I am often asked who was the best, fastest or toughest bowler I ever faced and I quite enjoy giving different answers every time. Well, it keeps me amused anyway –but the underlying point is that one could revise this whole list on a daily basis and never really be right and never really be wrong - DAVID GOWER
One difference is that when it swings the ball will generally keep going the same way off the pitch. With drift / swerve, it will move one way in the air and the opposite way off the pitch.
I've just come across this link of SF Barnes in action. Not great footage and he's well past his best but interesting nonetheless.
reverse sweeper: S.F. BARNES ON FILM
"The best of 'em today is half as good as Barnie." - Wilfred Rhodes on SF Barnes
That was just awesome, never thought I would get the opportunity to see the great man bowl.
Nothing I saw though would dissuade me from the belief that he was a quick spinner like O'Reilly, and it was definately not fast medium. That and that fact that he him self said that he was a spinner( or at least stating that he spun rather than swung tha ball).
Simpson^ | Hayden | Bradman | Chappell^ | Ponting | Border* | Gilchrist+ | Davidson3 | Warne4^ | Lillee1 | McGrath2
Greenidge | Hunte | Richards^ | Headley* | Lara^ | Sobers5^ | Walcott+ | Marshall1 | Ambrose2 | Holding3 | Garner4
Richards^ | Smith*^ | Amla | Pollock | Kallis5^ | Nourse | Cameron+ | Procter3 | Steyn1 | Tayfield4 | Donald2
Hobbs | Hutton*^ | Hammond^ | Compton | Barrington | Botham5^ | Knott | Trueman1 | Laker4 | Larwood2 | Barnes3
He did call himself a spinner but that was bcos he didn't like being called a cutter as he thought that relied on seam position and therefore an amount of luck. Barnes was jealous enough to remind people the he alone imparted the deviations that made him so successful irrespective of the responsiveness of the pitch.
Unlike O'Reilly barnes could take the new ball regularly and operate at fast medium. I don't think you can categorise the breadth of his skills in just one brief and grainy vid.
"If I'd been going for records I could've scored a lot more runs".
Guess who my new ATG all rounder is?
For the remaining 4 tests Barnes opened with Foster after Warner had a chat with Douglas. From that point they were victorious.
The American, Bart King, bamboozled Englishman and captivated the English public when he demonstrated the in swinging boomerangs he called "the anglers". On tour to England in 1897, 1903 and 1908 he mesmerised English cricketers and fans alike. Have a look at his figures
In FC cricket, mostly against visiting Australian and English sides and on his three tours to England at the turn of the century, King tookCode:Year Wkts Avg 1897 72 24.2 1903 93 14.9 1908 87 11
- 415 wickets
- at 10.5 runs apiece !
- in only 65 games !!
- 38 five fors in 65 games - or 3 every 5 games !!
- 11 10 fors - or 1 every 5th game !
and all this playing for Philadelphia against the world's best first class cricketers
But no one from the test playing countries really mastered the art of the swing as we understand it of moving the ball in the air by manipulating the seam.
By the way, there is much confusion over the very terms swerve and swing and they seem to convey different things at different times to different people. Bert Oldfield (Aussie keeper 1920-21 to 1937-37) writes . . .
Swing and swerve are often confused and for that reason I would like to explain that swerve is the result of a spinning ball moving through the air, while a swing is caused by holding the seam of the ball with varying grips. IN short, swerve is caused by spin, aided by atmospherics, and swing is the result of the seam which is why the new ball swings more than the old.
It is a matter of considerable interest watching the effect of spin on the ball when bowled in a moist atmosphere and into a slight breeze. It will be found that a leg-break will swing-in (in) the air out towards fine leg, and on hitting the pitch the spin brings the ball back towards the stumps.
In the case of the off-break bowlers, his delivery, when bowling into the breeze, will swerve or "float" out towards slips and swing back towards the stumps on pitching.
Then some bowlers, Monty Noble appears to have been the first, started using the seem to make the ball swerve, which was understood to be the movement 'off the pitch' of a ball that was not spun but landed on the seam. Before this bowlers like Richardson and Spofforth had made the ball 'break back' which was really by bowling what we understand as off cutters.
In Barclay's World of Cricket, Peebles writes . . .
Once the comparatively simple device of using the seam as a rudder or fin had been grasped, the cult spread rapidly and by the outbreak of the First War most new ball bowlers had acquired the new tricks.
JWHT Douglas led the field amongst the swervers, with the power to make the ball dip in either direction very late in the flight. But of all the bowlers SF Barnes bestrode the scene a towering figure.At a fast medium pace, he combined spin and swrerve in a way which has never since been equalled, or indeed imitated, to any effective degree, except, perhaps, by Bedser's 'cut' from the leg. He (Barnes) mastered the googly out of curiosity but considered it superfluous to his armoury. His unique powers also had a strong influence on the batting of the day.
So lets not run down Barnes because he did not 'swing' the ball in the air. That's as bad as condemning Bradman for not playing the reverse sweep. They did what they had to do as batsman and bowler and to unparalleled success. Just because their means do not satisfy our limited and restricted short list of what a bowler must do does not belittle them . . . lets understand the great bowler that he was and why almost universally he is accepted as the greatest on one of 2-3 greatest bowlers in the history of the game.
BTW, if we remove all those who did not swing the ball I could prepare a very impressive list of new ball bowlers from the first Test match in 1877 to the present day. The list would have 'Demon' Spofforth at the top and some very interesting and great names along time . . .
Last edited by SJS; 29-01-2013 at 08:51 PM.
SJS I'm not sure if King was the inventor of swing as much as its best exponent. I recall George Hirst being feared bcos of his "swerve" especially into the bat. I've also read (Bernard Hollowood I think) describe Barnes' ability to swing the ball. There was very little he couldn't do. Well he couldn't do the googly but exclaimed he didn't need to! It does seem swing was being developed for the 1st time in and around that golden age era though. Very inventive era as it also saw the invention of the bosie, googly, wrong'un; call it what you will.
Such an interesting insight into what those words actually meant in the early days of cricket. It sounds to me as if swerve was essentially an old fashioned word for what we now call "drift", and therefore the likes of Noble and Barnes who we know as "swerve bowlers" and who cricinfo records as medium pacers, were actually spinning the ball in the air and moving it not through seam manipulation but by side spin!Originally Posted by SJS (Peebles)
Rejecting 'analysis by checklist' and 'skill absolutism' since Dec '09
Rejecting 'selection deontology' since Mar '15
Moeen is a perfectly fine bowler FFS
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