the last few generations of bowlers!
If there had to be a “Top 5 bowlers of the late 20th century” list, where those people are ones who have changed the way the game is perceived by breaking norms etc. I would have to include: Wasim Akram, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath, and Malcolm Marshall. Akram’s left-arm fast bowling action with his uncanny, short run-up resembled that of a viper coiling up to strike its prey, leaving batsmen completely unprepared to face his deliveries. His unique shoulder technique, as well as his delivery speed peaking at around 145kph, while also switching between over and around the wicket, were all contributing factors to the unquestionable dominance Akram asserted while on the field.
The late Shane Warne is one who needs no introduction. His leisurely, short run-up and seemingly easy action, followed by leg-spin deliveries that absolutely ripped across the surface of the wicket, spoke one word and one word only: OUT. The turn he was able to generate was among the main reasons he was such a terror to batsmen. Along with that, he was a passionate and outspoken individual on the cricket pitch who could simultaneously raise morale of his own teammates, while destroying that of the opposition with his sledging and mind-games.
Another legendary spinner, Muralitharan, was a machine when it came to economy by forcing the batsmen into a very conservative approach due to his huge arsenal of variations. Glenn McGrath and Malcolm Marshall were assassins with the ball with their savage bodyline bowling techniques and specialty in short balls. McGrath’s towering height of 6’6 definitely helped him with his pace and bounce generation, and his clean, wicket-to-wicket line of action forced batsmen to have to play at each and every ball. In my opinion, this generation of bowlers were the inspiration for the young aspiring international stars of today to play the way they do, with even more unique styles coming into play.
Coming now to the more recent generation of bowlers from the new millennium, my proposed top 5 would be James Anderson, Jasprit Bumrah, Pat Cummins, Rashid Khan, and Ravichandran Ashwin. Jimmy Anderson, the King of Swing, earned his name from his countless highlight reel features. The way he makes the ball drift is something I have not seen anyone do so elegantly, consistently, and precisely as him. Jasprit Bumrah’s galloping run-up and stiff bowling arm may have raised eyebrows at one point in his early career, but his merciless death-bowling and wicket taking soon silenced his critics. He is one of the best to ever do the yorker which is a skill that is considered a rare ace in most bowler’s collection of deliveries. Pat Cummins’ deceptive action as well as suffocating bouncers makes him such an intimidating force to batsmen too. Rashid Khan’s 100kph+ bowling speeds and fast run up, accompanied by his many different googly variations was almost completely unseen in cricket before, and Ravi Ashwin’s distinct action, his trademark carrom ball, and “LBW trap” bowling setup made these two spinners in particular so fascinating to watch.
Bowling has tested the boundaries of the rulebooks of cricket since the birth of the sport, and it’s because of the ingenuity, creativity, and daring nature of the player that have allowed it to become such a refined and beautiful skill. We at CA Sports are thrilled to have worked with so many distinguished players who have shown their prowess with both the bat and ball too, such as Kieron Pollard, Chris Jordan etc