Yorkers: What works, what doesn’t and who are the best at delivering and handling them

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If a ball lands in the region of one to three meters from the stumps, then it’s considered a yorker. This length stops the batters from getting underneath the ball thereby making it tougher to hit sixes. If you nail a yorker, you only concede at around run a ball.

I mean, look at that! Who wouldn’t want to bowl those beauties? Not just optics, this yorker-length is terrific at containing runs too.

Against Pacers In IPL Since 2012

  Full toss yorker slot length Back of a length [8-9] Short [>9]
Strike Rates 176.3 105.7 165.2 114.0 111.1 147.6

 

It’s slightly different for spinners. Yorker does give them good economy, but their best length is 5-6 m mark which is a slot length for fast bowlers. Just for this discussion, we are only gonna talk about yorkers of pacers.

Missing the length: Yes, the yorker is the most economical length. But there is a small catch, though. Executing the yorker again and again and again is incredibly hard. And if you miss the mark and bowl a bit shorter, you will travel. Bowl it a bit fuller, you will travel further.

  Yorker Missed Yorker
Lengths 1-3 meters Fuller than 1 meter and shorter than 3 m until 4.5 m
Strike rates 105.7 169.0

Why 4.5 meters? Because that’s smack bang in the middle of the “slot” length [3 m – 6 m]. If the bowler landed it in the slot, he could be aiming for a yorker or aiming for a length ball and missed. So, let’s just take half of the slot length which is towards the yorker. Hence the 4.5-meter mark.

So, don’t miss a yorker. But if we dig up the numbers, we can find some margins for error. Let’s see what those are.

Margins for error

Let’s look at the margins in terms of Line, length, and pace of the yorker.

Line:

Let’s divide the lines into three zones:  

  • At the stumps
  • Wide yorker (30 cm from wide crease)
  • Anything in between.
  Wide line In between At the stumps
Yorker SR 120.1 105.3 93.3
Balls per wicket 67.0 54.14 10.01
Missed Yorker SR 180.4 172.7 160.3

The wider the line higher the strike rate. Attacking the stumps not only gives you a better economy but can bring more dismissals into play. You miss, I hit.

Especially when there is a little bit of reverse available, it can make things really hard for the batters. It cramps them for room and sometimes forces them to play across the line, which can result in wickets [A wicket every 10 balls]

If the bowler bowls a wider line, it allows the batter relatively more options to score and reduces the chance of getting out as there are fewer dismissals in play [A wicket every 67 balls].

And we’re also seeing bowlers bowl that wider line with third man and point up, which makes it easier for the batters to hit a boundary.

Opinion:

It looks like, the wide yorker’s effectiveness is more influenced by the fieldset compared to a full straight yorker, where the batter is allowed very few options. One is to just get bat on the ball and run a single as the field is spread. Two, play the scoop. And bowlers being smart, have started to put fine leg a lot finer, which further reduces the boundary options. So, giving themselves room and converting it into a wider line or reverse scooping the ball are the only other boundary options. ABD might have a few more options. [Read more below]

Length:

Do not miss a yorker. Erring while attempting a yorker will hurt you. But it hurts lesser if you err on the shorter side rather than on the fuller side.

  Length Batsmen Strike Rate
Erred on the fuller side <1 meter 176.32
Erred on the shorter side >3 m and < 4.5 m 163.54

Pace:
If you are quicker, you will have a better margin for error. In fact, even the strike rate against the yorkers is low if the bowler is quick. Have a look.

Speeds <120 kph 120-130 kph 130-140 kph >140 kph
Yorker 113.7 117.1 103.5 98.0
Missed yorker 162.8 180.5 174.8 152.0

The yorkers bowled at less than 120 kph are probably slower ball yorkers. So, there is a chance that the batter was deceived. That could be a reason for the lower strike rates. Other than that, the quicker the bowler, the harder it is for the batsmen to score off. So, be quick, or make your slower balls deceptive.

Rate of success

Bowlers attempt yorkers and sometimes they fail. Most of the time, actually. But who fails the fewest? Let’s see.

Let’s keep the following three things in mind before we go forward.

Yorker: It’s a yorker if it lands in the 1 to 3 meters range.
Attempted Yorker: A yorker and anything fuller than a yorker and anything shorter than a yorker until 4.5 meters.
Yorker success percentage: Percentage of yorkers in attempted yorkers
Yorker attempt percentage Percentage of attempted yorkers in all the balls they bowled.

Yorker attempt Percentage:

In a list of 103 bowlers, who bowled at least 200 balls since 2012, here are the bowlers who attempted the yorkers most.

