This article is part of a two part series. To go to part one click here.
In part 1 we learned how batsman and bowlers are able to learn how to pick up on the tell tale signs of what their foe is thinking. The next step is being able to manipulate their plans to get them thinking what you want instead.
In the main it is the bowler who is the one in control. No matter what is happening in the game the batsman must always react to the ball bowled. This means the bowler can make plans to break the batsman's rhythm more easily.
Mixing it up
A good bowler is always looking, then, to make a plan against the batsman. Not many batters are going to give it away but they will be trying to work out what the bowler is doing.
That's where you hear the phrase 'mixing it up' which sounds like randomly trying things until it works. In fact, the bowler is trying to set and spring a well oiled trap.
The basics of a good bowling plan are to find a line and length the batsman has trouble playing. For example, a player weak off his legs but going well may see the bowler go around the wicket and bowl at middle stump with a leg side field. This could be enough to frustrate the batsman out unless he has supreme patience in waiting for the bad ball.
However, if this does not work as intended the bowler may then use variations as well. Classic variations include:
Each change should be part of a bigger plan rather than just a random move. For example, an away swing bowler may bowl a few balls on a length on middle stump followed by one on off stump then one pitched up further outside off swinging away. The final ball in the 'set' is dragging the batsman into playing a shot they may normally leave.
Of course, all this relies on high levels of accuracy: Something that comes with a great deal of practice. There is no shortcut for the bowler on that matter.
The batsman will not always passively wait for the bowlers move, and nor should he.
The match situation may demand faster run scoring for example. Here the batsman will not wait for a bad ball and instead try to manufacture something. The classic example is the end of an innings where runs are trying to be scored quickly. A big hitter will try and swing at everything, especially good length balls which allow them to hit baseball style over deep midwicket.
The bowler may respond by bowling yorkers which prevents the batter getting under the ball. So in response the batter will stand further back in the crease turning a yorker length into a smashable half volley.
So the batsman certainly has tools to counter the plans of a bowler, these include:
- Patience (if time is not an issue, waiting for the bad ball).
- Using the crease (standing outside or deeper inside).
- Using his feet (especially against spin and swing bowling).
So the cat and mouse game continues, each player trying to work out their opponent and take advantages of their technical and mental weaknesses.
It's what makes playing cricket so much fun.
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Image credit: HNM_1977
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