Learn How to Bowl a Googly in Cricket

Rashid Khan is one of the most impactful T20 players of all time. His art of bowling the leg spin is unmatched and in batting too, he can be a superb explosive batsman in the death overs. But one of his most applauded skills is to bowl a delivery that can turn in both directions with the same bowling action and by bowling at the same line and length. This delivery is called a googly, and his mastery of bowling in this spin bowling variation makes him one of the most lethal bowlers in the shortest format of the game. For any aspiring leg spin bowler, having proficiency in bowling this variation is a must, as it adds an element of unpredictability and enhances their effectiveness on the field.

Rashid Khan celebrates after taking a wicket

Credit: ICC Cricket World Cup

So, in this article by ZAP, let’s learn more about this delivery, who invented it, and learn how to bowl a googly.

What is the Googly Spin Bowling variation:

The googly is a leg spinner’s most lethal bowling variation. It is a deceptive spinning delivery used by leg spin bowlers to bamboozle batsmen. A leg spin delivery usually turns away from the batter, but when you bowl this variation, it turns in towards the batsman sharply after the bounce. Having this delivery in your technique can give you the unique ability to turn the leather ball in both directions with a significant deviation from the original trajectory.

The leg spin grip and release

Credit: BBC News

Bernard Bosanquet: The Man Who Invented The Googly

Bernard Bosanquet was an amateur cricketer from England in the 1890s and is credited with inventing the "googly”. Bosanquet was traditionally a leg spinner but gained attention for having the ability to bowl an off-break without changing his action. Bosanquet discovered this technique by experimenting with bouncing a rubber tennis ball and later started using it successfully in matches. He toured Australia and New Zealand, where he claimed to have bowled the "first googly ever" in Australia, though this was disputed. Despite some controversy and occasional erratic bowling, Bosanquet's technique became a game-changer. His accuracy with this variation wasn’t the best, and often made mistakes, making him expensive on bad days, but a match-winner on good days. He retired from cricket in 1919 due to health issues but passed on this skill to other bowlers and this variation is one of the wrist spinner’s best variations.

Read More: History of Cricket

Why Is It Called a Googly In Cricket?

The term "googly" in cricket refers to a deceptive delivery where the ball looks like it will spin one way but turns in the opposite direction. Though this delivery is one of the most important skills of a leg spinner, the name "googly" is somewhat mysterious. Many people speculate that the name is a combination of "goo" (innocence) and "guile" (trickiness). However, the word is older than the delivery itself, and its true origin is unclear. The term "googly" was first associated with Bosanquet in a New Zealand newspaper and since has been used for the delivery. The English use of the term increased around 1904 as Bosanquet gained more success. 

How To Bowl a Googly Spin Bowling:

A comparison between the the grip of a normal leg break vs a googly delivery

Credit: examsutra.in

The Grip:

The googly grip is the same as a normal leg break delivery. Maintain the '2 up – 2 down' grip, index, and middle fingers on top of the ball with the seam across them. Ring and little fingers positioned beneath and to the side for support. Keep a small gap between the ball and your palm for a free rotation of fingers.

The Run Up:

Begin your normal run-up, building momentum as you approach the crease. Typically, leg break bowlers have a 5-10 step run-up. 

Release:

As your arm comes over and the leather ball is about to be released, rotate your hand so the back of your hand faces the batsman. If you're a right-arm leg break bowler, the seam should point towards fine leg when delivered to a right-handed batsman. For the left arm, the seam should point towards the first slip. Flick your wrist and drag your ring finger across the ball as it's released to generate revolutions. With practice, you'll be able to deceive batsmen with your googly!

Tips and Tricks for Bowling the Googly well:

While bowling the googly leg spin bowling variation can be very fruitful to confuse batsman and pick up their wickets, if you don’t bowl it well, you might get hit for a lot of runs. It takes a lot of practice and commitment to bowl the perfect googly. To impart the proper rotations on the ball, you must become proficient in both grip and release of the ball and understand how to use your wrists better to bowl the delivery well. So practice is super important for bowling the perfect googly. But along with that, here are some more points you must remember:

Disguise the googly as a leg spin:

The batsman isn’t aware of where you’re going to bowl a normal leg spin or a googly, so remember to use this to your advantage. One of the best bowlers of this delivery is Rashid Khan, and his biggest strength is how he disguises his googlies. Batsmen just aren’t able to pick which one of his deliveries is a leg spinner and which one is a variation. Try to learn from his techniques and hide your wrists by perfecting your wrist position and release. 

Bowl at the right line and length:

Your googly should not be bowled at a different line and length. Your main goal is to deceive the batter by turning the ball sharply in towards him, creating confusion and making it challenging for the batsman to anticipate the direction and movement of the delivery. Consistency in line and length on the pitch is crucial to maintaining the element of surprise and maximizing the effectiveness of this delivery in unsettling the batsman.

Don’t bowl the googly too often:

Avoid bowling the googly frequently to prevent batsmen from anticipating the spin direction. The best time for you to bowl this variation is when the batsman has settled and is comfortable playing the normal leg break. Now introduce the variation as a surprise element and catch them off guard. In limited-overs games, especially towards the end, use 1-2 googlies per over to keep the batsman guessing and prevent them from planning against a specific type of delivery.

Conclusion:

Mastering the googly is crucial for any leg spinner. The grip, run-up, and release are key elements, and getting them correct is important. One of the best ways to learn how to bowl this variation is to observe bowlers like Rashid Khan, Ravi Bishnoi, Piyush Chawla, and others who bowl it very well.

Now that you have learned how to bowl the googly, here are some more articles we recommend you read to get better at the game:

Cricket Batting Techniques | Fielding Techniques | Wicket Keeping Techniques


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