Fast bowling (also referred to as pace bowling) is one of two main approaches to bowling in the sport of cricket, the other being spin bowling. Practitioners of pace bowling are usually known as fast bowlers, quicks, or pacers. They can also be referred to as a seam bowler, a swing bowler or a fast bowler who can swing it to reflect the predominant characteristic of their deliveries. Strictly speaking, a pure swing bowler does not need to have a high degree of pace, though dedicated medium-pace swing bowlers are rarely seen at Test level in modern times.
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The aim of pace bowling is to deliver the ball in such a fashion as to cause the batsman to make a mistake. The bowler achieves this by making the hard cricket ball deviate from a predictable, linear trajectory at a sufficiently high speed that limits the time the batsman has to compensate for it. For deviation caused by the ball's stitching (the seam), the ball bounces off the pitch and deflects either away from the batsman's body, or inwards towards them. Swing bowlers on the other hand also use the seam of the ball but in a different way. To 'bowl swing' is to induce a curved trajectory of the cricket ball through the air. Swing bowlers use a combination of seam orientation, body position at the point of release, asymmetric ball polishing, and variations in delivery speed to effect an aerodynamic influence on the ball. The ability of a bowler to induce lateral deviation or 'sideways movement' can make it difficult for the batsman to address the flight of the ball accurately. Beyond this ability to create an unpredictable path of ball trajectory, the fastest bowlers can be equally potent by simply delivering a ball at such a rate that a batsman simply fails to react either correctly, or at all, while spin bowlers also seek to deceive batters they do so in a rather different manner. Effective spin bowlers compensate for a much lower speed of delivery with ability to make the ball deviate in a considerably more extreme fashion than typical fast bowling.