Some are 'wrong footed', some are 'slinga'…bowlers with strange actions have achieved a lot of success

Orhan Wadia
Orhan Wadia - Editor
10 Min Read
Some are 'wrong footed', some are 'slinga'…bowlers with strange actions have achieved a lot of success


New Delhi. Be it bowling or batting in the game of cricket, watching some players play gives a strange satisfaction. Talking about batting, the style of playing shots of players like Sachin Tendulkar, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli and Babar Azam is captivating. Similarly, the rhythm of Brett Lee, Zaheer Khan, Dale Steyn and Wasim Akram during bowling was worth watching. Among the current bowlers, there is also rhythm in the action of Jofra Archer, Naseem Shah and Kagiso Rabada. Apart from this, there are some batsmen and bowlers whose style of playing may not be attractive but they have been ruling the hearts of the fans with their brilliant performance.

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In batting, Steve Smith and K. Srikanth can be placed in this category. In the bowling department too, some former and current players have been the center of discussion due to their strange actions. Prominent among them are Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga, Pakistan's Sohail Tanvir, India's Jaspreet Bumrah and South Africa's Paul Adams. Malinga, who has retired from international cricket, used to keep his hands 'horizontal' instead of above the shoulder while throwing the ball. Similarly, 'Chinaman' Adams used to turn his head towards the ground while throwing the ball.

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Let's take a look at those bowlers who gained fame due to their strange actions.,

Lasith Malinga: Sri Lankan bowler Lasith Malinga, who has a round arm action, used to bowl by bringing his hand closer to the umpire's face instead of above the shoulder. In such a situation, the batsman needed to adjust the sight screen afresh while facing his ball. Due to this strange action, he got the nickname 'Slinga Malinga'. Due to this unique action, it was not easy for the batsmen to read Malinga's yorker. Sri Lanka's all-time best fast bowler Malinga has also taken more than 100 wickets in Tests, but he was more successful in ODIs and T20s. He has three hat-tricks in ODIs and two in T20s. Not only this, he has also done the feat of taking 4 wickets in four balls in ODIs and T20s. Malinga has taken 338 wickets in 226 ODIs at an average of 28.87 and 107 wickets in 84 T20 international matches at an average of 20.79. He has taken 101 wickets in 30 Test matches at an average of 33.15.

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Jasprit Bumrah: Jasprit Bumrah, who has become India's 'troubleshooter' in bowling, took 15 wickets in 8 matches of T20 World Cup 2024. During this, his average was 8.26 and economy was 4.17. At present, it would be more correct to call the action of Bumrah, the world's best bowler in all three formats, 'different or unconventional' rather than strange. While bowling, his 'release point' is also ahead of other bowlers. During bowling, his left hand also remains forward instead of going completely up. It is because of his action that he is able to speed up the balls with a short run-up. It is very difficult for the batsmen to read the balls of Bumrah with sling arm action. While playing for Mumbai Indians in the IPL, he has made his bowling more sharp by mastering the yorker under the guidance of Malinga. Bumrah's biggest strength is to be extremely accurate. By understanding the mood of the pitch quickly like a robot, he puts the batsmen to a tough test by bowling hard length balls at one place. So far, Bumrah has taken 159 wickets in 36 Tests at an average of 20.69, 149 wickets in 89 ODIs at an average of 23.55, and 89 wickets in 70 T20s at an average of 17.74.

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Bowler with strange action, Lasith Malinga, Jaspreet Bumrah, Sohail Tanvir, Debashish Mohanty, Paul Adams, Jeff Thomson Bowler with strange action, Lasith Malinga, Jaspreet Bumrah, Sohail Tanvir, Paul Adams, Debashish Mohanty, Jeff Thomson

Sohail Tanveer: Pakistan's left-arm fast bowler Sohail Tanvir was also known for his strange action. He was a 'wrong-footed' bowler. While bowling, his left foot was completely in the air instead of being on the ground. Due to this bowling action, Tanvir got the nickname of 'Fan' in the Pakistani cricket world. However, this action became Tanvir's strength. Due to his strange action, the batsman had difficulty concentrating on his balls. He was very successful in ODIs and T20s. Apart from bringing the ball in and taking it out, Tanvir was also adept at bowling yorkers. He took 71 wickets in 62 ODIs at an average of 36.14 and 54 wickets in 57 T20s at an average of 26.92. Playing for Rajasthan Royals in the first season of IPL, he took 22 wickets and captured the Purple Cap.

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Paul Adams: In the 1990s and 2000s, South Africa's 'Chinaman' bowler Paul Adams used to 'entertain' fans with his strange action. While bowling, Adams used to jump forward from a short run-up, during which he also used to shake his neck. Left-arm wrist spinner Adams' head was towards the ground while throwing the ball. During the release point, his eyes were on the ground instead of the batsman. It seemed that due to this action, he would not be able to change the ball in case the batsman 'stepped out'. Former England captain Mike Gatting had described this strange action of Adams as 'frog in a blender'. Adams, who played international cricket from 1995 to 2004, took 134 wickets in 45 Tests and 29 wickets in 24 ODIs. He also used to shake his neck while bowling.

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Bowler with strange action, Lasith Malinga, Jaspreet Bumrah, Sohail Tanvir, Debashish Mohanty, Paul Adams, Jeff Thomson Bowler with strange action, Lasith Malinga, Jaspreet Bumrah, Sohail Tanvir, Paul Adams, Debashish Mohanty, Jeff Thomson

Debashish Mohanty: The Indian batsman who gets a lot of swing Debashish Mohanty (Debasish Mohanty)'s bowling action was also different from other bowlers. While throwing the ball, both his hands were in a strange position. His bowling action was also chosen for the graphic logo of the 1999 World Cup. Referring to Mohanty's action, Sachin Tendulkar had told in a TV show that in the Sahara Cup ODI series against Pakistan in Canada, Mohanty had troubled many Pakistani batsmen including Saeed Anwar. Sachin said, 'In the first four matches of this five-match series, 'Debu' had dismissed Anwar. There was a function after four matches. On this occasion, Saeed Anwar asked me – yaar. What kind of a man is this Debashish? He comes running and throws such a ball. The ball I leave goes in and the one I play goes out. I don't know what to do. Well, he asks in his bowling action that do you know…which ball am I going to throw, the question was on his action itself.' Sachin told that in the 5th match of the series also Debashish had dismissed Anwar.

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Jeff Thomson: Australia's legendary fast bowler Jeff Thomson was known not only for his speed but also for his strange action. In a way, he was the first bowler in world cricket with a slinging action. However, this action put a lot of pressure on his body. West Indies' great batsman Viv Richards had said in an interview that 'Thomson' was the fastest bowler among all the bowlers he faced in his international career. Thomson, who was also in the news due to his aggressive statements, took 200 wickets in 51 Tests and 55 wickets in 50 ODIs between 1972 and 1985.

Apart from these bowlers, the bowling action of non-regular Indian bowlers Virat Kohli and Kedar Jadhav also falls in the category of strange. Virat bowls with the wrong foot while Kedar Jadhav used to bowl by keeping his hand far away from the side. Due to this, his balls did not get much bounce. Jadhav retired from cricket only last month.

tag: Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Wall

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