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Death Bowling - A Case for the Defence

vic_orthdox

Global Moderator
Let me just vent for a bit here.

One of the most enjoyable trends in cricket is for commentators to only refer to yorkers when they don't get hit.

Start with our favourite, Sir Geoffrey...

In the last seven overs we bowled only seven yorkers. Three were not scored off and four went for a single. Perhaps that tells you something.
England were bloody stupid against Australia - their World Cup campaign is already in crisis - Telegraph

Well, I for one remember Jimmy Anderson being taken over cover off a ball that was about fifteen centimetres short of Maxwell's foot. That's a yorker, it just still went for four.

Secondly, people keep talking about the ramp as though that's why bowlers fear bowling the yorker. The real reason is the change of natural technique. Think of most of the guys who you watched growing up - from Greg Chappell, Gooch, Gower, even through to Mark Waugh - you bowled the ball at off stump and it went through mid-wicket, or square leg. This generally saw the front foot line up with at least middle stump.

Picture a ball that is super full, that will only get up to halfway to your knee. With your leg in line with the ball, you have to hit across your pad, your impact zone is suddenly ten to fifteen centimetres in front of your pad, and you can't generate any power. That's even if the guy misses the yorker, whether it be short of it or a low full toss.

Guys nowadays set their techniques up to hit the ball back where it came from a lot more. Watch Mitch Marsh - he sets his left hip up back to the bowler all the time, and it feels even natural to him to push it towards mid-on. This allows guys to hit the ball after it's gone past his pad, even if it is a yorker - underneath his eyes like a golf shot, the most powerful spot of all. This has been the most important reason why the yorker is being "hunted" - the time of "a low full toss is still OK" or "still full enough to not be able to get under it" doesn't exist anymore.

Thirdly, by bowling short you are hitting a target ten metres away, with a better idea of controlling the scoring zones in a lot of those cases, especially when you only have four fielders to spare. If you miss that target by 10% (lets say), the actual distance that you miss the initial target by is less, hence the batsman is still likely to play the shot that you are hoping for, and you bring the natural variation of the wicket into play.

When you go for the yorker, and miss by the same degree (10%), the variance is much higher over the longer distance, and more likely to be punished.

Fourthly, this effect is multiplied for taller bowlers. A taller bowler missing the yorker by a small amount ends up providing much more vertical angle to work with. Following on from England's success, teams have gone searching for height in their quicks. Thus, there are a lot more quicks who are vulnerable to being taken to with the yorkers.

That's it, the case for the defence.
 

Prince EWS

Global Moderator
This was pretty hilarious when Zimbabwe were bowling at the death to South Africa. After getting hammered around for a while already, Chatara actually landed a yorker and it was dot ball. Matthew Hayden then when on a rant about how they should've been bowling yorkers all along. The next three balls were all attempted yorkers that just missed the target and ended up low full tosses - all went to the boundary. Hayden then pondered over why had Chatara had changed his plan, as if bowling full tosses instead was actually a planned move.

When half volleys and low full tosses get put away, that's definitely not a time to start talking about yorkers. It's actually a perfect example of why going on about yorkers constantly is silly -- they're hard to execute, particularly when batsmen are changing their stance all the time, and particularly when a small error either way is basically a gimme ball these days for the reasons you just outlined.

I do think some teams could be served by going for the yorker a bit more often -- particularly the yorker wide of off -- but the simplistic carry on about it is absurd.
 
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Goughy

Hall of Fame Member
In Defence of the Yorker

I don't necessarily disagree with the OP but I will defend the yorker.

It is true that the way players set their weight back in the crease and open their left side makes the yorker less effective than before but that doesn't make it ineffective. Yes, the yorker is hitable but so is everything else in modern cricket.

It brings the stumps into play and it is closer to the natural length than bowling short and feels more 'normal' than pulling the ball down.

The short ball is the easiest ball for a batsman to sight. All the modern talk of quicker and slower ball bouncers may be true but there is no reason why the yorker cannot be bowler at different speeds. The slower ball yorker is a hell of a delivery to have. The short ball can easily go wrong opening up both sides of the field with the batsman having a lot of time and little consequence of a poor shot other than picking out a fielder. We are also in an era where it appears we see more above shoulder wides than width wides.

