Spin bowling is a craft that is full of different types of deliveries – often called ‘variations’. Elite leg spin bowlers like Shane Warne and Adil Rashid will bowl variation deliveries like the googly, the flipper, the slider and the top spinner in addition to their stock leg break delivery. The world’s best off spin bowlers like Ravi Ashwin and Mujeeb Ur Rahman include the arm ball, the carrom ball and the top spinner amongst their variations – and some skilled off spin bowlers can even add a doosra to this list!
Most of these variations that I’ve mentioned above are ‘spin based’ deliveries. They are intended to confuse or outfox the batsman by spinning the ball in a different way to a normal leg break or off break. This may lead some people to wonder if these are the only types of variations available to spin bowlers! Can spinners bowl other variations like a bouncer in the same way that a fast bowler does? If they can, why would they want to do this? What would the advantages and disadvantages be? These are the questions we’ll be exploring in this post!
So, can a spin bowler bowl a bouncer?
Yes, a spin bowler can bowl any type of delivery that they want, including a bouncer! There are many instances where spinners have bowled bouncers in professional cricket, with one of the most memorable ones being one that was bowled by Shane Warne to Kevin Pietersen in the 2005 Ashes series.
It’s important to note that in cricket there are limits on the number of bouncers that bowlers can bowl in each over – so spin bowlers will have to take this into account if they want to bowl multiple bouncers! In test cricket and one day internationals, bowlers can bowl a maximum of two bouncers per over. In T20 matches bowlers are limited even further, with one bouncer being the maximum they can bowl per over. If any type of bowler exceeds these limits, they will get themselves in trouble with the umpire. If you would like to know more about what the legal definition of a bouncer is, and what can happen to a bowler if they bowl too many, click here to read one of my other posts on that topic!
Because spin bowlers have short run ups and do not bowl speeds that are similar to fast bowlers, a bouncer is hard to execute properly. This is why most spinners will focus mainly on pitching the ball up towards the batsman and trying to drag them on to the front foot. This is how spin bowlers get most of their wickets! With this in mind, you may be wondering why a spin bowler would ever choose to bowl a bouncer! Allow me to explain…
Why Would A Spinner Choose To Bowl A Bouncer?
So, given that a bouncer isn’t necessarily the most effective ball that a spinner can bowl, why do they bowl them? The answer to this is quite simple – they bowl bouncers to make batsmen more hesitant about lunging on to the front foot.
When playing against spin bowlers, a large proportion of batsmen will recognise how important it is to get down the wicket to the pitch of the ball. By doing this, they can intercept the ball and hit it before it has had a chance to spin a long way. This decreases the risk that the ball will spin past their bat. Because a lot of batsmen expect spinners to bowl full, they will immediately move their front foot down the pitch towards the bowler. Batsmen can’t really do this against fast bowlers because of the threat of the bouncer. A batsman who lunges onto the front foot against a bowler like Morne Morkel or Jofra Archer would probably end up receiving a barrage of fast bouncers that forced them back into their crease. It is much harder to deal with a bouncer if you are already camped on the front foot – and this is why spin bowlers will sometimes bowl them too!
For example, if a batsman like Kevin Pietersen is continuously taking a huge stride down the pitch to a spin bowler like Shane Warne, then Warne can use the bouncer to say ‘if you keep moving forwards like that, I’m going to try and hit you’. It is clear to Warne that Pietersen is guessing where the ball is going to land before it has been bowled – so why not use the short ball to put some doubt into the batsman’s mind? If the short ball is bowled well, then a batsman like Pietersen would realise that he has to respect that type of delivery and stop moving his front foot down the pitch as early.
How To Bowl An Effective Bouncer
If a spin bowler wants to bowl a bouncer that is effective and succeeds in pushing the batsman onto the back foot, there are several things they should aim to do. Let’s go through them below…
Maintain A Consistent Run Up And Delivery Stride
For a spinner to bowl an effective bouncer, the most important thing is to not provide the batsman with a clue that you’re about to deliver one. Most spin bowlers aren’t comfortable bowling bouncers, and this will be obvious in the way that they approach the crease. Instead of going through their usual run up, they will change it slightly and grip the ball in a different way. They also won’t cock their wrist in the same way as they usually would when bowling spin. All of these differences to the usual approach tells the batsman that they are about to see something different – and therefore they will be more prepared for a variation.
Ideally, a spin bowler will keep everything the same as usual. By going through their normal run up, holding the ball in the same way and positioning their hand/wrist as they usually would, they can convince the batsman that they are about to receive a normal spinning delivery. Then, when the batsman is least expecting it, they can spear in a bouncer that targets the batsman’s upper body. The best, most effective variations are ones that have no visual differences for the batsman to pick up on – so take this into account if you’re a spinner that plans to bowl some bouncers.
Elevate Your Speed
Most spin bowlers will have a standard bowling speed between 45 – 60mph (70 – 95km/h), and this isn’t really fast enough to be able to bowl a sharp bouncer. So, any spin bowler that wants to bowl a good short ball will have to put a bit of extra effort in and try to bowl it a lot faster than usual.
By raising your speed, you will ensure that you can get the ball high enough to challenge the batsman. It will also stop the ball looping towards them, which would have made it easier for them to hit.
Sometimes when you try to bowl faster than usual it’s a lot harder to bowl accurately, so I’d recommend getting plenty of practice bowling bouncers from your normal spin bowling run up. The more you practice, the more accurate and effective your deliveries will be.
Target The Correct Areas Of The Pitch
If you want to bowl a good bouncer, then you need to be landing the ball in the correct place! Ideally you should land the ball in the zone highlighted in the image below! It should be in line with the batsman’s middle/off stump, and around halfway down the pitch.
I hope this post has given you all the information you need on this topic. Bouncers are a useful skill for a spin bowler to possess, and I personally take the view that they should use them more often than they currently do! If bowled in the right way, it could be just as effective as other popular spin variations like googlies or arm balls!