Action is the most important part of a bowler’s training and becomes a part of their identity as a cricketer. The kind of bowling they choose to do depends hugely on the successful execution of the action. It also plays a big part in keeping them away from injuries which have the potential to ruin careers. The action can be broken down into Grip, approach, delivery stride, posture, the point of release and follow through.

Below we have discussed everything a beginner should know about basic bowling actions and the ones for four major bowling styles. We hope this will prove to be an informative read for all you aspiring bowlers out there.

The basic actions:

If you are a beginner, you should start training yourself for three major types of actions:

  • Sideways-on
  • Midway
  • Front-on

Let us look at how the action for each one of them differs from the other:

  • Sideways-on: In this action, hips and shoulders should be aligned and should be perpendicular to the back foot which is parallel with crease. The back leg should be stable and the back should be slight lean. Bowler’s head should be looking over his/her shoulder.
  • Front-on: The run up is usually straighter. Back foot will land pointing straight down the wicket and the front foot will do the same slightly ahead of it. Hips, shoulders should be square on for the batsman. As the bowling arm makes the rotation, the front arm is straight and moves towards the hip. This is followed by a follow through where the bowling arm goes across the body. Feet and chest and hips pointing down the pitch.
  • Midway: As the name suggests, this action is the mixture of the two with feet, hips and shoulders pointing in the same direction.

Once you have figured out how to execute the basic action, you have to implement it in your style of bowling. There are some bowling styles which require a certain type of bowling action as a pre-requisite but others give the freedom to choose and experiment. The two main categories of bowling are Fast and Spin which is further divided into two primary categories which are discussed below. You can learn the action for each one of them after having practiced the basic ones.

Action for swing bowling

Swing is a type of fast bowling where the aim is to serve the ball sideways as it moves through the air towards or away from the batsman. It is further divided into two categories: Inswing and outswing. Here are some tips to attain the ideal body posture for a swing delivery:

  • To start with, you should have an athletic posture with your upper body tilted forward by about 10-15 degrees. Remember to flex your knees.
  • Depending upon how much you hook the ball, make sure your bowling shoulder is about 1-3 inches below the level of your non-bowling shoulder.
  • It is crucial to delivering your ball on your intended target line and for that, it is necessary that you set your bowling shoulder slightly behind your non-bowling shoulder throughout your approach.
  • Avoid excessive rotation of the shoulder.
  • Maintain a good overall balance by keeping your head steady with your chin at or above shoulder level.
  • Try to avoid sudden body elevation changes during your approach and delivery.
  • Run with your wrist up for a smoother delivery. Before the delivery load up the ball and maintain an arm path for consistency.
  • Once you have thrown the ball, if it is an outswing, come outside of the body whereas if it is in swing, try not cross your hand to the other side and take it inside straight.
  • A length of 4.6-4.7 is advisable for swing bowling after a good run through.

Action for seam bowling

The seam is another brand of fast bowling. Here, a deliberate effort is made to make the ball land on its seam so that it deviates by hitting the imperfections on the pitch. Just like swing, seam bowlers also turn the ball towards the off side with off cutter and on the side with leg cutter. Let us look at the correct action for seam bowling.

  • Starting with the arms, make sure the one with which you ball is higher than the other with two fingers on each side of the seam
  • For a seamer, it is important to bowl with both feet on the ground so make an attempt that the back foot does not come off the ground too soon.
  • Both sideways and front-on, drive the right hip through quickly to get the body through the 180 degrees so that you gain enough momentum to throw the ball.
  • At the time of delivery, the seam has to be held upright between the index finger and the wrist has to be dead straight when the ball is delivered.
  • After the delivery, drive towards the target with the head still looking at the target.
  • Make sure the front arm is pulled back, straight and high while bowling arm completes the full circle from the initial load-up position to finishing past the hips close to the opposite side of the body, which for a right-hand bowler would be the left of the chest, near the armpit.

Action for an off spin delivery

Off spin is a category of spin bowling, done with fingers. Off spinners are right handed bowlers who throw deliveries in a way that they spin from the off side to the leg side, which means it goes towards the right-handed batsman).

  • The action we are discussing is the basic sideways action in which the run up tends to be from a slight angle to allow a slightly angled and short delivery stride.
  • Make sure you don’t put the front leg too far across towards the leg-side, otherwise there will be fear of blocking yourself.
  • At the time of delivery, it is essential that the bowler bowls with blocked front leg and bowls against it. Whereas the right leg should allow rotation of the body.
  • Keep the head upright and steady throughout the action and try to spin the ball hard while aiming to pitch the ball outside off-stump, so that you increase the chances of a clean bowl.
  • Don’t make the delivery stride too long as it will prevent pivot and the delivery will lose height.
  • Complete the delivery with a proper follows through. Running on the wicket, collapsing and poor leg drive are all examples of poorly follow throughs.

Action for a leg spin delivery

Leg spin is the opposite of off spin and involves sending the ball from leg side to the off side. Also known as the left arm unorthodox spin bowling,  it was made most famous by Australian bowling great Shane Warne. The leg spin can be further categorized into a googly and top spinner but let s focus on the basics for now.

  • The delivery stride for leg spin is slightly longer than the off spin. Otherwise, the basic action is similar.
  • Make an anti-clockwise motion with the wrist which flicks open for the delivery. Use the third finger to drag the seam from leg side to off side.
  • Rotate the shoulder fully for getting the required power for the delivery.
  • Drive through the right hip for energy but not as high as for the off spinner.
  • Make front foot the axis to rotate the body for a good leg spin.
  • Follow this with an energetic and full follow-thorough to.
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