How to get more wickets with swing bowling | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to get more wickets with swing bowling

Picture the scene. You are at the end of your run up. Conditions are in your favour and the ball has been swinging. Slips, gulley and the wicketkeeper are waiting.

You have been pitching the ball up a little further to encourage it to move but so far the batsman has been on top of you, hitting three drives through the gap at cover. He’s 12 not out.

You are not worried.

Your next ball is a beauty, moving late away as the batsman thinks he spies another boundary. The flashing drive in his mind catches the outside edge straight to second slip. You have your scalp for just 12 runs. Not a bad average so far...

That’s the art of swing bowling. When it works it’s incredible to watch. When it fails, it can be a disaster.

The basics of swing

A cricket ball swings because it has a seam. The air moving over the ball as you bowl it causes it to drift to the side. Very small adjustments in the position of the seam can lead to large movements. The outswinger moves from leg to off side, the inswinger moves from off to leg. The longer the ball is in the air, the more is swings. That means anyone can swing the ball no matter what their pace. In fact, the faster the bowler the less it swings.

To control which way the ball swings you start by adjusting the basic grip.


Basic grip. Here the seam is straight, pointing at the stumps when you deliver it.

Outswing grip. The seam has been turned towards slip (for a right handed batter). The wrist stays firm throughout.

Inswing grip. The seam is now turned towards fine leg (again for a right handed batter). The wrist is slightly less firm.



Seam position is most important. If it wobbles in the air you will not get the swing you are looking for. Ian Pont recommends making small adjustments to the seam position until you find swing but keep your wrist facing the batsman at the point of release.

The ball

How you look after the ball when bowling swing is important. The ideal ball for traditional swing is:

  • Relatively new
  • One side shined only
  • Dry
  • Clean

Everyone on the team has a duty to keep the ball as close to this condition as possible.The better condition the ball is in the more it will swing.

The tactics of swing bowling

Swing can be impossible to play but it takes some experimentation to get right because conditions do not always suit. The basic tactic is to pitch the ball up a a good length but close to a half volley around off stump. You are trying to encourage the batsman to want to drive, bringing in the slips and keeper (or bowl them through the gate with inswing). You may be hit for some runs if the ball does not swing early on, but keep experimenting with seam position.

If you bowl outswing too wide you are giving the batsman a sighter. If you bowl too straight the ball is less likely to swing and goes down the leg side. If you bowl too short the ball will not swing as much and the batsman can adjust more easily.

If the ball is not swinging, you can experiment with your position on the crease. Go wider or closer to the stumps to see if a change of angle helps. You can also change the pace of the ball. Sometimes going a little slower will make all the difference.

Sometimes the ball can swing too much giving the batsman time to leave it if it is not straight. You can counteract this by holding the ball across the seam. This will stop the ball swinging at all so you will need to find a new way to take wickets.

It’s a tightrope to walk and needs a forgiving captain who understands the fragility of swing. But if you understand your own methods and tactics you will be in a better position to take more wickets.

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strait out of the 1950's MCC coaching book

Did the ball not swing in the 1950's?

I acctualy quite like the MCC 1950's hand book. however i find teaching kids to bowl with the seam straight upright, is the best way as those with a natural wrist possition will swing the ball anyway, and later. If the arm is high and comes down straight its the wrist possition that swings the ball not canting the seam.

I agree about bowling with an upright seam to teach kids the basics of seam bowling.

However, it's quite advanced to try and teach anyone about wrist position to make the ball swing. It's a lot easier, in my experience, to teach someone to use the seam to act as a rudder. Of course, the position needs adjusting for different conditions.

good piont. Its just that with the kids we have (a lot from sub continent) they always try to bowl inswing like waquar, by canting the seam, even when they have classic sideways on (outswing) actions. Result is the ball does nothing. I try to encourage as high as arm as they can and the seam upright 99% of a good action is below the wrist. As they get older and have established a good basic action they can learn wrist position from a solid base.

With you totally on the importance of the action when teaching young players.

Yes, I actually deliberately use the upright seam when I bowl. I put my middle finger straight up and down the seam and my pointer finger to the side. Im convicned that this grip makes the ball swing later than if you hold it in the traditional method. I find that the ball really 'curls' at the end of its trajectory. The main problem with this technique is that 90% of your grip on the ball is on that middle finger and it can easily slip - and I therefore find I often end up bowling too full. But on a good day when that finger is 'sticking' and I get my action nice and high and straight it works a treat.

i think that kids should be taught to bowl with the seam position upright..when the ball swings anyway and can seam around. this allows them to find a regular rhythm and find their lines and lengths on a regular basis whilst also building up fitness and pace. what is swing with accuracy and consistency?

personally i find a side on action, short run up and no cross seam works best. Use the ball (as they say let the ball do the work), use the shinny side of the ball. If the ball is wet cut the ball rather than messing round putting it full for batters to charge you, (not good).

gd luck

Looks interesting

I find also putting the seam on a 45 degree angle helps in cut and swing.

I'm only 16 and just started bowling pace... with a newer ball i can get a bit of swing. Although i don't have a very good follow through... is there a tutorial on follow through?

