You must have played cricket, or even if you didn’t, you’d know someone who has; at the smallest of the levels although. So ask them for once, which is the most challenging delivery to face as a batsman? A few could say a lethal bouncer, an inswinging delivery or if you go by the modern-day standards, it could be a knuckleball as well. But, if you were to take my word or even opinions from many of those who had followed cricket, the answer would be a ‘Yorker’.

Yes, a yorker! Heard this term before? You would have for sure. So what’s this thing about a Yorker? How do you bowl it? What does this mean? How does a batsman play this delivery? Or even, why off all balls, a yorker is the toughest to bowl and play simultaneously?

What is a ‘Yorker’?

A yorker is a full-length delivery which is pitched in front of a batsman’s feet by a bowler; not necessarily by a fast bowler. A well-executed yorker is when it is aimed at a player’s shoes, and it bounces at his feet only. If directed well, it is by a distance the most difficult ball to play for a batsman. Not just it traps a batsman in the middle, but a yorker also doesn’t allow the batsman to open his arms and go for a shot.

A batsman doesn’t get a chance to hit runs off a Yorker. Image Courtesy: Getty

Meanwhile, it requires a lot of practice to implement a perfect Yorker, or else you’re born as Lasith Malinga, who has the pure skills and has been crushing toes with his lethal yorkers over the years.

How do you bowl a Yorker?

For those who are keen on knowing how do bowlers produce such a delivery, here is your answer. As mentioned above, it is equally tough for a bowler to pitch a right yorker than for a batsman to play it. In the simplest of terms, you, as a bowler, has to deliver the ball late to ensure it goes far enough to reach a batsman’s feet. Though general advice would be to say the hand should be pointing directly vertical; there have been bowlers who have defied such a notion.

Perhaps the best way of delivering it is to drive your bowling shoulder to the target, and if directed rightly, it should be pacey and fuller. However, it requires a lot of net sessions to become a specialist in bowling yorkers.

Over the years, we have seen many great examples of a perfect yorker in cricket. Off a few instances, names of Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Starc comes to our mind. Who can forget Waqar Younis breaking Brian Lara‘s wickets with a perfect swinging Yorker in a Test? Or else, Lasith Malinga getting Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock off those brilliant Yorkers during the 2007 WC in the Caribbean? Such a delight it was to watch it.

What is an attempted ‘Yorker’?

Many times we have heard commentators saying, ‘he bowled an attempted yorker…’ which means a bowler came close on delivering a perfect yorker, but he didn’t. So what do we mean by this? It means the ball either didn’t pitch at his feet; pitched inches before it, which is called as a ‘half-volley’ or became a full-toss, not getting to pitch actually. In both the cases, the bowler is unlikely to disturb a batsman’s timber unless one misses it entirely (which doesn’t happen often).

Why is it an unplayable delivery for batsmen?

Now, here the big question arises, why is it an unplayable delivery to face for a batsman? Even going by the look of it, a yorker is meant to deceive a player; and if bowled with extra pace, it could hurt either the bat or a batsman’s toe.

Yorker
A Yorker broke a batsman’s bat during a game. Image Courtesy: Getty

Since there is no room for a player to go for a shot, he gets trapped at the crease. Contrary to what it appears to be, there have been some modifications in playing those shots.

With the introduction of the T20 format, the players have started using their feet to put a yorker out of its place. Paddle sweep, giving room to hit on either side of the ground, or if you’re MS Dhoni, you know what to do!