The Knuckleball: The emerging nightmare to the batsman.

The Knuckleball: The emerging nightmare to the batsman.

As the game of Cricket is evolving drastically day by day, surprising and amazing shots come out on the cricket field now and then. With this new transformation, cricket is becoming more popular in many countries, especially in India. But from the baller’s point of view, it’s going to be a perfect graveyard for the ballers. But within a year, a new weapon has come in the baller’s armory to survive from batsman’s slaughter and bringing him back to the dug. In this article, I will discuss this popular weapon called “Knuckleball”. So let’s get started.

What is Knuckleball?

The knuckleball is a bowling technique that’s basically adopted in cricket from baseball. When a seam baller bends his two main fingers from the upper side and then grip the ball in between the fingers; that grip is called “knuckleball”. It doesn’t deliver with the knuckles, but with the fingernails. This removes all spin from the ball.

A knuckleball grip. Image source:

While delivering the ball you need to make sure to maintain almost the same arm speed that you bowl the stock ball with, in order to deceive the batsman (deceiving the batsman is what the game is all about for a bowler). In cricket, many players bowl this ball but some have even modified this technique according to their comfort and convenience. Some bowlers hold the ball with the fingernails’ tip. Others hold it with the surface of their fingernails.

The science behind it

A knuckleball is thrown to minimize the spin of the ball in flight, causing an erratic, unpredictable motion. The air flow over a seam of the ball causes the ball to transition from laminar to turbulent flow. This transition adds a deflecting force on the side of the ball. This makes the pitch difficult for batters to hit, as the ball’s irregular motion through the air makes it harder to call balls and strikes.

However, the seam on a cricket ball is equatorial, and thus the extent of erratic movement is reduced due to the symmetry (at least in the conventional release position where the planes of the ball’s trajectory and the seam are nearly co-planar). In addition, the lack of backspin does shorten the length of the delivery, and also tends to make the ball skid off the pitch – faster than it would come off a normal delivery.

Stock delivery grip
Knuckleball grip

Introduction to the knuckleball in Indian Cricket

The knuckleball is also employed by the Indian cricket seam bowlers Zaheer Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar as their slower delivery. I don’t know the exact individual except only Zaheer Khan who introduced the knuckleball to the International Cricket. He used it but not in an exact way but it’s still effective for him. I have seen him using this delivery very often in the limited overs cricket and he delivered some magical spell to lead Team India victory.

But from during this year, this knuckleball has become a surprise weapon to every baller in limited overs’ cricket especially in T20 Cricket. You might have already seen in the latest IPL-2018 that lots of seam ballers used it when the batsman be in the full swing. Lots of seam ballers already adapted it. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul, Shardul Thakur, Basil Thampi are some Indian ballers who used it very often and effectively.

Not even Indian ballers but other ballers have started using it too. Australian seamer Andrew Tye used it so much during the whole latest IPL season. If you watch unorthodox Carribean spinner Sunil Naraine closely, his way of delivering the knuckleball is very much close to the definition. But after he’s changed his action I rarely see him doing it nowadays.

So that’s it for today guys. I hope you would have enjoyed it. If you have any suggestions and queries related to the post, let me know in the comment section below. Please do share this post to your circle to explore the knowledge you must know.

Thank you.

Anil Kashyap

I want to explore new things every single moment of life. Life motto: Learn and teach as much as you can until your last breath.

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