Swing vs Seam: Difference and Comparison

Swing and seam are two of three different types of bowling in the sport of cricket. The third is called pace bowling.

In both swing and seam bowling, the bowler spins the balls in such a way that the batsman might be caught off guard while trying to pull off a hit.

This means that the balls are thrown in such a manner that the batsman is certain to miss it. With practice, swing and seam bowlers can achieve their goal with certainty.

Key Takeaways

  1. Swing bowling focuses on movement through the air while seam bowling targets deviation off the pitch.
  2. Swing bowlers rely on the ball’s shape and air conditions, whereas seam bowlers exploit inconsistencies in the pitch.
  3. Swing bowlers use more wrist and finger manipulation, while seam bowlers prioritize precise seam positioning.

Swing vs Seam

Swing is the ball’s lateral movement in the air, while seam movement is the vertical movement of the ball off the pitch played in the air or on the ground. Swing is more pronounced when the ball is new, and it can be a very effective way to deceive the batsman and take wickets.

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Swing bowlers depend a lot on the mannerism and the movement of the air and its direction. To master this difficult technique, a bowler needs to have years of practice and also patience as not always would the ball swing in their favor.

Because it is easy for the air around the ball to change its direction of motion at any point, the swing bowlers depend on luck to some extent.

Seam bowling is an easier technique as all that is required is to spin the ball in the exact right path so that it could hit the pitch thereby letting it go off course.

Seam bowling depends a lot on the speed and agility of the bowler as well as the batsman. When facing a ball that is served by a seam bowler, to not lose a wicket or to get a run, the batsman would have to act fast.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonSwingSeam
Air Movements Determine TrajectoryYesNo
The Wrist Position MattersNot oftenYes
Can Only Be Perfected With Years Of PracticeNoYes
Famous PlayersWasim Akram, Waqar Younis Jimmy Anderson, etc.Jasprit Bumrah and Glenn McGrath

What is Swing?

Swing bowling is not an easy talent to master as it requires the bowler to be in sync with the air around them and the ball.

What happens in most cases is that when a swing bowler bowls, they ensure that the air conditions are perfect and there are no risks of the balls going off course and damaging their chances of victory.

But eventually, with practice and also with the patience that is needed by any person, a bowler can master the art of swing bowling even without the perfect air conditions.

The key point about swing bowling is that the batsman would never be able to judge the trajectory of the ball after it has been bowled by the swing bowler.

This unpredictable nature of the ball makes it quite a task for the batsman to protect the wicket or to even score a single run.

Such unpredictability makes it easy for newer players with less experience on the pitch to lose a wicket and might even lead to the failure of the entire team. The motion of the ball depends on the air pressure exerted by the air surrounding the ball.

Depending on that, the swing bowler serves the ball inwards or outwards. This is what ensures the deviation of the ball from the original path of motion.

The inward or outward motion combined with the air pressure on the ball helps in creating a new trajectory that the batsman might never be able to decipher until the ball is right in front of them.

There are many different types of swing bowling but it is common for each player to be known only for one of the types. The types of swings include the most common inswing, outswing, reverse swing, and also contrast swing.

Other than these, any swing bowler can come up with any kind of swing and perfect it with time and practice leading to the creation of a completely new swing method.

Few of the famous swing bowlers include Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, both of whom belong to Pakistan, Jimmy Anderson from England, and many more.


What is Seam?

A seam is a form of bowling adapted by bowlers to catch their opposing batsman off guard with different motions of trajectory.

The ball is bowled in such a way that the seam bowler makes sure that it hits the pitch the right way and therefore the ball deviates from its original path.

If the seamer or the seam bowler can ensure that their ball can hit the pitch after they have served, then there are high chances that the batsman would not be able to predict the path.

Such uncertainty would lead to the batsman swinging in the wrong direction thereby giving the opposite team a great chance of victory.

But even after seam bowling, there are chances that the ball might go straight ahead at the batsman without deviating its path. All these movements that any ball bowled by a seam bowler could be judged and read by an experienced batsman.

This is a major reason why teams try to ensure that a better-experienced batsman is put up against a seam bowler. In the case of seam bowling, the bowler would never be able to judge the movement of the ball after it hits the pitch.

All that the bowler can hope for is that the ball deviates from its intended trajectory offering a surprise position for the batsman to bat from.

The bowler makes sure that the ball is kept between their index and middle finger and that the wrist is poised in the right direction before bowling.

These precautions would give a highly experienced bowler the knowledge of the possible deviation and trajectory difference that the ball might go through.

The most common type of seam bowling is called cutter. Famous seam bowlers seen by the world include Jasprit Bumrah of India and Glenn McGrath of Australia.

cricket bowling

Main Differences Between Swing and Seam

  1. While seam bowling, on one hand, depends on the probability of the ball being hurled at the pitch at the right angle, swing bowling on the other hand depends on the movement of air.
  2. In the case of swing bowling, the bowlers are either called a swinger or a swing bowler whereas while considering seam bowling, the bowlers are either called a seamer or a seam bowlers.
  3. There are high chances of seam bowling perfected with practice and expertise but on most occasions, swing bowling depends on the air movements and luck.
  4. There are four main types of swing bowling which are inwards, outwards, reverse and contrast swings which are perfected by different players whereas seams have no definite types even though cutter is considered to be a seam bowling method.
  5. Known players for seam are Jasprit Bumrah and Glenn McGrath whereas players famous for their swing bowling are Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Jimmy Anderson.
Difference Between Swing and Seam
  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02844161
  2. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/mathematical-gazette/article/boundary-layer-and-seam-bowling/5419EFCF9F0963AAE2392BD6F11E2BE7

Last Updated : 15 July, 2023

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