Good Enough for Dhoni: 4 More Village Tactics to Try
In the 2nd Test against England, Dhoni stood back to the spinner.
It's a tactic regularly employed in lower standard games where the keeper doesn't have the confidence to stand up. In short, it's village cricket.
But there was a method in the madness.
Jadeja was firing his left arm spin into the rough to try and catch an edge. No one was going to run down the track so stumpings were out of the question. Dhoni knew that he had a better chance of catching the edge standing a few yards back.
So, in memorial of seeing village tactics at test level, here are some more counter-intuitive moves that are just so crazy, they might work.
Follow the ball
As captain you are taught early to set a field and make your bowler bowl to it. If you move fielders after the ball has been hit there, you are just "following the ball".
That's true, but it's also true that batsmen have shots. If you can cut them off early, they are reduced to a single off their best hit and have to try and score boundaries elsewhere. Frustration breeds wickets.
So when that over smashes a ball over mid off in the 2nd over, think about putting him back on the boundary and get extra cover in tight on the single, or even catching. Suddenly his best shot is one and he is getting less strike. He might even pop it down the fielder's throat.
Remember, good field placing is about putting your men where the ball is likely to go. Sometimes that does mean following the ball for an over or two.
Sporting declarations have all but gone from Test cricket. In club cricket, if you have the option to declare, use it.
Hitting as many as you can is a very "professional" thing to do, in that it is trying to ensure zero chance of defeat before trying to win. That's fine if your mortgage is on the line, but not if you are trying to have a good game of cricket as well as win.
It's every club captain's job to do everything in his power to prevent the snore draw.
Read the tea leaves, do some maths and work out how early you can declare when batting first and still win the gam, ideally in the last over. It's much more often than you think.
Play for your average
There is a breed of club player who is vilified for selfish batting. He scores too slowly because he has one gear. He his hard to get out but also has no way to rotate the strike. The middle order want to punch him in the face in frustration.
This guy is also a gem.
He will get you out of a hole when the team collapse. He will see off the best bowlers and - like the slogger who comes in at 7 - he will have days where it works and days where it doesn't work. Either way, it's a role that suits him so accept it.
Work on small ways to help him - like strike rotation - and let him get on with it. The middle order know he will sometimes mess it up but also will be grateful when the opposition best fast bowler is knackered from his blocking.
Bowl both sides of the wicket
"If you bowl one side of the wicket you can bowl to a field" we all say.
That's sort of true, but length is far more important than line. A wide long hop or long half volley - even with a 7-2 field - can still be put away. A good length ball on leg stump remains as hard to hit as a good length ball outside off.
So, if you are not a brilliant bowler, focus on hitting the right length and let line look after itself.
It does mean you needs more of a split field, but so what? If you bowl a length ball on leg stump, and the batsman spoons it to midwicket you have a wicket just as much as if he snicks it to third slip.
Yes, some of these tactics take confidence, and will sometimes fail, but not often. Besides, it's better than sleepwalking through a game stuck to orthodox plans that are just not working.
Let me know how you go!