Can You Bowl Underarm in Cricket? Exploring the Controversial Bowling Technique

Cricket, known for its diverse bowling techniques and rules, has seen its fair share of controversies throughout its long history. One such contentious issue is whether it is permissible to bowl underarm deliveries in the game. Underarm bowling involves rolling the ball along the ground, rather than delivering it in the conventional overarm manner.

In this article, we delve into the origins of underarm bowling, its historical significance, and the controversies surrounding its use. Join us as we explore the rules and regulations pertaining to underarm bowling and examine the reasons behind the debate.

Historical Perspective

Underarm bowling has deep historical roots in cricket. In the early days of the sport, underarm bowling was the norm, with the ball rolled along the ground. However, as the game evolved, overarm bowling became prevalent due to its potential for greater speed and variation. The shift from underarm to overarm bowling was a pivotal moment in the development of cricket and significantly impacted the game’s tactics and strategies.

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The Law Change

The controversy surrounding underarm bowling reached its peak during the infamous “Underarm Incident” in 1981. In a One-Day International (ODI) match between Australia and New Zealand, the Australian captain instructed his bowler to deliver the final ball underarm to prevent the batting team from scoring the required six runs.

This action was widely regarded as against the spirit of the game, leading to subsequent rule changes. The International Cricket Council (ICC) implemented a rule stipulating that all deliveries must be bowled overarm, thereby banning underarm bowling in international cricket.

The Spirit of the Game

The “Underarm Incident” highlighted the importance of the spirit of the game and fair play in cricket. Underarm bowling is seen by many as a violation of the ethos and principles that underpin the sport. It is considered unsporting and lacking in competitiveness, as it limits the batsman’s ability to play attacking shots and effectively counter the bowler’s tactics.

Recreational and Social Cricket

While underarm bowling is prohibited in international cricket, it continues to be a part of recreational and social cricket played at the grassroots level. In casual matches, underarm bowling may be allowed to accommodate players of varying skill levels and ensure an enjoyable experience for all participants. However, even in these settings, underarm bowling is subject to certain limitations and guidelines to maintain a balance between competition and fair play.

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Technological Advancements and the Debate

Advancements in technology, particularly the introduction of bowling machines, have rekindled the debate around underarm bowling. Bowling machines can simulate underarm deliveries with precision and accuracy, raising questions about whether this technique should be allowed in training sessions and practice matches. The ongoing discussion centers on striking a balance between the traditional rules of the game and embracing technological innovations.

Potential Benefits and Drawbacks

Advocates of underarm bowling argue that it can be a viable strategy in certain circumstances, particularly in limited-overs matches where restricting runs is crucial. Underarm deliveries can be difficult to hit with power, providing an opportunity for bowlers to create pressure on the batsman. However, opponents argue that underarm bowling limits the contest between bat and ball, diminishes the skill required to play and bowl, and detracts from the excitement and entertainment value of the game.

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Underarm bowling remains a contentious topic in the world of cricket. While it is prohibited in international cricket due to its association with the “Underarm Incident,” it continues to be debated and practiced in recreational and social cricket settings. The discussion around underarm bowling raises questions about the spirit of the game, fair play, and the balance between tradition and innovation.

As cricket evolves, it is important to revisit and reconsider these rules and regulations to ensure that the sport maintains its integrity and continues to captivate audiences worldwide.