Shoaib Akhtar

Shoaib Akhtar in an interview with Star Sports in the series named “Cricket Legends”, avidly recalled how the Pakistani fast bowlers use to effectively reverse the ball. He said, “I remember us planning about the periods in the day where there is a possibility of breeze and that the ball would reverse. That would be our time of the attack on the opposition.” Also, on his YouTube channel, Shoaib said, “Today the art of reverse swing is dying. It needs revival.” So, is the art of reverse dead? If yes, what exactly led to it? And what is the measure to preserve this art? Here is a look: 

Shoaib Akhtar Says “Reverse Swing is Dead in Today’s Cricket.”: 

The last time we saw an effective reverse swing in cricket was way back in 2011 in the India and England Test Series England won 2-1. It was Umesh Yadav who bowled a lethal spell of reverse swing and toppled the English lower order. But since then, reverse swing is nowhere to be seen. The reason why reverse swing is dead from ODI cricket is that the game uses two new balls. Each ball is used from one end. So, the ball remains hard and fresh throughout the innings and there is no chance for reverse swing even at the far end of an innings.  

Shoaib Akhtar
In his prime, Shoaib Akhtar used to fox the batsmen by reverse swing. IMG SRC: PCB

The other reason for the absence of reverse swing is the limited number of games played in Pakistan. The Pakistani grounds are big and open. The breeze flows in freely. Also, with limited grass cover on the ground, the balls get rough very fast. So, in test matches, before the new ball is available, around the 65th over, the balls begin to reverse. In the latest Australia tour of Pakistan 2022, Mitchell Starc showed signs of reverse swing. Hence Shoaib Akhtar threw light on the death of this skill.  

Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Mitchell Starc, and Shaheen Afridi can Reverse the ball: 

Shami who is in the scheme of things for India in the ICC 2023 World Cup has the potential to reverse the ball. IMG SRC: Gujarat Titans.

The other players who have shown the skill of reverse swinging in their arms are Mohammed Shami from India, Umesh Yadav from India, Mitchell Starc, and Shaheen Afridi. Now, the revival of this art is in the hands of this group of players. Apart from the availability of a breeze and the ideal ball type, hand movement is also required. These players have the pace, and hand movement required for this art.  

Shoaib Akhtar Suggests Measures to Ensure Reverse Swing: 

  • Single New Ball in ODI Cricket is one good measure to revive reverse swing.  
  • Have Has international cricket played in Pakistan? 
  • Increase Pace as with more pace, the chances of reverse swing increase.  

To know more go to Asia Cup 2022: Top 3 Indian Players to Watch out for at Asia Cup.

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To know more go to the official website of the ICC.