Best advice you can get online is Ian Pont's How to bowl faster course. That has a whole section on the follow through.

I'm a swing bowler with a front on action. I can bowl inswingers pretty well but I cannot bowl outswingers whatever I do. Could anyone give me some tips please?

Swing is a complicated art, and how it works depends on the individual, we are all biodynamicaly different. However here are a few things i think i have learnt.
Producing swing is dependent on your hands release position, think about it logicaly. doesnt matter what your action is, its how your hand and wrist release the ball. There is some truth in the old side on front on ideas but they tend to swing the ball early in flight, easy for a batsman to pick up. Side ways on with a slightly low action its easy to swing the ball. Sometimes I'll drop my arm a little to get more swing against poor batsmen. But this method genraly angles the seam over so it doesnt hit the pitch ,loosing any movment this might generate off the pitch. Ther are exeptions. Lots of the best Pakistani bowlers do this, and at 90 mph plus its efective as the ball will appear to swing down as well as in to the batsman, Look at there late dipping yorkers. Check out Wasim on youtube for a lovely piece on using the wrist in bowling swing. Jimmy anderson has exactly the same action for in and out swing, just angles the seam a little each way but bowls out swing off the second finger in of the first. With and old ball polished on one side point the seam almost strait down the wicket and it will change its swing wichever way the shinny side is on. Its what Flintoff and Jones were doing in 2005 Id call this contrast swing not reverse swing and works at 70mph were real reverse swing needs to be at about 85 plus (unachievable for most club bowlers)
Its all down to the individual and practice. Get a decent quality red and white ball (dont buy the cheap ones there crap and often dont sit upright on there seam) go in a net and experiment. Last point wich i have never heard mention. If i look at my hand my second finger is about 3/4 of an inch longer than my first when releasing the ball this must make a difference to the release of the ball and i think its why i have a natural out swinger.

Try applying PVC tape to a tennis ball (as a seam), this helps with swing & is a method often used by the guys in the sub continent & look how good they swing the ball.


well, I'm 32, played football my life, but decided to take up cricket at the end of last season. bowled throughout the nets. I somehow manage to swing (outswing) the ball a country mile, to the point I have to aim outside leg stump to pull it round to middle and off. I simply put the shiny side on the leg side, come off in 3 paces and there you have it. Length is critical, I am prone to coming in a bit short sometimes and getting creamed for 4. Keeping the pace off it and a nice full length works for me. Also i find trying to do more with the ball doesn't work. Stick to what you're good at and keep it boring, i have found batsmen gt bored quite quickly and have a swing eventually. Got 23 wickets so far this season in my maiden bowling season.

good tips young bowlers

I,ve found that wrist position helps with the lateness of swing. Specifically if you bowl with your wrist cocked back at point of release the ball leaves the hand with the seam upright but spinning backwards towards the bowler. This means that it takes a tiny bit longer for the swing to kick in, but when it does it rips sharply sideways. Key is to keep the seam upright.

I have been teaching young bowler how to swing the ball..UAE

you have to change your run up line. This is only until you get the hang of out swing and have to get back to your straight approach to the wicket.

Out swing Right hand - approach the wicket with an angle run up - (mark your run-up straight- take two step to your left facing the batsman. try to run as if your running in a straight towards the stumps) Get as close to stumps as you can. Your bowling arm should finish on your left . I don't know how to post images here or else it would have been easy.

People say it is difficult to swing . Trust me it is easy . technique is all you need and practise will make it better.

Previous post was for Richard - Out swing if you have an open chested bowling action.

Hi...I would say that it is all in the wrist, keep it cocked back and make sure the last thing that touches the ball is your tall man finger? works for the Gold Coast bowling average for over 40's last year...also bloody lucky of course...but I also do the opposite with the ball that is shown here??? I always have the most side of the ball (rough side) facing the way i want it to swing, so the rough catches more air, therefore moving in that direction...

very help full tips

What is better .. A long run up or short one ??

One that works best for you to get you in rhythm. Generally it's shorter than you think.

Ok thank you.i usually try for a longer one. And my action is quite similar to dinda of india. But sometimes a just loose the line. And the ball goes for a wide. Any solution that how to improve it and my stamina ?

For accuracy its all about straight lines and keeping your action simple. Try practicing somewhere were there is a straight line marked on the floor. your run up. back foot landing and delivery stide and two exit strides should in an ideal world all happen on or about that line. Arm then as high as possible and brought down at the front knee on delivery. try to avoid over rotating in delivery. You can tell when that hapens you will find yourself pulling off the pitch to your left on release. Keep everything going down the pitch "After delivery" this is just as important for a quick bowler as what you do before you let the thing go.

i deliver my salam to all of u i want to say that when i was bowling outswing it becames bounce alot can u tell me i am fast medium bowler or fast bowler.and also want to say that is there any speed measurment of bowling in pakistan country.

Swing balls are really a beautiful thing to watch. Even though it’s hard to deliver a swing bowl in a right manner and with effectiveness, beverly diamonds reviews there are a lot of bowlers these days that are specialized in this category.