WATCH: What is reverse swing? How to bowl reverse swing and how to bat against reverse swing?

The bowlers and the fielders keep on polishing the shiny side of the ball using saliva to maintain lustre

We often hear the word reverse swing while watching cricket but not quite understand the technical part of it. Here is an explainer that covers all the important aspects of the art of bowling reverse swing.

What is reverse swing?
All the teams in the world try to shine one side of the seam of the ball while keeping the other side rougher. When the ball is new, pace bowlers can generate normal swing using the shiny side of the ball. The general tendency of a new ball is to move in the opposite direction of the shiny side. That is called the normal swing. If a bowler wants to bowl an outswinger to a right-handed batsman, he would keep the shiny side on the right. For inswingers, he would keep the shiny side on the left.

In reverse swing, the opposite is true; hence it is called reverse swing. When the ball gets old, it is hard to get a normal swing. Teams around the world these days try to make one side of the ball very rough and the other shiny, to enable their bowlers generate the reverse swing. In reverse swing, the ball tends to move towards the shiny side. The ball also generates late swing, which troubles batsmen.

How to bowl reverse swing?

Bowlers try to get the ball to reverse when it is 30-40 overs old. To get the ball to reverse into a right-handed batsman, a bowler will have to keep the seam as straight as he can. The shiny side of the ball needs to be kept on the right. If the ball is bowled at a rapid pace, the chance of it generating massive swing increases. To bowl an outswinger, the shiny side will have to be kept on the right.

To confuse batsmen, bowlers hide the ball. They don’t want to make the shiny side obvious to batsmen. Batsmen don’t know which side the ball will reverse swing.

Who invented reverse swing, who bowled it for the first time?

Reverse swing was invented by Pakistan’s domestic player Salim Mir. He taught the art to Sarfaraz Nawaz. When Nawaz got the chance to represent Pakistan, he introduced reverse swing to international cricket. He later taught the art to his team-mate Imran Khan. Later, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis made the art popular among bowlers across the world.

How to treat the cricket ball to get it ready for reverse swing?

The bowler and the fielders keep on polishing the shiny side of the ball to maintain lustre. Players apply saliva on the ball to polish the shiny side of the ball. Though it is against the rules of the game, some players also apply mint and lollies along with saliva. The rough side of the ball is kept dry. While bowling too, the bowler has to ensure that he doesn’t wet the ball by sweat on his palms.

How to bat against it?

Experts recommend that when the ball begins to reverse, batsmen should play a little late. To do that, they should not take a big stride forward to play the ball. Rather, they should make small movements in the crease and try to gauge the trajectory of the ball. By not lunging forward to meet the ball, a batsman leaves the scope of last-minute adjustments before playing. This reduces the chance of him getting out leg before or being clean bowled. Also, a batsman must cover the stumps at all times. He should strive to play straight to combat reverse swing.

The physics behind reverse swing

The Bernoulli’s principle comes into play during reverse swing. The shiny side of the ball experiences lesser friction through the air. This exerts less pressure on the shiny side of the ball. Hence the ball moves towards the shiny side.