How to reverse swing a cricket ball?

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As the bowler hurls the cricket ball through the air, he will move it either away from or in toward the batsman. This is what is known as the “swing” of the cricket ball. 

As a ball is used during a long game, however, it can start to wear down. When this happens, it presents the prime opportunity for the bowler to do what’s called a reverse swing. When this happens, the cricket ball ends up moving in the exact opposite direction of what the batsman would expect. This, in turn, causes confusion with the batsman and may force him to not get a good hit on the cricket ball as he normally would.

There are ways that the bowler can polish the ball and position himself to throw the cricket ball well so that he can execute a reverse swing properly. Let’s dive further into how you can do this with a cricket ball.

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How to Reverse Swing a Cricket Ball?

Learning how to reverse swing a cricket ball is one of the best things you can do to stay ahead of batsmen as you’re playing in a match. As the cricket ball starts to wear down over the length of a game, you’ll have the ability to prepare it properly so you can reverse swing it.

When you do that, it’ll result in the cricket ball moving in the exact opposite direction than the batsman would expect — keeping him off balance and guessing as you’re trying to retire him. 

Below is a full step-by-step guide to how you can reverse swing a cricket ball. Following these steps will help you be more successful at executing a solid reverse swing.

Make Sure You Have a Good Grip On the Ball

As you’re going through the match, you always want to make sure that you’re going to have a good grip on the ball. When you have a good grip, you’ll be able to control where the ball goes after it leaves your hand. If you don’t have a good grip, you won’t have good control and likely won’t be successful.

Cricket

For the beginning part of the match, make sure that you’re preparing to eventually reverse swing the ball. This means you’re going to pick a side of the cricket ball that you will eventually polish. The other side of the ball is where you want to have it develop some wear throughout the match.

Always pay attention as you’re gripping the ball so you can identify the side of the ball that is becoming visibly worn down. This is the side of the ball that you aren’t going to want to touch. The other side is the one you will control by polishing.

Keeping the Ball Polished

Throughout the match, you want to be polishing the side of the ball that isn’t wearing down. You can do this by collecting saliva and sweat from your body.

You can take the sweat from your skin around your neck, arms, forehead, small of the back or underarms. You can always lick your hands from time to time so that your hands stay moist.

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Make sure, though, that you aren’t putting any foreign substances onto the ball. If you are wearing sunscreen to play, make sure it’s not getting onto your hand and then onto the ball.

If an umpire or player on the other team sees you using a foreign substance, then you can be fined and ultimately banned from playing in the match any longer. Again, make sure that you are only using saliva or sweat from your body to polish the ball.

Polish 1 Side of the Ball With Your Fingers

Once you collect all this saliva and sweat on your hands, you’re going to pick the one side of the ball that you’re going to polish. Here, you’ll take all of that substance you’ve collected and rub it onto the leather. Remember, you only want to do this on the one side of the cricket ball.

You want to work that moisture into the entire side of the cricket ball. This includes the area that sits right up against the stitches located in the center of the cricket ball. 

If you don’t shine the entire side of the ball, you won’t be able to reverse swing it as effectively as you want to. In order to do it properly, you really need to make sure the cricket ball is well polished with your saliva and sweat.

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Bowling for a Reverse Swing

Now that you’ve prepared the cricket ball well by polishing it over the early parts of the match, you’re ready to start considering using the reverse swing. You only want to start bowling reverse swings after the cricket ball has proceeded through at least 25 or 30 overs.

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At this point, you want to keep polishing that same side of the ball through the match, while allowing that other side to develop the wear that you need. On either side of the cricket ball’s stitches, you should see a noticeable difference.

The reason that the cricket ball is able to go through a reverse swing is that the air will flow quicker around the side of the ball that is rougher. The smoothness of the other side actually creates a suction, which will ultimately “pull” the cricket ball toward that direction.

Hold the ball with the Seams Pointing Toward the Slips Fielder

The slip fielder is the player who will be standing directly behind the wicket keeper on the pitch. You want to line up the stitches on the cricket ball so they are pointed in the direction towards that first slip. 

The great part about the reverse swing is that the batsman won’t see anything different from you, so he won’t know it’s coming. Remember not to change any style that you use when you bowl a reverse swing, because you don’t want to give away that you are attempting the reverse swing. If you give it away, the batsman might be able to take advantage.

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Point the Rough Side of the Ball Toward the Batsman

Next, make sure that the rough side of the cricket ball is pointed toward the batsman, with the shinier side being back the opposite way. The cricket ball will end up swinging toward the direction that the ball’s shinier side is facing. This will go against what the batsman is expecting, which is where the confusion comes in.

If you want to swing the cricket ball the other way, simply swap the direction in which the shinier and rough sides of the cricket ball are facing, and then the ball will swing in that direction as it heads toward the batsman.

Keep Your Wrist at a 20-30-Degree Angle Toward the Batsmen

As you’re preparing to throw, make sure that your wrist is cocked back, and that you also ensure it’s locked in a set place when you start your bowl of the cricket ball. This angle and positioning of your wrist will allow the cricket ball to roll off your fingers properly when you release it.

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The release here is a big key to bowling a successful reverse swing. If you don’t have your wrist positioned in this way, it may not end up going how you’d like it to.

Throw the Ball at 80 Miles per Hour

Finally, make sure that you are bowling the ball very fast if you are attempting a reverse swing. Cricket balls that are bowled at less than 80 mph (or 130 km per hour) simply won’t be able to move the way that you want it to.

So, make sure that you are prepared to throw a fast ball if you want to execute a good reverse swing. To do so, make sure you go through a full follow-through and that your entire motion ends with the throwing arm ending on the other side of the body when you finish.

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Conclusion

The reverse swing is one of the most effective things a bowler can do later in a match of cricket. It’s a deceiving bowl that will confuse the batsman into thinking the ball will go one direction, while it ends up going in the other.

For a reverse swing to be successful, it takes some practice and some work over the entirety of a match to prepare the ball and get it in the right condition. Follow some of the steps above if you want to learn how to successfully bowl a reverse swing. 

Devak Mukherjee

In this article I talked about how to reverse swing a cricket ball. As one of the most effective things a bowler can do in the game of cricket, you can practice with steps provided here to learn how to successfully bowl a reverse swing.

Devak Mukherjee has a masters degree in statistics and economics. Over the last couple of years he has specialized in sports betting and passionately teaches punters how to improve their odds with proven betting strategies.

Devak Mukherjee