Underarm bowling

Underarm bowling is not permitted by the Laws these days unless a special agreement has been concluded between the captains before the match starts. This change was introduced in 2000 in order to prevent a bowler from rolling the ball along the ground if the batting side need a boundary 6 to win from the last ball of the match.

Of course underarm used to be the only legal bowling action until the early part of the nineteenth century when it was augmented, in 1828, by round-arm and then, in 1864, by over-arm bowling. Nevertheless underarm bowlers - usually bowling what were called 'lobs' - were still to be seen regularly right up to the early 1900s. One of the best-known English exponents was Digby Jephson, captain of Surrey, who took 6 wickets for 21 runs for the Gentlemen against the Players in 1899. Although better known as a batsman, Jephson had actually changed his action to underarm bowling, having started his career as an over-arm fast bowler!

But the greatest underarm bowling achievement was probably that of probably the last man to bowl this way in first-class cricket, Worcestershire's George Simpson-Hayward. Playing for England in a five- Test series in South Africa in 1909, he finished with 23 wickets at an average of 18 runs, including a remarkable 6 wickets for just 43 runs in the first Test.