The knuckleball is a type of slower delivery in cricket. It is intended to deceive the batters and get them to go through with their shot earlier than expected. It is a kind of delivery which is usually employed by the fast bowlers.
However, there are a few spinners who use the knuckleball to good effect as well. The knuckleball is bowled by holding the ball between the knuckles of your hand. It is held between the knuckles of the index finger and the middle finger with the thumb playing the role of a supporter. Some bowlers even use their fingernails to get a good grip. The motive of this delivery is to keep the seam of the ball upright and deceive the batters as if the bowler is bowling a normal paced seam-up delivery but the ball arrives a lot slower as there is no real pace put on the ball. The delivery was adopted from baseball’s knuckleball. The physics of the operation are largely the same. However, the seam on a cricket ball is equatorial, and thus the extent of erratic movement is reduced due to the symmetry.
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How to bowl the knuckleball
As learnt from some of the greatest cricketers and even the modern-day bowlers, the knuckleball is one of the most difficult deliveries to master. It takes a lot of practice to even bowl it consistently. It requires quite a bit of core strength in the fingers as it is tough to grip the ball firmly. It even takes a toll on your shoulders and arms given the stress it undergoes as the pressure applied is slightly different.
Firstly the knuckleball is held between the knuckles of your index finger and middle finger. Firstly, you need to practice holding the ball between those knuckles to get a good grip and get a decent feel of it. Once the grip is fine and you are confident that the ball will not slip out of your hand, it is when you start bowling the knuckleballs. If you bowl the knuckleball short of length or halfway down the pitch it might give time to the batters to adjust and change their shot. Thus, the length is the key while bowling the knuckleball. It needs to be bowled at a good length and slightly fuller. Not a half-volley but just a tad fuller.
After that, the run-up and the delivery stride should remain the same. Even the arm speed while bowling shouldn't change and it should be the same as normal delivery. A change in any of those components might just give the batters an indication of a variation. Hence, all processes in the lead up to the delivery need to remain the same with only the grip of the ball changing. Therefore, the knuckleball is a tough delivery to master but it is pretty effective as well.