Ask the Readers: Swing Bowling Against a Breeze? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Ask the Readers: Swing Bowling Against a Breeze?

Phil sent in a question and, frankly, it's one I thought the PitchVision readers would be able to help.

Here it is:

"Having played league cricket 26 years and taken a wicket or two, I have now moved city. The ground where I now play is very open and there is a strong breeze blowing from left to right. As an away swing bowler I have quickly accepted that I cannot swing it away to a right-hander when the wind is blowing across. Is this incorrect of me? Of course, I would assume a high class swing bowler would have no trouble but I am unsure whether it is possible or not"

So, what do you think?


My opinion is that local knowledge is crucial here. Certainly by the sounds of it, Phil is fighting a losing battle against the force of the wind.

However, swing bowling is as much an art as it is a science. That means sometimes things happen that make no sense and the ball will swing into the wind.

There are a lot of moving parts to consider:

  • the ball quality and condition
  • the bowler's pace and action
  • the speed of the wind
  • the type of wind (gusty or consistent)
  • Angle of the seam

If other factors fall into place then I would never rule out swinging it away before you have bowled a ball.

So, Phil is best trying to swing it away to see what happens. Experiment with the pace bowled, seam position and length of delivery. See what happens.

If the ball doesn't deviate then it's time to go to plan B. Perhaps bowling wide outside off stump to a 6/3 or 7/2 field.

But them, I'm not a swing bowler who has to struggle with the wind. Maybe you are, so is it a lost cause for Phil?

Leave a comment and let us know your experiences.

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Bowl from the other end? Learn to swing the ball the other way?

If its a very strong breeze, then you won't be able to swing it enough to counteract the breeze. You might be able to create doubt in the batsman's mind though by usng your swing ability to get the ball it to hold its line agaisnt the breeze, and then bowl a cross seam delivery that bends in on the wind.

Something that I have noticed is that the more back spin revolutions there are on the ball the more it will swing. I'm not sure if it really does work that way but back spin is meant to keep the seam upright, and the more upright the seam the more swing? So try the Glenn Mcgrath approach and cock your wrist, then thrust your fingers forward over the top of the ball which is supposed to give you more revs.

I'd suggest using angle when the wind is strong for example bowl from wide of the stumps and bowl the ball towards the batsman's pads, then straighten it with out swing, and maybe it will nip off the seam to the leg side / off side confusing the batsman.

You could also bowl a leg cutter and it should drift and swing in then straighten, very deadly! If you bowl slower the wind will blow the ball more to the right, so mix your pace up frequently and the ball will swing in / out differently each time.

When you bowl around the wickets you can bowl out swingers and leg cutters at off stump which the batsman can leave / play defensively, then a surprise in swinger. Start it outside off stump so the batsman is ready to leave, then it'll come back in and probably come in some more after it pitches.

So as you can see there is really no reason why this cross wind should effect your bowling negatively, it just creates more ways to get the batsman out.

Just bowl from the other end!

It is possible to swing the ball against the wind. I play at club level and open the bowling with the new ball. I swing it in. We frequently have a cross-wind at our home ground. I normally bowl with an away swing bowler at the other end, so we each get given the ends with the wind blowing in the direction that should 'assist' our swing. But this can make my deliveries swing too much (so balls that start with a line just outside off-stump, or on the stumps, end up hooping down leg side). But when I bowl from the other end, so I'm swinging it into the cross-wind, it 'dampens' the swing, but still swings enough to cause batters difficulty (eg, they get bowled through the gate). It can actually improve my bowling!

Phil, If you are in England I may be able to help.

If not, then it's quiet a thing to describe the swing bowling in words. But with me it's more about mental thing then physical.

Dont matter which way the wind is blowing, I just assume in my mind what next ball is gonna do. On top of that, when I swing it both in and out, apart from many other things, I have noticed that your follow-through and the body position is just as important as the seam position and the Ball condition.

However, coming back to square one, if you are in england drop me a line I can help.

er change ends?!

Thank you for the sensible answers - it's appreciated. I've even bought a training ball for this winter's indoor nets! I feel also it maybe that I should have the two fingers slightly apart as opposed to together on the seam....

It is probably my arm coming down straight as too across the body - lots to think about and re-work on! never too late to learn though...............


There is a lot of "pseudo-science" talked about swing bowling, and also a few excellent coaches who can explain and demonstrate the art of swing bowling.

I am both a coach and a scientist (by education, at least)...but what follows is written as a fellow swing bowler, over 35 seasons, who seems to have spent at least half of that time bowling against or across what appear to be unfavourable winds!

Every bowler is different. This is what I have experienced.

I have been told that it is not possible to swing the ball against a cross-wind. But in practice, the impact on "traditional" swing (new ball, in the direction of the seam angle; older ball, away from the shined side) seems to be minimal if you can maintain your normal delivery.

This might not be true if all the bowler does is "push" the ball away from or into the batsman (rather like my so-called "in-swinger"). But we are talking about swing bowling.

I have also been told that a head-wind will reduce swing, because it slows the ball down and swing only happens above a critical speed. But a cricket ball is relatively small, and wind resistance quite low - a head-wind slows me down (I am not aerodynamic!), but the ball should lose only a little pace.

For me, a steady breeze from around second slip's right foot (so a mixed head- and cross-wind) generally sees my bowling at its most effective, with late away swing and even the appearance of a little dip in flight (OK, I might be imagining the latter).

The basic mechanics of swing bowling must be maintained - seam upright at the point of release and during flight (which demands a light finger-tip grip, and certainly does seem to be aided by as much back spin as you can impart whilst keeping control of the release), full follow-through of the arm and body. With "a wicket or two" over 26 years of league cricket, I suspect you do this already! By all means practice with the swing ball over the winter, but don't lose what you already have.

The impact of the wind on the flight of the ball is likely to be negligible, unless you are playing in a howling gale. Keep trying to swing the ball.

Try to forget the wind. I suspect that the biggest impact is likely to be on your balance at the point of release, and, consequently, on the height and angle of your bowling arm. You might need to compensate for this by changing something lower down (perhaps by consciously open your shoulders a little more towards chest-on, for example...the cross wind will push you back into your regular release point).

If you do want the science of swing, the very best explanation I have read is in Brian Wilkins' "The Bowler's Art".