I have often heard commentators describe particular bowlers as having a "heavy ball". By context, this seems to refer to a fast bowler being able to bowl a delivery that seems to impact the bat with greater force that would be expected given their pace. In other words, they aren't a particularly fast bowler, but the ball travels with greater force than is suggested by its pace. For example, see the description in cricinfo's glossary of terms (use find 'heavy ball').

This is absolute nonsense in terms of physics, but it is a pervasive concept that seems to be held true by cricketing people, so there must be a sensible explanation that accords with sensible physics that is being miscommunicated or misunderstood by the use of the phrase 'heavy ball'. I would perhaps make a parallel to the notion in Basketball that good jumpers seem to 'hang in the air' longer than bad ones. Again, this seems to make no sense physically until you realise that good jumpers have learned to use similar tricks to ballerinas to keep parts of their body elevated for longer by changing their centre of mass (see for instance here and compare with Michael Jordan's iconic split leg dunking pose). Is there is similar explanation for the origin of this confusing term in cricket?

  • 1
    Interesting question. Perhaps it might have something to do with the rotation of the ball?
    – lins314159
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 3:34

2 Answers 2


I found some link for you which is here

This is only the term which is used as a "Heavy Ball", but there is no heavy or light. Only the effort of bowler makes this.

Bowlers who bowl the heavy ball hit the deck lot harder than average bowlers. Michael Kasprowicz, Andrew Flintoff, and Andrew Caddick are good examples of such bowlers. While there are bowlers who skid the bowl through quicker than others. Lasith Malinga is one such bowler. Some bowlers are quicker through the air and these are ones who are mostly called tearaway or genuine fast bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar, Brett Lee and Waqar Younis.

  • I like the quote "It's the sort of language that would have Fred Truemen spluttering into his pint of best". That's more like it! I dislike you last paragraph though, due to it being physically impossible for a delivery to 'hit the deck harder' than another delivery of the same pace. This is the delusional notion at the heart of this piece of terminology. Your link is dismissive of it, as I am, but where, when, why and how this strange misconception originated is still a mystery. Commented May 1, 2013 at 13:56
  • 1
    I think this term is given by "Fred Truemen". Nothing more than that. Commented May 2, 2013 at 5:46
  • I think you misunderstood the quote, Fred Truemen was a firebrand fast bowler who later become a curmudgeonly old commentator (see espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/21600.html). He wouldn't have stood for any such non-sense as the term "heavy ball" in his time. That's what it is saying, it isn't saying he invented the term! Commented May 2, 2013 at 7:23
  • I still beg to disagree. While it's not a clearly defined term, it could still have a physics basis to it.
    – Yaitzme
    Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 10:03

In contrast to a lot that has been said above, the heavy ball could possibly have a physical reason behind it.

Two balls, despite having the same 'bowling speed' and despite pitching at the same location could still rear up differently. Hence the two seemingly-identical balls bowled could still seem different to the batsman.

In my opinion, a heavy ball could be delivered by a tall bowler by releasing the ball from a higher height than normal. Also, by varying the ball release, seam position, release height and release distance, the bowler can extract more bounce from the pitch. This leads to the feeling of a 'heavy ball' to the batsman.

The case in point is not a simple 2-D linear mechanics situation, but one that is complicated by the presence of different pitch restitutions (due to seam positions) and can hence have different apparent ball speeds.

As for the basketball analogy, it is certainly incorrect for this case. While the height to which your centre of mass can travel is dictated by your jumping ability, you can indeed change your hangtime by moving your legs and hands. (Note that the height to which your centre of mass rises still remains the same)

Good jumpers tend to use these small ideas to extend their hang time. Their body position also gives an onlooker the apparent notion of an extended hang time.

  • StackExchange newbie here. Isn't it customary to discuss/give a reason before a downvote?
    – Yaitzme
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 4:14
  • 1
    Not really, but I agree it's annoying (I see it a lot on StackOverflow). I actually like your answer: While 2 bowlers may release at the same speed and pitch in the same place, the angle of the delivery both across the batsman and relative to the plane of the wicket will affect how fast the ball carries to the batsman and the spin can also influence the 'feel' of a ball. There is a physical explanation for the term (albeit slightly subjective) and anyone dismissing it does not really understand physics. Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 11:10

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.