The game of cricket has been through some drastic changes in recent years ranging from the introduction of the 20-over format, the controversial DRS (Decision Referral System) to the birth of new tournaments and cricket leagues offering players lucrative contracts in order to attract the best player to their teams.
Cricket is not followed throughout the world as compared to a sport like football or tennis neither does it have superstar players like Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo but in some parts of the world cricket is a religion where there is nothing more important than playing the game, watching it and following their favourite player's performances.
With the changes that cricket has gone through the game already referred to as the batsmen’s game from a neutral standpoint has become even more difficult for the bowlers.
The bowlers are now required to change the ball after a designated number of overs in the various formats making the art of swing bowling increasingly difficult to exploit for the faster bowlers and vastly reducing the number of bowlers skilled in this fascinating and thrilling craft.
The reverse swing was initially made famous by former Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Nawaz, who passed the knowledge down to another Pakistan legend in Imran Khan.
Imran then taught both Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis about this ability which first captured the world’s attention in the late 80s. The most potent employer of the reverse swing was undoubtedly Waqar Younis who along with Wasim Akram terrorized batsmen the world over in the 90s with their ability to swing the ball both ways a capability only a few bowlers are yet to master.
In order to understand as to why reverse swing is so potent against batsmen one would have to comprehend how it happens.
When the ball becomes older and worn, it begins to move in the direction opposite to the conventional swing and no apparent change in the bowler’s grip makes this delivery a nightmare for batsmen facing up to it.
Add on top of that the fact that the ball tends to swing very late in the delivery, it makes it very difficult for the batsman to pick up the changes in the air or from the bowler’s hand.
Not every single bowler can obtain reverse swing - the ball needs to be propelled above 80mph or thereabouts to make it move in the air.
There have been plenty of theories put forward as to why and how the ball reverses its movement in regards to the traditional swing.
According to former England bowling coach Troy Coolnes: "Reverse swing is all to do with the deterioration of the ball and the seam position in flight. As the ball becomes rougher, it will take on a different characteristic as it deteriorates.
“So if you present the ball as an out-swinger, the ball has deteriorated so much on the rough side that it takes on the characteristics of the shiny side. Which means a natural out-swinger will become an in-swinger and conversely, an in-swinger into an out-swinger."
The art of the reverse swing is still employed by bowlers like Dale Steyn, Umar Gul and many more the world over. However, with all the ICC enforcing changes in world cricket with the main focus on making the game more attractive for the spectators and the sponsors, few seem to think twice about this talent which once made the game of cricket an intensely exciting prospect now seems to have faded away into the background.
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