The blacksmith is the clichéd image of the burly guy in the village team who goes out to smash everything from beginning to end.
Mostly he fails and it’s a mess. He swipes across a straight ball and is sent packing.
Sometimes he succeeds, especially if he has a reasonable technique to go with the power. When that happens you have to outsmart and out-skill the batsman.
1. A do-or-die attitude
When you begin a spell with the blacksmith at the crease you have to kill or be killed; bowl well or you will leak runs.
Throw everything you have. Bowl your heart out. Gear up and be on top of your game. Put more energy, effort and thought into you’re bowling. If you have the do-or-die attitude and you put everything you have, you will become a lethal weapon for your captain.
2. Observe the batsman
To outdo a blacksmith you first have to know what he is doing.
- What are his technical limitations?
- Does he favour leg or off side?
- Does he calculate his hitting or he is slogging blindly?
When you know all these things, it becomes easy for you to script out your bowling strategy. You start bowling to the batsman in his least favourite area and get him out in no time.
3. Surprise and outplay the batsman
After the observing the batsman, when you get to know his strengths and weaknesses, it time for you to take your shots. Make life hard for him by bowling in the areas he doesn’t want you to bowl.
If a batsman favours hitting over long on and long off, drop in short and limit his shot making. Similarly if he is good in hooking, pulling or cutting, bowl fuller lengths to him.
4. Play the yorker/bouncer card
No matter how skilled a batsman is accurate yorkers and bouncers make them tremble. These two deliveries are ideal against slogging blacksmiths. They not only bog the batsman down but multiply the chances of him getting out.
5. Vary your speed
If you are bowling accurate lines according to batsman’s weaknesses, throwing in yorkers and bouncers, it’s not a bad idea to slip a slower ball every now and then to surprise the batsman. Also If he doesn’t know what’s coming next: a slower ball or at regular speed, he cannot pre-meditate a shot.
All the great bowlers in the world like Dale Styen, Umar Gul and Shaun Tait etc, bowl exceedingly well against slogging. If you develop the skill of countering the slogs, you not only become a plus point for your team’s bowling attack you also sit in the heads of the opposition.
If they know that they won’t be able to score when they need to, they will obviously become very nervous and more likely to fail.
For more tips on bowling against aggressive batsmen get Beating the Odds: How to Succeed As a Twenty20 Fast Bowler The online coaching course from Ian Pont featuring videos, drills and worksheets on how to keep your figures looking good against big hitters.