What is the Difference Between Line and Length in Cricket?

What is the Difference Between Line and Length in Cricket?

Cricket is a sport known for its intricacies and unique terminology. Among the many technical terms used in cricket, “line” and “length” are two that often confuse newcomers and even some seasoned fans. These terms are often used when discussing the skills of bowlers and the strategies employed by batsmen. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the nuances of these two crucial aspects of cricket and explore how they impact the game.

Understanding the Basics

Before we dive into the specifics of “line” and “length” in cricket, let’s start with a basic understanding of the game. Cricket is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams, with the objective of scoring runs and taking wickets. The team that scores the most runs in a specified number of overs wins the game.

The Bowler’s Role

The Bowler's Role

In cricket, one team bowls, while the other team bats. The bowler is a key player on the bowling team and has the primary responsibility of delivering the ball to the batsman in an attempt to dismiss them. The bowler’s performance is critical in determining the outcome of a match, and “line” and “length” are essential concepts in this regard.


Line in cricket refers to the imaginary path or trajectory along which the bowler intends to deliver the ball. It is the direction in which the ball is bowled concerning the stumps and the batsman. The line can be divided into several categories:

Off-Side Line

The off-side line, often referred to as the “off-stump line,” is a line that is just outside the off-stump of the batsman. Delivering the ball on this line means that the ball is directed towards the off-side of the batsman, away from their body.

Leg-Side Line

The leg-side line, also known as the “leg-stump line,” is a line that is just outside the leg-stump of the batsman. When a bowler delivers the ball on this line, it means the ball is directed towards the leg-side of the batsman.

Middle and Leg Line

The middle and leg line is the line that falls between the leg-stump and off-stump of the batsman. Delivering the ball on this line typically aims for the middle or leg-side of the batsman.


Length, on the other hand, refers to how far the ball travels from the bowler’s release point before it bounces on the pitch. It is an essential factor that can influence the behavior of the ball after it bounces and plays a significant role in determining how the batsman can respond.

Full Length

A full-length delivery is one where the ball bounces closer to the batsman. It is aimed at or just in front of the batsman’s toes. Full-length deliveries are often used to induce the batsman to drive or play attacking shots.

Good Length

A “good length” delivery is one that bounces in a spot that makes it challenging for the batsman to decide whether to go forward or back. This length is known to be in the corridor of uncertainty, where the batsman is unsure about whether to play a forward defensive shot or leave the ball.

Short Length

A short-length delivery is one where the ball bounces closer to the batsman’s chest or head. It is often used to disrupt the batsman’s rhythm and force them to defend or play pull/hook shots.

The Impact of Line and Length

Understanding the concept of line and length is crucial for both bowlers and batsmen. These elements play a significant role in determining the success of a delivery and the batsman’s response. Let’s explore the impact of line and length in more detail.

For Bowlers


  1. Off-Side Line: Bowling on the off-side line can induce the batsman to play away from their body. This increases the chances of the batsman edging the ball to the slip cordon or wicketkeeper.
  2. Leg-Side Line: Delivering the ball on the leg-side line can force the batsman to play across their front pad. This can lead to leg-before-wicket (LBW) dismissals if the ball would have hit the stumps but for the batsman’s leg obstruction.
  3. Middle and Leg Line: Bowling on this line can create opportunities for both off-side and leg-side dismissals, making it a versatile option for the bowler.


  1. Full Length: A full-length delivery is ideal for swinging the ball. If a bowler can achieve late swing, it becomes challenging for the batsman to judge the line and length accurately, often leading to edges or missed shots.
  2. Good Length: The good length delivery is considered the most effective length in cricket. It allows the bowler to create uncertainty for the batsman, making it difficult for them to decide whether to play forward or back.
  3. Short Length: Short deliveries can be used to unsettle batsmen, especially when they are not comfortable playing pull or hook shots. It can lead to mishits and wickets.

For Batsmen


  1. Off-Side Line: Batsmen must be cautious when the bowler consistently hits the off-side line. Playing away from the body can result in edges to the slip fielders or the wicketkeeper. Batsmen should look to leave deliveries outside the off-stump if they are not in a good position to play them.
  2. Leg-Side Line: When facing deliveries on the leg-side line, batsmen need to be wary of playing across their front pad. Playing straight or using the pads to block the ball is essential to avoid LBW dismissals.
  3. Middle and Leg Line: Batsmen should be adaptable when facing deliveries on this line, as they can be unpredictable. Adjusting footwork and shot selection based on the ball’s line is crucial.


