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Swing Bowling and its 10 Best Exponents

What is Swing Bowling?

Swing Bowling is the fascinating part of cricket. Who doesn’t love to see the ball travel towards the batsman and suddenly tail away from him, or vice-versa, in mid-air? Except for batsmen of course!

Swing bowling is a subtype of fast bowling which basically involves causing the ball to move in the air. The reason behind its effectiveness is that the change in the ball’s trajectory usually deceives the batsmen and causes them to play a false shot unmerited to the delivery.

Swing bowling can be categorized into two types, i.e. Conventional swing and Reverse swing. Conventional swing bowling involves the use of a newer ball whereas the older and more worn ball is useful for Reverse swing.

The two primary forms of conventional swing bowling are Inswing and Outswing. Inswing cites to a delivery where the ball begins wider of the batsman and angles towards the batsman and stumps. Meanwhile, the delivery where the ball begins in line with the stumps but moves away such that it finishes wide of the stumps when it reaches the batsman.

Introduction of Swing Bowling In Cricket

Bart King - the founder of swing bowling
Bart King – Australian Cricketer

Although cricket was originated in England, the initial practices of swing bowling is considered to have started from a country which isn’t popular for cricket, America.

During the late 19th and early 20th century, Philadelphian all-rounder Bart King used to dismissed batsmen with his unique delivery, which he called the “angler” which is supposed to be the first occurrence of anything related to swing bowling in cricket. Sir Don Bradman once quoted him as “America’s greatest cricketing son” for injecting a brilliant craft into the sport.

10 Best Swing Bowlers

Since we’re all now familiar with swing bowling and the things around it, let’s jump into a list of 10 bowlers that I consider to be the best exponents of it, the swing kings.

#10 Ray Lindwall (Australia)

Ray Lindwall was one of the most complete fast bowlers to have ever graced the sport. His uncommon pace always gave him an advantage over anyone, but he never discounted the batsmen on superb control of length and direction either. Plus, his ability to move the ball in the air made him the finest of his era.

Playing 61 Test matches, Lindwall picked up 218 wickets at an impeccable bowling average of 23.03.

#9 Colin Croft (West Indies)

There was such a cutthroat competition among the fast bowlers during his days that despite having every trait of a great fast bowler in his arsenal, Colin Croft could only play 27 Test matches. But, Colin left no stones unturned proving his potential even in such limited chances. He took 125 wickets for West Indies at an average of 23.3.

His action looked a bit awkward but could move the ball off the seam prodigiously.

#8 Chaminda Vaas (Sri Lanka)

Unlike most of the other bowlers in this list, the pace wasn’t a weapon for Vaas. All he had was the great ability to swing the ball and guess what, he finished as the most successful Sri Lankan fast bowler in the longest format.

With 12 5-wicket hauls and 2 10-wicket hauls, Chaminda picked up 355 wickets in 111 matches.

#7 Terry Alderman (Australia)

Terry Alderman is the most debatable name in the list, but there are very few bowlers who could bowl out-swingers and off-cutters as good as his.

The Australian made most out of the English pitches that supported his swing bowling as he picked up more than 40 wickets in 1981 and 1989 Ashes.

Injuries and suspensions limited his career, but 170 wickets in just 40 matches earned him the tag of ‘Swing Genius.’

#6 Zaheer Khan (India)

Zaheer is quite inarguably the greatest Indian swing bowler. He had all the traits of a top-notch swing bowler and could swing the new ball whereas reverse the old one. What’s even more emphatical is that he did it on flat subcontinent pitches where fast bowlers get no help whatsoever.

He continually kept beating the batsmen throughout his career, resulting in 311 wickets in 92 Tests.

#5 Imran Khan (Pakistan)

Imran Khan was one of the reasons why bowlers gained more interest in swing and reverse swing because he used to make them look easy.

A relatively short-spin leading to a leap into his delivery stride and then unleashing hell; that’s what Imran. Bowling at an incredible average of 22.81, Imran picked up 362 wickets in 88 matches including 23 5-Wicket hauls and 6 10-Wicket hauls.

#4 James Anderson (England)

Jimmy Anderson is the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket among fast bowlers (584 in 151 matches) and before he bids international cricket adieu, he’s sure to add many more to the rally.

Playing most of his cricket in overcast English conditions, Anderson has dominated every batting line-up with his the red cherry that he could move to any direction he willed to.

#3 Dale Steyn (South Africa)

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Like most of the great fast bowlers, Steyn had a good pace, but what set him apart was his ability to swing the ball at 145 kmph and make batsmen look like mere bowling pins. In case a batsman survives the initial threats, there were very few who could also survive his reverse-swingers late in the innings.

439 wickets from just 93 games; the numbers could give anybody a run for their money. But, every one of us knows that if and only if Dale Steyn could be stayed fit long enough, he would have made top bowling record shattered.

#2 Waqar Younis (Pakistan)

With a slightly slingy action, Waqar could swing the ball both ways foxing batsmen of top standards. What made him stand apart from other swing bowlers were his toe-crushing in-swinging yorkers, which he could bowl at over 150 kph.

373 wickets from 87 Test matches signify how vicious he was with the cherry in his hand.

#1 Wasim Akram (Pakistan)

When the talk’s about swing bowling, Wasim Akram is the first name that pops into everyone’s head. He’s hailed as the ‘Sultan of Swing’ for that very reason.

414 wickets in 104 Test matches at 23.62 apiece; his numbers are justified what an absolute legend he is. The long run-up, quick arm action, and the ball start moving in and out mid-air; the batsmen had nowhere to go except for the pavilion.

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