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How To Bowl Better Yorkers

Stuart Broad
England have found death bowling, and getting good yorkers in, difficult at the World Cup so far
©REUTERS / Action Images

"Why don’t they just bowl yorkers?"

It’s the mantra you hear at the death at every level of cricket. England in the World Cup have especially been criticised for trying every variation known to man except yorkers, and being terrible at death bowling.

There is little doubt that the full pitched ball at the toes is effective. When done right it takes more wickets and concedes less runs. It’s not a myth that good yorkers work.

But that little word "good" is also the problem. Yorkers are hard to bowl. If you get it wrong you have bowled a smashable full toss or half volley.

And it’s easy to get wrong.

The target area is small. Most bowling actions are not suited to it. Some guys are naturals at it, especially those with slingy actions, but that’s rare even at International level.  Add in the extra pressure of a batsman trying to biff every ball and you make landing the yorker tougher again.

It’s no surprise that bowlers look for other tactics.

If you feel you can’t land a yorker then you are not going to try it. Bowlers spend far more time working on hitting a good length, and fast bowlers find it easier to bowl bouncers as there is more room for error.

The answer is certainly not as simple as “just practice a bit more and do your drills and back yourself, you will get it right on the day”. What can we do?

Here’s what I coach about death bowling.

Make practice realistic

Death bowling feels very different to net bowling. The pressure is off, you are not going to lose the match if you get it wrong. So when you practice make it realistic.

First, carve out time to practice bowling yorkers at the death. Make it your mission to get better at it and track the results over time (it’s hard to improve if you are not measuring).  One great way is to have a league table of yorker heroes.

Your age will define how much you bowl at yorker practice. It’s important to bowl as much as you can without over-bowling as this increases injury risk. Here are the maximum guidelines for you:

  • 10-13 year olds: 12 yorkers per session
  • 14-15 year olds: 14 yorkers per session
  • 16+ year olds: 20 yorkers per session

This number is low, but it’s effective if you also ramp up the pressure.

One of the practices that I have seen former England coach Peter Moores do in the past is to simulate pressure by exhausting the body and mind before trying to execute a fine skill.

Peter would get a bowlers heart rate up beyond 150bpm through exercise and then ask them to deliver a yorker.

This is brilliantly relevant. Imagine where your heart rate will be when you are standing at the top of your mark with one ball to go and four needed to win after the last ball also went for four.


Try something else

While we know nothing beats a good yorker, if you don’t feel confident then bowl a ball you know you can bowl instead.

Most club batsmen will not be able to consistently hit length balls if you are good at more subtle variations. You can bowl your stock ball but change:

  • Pace (more effort or slower ball)
  • Position on the crease (wider, around the wicket or from 23 yards)
  • Seam position (cross seam or cutters)

You are OK at one of these at least, perhaps more. It will take a very good player to deal with you if you bowl well.

If you try every trick in the book and still get clattered then maybe you should go back to the yorker plan.

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