As you might expect, the first thing to get your head around is the categorisation of fast bowling. Not all pacemen bowl at the same speed and, in connection with this, neither do they use the ball in exactly the same way. The distinctions in pace are quite simple to explain, as all fast bowlers come under one of the following categories:
- Fast – Naturally refers to bowlers who can bowl the quickest. The cut-off point is generally an average delivery speed in the late 80s, but many quicks exceed that on a consistent basis.
- Fast medium – Sometimes used interchangeably with medium fast, this refers to bowlers between 80 and 87 miles per hour on average.
- Medium fast – Slower still, this is for bowlers who check in at between 70 and 79 miles per hour on average.
- Medium – Blurring the distinction between spinners and quicks by relying on their guile to take wickets, medium pacers are often part-time bowlers or batting all-rounders coming in at around 60 and 69 miles per hour on average.
Looking at bowlers in terms of pace can be somewhat misleading though. A fast bowler may utilise a slower delivery as a surprise option, for example. Moreover, two quicks may be distinguished by the line and length they choose to use – one may bang the ball in with his stock delivery approximating a bouncer, while the other may skid the ball on off the pitch. In general, fast bowling tends to be sub-categorised into three types – strike, seam and swing bowling – each of which provides different challenges to the batsman due to their speed, line, length and variety.