Variety is key. Batsmen want to line the bowler up. We all know that is why a change of pace is essential but a change in length is also important. Bowling a yorker has to be part of a quick bowlers armoury to keep the batsman honest. Sure they are hard to bowl bu that doesnt mean people should stop trying.

While an increasing number of players can hit the yorker for 6 or ramp the ball, it is still tough to do and it is harder to get underneath the yorker.

Players have adapted to play the yorker better than before but that doesn't mean it should be abandoned.

The issue isnt whether the yorker has had its day. The issue is variety. Bowlers should bowl more yorkers but they shouldnt try to bowl them exclusively. They still have an important role and appear to have gone out of fashion.
 
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smalishah84

The Tiger King
yep, quite agree with goughy there. A yorker aimed for the stumps with a change of pace now and then is still a better delivery than your good length or shorter pitched stuff in the death overs. With the yorker these days you will still get hit but getting the yorker away is generally still tougher than a half tracker. Also as goughy mentions (and i hate this cliche) "you miss and I hit" is quite true for a yorker bowled at the stumps. So whichever way you look at it, it really is the best ball for the final overs.
 

Burgey

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Threads like this are one of the reasons I first joined CW when I was browsing cricket sites years ago. Excellent contributions from everyone here, if I might say.

Having read everyone's posts so far, is the answer really to look more at the line of the attempted ball than the length? I have a natural aversion to thinking that bowling short is generally the way to go at the death, principally because I've always thought it allows the batsman so many options as to where they can hit the ball. Having said that, with only four fielders allowed out, if you miss a Yorker you're toast.

So is the answer that you put all four of your blokes out on the off side and try to bowl a foot wide of off stump, ideally a Yorker, but otherwise generally fullish if you miss, with that protection in place? I really don't see what your other options are at the death as a bowler with only four blokes out tbh. If a bloke wanted to bowl me four slower bouncers an over I'd rather have that than someone aiming full and outside off, but I of course concede the pros can (a) play all around the wicket, and (b) research these things far more than I ever have or likely will.

FWIW (ie, nowt), and without wanting to take the thread down a different tack, I reckon they should revert to five fielders outside the circle for the last ten overs. On an average pitch in a game between two competitive sides, 300 is barely par these days. You wouldn't be a bowler for quids.
 
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Riggins

International Captain
Having read everyone's posts so far, is the answer really to look more at the line of the attempted ball than the length? I have a natural aversion to thinking that bowling short is generally the way to go at the death, principally because I've always thought it allows the batsman so many options as to where they can hit the ball. Having said that, with only four fielders allowed out, if you miss a Yorker you're toast.
I think when you go full, especially full tosses, good batsmen have more options as to where they can hit the ball. Take a ball on middle stump for example; you can obviously go straight, muscle it to leg or slice it through the covers. Freaks like Smithy or ABdV can even hit that super slice through backward point with crazy power. If you go short, especially at the body, it's very hard/impossible to get it straight or through the off side with any power.

So is the answer that you put all four of your blokes out on the off side and try to bowl a foot wide of off stump, ideally a Yorker, but otherwise generally fullish if you miss, with that protection in place? I really don't see what your other options are at the death as a bowler with only four blokes out tbh. If a bloke wanted to bowl me four slower bouncers an over I'd rather have that than someone aiming full and outside off, but I of course concede the pros can (a) play all around the wicket, and (b) research these things far more than I ever have or likely will.
Yeah except rather than doing it off side most teams go base of leg. I think for most guys its easier to take a ball from a foot outside off and go leg side than take something from the leg side over cover. Aiming for that off side line also brings the wide into play which doesn't happen as much towards leg at the death because guys a) try and whack everything, and b) back away heaps.
FWIW (ie, nowt), and without wanting to take the thread down a different tack, I reckon they should revert to five fielders outside the circle for the last ten overs. On an average pitch in a game between two competitive sides, 300 is barely par these days. You wouldn't be a bowler for quids.
I agree. The four out rule is a killer.
 
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Prince EWS

Global Moderator
Threads like this are one of the reasons I first joined CW when I was browsing cricket sites years ago. Excellent contributions from everyone here, if I might say.

