This post is inspired (with permission) by Ian Pont's Fast Bowler's Bible. Click here to pick up a copy.
Just like smoking, you shouldn't bowl front foot no balls.
Neither habit is very good for you. That is scant consolation if you do find your foot stepping over the line though. Like a nicotine addict you find the harder you try to stop the harder it becomes. It starts to become an unbreakable habit.
Nobody understands how difficult it is.
Luckily, unlike smoking, your no ball problem can be eliminated in a few short practice sessions.
The truth about no balls
There are two main reasons for a no ball to be bowled.
- You are trying to get the extra yard of pace and overstep in your excitement
- You have a poor run up
The truth is that to make any significant impact on the batsman's perception of your pace you would need to bowl with your back foot over the line, not just your front foot.
It might feel like you are getting every last inch of pace by getting close to the line, but it's wasted effort. Even if you didn't overstep. So you need to reset your thinking, even when bowling at top pace.
Sorting out your run up
Start by making sure your run up is smooth and consistent right up to the crease.
The best way to deal with this is during practice. Start your practice session by marking your run up. Start at the bowling crease and run backwards towards the sightscreen until you feel ready to bowl then mark out the distance.
Fast bowling legend Dennis Lillee recommends you mark the distance with normal walking strides as these vary very little.
Try your run up a few times in the nets to make sure this feels comfortable and smooth in your approach. Get someone to watch your approach and front foot to make sure you are not stuttering or overstepping.
Landing behind the line
Ideally, the toes of your boots will touch the front line as you bowl. This gives you a foot worth of misjudgement before you overstep.
Do this in practice as much as you need to get it right.
You should never bowl no balls in practice as it simply reinforces bad habits.
If you are still having trouble staying behind the line you can aim to land your front foot anywhere between the back and front line. This gives you a large box area to land instead of a small line. You can see this depicted below as a white box (click to enlarge).
As we have learned, landing a little bit behind the line is not going to effect the batsman's perception of your speed.
Practice, practice, practice
When you have found a comfortable method, practice it until you can do it every time.
The practice it some more.
You can't practice enough. It's best to start without a batsman to get the feel and to groove your muscle memory before adding the pressure of trying to get someone out.
So get out there and get practicing.
If you have tried this method please leave your feedback in the comments section.
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