  1. Full Length: Batsmen must have a solid technique to handle full-length deliveries, especially when the ball is swinging. Playing straight and using the middle of the bat is essential to avoid edges.
  2. Good Length: This is the most challenging length for batsmen to deal with. Proper footwork and judgment are required to decide whether to play forward or back.
  3. Short Length: Batsmen who are uncomfortable with short deliveries should focus on getting into better positions to play pull or hook shots. Ducking or swaying away from the ball can also be effective.

Strategies for Bowlers

Bowlers use line and length to formulate various strategies depending on the conditions, the type of pitch, and the strengths and weaknesses of the batsmen they are facing.

Swing Bowling

Swing bowlers aim to move the ball laterally through the air. They often focus on delivering the ball on a good length, targeting the top of off-stump. By achieving late swing, they can deceive the batsman and induce edges.

Seam Bowling

Seam bowlers primarily focus on hitting a good length and maintaining a consistent line just outside off-stump. The seam movement off the pitch can create problems for the batsman. The idea is to get the ball to move either away from the batsman (outswing) or towards them (inswing).

Spin Bowling

Spinners typically bowl on a consistent line, often aiming to land the ball on a good length. Their focus is on generating turn and deception rather than lateral movement.

Fast Bowling

Fast bowlers use variations in line and length, mixing in short-pitched deliveries with fuller ones to keep the batsmen guessing. They can use the short length to intimidate batsmen and set them up for fuller deliveries.

Strategies for Batsmen

batsman playing drive

Batsmen must adapt to the line and length of the deliveries they face. Their responses are influenced by the pitch conditions, the bowler’s skill, and their own strengths and weaknesses.

Playing on the Off-Side Line

When facing deliveries on the off-side line, batsmen should aim to play with soft hands, ensuring the ball does not carry to the slip fielders. Leaving deliveries outside off-stump when necessary is a crucial skill.

Playing on the Leg-Side Line

For deliveries on the leg-side line, batsmen need to use their front pad effectively. They should aim to play straight or work the ball into the leg side. Footwork is vital to prevent LBW dismissals.

Handling Different Lengths

  1. Full Length: Batsmen should aim to get their front foot to the pitch of the ball and play with a straight bat. This reduces the risk of edges and offers better control.
  2. Good Length: Footwork is the key when dealing with good length deliveries. Batsmen need to judge whether to go forward or back, depending on the length and line of the delivery.
  3. Short Length: Batsmen who struggle with short deliveries should work on their footwork and develop confidence in playing pull and hook shots. Ducking or swaying is also a viable option when the ball is too short to play.

The Role of Pitch Conditions

The condition of the pitch plays a crucial role in determining how effective line and length can be for bowlers. Pitches can be broadly categorized as:

Green Pitches

Green pitches offer more assistance to seam and swing bowlers. On these pitches, maintaining a consistent line and length just outside off-stump can be highly effective. The extra grass on the pitch allows the ball to seam or swing more, creating problems for batsmen.

Dry and Dusty Pitches

Dry and dusty pitches, often found in subcontinental regions, are more conducive to spin bowling. Spinners on such pitches focus on a consistent line, usually aiming for the top of off-stump, and use variations in length to deceive batsmen.

Batting-Friendly Pitches

Pitches that are flat and offer little assistance to bowlers require a different approach. On such pitches, bowlers may need to adapt by mixing up deliveries and using variations in line and length to create opportunities.

Conclusion: Mastering Line and Length

Mastering the art of line and length is a journey that both bowlers and batsmen embark upon. It requires a deep understanding of the game, extensive practice, and the ability to adapt to changing conditions. For bowlers, the ability to consistently hit the right line and length can lead to wickets and put pressure on the opposition. Batsmen, on the other hand, must develop the skills to effectively handle deliveries based on their line and length.

In the ever-evolving world of cricket, where strategies and tactics continually develop, the mastery of line and length remains a timeless skill that separates the great from the good. Whether it’s on a green seamer in England or a dustbowl in India, the ability to control the line and length of deliveries is a hallmark of a true cricketing craftsman.

To succeed in this beautiful game, bowlers and batsmen alike must continue to hone their skills and understand the nuances of line and length, for it is in the mastery of these fundamental aspects that they find their greatest successes.

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