Highest yorker attempt %
Sno Bowler Attempt%
1 T Natarajan 45.9
2 SL Malinga 41.8
3 KK Cooper 33.5
4 DJ Bravo 32.4
5 MA Starc 30.9
6 Mustafizur Rahman 29.7
7 CH Morris 29.0
8 AB Dinda 28.8
9 TA Boult 25.3
10 JJ Bumrah 25.2

 

Least yorker attempt %
Bowler Attempt %
SK Trivedi 2.9
JA Morkel 7.3
DL Chahar 9.1
JD Unadkat 9.3
I Sharma 11.2
PJ Cummins 11.9
DT Christian 12.0
HH Pandya 12.0
KK Ahmed 12.1
MC Henriques 12.3
DW Steyn 12.6

On average, in IPL yorkers are attempted around 20% of the time. Natarajan and Malinga attempt yorkers 45 and 41 percentage of the time. More than double the average. Bumrah attempts them 25% of the time. It’s interesting that Dinda attempts yorkers more often than Bumrah. Keep this thing in mind. We’ll discuss this more in detail later.

Yorker success percentage

Now let’s get to the important part and find out who nails the yorkers most. Let’s calculate the percentage of yorkers among the attempted yorkers.

Among the 26 bowlers who attempted at least 200 yorkers, here is the list of the top ten and worst 5 in terms of nailing the yorkers.

  Bowler Attempts Yorker success %
1 P Kumar 345 49.2
2 T Natarajan 239 40.2
3 SL Malinga 812 39.0
4 M Morkel 216 38.9
5 Sandeep Sharma 400 38.8
6 DJ Bravo 725 38.1
7 HV Patel 208 37.0
8 Mohammed Shami 322 37.0
9 B Kumar 518 36.9
10 AB Dinda 272 36.8
18 JJ Bumrah 594 32.0
25 K Rabada 216 29.6

Praveen Kumar is ahead of everyone else and it’s not even close. He’s on a different level altogether. Natarajan and Malinga being in the top 3, comes as no surprise.

Rabada is 25th on the list of 26 people. His yorker success rate is 29.6 compared to the league average of 33.9. Along with Rabada, Bumrah is also low on the success rate. Mind you, the filter is 200 attempted yorkers. There are quite a few who has a better success rate than Bumrah, albeit with a slightly smaller sample.

Now, let’s compare Bumrah with Dinda. Bumrah not only attempts fewer yorkers than Dinda, but his yorker success rate is also lesser than Dinda. Let that sink in. If you’re wondering why Bumrah has a better economy than Dinda, one of the reasons could be that Bumrah bowls a lot fewer slot balls (3-6 m) than Dinda.

This tells us a few things. One, the narrative. Two, Bumrah has other deliveries that make him a lethal force in T20. Three, you don’t have to be the best with yorkers to be an elite T20 bowler.

The yorker success rate in the league since 2012, is 33.9%. That’s around 2 balls in an over of attempted yorkers. For two balls the bowlers will concede about 2 runs and when they miss the yorker, they get hit at over 160. It does bring in the discussion of, whether a yorker as an option is overrated. And it’s not a great wicket-taking option either. In every phase, the balls per wicket for yorkers is more than the average balls per wicket for pacers in respective phases.

Balls per wicket
All other lengths Yorkers
27.9 28.7
26.8 36.2
13.0 18.4

Then what’s the best option for pacers? Well, that’s a discussion for another day.

Scoring against yorkers:

A perfect Yorker still gives excellent economy. The league average strike rate against yorkers is 105 7. With that in mind, here are the batters with top strike rates against yorkers [minimum 60 balls faced].

Sno Batter Strike Rate
1 AB de Villiers 142.2
2 SPD Smith 130.0
3 V Kohli 128.8
4 DA Miller 128.2
5 RV Uthappa 124.2
6 KD Karthik 122.2
7 RA Jadeja 120.3
8 SK Raina 116.0
9 AD Russell 115.8
10 RG Sharma 114.3
11 MS Dhoni 112.5
16 HH Pandya 106.9
17 KL Rahul 104.3
20 KA Pollard 102.3
22 CH Gayle 98.3
24 RR Pant 93.4

AB de Villiers topping this 24 men list, comes as no surprise to anyone. It’s surprising to see some big names being so low and to see Smith so high in the list. On average, a yorker goes at 1 run per ball. de Villiers strikes at 142 SR. Being an alien is probably the biggest reason. #analysis

Apart from having the ability to play the ball 360 degrees, de Villiers uses the crease really well. He goes deep into the crease in the death overs [like many during that phase] where you expect people to bowl yorkers. And the numbers back this tactic as well. In the last 2 seasons of IPL, batters struck at 113 when they go deep in the crease against yorkers. Any other footwork, they didn’t even cross 87 SR.

Here is what Andrew Flintoff said about de Villiers. “I remember when the game changed. Because I used to bowl the Yorkers to people like Dhoni and I didn’t mind bowling to them, because their feet were planted. But Ab de Villiers started doing this…

So all of a sudden, my Yorker became a full toss. How do you bowl?”

Here is de Villiers doing exactly the same.

 

Summary:

To sum it up,

• Yorker is a great delivery.
• Do not miss your length, but if you do miss it, err on the shorter side.
• The pace is important for yorkers and missed yorkers.
• If you don’t have “high pace”, deception is the key.
• Attacking the stumps is better than bowling wide yorkers.
• Natarajan and Malinga attempt yorkers around 40% of the time.
• Praveen Kumar is on another level when it comes to executing the yorkers.
• Dinda nails his yorkers more often than Bumrah when attempted, and
• AB de Villiers is a freak.