What is a good length to bowl?

It doesn't matter if you bowl occasional leg spin or you open for a Premier League team; you want to bowl a good length.

Consist accuracy is one of the non-negotiable Laws of bowling success.

But what does a 'good length' really mean?

In the past coaches have always stuck to the mantra of 'putting the batsman in 2 minds'.

A good length is the ball that the batsman finds hard to decide to go forward or back to play it. And doubt leads to mistakes.

In modern times tools like PitchVision are allowing us to take this further.

We can see where different bowlers are pitching the ball, and what success they have at different lengths, which helps build a picture up of where all bowlers should be aiming.

And while this helps, in reality length is not to do with where the ball pitches at all.

The target area

A good length can only be measured by where the ball passes the stumps.

This is because of the variety in pitches.

Slow and low pitches will see a good bowler dropping his length back a little; quicker and bouncier pitches need the ball to be fuller to pass the same place.

The length has altered a great deal, but the end result is the same.

So if you are no longer thinking about where the ball pitches, what is the target area you are aiming for?

In most cases you will be looking to bowl the classic 'hitting the top of off stump'; an area about 25cm square on and just outside the off stump.

In training you can use tools like PitchVision, or a towel hung behind the net to aim at. This will allow you to work out where to pitch the ball to hit that target.

Remember though, pitches do vary, so you need to be able to adjust your length to the conditions.

Practice bowling a little full and a little short to get used to these minor adjustments.

Then next time your captain asks you to put it on a length from the first ball, you will be ready to oblige with control, accuracy and wickets.

For more advice on consistently accurate pace bowling, including drills, purchase Andy Caddick's online cricket coaching course: Consistency and Rhythm: Fast Bowling Technique from PitchVision Academy.

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Comments

In your "How deliberate is your bowling practice?" article you talk about getting the left arm seamer you know to target the markers you laid on the pitch. In this article you say to hang a towel behind off stump and aim at that.

Aren't there different messages here, aim at the pitch or aim at the top of off? I personally aim at a spot on the pitch but what do you think is best? I find when the ball is swinging, and i usually bowl in swing to a right hander, if i look at the top of off and the ball swings it ends up at the top of leg. obviously not where you want to bowl generally.

Perhaps it's just a personal thing, i spoke to Jason Gillespie once and he said he used to aim at the wicket keeper but he'd spoken to Dennis Lillee who would aim at the bottom of off stump to hit the top!

Simon, when I did my training I would also put a marker down on the pitch and try to hit it.

However, when I resume bowling training I will change it around and focus on hitting the top of the off stump corridor. This is something that I will look to introduce. So I will look at a spot on the pitch, however, also introducing the top of the off stump target. Something like this:

http://shop.maverickscricket.com/v/vspfiles/photos/TARGET001-2.jpg

Its all about training your muscle memory to release the ball at the correct time to hit the good length. And what Dave is saying in this article is very true. Depending on the pitch you are playing, you need to adjust your length to hit the off stump target, which basically means changing the time you release the ball.

Alek is right, it is a personal thing. Andy Caddick recommends aiming at the top of off like in this article but there is no hard and fast rule. Experiment with different areas to focus on and use whatever works best for you to stay focused.

Plz infrm me
How to know good length area
I mean from stems how many meters/yards to good length area

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