How to communicate cricket tactics without a time out | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to communicate cricket tactics without a time out

I can't see the IPL time out catching on in club cricket. Yet strategy is a key part of the game at any level.

Cricket requires a lot of thinking. Conditions vary, different opposition players have wildly different strengths and weaknesses, and the game can change in the matter of a few minutes even after long periods of stalemate. Whether you are batting, bowling, fielding or captaining sometimes a 7 minute break might feel like exactly what you need to compose your thoughts.

Without the luxury of one, how do you think about these important things while also concentrating on performing your skills?

The secret is to combine the natural time you have with a subtle control of the pace of the game.

In the field

The key area of communication in the field is between the captain and his or her players. The bowlers, in particular, need to have 2 way conversation with their skipper to make sure the field matches the line and length the bowler is aiming for.

Often this can be simple. The captain knows already what the bowler is trying to do and sets the field to match with barely a word. However, either player could make a change based on a hunch that needs to be discussed. I feel the captain should always have the final say, but with empathy for the bowler.

For example, an away swing bowler may want a square leg just to feel safe even though the ball never goes there. Without one the bowler bowls poorly. The captain and bowler both need to know this so the pan can be adjusted to take account of such a quirk.

Discussions of this type can easily be done between balls and overs if needs be. However, there must always be a thought to how fast you are getting through your overs. This can often mean catching up by running between overs and generally getting on with things.

As part of this, the fielders need to keep eye contact with the captain as much as possible. This makes it easy for the skipper to move the field quickly. It also works the other way, with a quick gesture from the fielder to the captain suggesting a tactical change such as moving a bit deeper or closer against a certain batter.

The wicketkeeper has an important role in fielding communications too. There is the obvious, like keeping the field on their toes when a left hander is at the crease. There is also the less obvious such as adjusting a fielder to the correct angle and informing the captain about a bowlers pace, movement and bounce (the keeper is in the best position for both).


Batting communication is twofold. The easier of the two is the conversation between batsmen in the middle. The more difficult is communication between the captain and the batting partners from the sidelines.

Apart from clear calling, all batsmen should know to talk to each other between overs. This allows you to discuss the match situation and the tactics you are choosing. For example, telling each other who you think the poor fielders are can lead to extra stolen singles. It's also important to keep each other aware of your thinking as you cross for runs. A quick word as you pass such as "two there" or "push this fielder" can act as a timely reminder.

Batters an also protect each other's weaknesses by talking between overs. A slow runner may not be keen on quick singles or a bad player of spin might want to take the seamer as much as possible.

The captain on the sidelines has more trouble getting a message out. Not many club players need a change of gloves (or even own a second pair) so the top level tactic of sending the twelfth man out is rarely used.

Ideally players will work out themselves exactly what is needed. However it may not always be obvious. The captain might have a declaration target in mind for example. To shout and gesture from the boundary edge would give the game away. I have found the best tactic is for the captain to keep the batsmen primed for whatever plans they have beforehand and trust them to get on with it.

How do you keep the communication lines clear when you are playing?

Image credit: xgretsch


Want to be a better captain? Learn from the best with the interactive online course Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley.



Broadcast Your Cricket Matches!

Ever wanted your skills to be shown to the world? PV/MATCH is the revolutionary product for cricket clubs and schools to stream matches, upload HD highlights instantly to Twitter and Facebook and make you a hero!

PV/MATCH let's you score the game, record video of each ball, share it and use the outcomes to take to training and improve you further.

Click here for details.


The IPL Strategy time-out was solely introduced to pump in more money by means of advertisements. It is widely criticized as a distraction. Sachin Tendulkar, for one, is a vociferous opposer of the time-outs.

Then I suspect we wont see it at club level anytime soon.

As much as I hate the IPL time out, I think it brings a balance into the T20 format sometimes. Often i've seen batting teams blaze off to fantastic starts and at the 10 over mark, the bowling team was never in it prior to the timeout, but psycholigically after the time out, bowlers have a bit of an edge as well as can be seen with statistics....i think 10 out of 15 matches a wicket has fallen in the first 2 overs after the timeout. I'm clearly speaking on a bowler's perspective here Smiling.

though I love test cricket as the supreme form of the game I think the IPL is brilliant: its a sensible reinvention of the game into a format that can make it a truly global sport like soccer. (and indeed, you can see thats exactly how they are modelling it).

The 7minute time out is absolutely no different to a 'drinks break': it just so happens theyve updated the term from a quaint 19th century term to a modern TV sport orientated name. Its really nothing new at all in that sense: but it forces people to think a bout the game differentl - just like switch hitting did/does. It opens our eyes to new possibilities within the game - just like the introduction of coloured clothing and white balls did in the 1970's. Its all good!