Reverse Swing is an intimidating term to the batsmen but to the bowlers, a weapon to destroy the best batting lineup in the world. It’s a much-needed skill for the seam bowlers to get wickets with the old ball, especially in the game’s longest format. Because when a ball gets old, it doesn’t swing, remains straight, and makes it easier for the batsman to smash them all over the park. It’s one of the hardest tasks to execute in the game of cricket. On the contrary, very few batsmen can play the special delivery called “Reverse Swing”. Why it is even tough for the batsmen? Because batsmen can play the conventional swing according to the wrist position of the bowler during release. But for reverse swing, bowlers hide the ball before delivery, making it tough for the batsmen to perceive.
One fast bowler or medium-fast bowler can reverse-swing a ball when the ball is more than 35 overs old. In order to reverse swing the ball, bowlers have to make one side of the ball rough and another side of the ball glossy. Afterward, the ball begins swinging oppositely compared to conventional swing, where the ball swings according to the seam position. If the seam position is kept towards the first slip in conventional swing, then the ball will go away from the batsman. On the other hand, if the seam of the ball is pointed towards the leg slip, it will come back into the batsman. And for the reverse swing vice-versa of conventional swing occurs. Over the years it has been the most effective deliveries in cricket.
Reverse Swing was invented in Pakistan. Salim Mir, a domestic level pace bowler of Pakistan first used it in a first-class match. Later on, he taught the art to the former Pakistani fast bowler, Sarfaraz Nawaz who wreaked havoc with it in the test cricket. After him, the 1992 World Cup winner Imran Khan displayed a great display of reverse swing at the highest level. Then one of the best bowling pairs, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis ripped through the best batting line-ups cozily with the use of deadly reverse swing. The Asian dry pitches are considered to be the best condition to bowl reverse swing, this kind of pitches makes the ball worn up swiftly.
Tackling a reverse swing delivery has never been an easy task for batsmen. But there are few ways to do it-
i) if the bowler doesn’t hide the ball, then a batsman can predict the swing of the ball by looking at the shining side.
ii) one has to have great foot movement to play it comfortably.
iii) The last but not least trick to play reverse swing is to take the help of the non-strikers, they can tell you on which side the shining side of the ball is pointed.
In the 90s, Wasim Akram, Imran Khan, and Waqar Younis used to bowl it outstandingly. Afterward, it was excelled by Zaheer Khan, Shoaib Akhtar, James Anderson, who has puzzled the batsmen by hitting the old ball accurately with raw pace on the good length. Lately, India’s Mohammad Shami and African Kagiso Rabada have been seen bowling reverse swing and succeed.