What is a Yorker in Cricket? – Notable Yorker Bowlers

Every aspiring fast bowler should be looking to perfect the yorker so let’s take a closer look at this delivery and how to execute it in a match situation.

What is a Yorker in Cricket?

A yorker is a full delivery that is intended to pitch at the batsman’s feet when they are standing in their normal stance. As it is aimed at the very bottom of the bat, it is very difficult to defend and it is almost impossible to score runs from a yorker when it is executed correctly..

what is a yorker in cricket
Yorker Ball in Cricket – Green Line

Etymology – Why is a Yorker So Called?

No-one is quite sure how the Yorker got its name. The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that it was coined because the delivery was used by players from York. Another theory is that the term ‘yorker’ is colloquial for ‘cheater’. There is no issue with cheating when it comes to bowling yorkers but maybe certain people felt that it gave the bowlers an unfair advantage.

Types of Yorkers

Slow Yorker

A traditional yorker is delivered at the bowler’s regular speed. Therefore, if that bowler changes their pace and slows things down, it can be very confusing for the batter.

I’d recommend looking at the video of Steve Harmison bowling to Michael Clarke in the 2005 Ashes for a great example. Clarke is completely deceived by the lack of pace and the ball crashes into the stumps.

Notable Slow Yorker Bowlers

Shane Bond

Steve Harmison only used the slow yorker rarely but it was a more regular part of Shane Bond’s armoury. When he was at his fittest, the New Zealander could bowl with extreme pace so the slow ball was very unexpected and hard for the batters to pick up.

Sadly, that fitness was an issue for much of his career but Bond is now a respected bowling coach so the art of the slow yorker lives on.

Andrew Flintoff

England’s Andrew Flintoff also struggled with injuries towards the end of his career. Like Shane Bond, he could bowl with extreme pace when he was at his best so the slow yorker was a surprise delivery.

Flintoff made a comeback in T20 franchise cricket where he worked hard on his variations. The slower balls became a bigger focal point at this late stage of his career.

Andrew Flintoff
Andrew Flintoff

Fast Yorker

This is the most common type of yorker. The fast bowling unit in any team will be striving to bowl quicker yorkers. They will either bowl them at their usual speed or they may try to push it through with even more pace than usual.

Here are some of the best exponents of the fast yorker.

Best Fast Yorker Bowlers

Dale Steyn

South Africa’s Dale Steyn was shorter in stature than many fast bowlers. He had a skiddy action as a result and still bowled with plenty of pace. His fast yorker was very accurate and hard for batters to cope with.

Steyn took plenty of wickets with the fast yorker in all formats in a career which saw him claim 699 international victims.

Shoaib Akhtar

The man known as the Rawalpindi Express was the fastest bowler of all time. Shoaib Akhtar of Pakistan could clock in at around 100mph at his best and, at that kind of speed, any type of delivery is hard to keep out.

Shoaib’s Yorker was fast and very full and it helped him to claim a significant proportion of his international wickets.

Brett Lee

There was a time when Shoaib Akhtar and Australia’s Brett Lee were battling it out to be the fastest bowler in the world. Lee was also capable of bowling deliveries in the high 90 miles per hour bracket.

At that extreme speed, yorkers are seriously hard to deal with and Brett Lee delivered his with great pace and unerring accuracy.

Swinging Yorker

The swinging yorker has that full length but it also moves in the air on its way to the batter. It can swing late and in either direction – in or out.

Left arm bowlers are particularly adept at bowling the swinging yorker and the following three players are great examples.

Notable Swinging Yorker Bowlers

Mitchell Starc

Perhaps the greatest exponent of the swinging yorker, Australia’s Mitchell Starc is certainly a great example for anyone wanting to learn this type of delivery. He is blessed with natural height and pace and that helps to complete a fearsome package.

The swing that he imparts makes his yorkers so hard to dig out. Starc can even swing the white cricket ball on a regular basis and that’s a very rare quality.

Mitchell Starc
Mitchell Starc
Trent Boult

Trent Boult produced a masterclass in swing bowling during the 2022 test series in England. When the conditions are in his favour, this New Zealand left armer is almost unplayable.

Boult bowled full on that occasion but he can pitch the ball up even further to deliver an exceptional yorker. He’s been an important player for T20 franchises over the years and the ability to deliver that swinging yorker is a big part of his appeal.

Wasim Akram

One of the Sultans of Swing, Pakistan’s Wasim Akram maybe wasn’t as fast as Mitchell Starc or some of the other left arm bowlers of recent years. However, what made him stand out above his contemporaries was that exceptional swing.

Wasim was one of the best bowlers of reverse swing in the game but, whether it was reverse or conventional swing, his yorker was almost unplayable.

Toe Crusher

The toe crusher is so called because it is aimed at the batter’s feet. If delivered correctly, the natural instinct for that batter is to get the foot out of the way before it hits and causes serious injury.

The toe crusher also swings but it tends to move in very late. When it’s sent down accurately, it can be the most difficult of all the yorkers to play.

Notable Bowlers

Waqar Younis

Wasim Akram’s opening bowling partner for many years, Waqar Younis was arguably the best exponent of the toe crusher. He could get exceptional swing and the ball could come in from way outside off stump to hit the base of the stumps.

Batters all over the world struggled to cope but Waqar’s toe crusher was especially effective on Pakistan’s tours of England.

Lasith Malinga

Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga had lots of variation and he could also bowl an effective slow yorker. His round arm, slingy action also helped with getting the ball to swing.

Malinga’s swinging yorker would move late and that’s why it was so difficult to play as it moved in, right at the batter’s toes.

What is a Yorker in Cricket? - Notable Yorker Bowlers
Lasith Malinga

Why Yorkers are Important

Run Rate Check

I’ve mentioned that yorkers are very difficult to score from. They are wicket taking deliveries but they can also be a defensive tool. In any form of cricket, if the run rate is getting too high, the bowlers may look to bowl a series of yorkers in an attempt to get it moving in a downwards direction.

Fear in the Batsman

A batter knows how difficult it is to score from a yorker. They will also know the times when it is most likely for a bowler to send down this type of delivery. This can instill fear in the batter because it is so difficult to maintain that run rate.

A batter may be expecting the yorker and that can see them attempt to premeditate their shot. We’ve seen players use the ramp shot while others, like Jos Buttler, stay much deeper in their crease.

This can be effective but, if the bowler then sends down a short ball, the batter is completely in the wrong position.

What is a Yorker in Cricket? - Notable Yorker Bowlers

Useful in the Death Overs

This is tied into run rate and keeping the scoring down. In limited overs matches, you may see the yorker used to a far greater extent during the final overs. These are known as the death overs. It’s also common for teams to have specialist bowlers who they rely upon at this stage of the game.

Those bowlers who enjoy featuring in the death overs will know how to use the yorker effectively. At this stage of the match, batters will be looking to score runs so the yorker can keep that run rate down and it can also be a wicket taking delivery.

Conclusion

Throughout the history of the game, the yorker has been the most difficult delivery for a batter. It’s extremely difficult to score runs from and, in first class cricket, most players are happy just to prevent the ball from hitting the stumps.

The issues with facing the yorker come with other concerns in the limited overs formats. In 50-over and T20 games, it’s not acceptable to defend the stumps all the time. The run rate has to be maintained and that’s why batters have premeditated shots and developed new ways of dealing with yorkers.

Some play ramp shots while others look to stay deep in their crease as the ball is delivered. However, this is a risky approach as the bowler could send down a short ball and the batter would be in completely the wrong position.

In summary, the yorker is a very useful delivery and, if you are a young bowler, it’s worth taking time to try to perfect it.