Saturday, September 16, 2006

The bowler's 'knuckleball'

There are many similarities between bowling and baseball pitching, including the right-hander's curveball (off-spinner) and screwball (leg-break); but so-far there is no cricketing equivalent of the mysterious 'knuckleball'.

Knuckleballs are thrown off the fingertips with no spin, at the pace of a slow or slow-medium paced bowler. Air turbulence makes the ball flutter and wobble unpredictably in its trajectory. A slow bowler might replicate the effect by holding the ball lightly across the seam with fingers spread, cocking the wrist and bowling a very full length.

A bowled-knuckler could be ideal for the 'death' stage of a one-day match. Indeed, the nearest thing yet may have been Adam Hollioake's highly-effective floated-up slower delivery; which had zero-spin, a transverse seam and was maddeningly difficult to hit.

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