What Is a Cutter in Cricket?

A cutter is a key bowling technique that involves movement and spin by rolling your fingers down the ball. Image by Jurie Maree

What is a cutter? You might have heard this term used when watching cricket and wondered precisely what it means. Cutter is one of many different forms of bowling.

There’s a fine art to bowling, and sometimes it can pay to have all the tricks of the trade. One bowling technique that’s gaining popularity among fast bowlers, is the cutter. In certain conditions, a cutter can be challenging for batters to take on.

So what is a cutter in cricket, and why is it important to understand this technique to take your game to the next level? Let’s dive in and find out, while exploring the technique of bowling a cutter and how bowlers can add this delivery type to their arsenal.

Good bowlers know the importance of variation in their bowling. By varying the speed, angle and length of their deliveries, they can keep the batsman guessing and avoid becoming too predictable. This is where the cutter comes in. Sometimes, if the bowler isn’t getting much help from the pitch, they can try to use some more specialist deliveries, including the cutter.

Definition and Purpose of a Cutter

A cutter is a type of delivery that a bowler can use to deceive the batsman. The aim of a cutter is to make the ball deviate off its intended trajectory, making it trickier for the batsman to hit it. It’s a slower delivery than a regular ball, and the bowler will use their fingers to impart spin on the ball in order to generate some movement. A cutter is not as slow as an off spin delivery, for instance, but may get some movement off the pitch as well as variable pace to deceive the batter.

The Mechanics of Bowling a Cutter

So, how do you bowl a cutter? The key to a good cutter is in the grip and the release of the ball. The bowler will hold the ball between their index and middle fingers and release it with a flick of the wrist. The spin imparted on the ball by the fingers will cause it to move slightly in the air, and then potentially move off the pitch as well, making it harder for the batsman to play a clean shot.

Cutters can be unpredictable in some ways, and the amount of bounce and movement varies. This is usually something that benefits the bowler as the less predictable the delivery, the harder it is for the batter to connect with and play their shots.

The Difference Between Leg Cutter and Off Cutter

There are two main types of cutter: the leg cutter and the off cutter. If you are looking to explore how to bowl an off cutter or to learn how to bowl a leg cutter, the technique will be different, running your fingers along a different part of the ball.

A leg cutter deviates away from a right-handed batsman, while an off cutter moves towards them. This is achieved with slightly different finger positions, and the way you roll your finger along the ball during the delivery. Bowlers may use these interchangeably depending on the conditions of the pitch and the type of batsman they’re facing, but it isn’t easy to get both techniques perfect.

Mastering the Cutter Delivery

If you’re looking to add the cutter to your bowling repertoire, there are a few things you can do to master the delivery. Firstly, practice your grip and release until you’re comfortable with the movement and the deviation it generates.

To bowl an off cutter, grip the ball with your index finger on the seam and the middle finger slightly away from the seam. Your thumb can also grip at the bottom. The key is that as you release the ball you need to roll your finger down the ball, which can give it a little bit of “spin” to try and get it to move off the surface.

For the leg cutter, your middle finger should be on the seem, with the index finger slightly away. The same principle applies as you roll your finger down the ball.

When it comes to bowling cutters, there are a few common mistakes that many bowlers make. One of the most common is bowling the cutter too frequently, which can make it easier for the batsman to read and respond to. Another mistake is bowling the cutter too slowly or too quickly, which can rob it of its effectiveness. You probably want to try bowling on a good length, and slight variations, to be effective.

Not rolling your fingers down the ball is another error that can make the cutter less than effective. This is something that takes time and is different from bowling standard, stock deliveries, so plenty of time in the nets practicing will be required.

Practicing and Developing Your Cutter

Mastering the cutter takes time, dedication and practice. Use your training sessions to work on perfecting your grip, release, and variation, and try to incorporate the cutter into your game when you feel comfortable doing so. With time and practice, you’ll be able to use the cutter to great effect and become a more versatile and effective bowler.

Cutters can be used to immense effect, especially at a high level of cricket. Over the years, we’ve seen some incredible bowlers being able to outwit batters by using this delivery, especially as a variation.

Below, we see Mitchell Johnson bowl a stunning off-cutter to get a much-needed dismissal.


If you’re. a seam bowler, the cutter is a valuable delivery to have in your bowling arsenal. By mastering this technique, you can potentially deceive batsmen, provide variation in your deliveries, and try to gain an advantage even when the pitch is flat and not providing any help. Knowing how to bowl a cutter is certainly a good idea if you want to be able to outfox the batter.

like any skill in cricket, the cutter requires time, practice and patience to perfect. With these tips and techniques in mind, you’ll be well on your way to mastering this delivery.

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