Having read everyone's posts so far, is the answer really to look more at the line of the attempted ball than the length? I have a natural aversion to thinking that bowling short is generally the way to go at the death, principally because I've always thought it allows the batsman so many options as to where they can hit the ball. Having said that, with only four fielders allowed out, if you miss a Yorker you're toast.

So is the answer that you put all four of your blokes out on the off side and try to bowl a foot wide of off stump, ideally a Yorker, but otherwise generally fullish if you miss, with that protection in place? I really don't see what your other options are at the death as a bowler with only four blokes out tbh. If a bloke wanted to bowl me four slower bouncers an over I'd rather have that than someone aiming full and outside off, but I of course concede the pros can (a) play all around the wicket, and (b) research these things far more than I ever have or likely will.

FWIW (ie, nowt), and without wanting to take the thread down a different tack, I reckon they should revert to five fielders outside the circle for the last ten overs. On an average pitch in a game between two competitive sides, 300 is barely par these days. You wouldn't be a bowler for quids.
Yeah I largely agree with this post, especially the last paragraph.

The problem with going short is that it opens up both sides of the wicket, almost regardless of line. Batsmen can either ramp off the back foot or hook/pull. It's hard to set a field to. The fuller you go, the harder it is to go inside out or drag from the off to the leg.. unless of course it's a full toss, and it's easy to end up with a full toss if you're going for a yorker. Full bowling always opens up going straight down the ground too. It's almost to the point that bowling a good length -- the one length that was once a cardinal sin at the death -- isn't really a worse option than anything else as a stock ball.

I think, ultimately, there's no cure-all. Bowling at the death to set batsmen is more about bowling something they don't expect than anything else. No matter where you bowl, if a set batsman can predict where it's going to land with any great probability then he's going to have a good chance of being able to find the fence with only four men back. I think this is why the slower ball bouncer started working so well for a while -- batsmen weren't expecting it so they failed to premeditate and it was a good ball to slip in one or twice an over. As we saw when England tried it as a stock ball, however, its effectiveness was based only its surprise factor; it's not hard to hit when you know it's coming.

I've always been a fan of the idea of bowling full outside off -- aim for a yorker just inside the wide limit -- and have at least three of your men back on the off side, including a wide third man. I know benchmark and a few others were fans of this too, but set batsmen could still step across and hammer down over mid on if they knew it was coming. It might be the best ball to bowl three times out of six, but death bowling just can't be a matter of just deciding what the best death ball is and executing over and over; there has to be variety and that's difficult with the fielding restrictions.
 
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vic_orthdox

Global Moderator
The four fielders outside the circle has meant that you really have to telegraph what you are doing, to have any sort of protection for where you're likely to be hit. It takes away that extra bit of protection so that you don't have to change the field greatly depending on where you are going to bowl.
 

vic_orthdox

Global Moderator
The problem with going short is that it opens up both sides of the wicket, almost regardless of line. Batsmen can either ramp off the back foot or hook/pull. It's hard to set a field to. The fuller you go, the harder it is to go inside out or drag from the off to the leg.. unless of course it's a full toss, and it's easy to end up with a full toss if you're going for a yorker. Full bowling always opens up going straight down the ground too. It's almost to the point that bowling a good length -- the one length that was once a cardinal sin at the death -- isn't really a worse option than anything else as a stock ball.
More balls just beat the keeper when they are full though, IMO. Especially down towards fine leg with an economy of risk.

The worst thing about "good length" is that you don't know where to protect.

Take Haddin's guide off Broad, and Maxwell stepping outside leg stump to Finn; they are two unstoppable shots when in your head you're probably thinking that length is going to the leg side.
 
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Prince EWS

Global Moderator
Yeah indeed.

The more I think about it, the more I agree with Burgey that we need to let teams have five men out in the last ten overs. I actually quite like only having four men out in the middle overs, but it's not a restriction that's needed in the last ten; batsmen won't be looking to just milk bowlers for singles during this period regardless. It just takes away the ability to set a field and bowl to a plan without it being completely telegraphed and therefore easily foiled.
 

Goughy

Hall of Fame Member
Yeah I largely agree with this post, especially the last paragraph.

