photo credit: lensbug.chandru
Sailing high from three strong performances, my team knew we were favourites this weekend.
After winning the toss were skittled out for a terrible 110 in 44 overs.
I was out for just 6, giving me plenty of time to plot how to snatch a rare victory from the tatters of our innings. We had 2 lines of attack to allow us to save face.
When the score is low, you can remove a draw as a possibility. You have to get 10 wickets. If you have a strong bowling attack, like we did, then you have a good chance of winning.
Give your best bowlers the responsibility to get you out of a jam, set intelligent fields to cut off the runs and have close catchers in the right areas. Hold onto your chances when they come.
If your bowling is not as strong, or your good bowlers get off to a bad start then you have little time to take action. You could:
- Go into defense mode, set the field saving one or on the boundary and frustrate the opposition with lots of maidens.
- Rotate your bowlers as much as possible, making sure everyone gets a go while the opposition are on top.
Most importantly: avoid letting the game drift away. You have to be fluid. Read the batsmen. switch between attacking and defending quickly as the situation demands. If you are 5 overs behind the game situation it's enough to lose control.
You do this well if you know how the opposition is feeling. Nobody wants to let the game slip away and you can utilise their natural fear of failure while you have nothing to lose. Which brings me onto the second point
The natural reaction to getting a below par score is to shrug and 'do your best' knowing you are unlikely to recover. Meanwhile your opponents are bathing in the glow of confidence of an easy win approaching.
Momentum can turn quickly though.
Cricket has a habit of playing tricks on your mind and you can use this to both your advantage and the other team's cost.
- Self belief breeds success. You can put mistakes aside and keep going full pelt to victory. It's the difference in attitude between standing under a skier thinking 'I am going to catch this' rather than 'I hope I don't drop this'.
- Doubt causes chaos. The more you can put doubt in people's minds the more they get tied up in knots trying to get out of trouble. The best way to cause nerves is to take wickets (see above). All collapses start with one wicket and go from there.
Geoff Boycott is fond of saying that a team's score is only as good as how it looks when you add two wickets. 50-1 sounds OK. 50-3 is a wobble that can become a collapse and suddenly you wonder where the next run is coming from.
Club cricketers, especially batsmen, are racked with doubt and have fragile confidence because most of them have limitations they know can be exposed. You can use this to orchestrate the demise of the best team.
But self belief and doubt are hard to create. The key is to have a great deal of practice credit available and everyone must know their role in the team. If you can create an atmosphere of success you can still claw back the tight ones.
You can't win them all by any means. We lost our game despite our opening fast bowling having edges fly all over the place. That's the real key to snatching victory: You need to be tactically excellent, mentally ready and above all have that little bit of luck.
What games have you had famous victories in this way?
Want to be a better captain? Learn from the best with the interactive online course Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley.