This article is part of "The complete guide to cricket field settings" series.
Limited over cricket (especially Twenty20) is all about restricting the runs and this field is designed to help the opening bowler. When the ball is new and the bowlers are fresh, it's possible to be a little more attacking to get early wickets and restrict the run rate with the field up.
The field is easily customised and can be used by a number of opening bowlers on any wicket from genuinely fast to medium paced seam and swing bowlers.
Most limited over games have some kind of field restriction in the opening overs. For this field I am going to assume the same rules as professional Twenty20: 2 close fielders and no more than 2 outside the 30 yard circle.
Bowling to this field
Under most conditions the best place to bowl is on or just outside the off stump in the standard 'corridor of uncertainty'. The length is somewhere between 11-14m from the bowler's popping crease. Vary this based on the bounce: you are looking to hit the top of the stumps.
If conditions are in your favour you should get edges going to the slips and keeper. If there is nothing in it for you, you can still take wickets by frustrating the batsman into making an error.
Opening the bowling in limited over games is not a time for much variety. You have to hit your perfect line and length over and over again. However, you may have to get creative if things are not going your way.
- Slower Ball. Using a slower ball pitched up slightly can put off a batsman who has his eye in from the start.
- Yorker. Occasionally you will come across a pinch-hitter style batsman who has no regard for your art. He will aim to hit almost everything and sometimes it works. Use a combination of yorkers and slower balls to stop hit slogging across the line.
- Bouncer. If you are quick enough then the occasional shorter ball will stop the batsman who plants the front leg down the pitch safe in the knowledge that everything is pitched up.
There is very little margin for error. The batsman will be after you, especially in Twenty20.
- Wide outside off stump. If you give any width the batsman can throw his arms at the ball from front or back foot and you will be punished with unprotected boundaries
- Middle and leg or leg stump. Straight balls can be hit for easy runs as either leg glances or leg side hits over the top. Plus if you stray too far leg side you are conceding runs as wides.
There are many variations on this field and most will depend on putting boundary fielders where the batsman is trying to score runs. However here are some options:
- Midwicket or square leg can put more pressure on by coming to a catching position. This can also free up a slip to move to third man, deep gulley or cover if needed.
- Cover point or second slip can move to gulley.
- In defence, a slip can drop down to third man or short third man with the second catcher at short midwicket
- Mid on and mid off can move into the deep (but fine leg will have to move into the circle if the both go back).
- Midwicket or extra cover can go back to the boundary against pinch hitters. Again if you have sweepers on both sides, fine leg will need to be in the circle.
- If the batsman is a strong off side player consider moving midwicket to the off side and using a 6/3 split.
Batting against this field
Attack should be your first intent against this field. The bowler is limited to just a couple of boundary fielders and if you can get on top you can score freely in the first few overs.
Some players may want to have a couple of overs playing straight to see if there is any movement and how fast the opening bowler is. This is especially true in bowler friendly conditions. Others will be prepared to hit from the first ball, especially if coming in as a pinch hitter.
Look to get on the front foot and drive anything too full. Play anything too straight through the leg side: The squarer the better if fine leg is on the boundary.
If the bowler gives you any width outside off stump you can take a chance and throw your arms at it. You also have the option of hitting over the top on the leg side to good length balls. Although both these strategies present a risk, it may be worth it while the field is up.
If the ball is swinging or the bowler is accurate, upset hit length by coming down the wicket and trying to hit straight, either over the top or along the ground.
Images supplied by PitchVision - Coach Edition software