Who Does it Best?

The cutter: Jhulan Goswami

What makes her cutter so lethal? Good height, extra bounce and a challenging line and length

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Meg Lanning was undone by an unplayable Jhulan Goswami delivery, Australia v India, Women's World Cup, semi-final, Derby, July 20, 2017

The unplayable: Meg Lanning walks in the face of inevitability  •  Getty Images

Leading up to the women's World Cup, we're looking at which cricketers in the modern game play four signature strokes (the cover drive, the cut, the pull and the sweep) best, and who the best exponents of four iconic deliveries (the bouncer, the cutter, the yorker, the googly) are. First up: the best at the cutter, a veteran India quick bowler.

One delivery very rarely makes a career, especially a career as long as Jhulan Goswami's, but if you haven't been following her over all of the last two decades, you're likely to remember her for the ball that dismissed Meg Lanning for a duck in the 2017 World Cup semi-final.
It was pitched on middle and off, angling in, and then swerved away to beat Lanning's back-foot defence and hit the top of off stump. Australia were 9 for 2, chasing 282, and that may have been the moment they knew they were outdone. Goswami later revealed that Mithali Raj helped her set Lanning up by taking away her scoring options square of the wicket.
Fast-forward to March 2021, in an ODI against South Africa, where Goswami dismissed Lizelle Lee lbw in her opening over with a length ball outside off that cut in, and Shabnim Ismail in her last with a delivery that came back in to peg off stump back. Goswami finished that match with 4 for 42.
And then go to September 2021, where she had "the unbeatable" Alyssa Healy for a duck in Mackay with a delivery that pitched outside off and nipped back in, sneaking between bat and pad to take off the top of off stump.
These three examples are not flukes. Goswami, who was reputed to be the quickest bowler in women's cricket in the mid-2000s, appears to have developed and mastered the cutter as a mid-career skill and now uses it at will. Like many who bowl this delivery, she has perfected the tilt of the wrist inwards and pull of fingers down the side of the ball, and is able to hide her grip well. But though this is a delivery of subtlety and nuance, what makes hers different is the power behind it.
"Goswami is such a skilful and talented bowler and she has been in the game for so long, so it's always a massive challenge facing her. She comes from a very high angle in her action, so she gets a bit more bounce than what most bowlers do and she is very consistent," Laura Wolvaardt, South Africa's opening batter, says. "And she bowls that super-annoying line and length that no batter likes to face. That's why I think her offcutter is very effective."
The cutter's success is usually determined by how hard the bowler hits the pitch and Goswami's height allows her to do that harder than other women's bowlers, especially on a fuller length. While there are several other deft exponents of the art, most notably Megan Schutt, whose WBBL coach in 2019, Ben Sawyer, said had the best legcutter in the world, and also Katherine Brunt and Marizanne Kapp, Goswami's bounce and the late movement she gets put her cutter a cut above the rest.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent