Line and length in cricket is a very familiar phrase to cricket enthusiasts, the commentators often spell these out during the course of cricketing action.
While it’s evident that line and length have almost completely to do with the bowler, it goes without saying that this very line and length where the bowler bowls ultimately influence how a batsman is going to play a shot – whether leave it, or play it gently, or take the aggressive route.
So the obvious question arises, what is this exact phrase ‘line and length’ all about? How do the two terms ‘line’ and ‘length’ differ from each other? How does it impact the batsman’s decision-making? This article will address everything related to line and length in cricket.
What is Line and Length in Cricket?
In simple language, line and length are put together to define where or in which area is the bowler exact bowling to the batsman. Thus the line and length can be the deciding factor whether the bowler gets a wicket, bowls a dot ball, or gets hit for a boundary or a six.
Now, line and length individually refer to a different set of things, both are discussed in detail below –
Line of the Ball in Cricket
Line in cricket is the direction of the ball with respect to the stumps behind the batsman.
Since there can be various directions in which the ball can go with respect to the stumps, the line of the ball can be divided into the following categories –
Middle of the Stump Line
As the name suggests, the middle of the stump line is the line that is directed towards the middle stump of the batsman. It is also called interchangeably as a ‘straight line’ since the ball comes straight to the batsman.
The main intention of the bowler bowling in this line is to make the batsman play the ball and not leave.
Off Stump Line
The off-stump line is the line that is directed towards the off-stump of the batsman.
The bowler generally bowls this line in hope of an edge off the bat.
Leg Stump Line
Again, as the name suggests, the leg stump line is the line where the bowler bowls with the target of the leg stump of the batsman in mind.
If there is a heavy leg-side field, or if the batsman is weak down the leg side, then this line comes in handy.
Outside of Leg or Off Stump Line
When it comes to the outside off-stump line, the bowler bowls further to the right-hand side of the off-stump for a right-handed batsman and further to the left-hand side of the off-stump in case of a left-handed batsman. This is mainly done to tease or lure the batsman to play a fancy cover drive which in turn can become a wicket-taking option.
Similarly, the outside leg stump is the line where the ball is going down the leg side of the batsman. It is generally not a good line to bowl as if the batsman remains cautious, it can lead to a wide ball or even 5 wides if the ball is too wide. However, if there is a heavy leg-side field, or if the batsman moves towards the leg side before the ball is being bowled, then it becomes a good option.
The Corridor of Uncertainty
This term was coined by English batsman Geoff Boycott, and it refers to the line outside the off stump of a batsman.
It is such an area outside the off-stump that puts the batsman in a dilemma as to whether to play a shot or just leave the ball, making the batsman uncertain or undecided with regard to his shot selection.
Hence, whenever the batsman is put in a dilemma, it becomes a wicket-taking scenario, and this corridor of uncertainty becomes all the more deadly in red ball cricket.
That’s all about the line of the ball in cricket.
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Let’s look at the other half of the phrase ‘line and length’ –
Length of the Ball in Cricket
The length of the ball refers to the position or area in the pitch where the ball first lands or touches before reaching the batsman.
Consequently, based on where the ball first touches the pitch, the length of the ball can be divided into the following categories –
Bouncer length refers to the area which is in a way, closer to the bowler than the batsman. That is, one can put it this way when the ball lands at an area way before halfway down the pitch, it is known as a bouncer length.
The more prior and hard the ball first lands on the pitch, the more the intensity of the bouncer increases.
The main aim of this delivery is to make sure the ball reaches the batsman at a level above or around his shoulder so that the batsman gets rattled and plays a poor short.
The short length refers to the length which is just ahead of the bouncer length, meaning, it is closer to the halfway mark of the pitch.
Like the bouncer, here also the intention of the bowler is to bowl a ball that reaches the batsman at his shoulder region.
The good length is the length that is used to describe the area around the halfway mark of the pitch.
When the pitch offers good swing, then the bowlers try to exploit the conditions by landing the ball in this area of the pitch. However, if not bowled properly, there is a chance the bowler might get hit for runs.
When the ball lands on the area of the pitch which is very close to the batsman, it is called a full-length delivery.
It is a potent weapon for the bowler as if the batsman misses the ball, there is a high chance for an LBW or a bowled.
Yorker is that length or that area in the pitch that is right in front of the toes of the batsman.
Bowling a yorker, straight at the middle stump or off stump, or at the leg stump line of a batsman is a deadly skill to have, and is one of the most feared balls in cricket, especially when the bowler bowls quickly.
Any mistake or misjudgment from the batsman, and he can find himself going back to the pavilion.
There are other various other lengths as well which are as follows-
- Half volley – This is a length that a bowler generally doesn’t like to bowl. The half volley is any such length that comes to the batsman’s hitting arc.
- Full toss – When the ball reaches the batsman without pitching or landing anywhere in the crease, it is called a full toss. Bowlers who try to execute a yorker might end up bowling a full toss if not executed properly.
That’s all about bowling length. Now combining both the line and length will give the exact direction in which the ball is being bowled.
It can be a combination of any line and length discussed above such as off stump line yorker, middle stump line bouncer, leg stump line full-length delivery, outside off stump line good length delivery, and so on.
The bowler may like to bowl at a particular line and length depending on the batsman, or field set, or even by mistake, and like discussed earlier, depending on this line and length, the batsman on the majority of the occasion decides whether to gently play the ball, or leave it, or play aggressively, or definitely may end up losing his wicket, and hence this line and length decide how the delivery is being treated.
That’s all about the line and length of bowling in cricket.
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FAQs on Line and Length in Cricket
What is line and length in cricket?
Line and length refer to the exact direction where a ball is being bowled.
Is the line and length more important than the speed of the ball?
Ideally, both are important, but definitely, the line and length of delivery is of paramount importance.
What are the different types of lines of bowling?
There are mainly 5 types of bowling line namely – the middle of the stump line, off stump line, leg stump line, outside of off and leg stump line, and the corridor of uncertainty.
What are the different types of bowling lengths in cricket?
There are mainly 6 types of bowling lengths in cricket namely – bouncer, short length, good length, full length, yorker, and others like full toss and half volley.
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