The problem with going short is that it opens up both sides of the wicket, almost regardless of line. Batsmen can either ramp off the back foot or hook/pull. It's hard to set a field to. The fuller you go, the harder it is to go inside out or drag from the off to the leg.. unless of course it's a full toss, and it's easy to end up with a full toss if you're going for a yorker. Full bowling always opens up going straight down the ground too. It's almost to the point that bowling a good length -- the one length that was once a cardinal sin at the death -- isn't really a worse option than anything else as a stock ball.

I think, ultimately, there's no cure-all. Bowling at the death to set batsmen is more about bowling something they don't expect than anything else. No matter where you bowl, if a set batsman can predict where it's going to land with any great probability then he's going to have a good chance of being able to find the fence with only four men back. I think this is why the slower ball bouncer started working so well for a while -- batsmen weren't expecting it so they failed to premeditate and it was a good ball to slip in one or twice an over. As we saw when England tried it as a stock ball, however, its effectiveness was based only its surprise factor; it's not hard to hit when you know it's coming.

I've always been a fan of the idea of bowling full outside off -- aim for a yorker just inside the wide limit -- and have at least three of your men back on the off side, including a wide third man. I know benchmark and a few others were fans of this too, but set batsmen could still step across and hammer down over mid on if they knew it was coming. It might be the best ball to bowl three times out of six, but death bowling just can't be a matter of just deciding what the best death ball is and executing over and over; there has to be variety and that's difficult with the fielding restrictions.
I can understand you say that you see the merits of this but "a fan"? Terribly dull anti-cricket IMO.
 

vic_orthdox

Global Moderator
Think it always something that sounds easier in theory than in practice. You miss by half a foot one way, and it's a wide, and half a foot the other way and you are in prime area for being bombed wherever you like - room to swing your arms can be a disaster.
 

Prince EWS

Global Moderator
I can understand you say that you see the merits of this but "a fan"? Terribly dull anti-cricket IMO.
Haha, "a fan" probably wasn't the best way to describe it. I'm a fan of it in a purely tactical sense, not a spectator sense.
 

vic_orthdox

Global Moderator
Should also be pointed out that the MCG is the place where it's most common to get the ball into the pitch at the death, as the boundaries are fifteen metres longer to the side.
 

Jono

Virat Kohli (c)
Also just let the gun bowlers bowl more than 10 overs per match, and these teams won't have 6 wickets in hand every ****ing game come the last 10 overs. No one watches ODI cricket to see ****ing Raina or Duminy bowl. Just let your Starc and Steyn and Malinga bowl 13 overs and **** teams up.
 

OverratedSanity

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Also just let the gun bowlers bowl more than 10 overs per match, and these teams won't have 6 wickets in hand every ****ing game come the last 10 overs. No one watches ODI cricket to see ****ing Raina or Duminy bowl. Just let your Starc and Steyn and Malinga bowl 13 overs and **** teams up.
Well, no one's forcing you to not pick 5 specialist bowlers.

But yeah, I agree. I've always been in favour of bowlers getting 12-13 overs in ODIs.
 

Howe_zat

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Also just let the gun bowlers bowl more than 10 overs per match, and these teams won't have 6 wickets in hand every ****ing game come the last 10 overs. No one watches ODI cricket to see ****ing Raina or Duminy bowl. Just let your Starc and Steyn and Malinga bowl 13 overs and **** teams up.
What if you're Bangladesh and want your Raina equivalents to bowl 45 overs, because the nearest thing you've got to Steyn is a costume shop skeleton with angry eyebrows drawn on?
 

Jono

Virat Kohli (c)
Its not about picking 5 specialist bowlers. Why should I see the 5th best bowler when the best fast bowler is capable of bowling more but just because of a random rule invented years ago that reeks of an older dated era, I can't see him bowl. Rohit Sharma doesn't need to retire, he can bat on to 260. But fmd Mitch Johnson can't bowl more than 60 balls.

****ing ****test rule in cricket. We've tried super subs, fielding restrictions and powerplays, two new balls. But just letting the best players in the world play more. Nah **** that's a bridge too far.
 
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Jono

Virat Kohli (c)
What if you're Bangladesh and want your Raina equivalents to bowl 45 overs, because the nearest thing you've got to Steyn is a costume shop skeleton with angry eyebrows drawn on?
If 45 overs of Raina is better than 45 overs of a costume shop skeleton for the team then let them bowl that. Don't force a team to bowl **** when a good bowler (or a less **** bowler) is available.
 

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