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Leg theory is a
bowling Bowling is a Throwing sports#Target sports, target sport and recreational activity in which a player rolls a bowling ball, ball toward Bowling pin, pins (in pin bowling) or another target (in target bowling). The term ''bowling'' usually refe ...
tactic in the
sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and Skill, skills while providing enjoyment to participants and, in some cases, entertainment to spectato ...

sport
of
cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pitch, pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two Bail (cricket), bai ...

cricket
. The term ''leg theory'' is somewhat archaic and seldom used any longer, but the basic tactic remains a play in modern cricket. Simply put, leg theory involves concentrating the bowling attack at or near the
line Line, lines, The Line, or LINE may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''Lines'' (film), a 2016 Greek film * ''The Line'' (2017 film) * ''The Line'' (2009 film) * ''The Line'', a 2009 independent film by Nancy Schwartzman Lite ...
of leg stump. This may or may not be accompanied by a concentration of fielders on the
leg side The leg side, or on side, is defined to be a particular half of the field used to play the sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and Sk ...
. The line of attack aims to cramp the
batsman In cricket, batting is the act or skill of hitting the cricket ball, ball with a cricket bat, bat to score runs (cricket), runs and prevent the dismissal (cricket), loss of one's wicket. Any player who is currently batting is denoted as a batsm ...
, making him play the
ball A ball is a round object (usually spherical of a sphere A sphere (from Greek language, Greek —, "globe, ball") is a geometrical object in three-dimensional space Three-dimensional space (also: 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional s ...

ball
with the
bat Bats are mammal Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meanin ...

bat
close to the body. This makes it difficult to hit the ball freely and score runs, especially on the
off side The off side is a particular half of the field in cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pitch, pitch with a wi ...
. Since a leg theory attack means the batsman is more likely to hit the ball on the leg side, additional fielders on that side of the field can be effective in preventing runs and taking catches. Stifling the batsman in this manner can lead to impatience and frustration, resulting in rash play by the batsman which in turn can lead to a quick dismissal. Leg theory can be a moderately successful tactic when used with both
fast bowling Pace bowling (also referred to as fast bowling) is one of two main approaches to bowling Bowling is a target sport and recreational activity in which a player rolls a ball toward pins (in pin bowling) or another target (in target bowli ...

fast bowling
and
spin bowling Spin bowling is a bowling (cricket), bowling technique in cricket, in which the ball is delivered slowly but with the potential to deviate sharply after bouncing, and the bowler is referred to as a spinner. Purpose The main aim of spin bowling ...
, particularly
leg spin Leg spin is a type of spin bowling Spin bowling is a bowling (cricket), bowling technique in cricket, in which the ball is delivered slowly but with the potential to deviate sharply after bouncing, and the bowler is referred to as a spinn ...

leg spin
to right-handed batsmen or
off spin Off spin is a type of finger spin Finger spin (also known as off spin) is a type of bowling Bowling is a target sport and recreational activity in which a player rolls a ball toward pins (in pin bowling) or another target (in target ...
to left-handed batsmen. However, because it relies on lack of concentration or discipline by the batsman, it can be risky against patient and skilled players, especially batsmen who are strong on the leg side. The English opening bowlers
Sydney Barnes Sydney Francis Barnes (19 April 1873 – 26 December 1967) was an English Professional sport#Cricket, professional cricketer who is regarded as one of the greatest Bowling (cricket), bowlers of all time. He was right-handed and bowled at a pace ...
and
Frank FosterFrancis or Frank Foster may refer to: Music * Frank Foster (musician) (1928–2011), American jazz saxophonist * Frank Foster (country singer) (born 1982), American country singer-songwriter active since 2011 Politics * Frank Foster (Michigan poli ...
used leg theory with some success in Australia in 1911–12. In England, at around the same time
Fred Root Charles Frederick (Fred) Root (16 April 1890 – 20 January 1954) was an English cricketer who played for English cricket team, England in 1926 and for Derbyshire County Cricket Club, Derbyshire between 1910 and 1920 and for Worcestershire Count ...

