The independent voice of cricket


Why fast bowling is arguably the toughest job in T20 cricket

by Josef Rindl 3 minute read

In the third episode of Wisden and CricViz‘s podcast series, The Greatest T20, England fast bowler Tymal Mills and CricViz analyst Freddie Wilde explained how “batsman are beating bowlers” in T20’s arms race.

“You’re a little bit more limited aren’t you,” said Mills, a T20 specialist. “As a bowler you can only bowl in a straight line. Whereas a batsman can literally hit the ball 360 degrees with different angles of his bat and different parts of his bat. Front foot, back foot, high, low. So bowling is a bit more limited and as such you can say it’s a bit more difficult.”

Mill, 27, was bought by the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore for £1.4m in the 2017 IPL draft.

“I personally am a big believer in the basics,” he added. “Especially if you have pace, if you can bowl that heavy length on the top of the stumps and get movement. If you can bowl fast and swing the ball, it’s difficult no matter where you are. But if you can’t, like myself, I’m not a huge swinger of the ball, you have to rely on pace and be accurate to try and get my wickets or at least make the batsman uncomfortable and reduce runs.

“But obviously we’re starting to see a few variations, the knuckle ball came in, AJ Tye was the first exponent of that. But you could argue now that a lot of guys are picking that and it’s not as effective. It’s not taking long for batsmen to figure something out. I would say the rate batsmen are getting better is probably quicker than bowlers. So bowlers are having to change or even going back to bowling a delivery you used two years ago, that’s probably now a new ball.”

Wilde agreed with Mills adding: “It’s become harder, batsmen have got better faster. That’s probably because of the nature of batting. If I’m a batsman I could just set up a bowling machine to bowl me 200 yorkers and nail them for three hours. Whereas if I’m a bowler, if I have any kind of injury issues, no one’s going to be advising me to bowl for three hours straight. I think what we’ve seen over the last few years is batsman becoming more powerful and it has made the job more difficult for bowlers. You can bowl six perfect balls now and they all go to the boundary.

“I think that illustrates how hard the job is for fast bowlers. I think that’s something we should underline, I think it’s arguably the toughest job in T20 cricket. You’re asked bowl in the powerplay and at the death where there’s only two men out and the back end when the batsmen are trying to clear the fences.”

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99