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Cricket Basics
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Bowling Strategy
In cricket, at the start of an innings the pace bowlers on the bowling team usually bowl first. Usually the pace bowlers will bowl for 10 overs in a one-day international or about two hours in a Test match. Pace bowlers traditionally bowl first since the cricket ball is initially hard and smooth, and hence moves quickly through the air, bounces quickly off the pitch and does not spin much. Generally the fast bowler's job is to get as many early wickets (batsmen out) as possible and make inroads into the opposing batting line-up.
The main objective of the bowler is to take wickets. Usually the batting order is such that the best players bat first. As the bowling team gets more wickets, the lesser skilled batsmen come to face the bowling. If the bowling team can take quick wickets, it can reduce the confidence of the batting team and can help keep their score low.
The second objective of the bowler is to prevent the batsmen scoring runs. A bowler's effectiveness at keeping the batsmen from scoring runs is measured by the bowler's economy rate. Economy rate is the number of runs scored from his bowling per over bowled. If the bowler succeeds in keeping the economy rate below 3 an over, for say 4 of his overs, this can create pressure on the batsman to score runs. This sometimes induces the batsman to play more risky shots, which may result in wickets being taken.
The third objective of a bowler is to limit the number of wides and no balls bowled.
The team is required to bowl a set of overs within a time frame. The number of overs bowled per hour is known as the over rate. Failure to maintain the over rate above the stipulated time would invite a monetary penalty imposed by the umpires.
Line & Length
The bowler must bowl a tight line and length. The best line would be pitching the ball just outside the off stump. This would mean that the ball passes between the batsman's bat and body.
A ball of the ideal length will bounce up to around the batsman's waist level. At this height, it is difficult for the batsman to freely play his stroke. The ideal length is such that the batsman is unsure whether to move his weight onto the front foot or the back foot to play his stroke. But bowlers should also vary the length, i.e. vary the bounce so that each ball is not predictable. A bouncer (short pitched ball which rises above the batsmans neck) can unsettle the batsman.
The bowler can also bowl a surprise speed ball, at a slower/faster speed than he normally bowls. This can trick the batsman into miscalculating his stroke and may result in a wicket falling (batsman getting dismissed)
One Day Internationals
In one-day international matches fast bowlers are employed for around 10 overs, depending on various factors such as the condition of the pitch, weather, and general strategy. After 12-15 overs the spinners come to bowl.
After that, the fast bowlers who bowled the first few overs return to bowl around the 30 to 40th overs to complete their quota of 10 overs. There is no fixed rule as to when a bowler can bowl, as long as he bowls a maximum 10 overs. He is not allowed to bowl 2 or more consecutive overs.
Usually the best fast bowlers bowl the last few overs. This tactic is employed to try and prevent the batsmen 'going after' the spinners and scoring many runs. Usually the batsmen will play more aggressively during the final few overs, since they are less concerned with getting out, and more concerned with maximising the number of runs scored.
After the 15 overs are up, the game tempo usually slows down a bit. There aren't too many boundaries (4's) hit. After the 35th over, the batsmen tend to be more aggressive to score quickly, so during this period, the most experienced bowlers bowl. The last 15 overs are known as the slog or death overs. As the batsmen are looking to hit as many big hits as possible, bowlers get hit around and their economy rate worsens. However this is also the most productive part of the game for the bowlers as wickets tumble here.
If the team bowling in the second innings have a good total to defend, they may try to slow the run rate rather than bowling aggressively to take wickets. This can cause the batting team to begin taking unnecessary risks and result in wickets falling. Taking wickets is crucial to win the match as the more wickets the opposition have in hand (not-out batsmen) the greater the chances of the batsmen scoring runs rapidly. If the bowlers are defending less than say 200 runs, wicket taking is imperative to win the match. Bowlers must remember that there is a strong correlation between the batting side losing wickets and a slowing of their run rate. Two new batsmen at the crease always have to consolidate and more often than not the run rate will slow.
Test Cricket
In Test cricket, the overs are unlimited. As a consequence, a bowler's economy rate is lower than that of a one day international match. For a bowler, getting wickets is the main task. The more wickets a bowler takes, the less a chance the batsmen can score a big total. The margin for error in bowling wide balls in Test matches is much higher, so the bowler need not be as accurate as in a one day international match. He may also bowl 2 bouncers per batsman per over.
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