In the sport of cricket, bowling is the action of propelling the ball toward the
wicket defended by a batsman. A player skilled at bowling is called a bowler. A
single act of bowling the ball towards the batsman is called a ball or a delivery.
Bowlers bowl deliveries in sets of six, called an over. Once a bowler has bowled
their over, one of their team mates will bowl an over from the other end of the
pitch. There are rules in the Laws of Cricket governing how a ball must be bowled.
If a ball is bowled illegally, an umpire will rule it a no ball. If a ball is bowled
too wide of the stumps or high for the batsman to be able to hit it, an umpire will
rule it a wide.
In the early days of cricketing history, underarm bowling was the only method employed.
Initially, all bowling was performed with an underarm action. Later, an English
woman, who used to play cricket alongside the gentlemen and who was attired in the
dress of the day for a lady â€“ a long, widely blousing dress â€“ was having difficulty
in bowling with an underarm action due to the blousing dress, and to counter this
she began to bowl with a roundarm delivery method. Soon after, a man who saw this
action began to employ it in matches, however, the roundarm method was quickly banned
and determined to be illegal. When it was accepted the rules stated that the arm
could not be raised above the shoulder. It was quickly found, however, that a raised
arm imparted more accuracy and generated more bounce than the roundarm method. Again,
the governing banned the method. It was not until the method was finally accepted
by cricketing authorities and grew rapidly in popularity amongst all players. Underarm
bowling had almost disappeared from the game. An infamous "underarm bowling incident"
occurred during a match in 1981, in which the bowler took advantage of the fact
that underarm bowling was still legal by rolling the ball along the ground. By doing
so he avoided the possibility that the batsman would score a six from the last ball
to tie the match. As a result of this incident underarm bowling was subsequently
made illegal in all grades of cricket, except by prior agreement of both teams,
as it was not considered to be within the spirit of the game.
Bowling the ball is distinguished from simply throwing the ball by a strictly specified
biomechanical definition. Originally, this definition said that the elbow joint
must not straighten out during the bowling action. Bowlers generally hold their
elbows fully extended and rotate the arm vertically about the shoulder joint to
impart velocity to the ball, releasing it near the top of the arc. Flexion at the
elbow was allowed, but any extension of the elbow was deemed to be a throw and would
be liable to be called a no ball. This was thought to be possible only if the bowler's
elbow was originally held in a slightly flexed position. In 2005, this definition
was deemed to be physically impossible by a scientific investigative commission.
Biomechanical studies that showed that all bowlers extend their elbows somewhat
throughout the bowling action, because the stress of swinging the arm around hyperextends
the elbow joint. A guideline was introduced to allow extensions or hyperextensions
of angles up to 15 degrees before deeming the ball illegally thrown.
In terms of strategic importance in a game, the priorities of a bowler are, in order
of importance: 1. Get batsmen out. 2. Prevent batsmen from scoring runs. Getting
batsmen out is the primary goal because once out a batsman can no longer bat in
the same innings, so the potential for scoring more runs is gone. Actually preventing
the scoring of a run at any point is relatively unimportant, and bowlers will often
deliberately bowl so as to make it easier for batsmen to score runs, in order to
build overconfidence, tempt them into a miscalculated shot, and thus get them out.
Conversely, some bowlers can and will bowl in order to stifle the scoring of runs.
This can cause the person batting to become frustrated and opt to play a more aggressive
or less competent stroke to break the patch of non-scoring, subsequently increasing
his or her chances of getting out. This style is more prominent in one-day cricket
where run getting comes at more of a premium. This contrasts with baseball, in which
the primary goal of pitching is to prevent the other team from scoring runs. This
is reflected in the difference in terminology of attack and defence between the
sports. In baseball, pitching is considered the defensive role, whereas in cricket
bowling is primarily an offensive role and is referred to as the attack or charge.
To achieve the goals of bowling, a variety of tactics have been developed. Naively,
bowling directly at the batsman's wicket seems a good idea, as this provides chances
to get the batsman out bowled or leg before wicket. However, most batsman are capable
of defending against such deliveries, especially if they expect them. A more promising
line of attack is to bowl away from the wicket, and entice the batsman to play a
shot at the ball in the hope of scoring runs. A mistimed stroke or deviation of
the ball in flight can result in the ball being hit in an unintended direction,
either on to the wicket or - more likely - to a fielder for a catch.