Updated: September 23, 2021 7:08:58 am
The conventional yorker is a low-flung delivery spearing into the base of the off-stump. But with post-modern 360 degree pyro-technicians on the prowl, yorkers have gone wider and wider from the off-stump in the shortest format, reaping considerable success, as did Rajasthan Royals’ pacer Kartik Tyagi in his last-over heist for ages. The method has risks, among others requires a high degree of accuracy and pace, but is gaining in currency at the death.
How did Tyagi execute the wide yorkers?
It’s not like each of his six balls landed at the exact same spot, or were wide yorkers. The first ball was a low full toss outside the off-stump. The second landed on the fuller side of the good-length band. The fifth was a wide, full ball that shaped away a hint, which Deepak Hooda edged behind. Only his third, fourth and sixth balls could be categorised as wide yorkers, or rather yorkers away from the stumps. The third was pitched on the fifth-sixth stump line angling across the leftie, which Nicholas Pooran tried to stretch his bat and glide it past the keeper, but played it so far away from his body that he had little control. The fourth was the classical wide yorker, so far and wide that it almost hugged the tramline. Deepak Hooda was expecting the same the next ball, and hence premeditated to flay him over cover. But Tyagi, while maintaining the line, pulled the length back a fraction and foxed him.
The last ball, careful not to concede an unnecessary wide, he dragged the yorker closer to the stumps, in the fifth-sixth stump channel. So it’s not just blindly bowling wide yorkers that reaped his success, but subtly changing his line, and on a couple of instances, his length too.
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What is the idea behind a wide yorker?
The prime motive is to make batsmen reach for the ball. The wide line automatically means, he is stretching for the ball (unless he is preempting and has already made up his mind to move across), usually just throwing his hands at it, playing so far away from the body that his balance goes off-kilter. It’s difficult to get under the ball and carve or cream it. It’s difficult to get both power and precision, unless a batsman has really fast hands. It limits the scoring areas (leg-side is out of bounds) as well as the scoring shots. There are only a few shots one could pull off—the steer, dab behind square, the crunch, smother through covers. Or the reverse sweep, which requires premeditation and accompanies a greater margin for error even at the best of times. It works on the principle that batsmen need room, but not too much room that could destabilise their balance and stability.
What is the fundamental (and philosophical) difference between a conventional and wide yorker?
The conventional yorker was primarily designed as a wicket-taking, wrecker-ball, across formats. Fast, furious, tailing in wickedly, sometimes reverse-swing accentuated, battering toes and bat if those intervened. Usually stars in lower-order detonation in Tests and at the death in ODIs, though some of its finest dealers have used it with great success against mainstream batsmen across formats. Conversely, the wide yorker is a run-denying, restrictive ploy, confined largely to T20s. Some traditionalists even call it a negative ploy, equating it to the round-the-stumps leg-side tactic against right-handed batsmen. The fields are similar. In the latter instance, the leg-side is stacked with fielders; with wide yorkers, the off-side is invariably packed.
However, a good yorker, irrespective of the line, has similar traits. Both need a certain degree of accuracy, precision, sharpness and pace. In that sense, a wide yorker is even more difficult a trick to pull off than the conventional one on a consistent basis.
What are the virtues a bowler needs?
Pace is paramount, perhaps more than the conventional version, where even medium-pacers could compensate for their lack of pace with accuracy and precision. Good batsmen could still harness pace to suit them, but lack of pace gives batsmen more time, and consequently, alternatives. With the power at their disposal, from their beefy bats to their beefier shoulders, they could generate their own impetus. And a batsman, when reaching out, could get more control over his shots when he is looking to play straight than square. Mixing the lines, too, is necessary, as batsmen could easily anticipate the delivery and set themselves up for it.
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What are the risk factors in bowling wide yorkers?
As the ball flirts with the tramline, there lurks the danger of a wide being called. So many yorkers, unsurprisingly, end up as extras on the scoresheet. But then, there is a perception that in T20s, or at the death in ODISs, it is better to risk a wide than miss the length and get struck for a six. Bit more closer to the body, batsmen could guide it past the keeper. Messing up with lengths, though, pose more risk than missing lines. A bit fuller, batsmen with quick feet could shuffle across and pick his spots. If the bowler errs on the shorter side, a good batsman could drag the ball onto the leg-side, where even if he edges, chances are that it could fall safely, as there are fewer fielders. A bit slower than 140kph, he gets ample time to free his arms and swing the blade.
Are wide yorkers gaining in currency?
The variation predates the T20 era, but has always been an outlier. But of late, it has gained more popularity and acceptability. In the last two editions, bowlers have been using it frequently. Andre Russell is perhaps the finest example; so has been Kyle Jamieson. Lasith Malinga was the high priest, and he, alongside Nuwan Kulasekara, had choked India with wide yorkers at the backend of the 2014 World T20 final. A lot of left-handed bowlers too use it, their angle making the ball even more difficult for right-handed batters to blast them.
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