A Look at Jimmy Anderson’s Swing Bowling Techniques

There is a lot of talk about James Anderson’s skill set and his ability to keep the ball moving at the age of 38. Anderson has always been an asset for England. He’s just magnificent with the new ball as he can swing the ball both ways. He has often been called a ‘home track bully‘ because of his performances on just home tracks.

However, that isn’t the case. His skill set is important despite the help from the surface and the moisture in the air. Anderson’s capability is one of the best in the world at the moment. And, he showcased his competence in the last inning of the first Test match against India in 2021. India was chasing a mammoth total of 420 on the surface which had deteriorated over the last 2 days.

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The England Cricket Team (Image credit: England Cricket | Twitter)

India didn’t get a great start as they lost Rohit quickly. Pujara was battling but couldn’t resist the inevitable. Now, Kohli and Gill were having a good go. Gill looked in attacking mindset and England had to grab his wicket at the earliest as he was scoring runs at a good rate.

And then, Root brings his ace bowler with a relatively older ball in his hands to showcase his reverse swing. The ball had got older and one side was shined by the skipper throughout the period of time just for this very moment. Anderson was given the over.

He got his first wicket in Gill with a fantastic reverse swing delivery which came back in after pitching. The way Gill was batting, it was challenging to create that gap between the bat and the pad but Anderson did it and he was delighted after the wicket.

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James Anderson celebrates Shubman Gill’s wicket (Image credit: England Cricket | Twitter)

I was thinking to get him lbw or maybe caught midwicket, but it was nice to see his stumps go cartwheeling – that doesn’t happen very often at my age.

James Anderson


Anderson didn’t take much time to get better of Rahane either. He got Rahane on his 3rd ball itself with a similar delivery which came back in. The wickets were special, but in the context of the game and the batsmen which he got out makes it one of the best spells in Test Cricket.

There’s so much to talk about Anderson’s brilliancy with the ball. Reverse swing is an important aspect of the same. So, let’s deep dive into the concept of reverse swing and how has Anderson mastered it?

What is Reverse Swing?

As we all know, in conventional swing, the ball swings opposite to the direction of the shiny side. Let’s suppose, the shiny side is to the right of the bowler’s hand, then, the ball will move away from the batsman. Whereas, reverse swing is kind of the opposite of the conventional swing. The ball swings in the direction of the shiny side in the reverse swing. There’s a reason behind this. When the ball starts getting older, the skipper (generally) takes the responsibility of shining the ball. He shines the ball(using his sweat or saliva) from one end and leaves the other side as it is (to avoid moisture). This leads to one side getting slightly heavier due to the moisture. And hence, the ball angles towards the heavy side.

So, basically, the bowler has to pitch the ball outside off stump to allow the ball to nip back into the batsman in case of the incoming reverse swing. The ball will do the rest. The ball swings in the air and flights into the batsman.
Anderson does the same. He makes the batsman play the ball and the bat-pad gap comes into play.

The thing to notice here is, he pitched the ball outside the off-stump and made Gill play the ball. Gill did his best but his bat-pad gap was enough for the ball to go through. Rahane’s dismissal was a similar case.

Although Anderson is one of the best swing bowlers, he is a bit similar to other bowlers when it comes to the reverse inswinger. But when it comes to reverse outswinger, he has his own way of doing it.

The Reverse Reverse Swing:

India’s renowned batsman Sachin Tendulkar noticed an obscure aspect of Anderson’s bowling. As we noticed earlier, the orientation of the ball in the conventional inswinger and the reverse outswinger is same.

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Cricket ball with a rough side and a shiny side

When Anderson bowls an inswinger with the new ball, he’ll allow the ball to swing conventionally by just bending his arm a bit. But when he bowls the reverse outswinger, he actually makes the batsman feel that it’s an inswinger.

With a reverse swing, Jimmy Anderson was possibly the first bowler who bowled reverse swing also reverse. What I experienced, over a period of time, is that he would hold the ball as if he was bowling a reverse outswinger, but at the release point, he would try and bring the ball back in, and a number of batters would look at the wrist position, and what he has actually done, he’s shown you that he’s bowling inswing, but the imbalance between both sides of the ball would take the ball away from you.

Sachin Tendulkar

Hence, Anderson makes the batsman commit his shot. And, once the batsman commits, he can’t go back and he gets himself caught behind the stumps. That’s indeed a very interesting take on Anderson by Tendulkar.

He’s the GOAT of English cricket. He’s finding ways of constantly challenging himself, and he’s getting better all the time.

Joe Root

Nonetheless, Anderson has mastered the art of swinging the red ball when it’s new and he’s a mystery when the ball gets older. Which in fact means he’s even more lethal when he bowls with the old ball.

Featured Image: James Anderson | Instagram

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