While cricket continues to grow in popularity, it is a difficult sport to practice on your own. This is especially true if you want to practice batting.
Even if you are lucky enough to have access to nets to use (in some parts of the world these are pretty scarce) you still need to find a bowler. That is unless you use a bowling machine.
These machines can ping balls to you as if a bowler were delivering them, or at least as if you were getting some throwdowns to help you improve your batting technique.
Bowling machines vary greatly in features and price tag, and in this guide, we’ve got a rundown of some of the best options so you can decide exactly what is best for you. Many are even affordable enough to use in the garden.
What is a Bowling Machine?
A bowling machine is simply a device that you feed balls into, that then sends deliveries down the pitch as if they were coming from a bowler.
They allow batters to practise their hitting. If you have a bowling machine you don’t even need anyone out with you to practice, and you can use them with or without nets.
Another benefit is the fact that some of the professional bowling machines can let you practice against different types of deliveries or faster balls than you would be used to with your friends in the park.
Some argue that bowling machines aren’t a substitute for match situations. That’s definitely true. There’s an art to reading the bowler and you can’t pick that up without facing a human, but for practising technique they are ideal.
Features to Consider
What features do you need to consider when buying a bowling machine?
- Price. A lot of the professional machines can cost a pretty penny. Luckily, in recent years more of a home bowling machine market has emerged, and there are affordable options for village cricket clubs, rather like our Village Cricket Bat!
- Speed. How quickly can the machine bowl? If it only does the sort of speed you expect from a slow village bowler then you might not improve your skills at much. Too quick and you might never hit a ball!
- Ball capacity. How many balls can you put in? What type of cricket balls does it take? Most models use practice balls. The bigger capacity, the more batting time before you have to refill.
- Settings. There are some other settings on some models including the length and type of delivery, and time between the deliveries. Settings vary depending on which machine you buy.
- Power. How is the machine powered? If you need mains power then the machine isn’t going to be as portable.
Best Bowling Machines
Here are some great bowling machine options to fit different budgets:
Speed Buddy Cricket Bowling Machine
The Speed Buddy Bowling Machine has the capacity to ping balls at up to 55mph so you can practice hitting at a testing speed.
It’s not a bad price, and does a good job for practising at home or even within a club setting. The balls are released every 6-8 seconds on the automatic mode, or can be fed in by a coach. See it in action below:
The machine works with specific Feed Buddy balls, so you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a stock of these. You can also stack up to 10 of the balls if you are hitting on your own.
The machine even has in-swing and out-swing options with adjustable controls for you to practice facing swing bowling, as well as three different speed settings.
This isn’t the cheapest model on the market but it is very affordable compared to some professional bowling machines.
Feed Buddy Automatic Cricket Feed Machine – Affordable and Compact
Not to be confused with the “Speed Buddy” the “Feed Buddy” is a more compact and affordable product.
The product doesn’t have the same speed as some of the other models, but it is much more portable than most. It lets you use 4D batteries so you can take it anywhere. On top of that, you can use either tennis balls or the branded Feed Buddy Light Balls.
Because the feed of balls is very gentle this is a good option for kids or beginners. You can use it in your cricket club too. It’s a good alternative to having someone give you throwdowns, and it is perfect for practising hitting technique.
The price tag is something that a lot of people will find very appealing. It’s more “Christmas pressie” than “small car” in terms of its price tag!
Bola Professional Bowling Machine
Now, when we say “professional” be warned that the price matches the tag for this bowling machine.
If you’re really serious about your cricket club and have money to invest then the Bola machine could be the ideal way to work on your skills.
It is used by many test-playing nations in their net sessions, and you can see why, it probably isn’t the best bet for junior cricketers unless you know exactly what you are doing with the settings. You can adjust the speed all the way up to 95 mph, and see what it is like to face a ball of this speed in training.
The concave profile is great for delivering the ball quickly, and the control panel is easy to get to grips with. You can change 19 settings and choose to face swing, pace, or even spin bowling.
This may be the closest you can get to facing a ball from a professional bowler, besides the real thing. It’s not affordable for many cricket clubs or individuals, but it wouldn’t be right to make a list of the best cricket bowling machines and not include a Bola brand machine.
From the simple, portable machines that ping out slow-paced deliveries for you to practice technique, to the machines that simulate 95 mph snorters, there is a bowling machine out there that is suitable for your needs. The options on this list all have their charms and each can help you to improve your technique.