I've looked into this before and my own findings were that it isn't allowed unless both captains have agreed before the game that underarm bowling is allowed. (I don't like this option, because it feels like serious deception.)

However, it is quite important to me, as I can pitch in fastpitch softball, but I cannot bowl overarm in cricket.

So, I'm looking for a loophole to use my softball pitch in cricket. Are there any?

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    Since many cricketers (myself included) are unfamiliar with softball, it would be helpful if you could provide a link or explanation of what a softball pitch involves. – Spinner Aug 18 '13 at 20:21
  • @Spinner I am sure there are different techniques in softball pitching, but here is an example. I picked this particular example because of its slomo, which might also tell us something about the elbow angles in different pitches. – user1564 Aug 19 '13 at 13:23
  • Thanks for the clarification. Would the elbow straighten at any point? If so, it would be a no ball. Extra flexing, however, would be legal. – Spinner Aug 19 '13 at 14:05

Law 24 (No ball) prohibits underarm bowling except by special arrangement, as your findings indicate. If the captains were to agree to underarm bowling, I don't see how it could be considered deceptive, since it has been specifically highlighted and therefore is unlikely to cause any surprise, especially since you would have to inform the umpire and batsman when you are going to do so.

It would not be a sustainable long-term strategy as I would not think captains likely to agree to underarm bowling (it was used in an infamous incident in a 1981 one-day match between Australia and New Zealand). Coincidentally, I was playing cricket yesterday and one (new) player did end up bowling underarm; it was a social match and we did not object, but in future it will be necessary for him to learn to bowl overarm.

Finally, without knowing the intricacies of fastpitch softball, I would be doubtful that underarm bowling in cricket would do anything other than provide an easy hit to the batsman. The renowned England captain Mike Brearley would occasionally bowl underarm, but he was primarily a batsman, not a bowler; his was an attempt to try something new to unsettle the batsman. It didn't work: as far as I know, he never took a wicket with such an action!

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    Thanks. I was thinking that a repeat of "Underarm '81" incident was mostly(?) prevented by Law 24.6: "Ball bouncing more than twice or rolling along the ground". What I had in mind is a slightly more attacking delivery, with a speed comparable to fast bowling. But alas, I don't think any thinking captain will agree to face it. – user1564 Aug 19 '13 at 13:37
  • @Gugg Yes, that no-ball law is the more obviously relevant one in this scenario; however, underarm bowling that pitches once could probably still deny the batsman the chance of hitting a six, by virtue of its lower trajectory. As you say, I doubt any captain would agree to such a possibility. – Spinner Aug 19 '13 at 14:00

Underarm bowling has been outlawed by the ICC (International Cricket Council) after Australia beat NZ in 1981 by bowling the last ball of the match underarm (Wikipedia has a pretty good summary of it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underarm_bowling_incident_of_1981)

In some levels of the game the two teams might be able to agree to allow it (I've seen this at children's games where bowlers are not able to bowl accurately yet and/or batters are not able to hit the ball at speed yet), however it would be unusual in older levels of the game.

  • Perhaps strangely, it was surprising for me to read that they banned the whole underarm action, whereas the key element of the 1981 delivery was that the ball was rolled, which is (nowadays, but apparently not then) a no ball. Thanks for the reference and the answer. (However, do note that an underarm action can generate speeds that you may consider fast by most standards.) – user1564 Aug 19 '13 at 13:47
  • I saw olympics softball one year and yes an underarm action can be quite quick, however at kids level it is generally slower and/or more acurate – Greg Aug 19 '13 at 23:53

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