What would it have been like to face Thomas Brett, Hambledon CC’s first strike bowler in the 1750s? Or the daemon David Harris later in the century when he was aiming at a helpful bump on a ‘length’ on a pitch he’d carefully selected ?
Forget the idea of the sedate approach to the wicket and the arm trundled down with a slight whip of the wrist. Their deliveries would have been ‘full on’ underarm bowling from people who had spent their lives as labourers, potters and smiths.
If the above photograph of the Olympic Softball star, Jenny Finch, is anything to go by their method of delivery would have been built on a huge delivery stride and a perfected body and wrist action that produced speeds of around ninety miles per hour; no doubt with a huge and intimidating grunt to rival that of any Wimbledon server of today.
Still images of Jenny Finch give an idea of the athleticism, skill and speed, but this film of her by Sport Science on YouTube (below) shows her in action and reveals the extent of the force generated by her ‘bowling’ at 70 mph with pinpoint accuracy.
Third Man suggests you drag quickly to 45 seconds for shots of Jenny in competitive action before moving on to 4 minutes, 20 seconds to see her in the ‘lab’.
There is also some interesting analysis comparing the difficulties faced by baseball and softball hitters.