How to make sure your club cricket team has a Shane Warne or Glen McGrath | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to make sure your club cricket team has a Shane Warne or Glen McGrath

Creative Commons License photo credit: thribble

Has your side ever badly needed a wicket to win turn a game back your way?

For many years Warne and McGrath the 'turn to' men for Australia. In times of trouble all Ricky Ponting had to do was toss the ball to one of them and let chaos ensue. Between them they took over 2000 International wickets.

Can your team emulate this albeit on a smaller scale? I think you can with the right tactics and psychology.

Everyone fancies a bowl: Role setting with bowlers

As a club captain you are unlikely to have a bowler or two who can produce magic on demand. You are more likely to have a couple of decent bowlers and several who fancy their chances at turning their arm over (to various degrees of success).

Most club cricketers consider themselves all-rounders.

This is your first problem. You have to balance the reality of taking 10 wickets with:

  1. The desire of everyone to have a bowl ('I think I can nip this one out skipper')
  2. The difference between how good a bowler is and how good they think they are (both in under and over estimation).

Both of which can be nipped in the bud by a captain who sets his players expectations with his own theories. Just like you did with your batters, you have to play the diplomat and tell your bowlers what roles you expect them to play.

How to choose who will bowl when

Before you can let others know your thinking, you need to outline what you think yourself. The best way to do this is to sit down with your bowler list and see who is best in which situation:

  • Opening bowlers. The golden rule when picking opening bowlers is this: Who is most likely to get you wickets? In most cases this will be your quickest bowlers, especially if your games are using a new ball when bounce and swing is most in your favour in the field.
  • Medium pacers. Your less scary seamers seem less valuable but they can do a lot of unheralded work: Tying up an end while expensive strike bowlers rotate at the other end for example. If you are juggling your oppositions score you can use occasional seamers to encourage a team back into a match too. Also, the right military medium bowler in the right conditions can be a wicket taker when swing and seam is on their side. Whatever role you set them, they are best used in the middle of the innings.
  • Spinners. Spin is totally critical to success in club cricket. If you have two good spinners you will win far more than you lose. Buck the common trend of captains using spin in the middle of an innings and use your spinners at the end, especially if you have batted first. I discuss why here and in the link above.
  • Slow bowlers. These bowlers don't fit into any above category. However they are very handy. They might be spinners who don't turn it much (or at all) or seamers who bowl just above spin pace. You can use them to hand out a few runs or confuse otherwise sane opposition batsmen into hitting out when they are playing for the draw.

Have a plan and get your bowlers in on it

Once you roughly know what each of your bowlers will be doing in each game you can talk them through what you will be doing on the field before you go out to play. Then they know what to expect in any given situation.

It's also important to inform those who are likely to miss out because they don't fit your plan. For most this will be obvious, but one or two players who think they can bowl may get miffed.

That said, never discount any bowler completely. You never know what will happen if you throw the ball to the occasional leg spinner in the side. Even if they get hit all over the park, at least they can't complain in the bar afterward that you failed to give them their chance. Everyone is a match winner after the match!

Bowling changes are a lot more fluid than a batting order and you need to let all your bowlers know this too. However, if you prepare right there should be very few surprises for your potential bowlers.

(A quick note about 'limited over' formats (evening 20 over games for example) where there are no declarations or draws. Stay tuned as I will be doing a special post very soon on the tactics of bowling, batting and captaincy at that level.)

Create your own Warne

Now all your bowlers know exactly what you want them to do (and what you don't want them to do) they are far more likely to go and do it. Before you know it you have a core of 'go to' bowlers to get you out of almost any scrape.

© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008

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Excellent article. It speaks to some of the challenges we face in our team on a weekly basis.

Great stuff Atif, let us know if you put any tactics to good use.