Fred Root
was one of the main proponents of the same tactic. Concentrating attack on the leg stump is considered by many cricket fans and commentators to lead to boring play, as it stifles run scoring and encourages batsmen to play conservatively.


Fast leg theory

In 1930,
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...
captain
Douglas Jardine Douglas Robert Jardine ( 1900 – 1958) was a cricketer who played 22 Test cricket, Test matches for England, captaining the side in 15 of those matches between 1931 and 1934. A right-handed Batting (cricket), batsman, he is best known for ...

Douglas Jardine
, together with
Nottinghamshire Nottinghamshire (; abbreviated Notts.) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chamb ...
's captain Arthur Carr and his bowlers
Harold Larwood Harold Larwood (14 November 1904 – 22 July 1995) was a professional cricketer for Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club and the England cricket team The England cricket team represents England England is a Countries of the United ...

Harold Larwood
and
Bill Voce Bill Voce (8 August 1909 – 6 June 1984) was an English cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pitch, pitch with ...
, developed a variant of leg theory in which the bowlers bowled fast, short-pitched balls that would rise into the batsman's body, together with a heavily stacked ring of close fielders on the leg side. The idea was that when the batsman defended against the ball, he would be likely to deflect the ball into the air for a catch. Jardine called this modified form of the tactic ''fast leg theory''. On the 1932–33 English tour of
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
, Larwood and Voce bowled fast leg theory at the Australian batsmen. It turned out to be extremely dangerous, and most Australian players sustained injuries from being hit by the ball.
Wicket-keeper The wicket-keeper in the sport of cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pitch, pitch with a wicket at e ...
Bert Oldfield William Albert Stanley Oldfield (9 September 1894 – 10 August 1976) was an Australian cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a cricket field, field at the centre of which ...

Bert Oldfield
's skull was fractured by a ball hitting his head (although the ball had first glanced off the bat and Larwood had an orthodox field), almost precipitating a riot by the Australian crowd. The Australian press dubbed the tactic ''
Bodyline Bodyline, also known as fast leg theory bowling, was a cricket Cricket is a bat-and-ball gameBat-and-ball may refer to: *Bat-and-ball games Bat-and-ball games (or safe haven games) are field games played by two opposing teams, in whic ...

Bodyline
'', and claimed it was a deliberate attempt by the English team to intimidate and injure the Australian players. Reports of the controversy reaching England at the time described the bowling as ''fast leg theory'', which sounded to many people to be a harmless and well-established tactic. This led to a serious misunderstanding amongst the English public and the
Marylebone Cricket Club Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) is a cricket club founded in 1787 and based since 1814 at Lord's Cricket Ground Lord's Cricket Ground, commonly known as Lord's, is a cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played betw ...
– the administrators of English cricket – of the dangers posed by Bodyline. The English press and cricket authorities declared the Australian protests to be a case of sore losing and "squealing". It was only with the return of the English team and the subsequent use of Bodyline against English players in England by the touring
West Indian cricket team The West Indies cricket team, nicknamed the Windies, is a multi-national men's cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, field at the centre of whic ...
in 1933 that demonstrated to the country the dangers it posed. The MCC subsequently revised the
Laws of Cricket The ''Laws of Cricket'' is a code which specifies the rules of the game of cricket Cricket is a bat-and-ball gameBat-and-ball may refer to: *Bat-and-ball games Bat-and-ball games (or safe haven games) are field games played by two oppos ...
to prevent the use of "fast leg theory" tactics in future, also limiting the traditional tactic.


See also

*
Off theory Off theory is a tactic in the of . The term ''off theory'' is somewhat archaic and seldom used any more, but the basic tactic still plays a part in modern cricket. Off theory involves concentrating the line of the bowling attack just outside the ...


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Leg Theory Cricket captaincy and tactics Bowling (cricket)