Yorkers are game changing balls.
Any bowler. On any pitch. At any time. You turn an innings around with the use of a good yorker or two. Ian Pont thinks they are so important that mastering one gives you a blank cheque for the IPL. But it's not just at the end of a Twenty20 game where they are destructive.
A yorker is a difficult ball to negotiate, even for well set batsman. You can bring it any time you want to upset the guy at the other end. You can use it to break a big partnership in longer games just as effectively as you can keep runs down at the death.
So if they are so useful, why don't we see them used more often?
Because they are hard to bowl for most of us.
The target area is smaller than any other ball. There is no room for error. The ideal yorker must land in a tiny area at the batsman's feet:
Miss that box (which is about 50cm by 20cm) and you end up bowling a half volley or full toss and getting smashed for a boundary. You have to be exact and that ain't easy. So what do most of us do? Work on "line and length" and ignore the yorker until you bowl one by accident.
That plan will never get you to the top. Let's do something different instead: Learn how to hit that target with confidence and you will have a powerful weapon.
So, how do you bowl a yorker?
- Look at the target. Ask most bowler's where they look when they are running in and they won't be quite sure. For some of us, this is fine, but for at least half (if not more) laser-focus your eyes in on something. This could be the batsman's toes, the crease line, the base of off stump or anywhere you know will drive you to the right length. I know of one bowler who focused on just above the batsman's head! It worked for him, he could nail those yorkers. So, find your point and imagine yourself hitting the right spot as you run in.
- Drive your bowling shoulder to the target. The bowling shoulder is crucial in bowling a yorker. Drive it towards the base of the stumps and if you do it right the ball will be faster and fuller. Other than this technical change, there is not much more you can do to specifically bowl a yorker. That said, the more powerful your action, the better your accuracy in general, so send time developing an action that gives you the best chance of accuracy. Use Ian Pont's 4 Tent Pegs as a starting point.
- Practice deliberately. If you do nothing else, do this. Yorkers are hard to bowl so they need practice. Don't wait until a game to see if you can bowl one. After your normal net session, do some target practice without a batsman in the way. Go for 80:20 split. So if you bowl 40 balls in practice, bowl 8 yorkers at the end. This is why PitchVision is so important for bowlers, as you can track your improvement over time no matter how small. If we don't track it, we tend to assume we did well or badly based on the last few balls rather than seeing an uptick in accuracy from 64% to 71%. Keep track of your accuracy over the weeks you can trace how much you are improving.
Producing a good yorker is not about having a natural talent for it, but it's more about practicing so much you can get it right under pressure in the middle. Yet most bowlers trying for no more reason that it's harder to bowl than a good line and length.
Don't be that guy. Use just a few extra balls practice a week, build the confidence to bowl yorkers and take more wickets.