Saturday, July 02, 2022


In my early years of minding the ground at my first cricket home, the tradition that I saw trainers hand down to bowlers was to always pitch the ball up to the bat. Bowling anything short was criminal and a bowler may be taken off bowling for the rest of the day...even if it was in the net. In fact, you could be pardoned if it was a full toss. A short ball was a capital offence. You try it, you're off.
As my sojourn continued, I realised it was not just a tradition of my home ground. It was a common theme in almost all the grounds I minded. They all treated short ball bowlers the same. You hardly see any coach encouraging bowlers to try out the short ball. I would have been quick to forgive that fear if the batsmen around were delivering on the threats the coaches have promised the bowlers to get anytime they dropped anything short. The truth is that short deliveries are not the most ideal in cricket but they serve purpose.

In the recent series going on on the international stage, I saw wickets regularly fall to fast, well-directed short-pitched deliveries. I have never been able to wrap my mind around the idea that short balls are bad for the bowler. I have seen it work effectively on many stages. When used well, it can do one, more or all three of these:
1. Stem the flow of runs
2. Force batsmen into mistakes that will cost them thier wickets
3. Instill fear and trepidation into the batting line up
The key to getting the most out of a bouncer is to give it the proper direction. So, instead of forbidding bowlers (young, impressionable ones most especially) from bowling short, teach them to effectively use it as a weapon. What use is a bowler if he doesn't instill fear in the opposition? Reminds me of one of the most interesting phrases I came across in cricket: at speeds exceeding 90mph, it takes more skill to dodge the ball than to hit it.
It's getting windy out here. I got to go get some sleep.

- A Groundsman


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