Good spinners are like chess grandmasters. You probe your opponent for weaknesses and plan ahead while staying focused on the next move.
Even in Twenty20 you need a plan. We've discussed before about what lines to bowl, how to introduce flight, and how to pick appropriate variations. Now let’s get out of the technical and into the tactical.
Get your chess head on.
The first question to ask is: what kind of bowler are you?
Do you have one great stock ball and a couple of dramatic "surprise" variations that you throw in every few overs?
Do you have a range of more subtle changes of pace, flight and turn that you change from ball to ball?
Both are valid strategies. In either case your best bet is to start by setting up your field with your stock ball in mind. There are three principles to consider.
- Take your chances. Good attacking field placing will both hamper the batsman's shot selection and get you valuable wickets. All winter you should have been keeping your eye out in nets for where the nicks and slices off the bat went more than anywhere else: genuine edges to slip, gulley or leg slip? Did the ball pop off the shoulder to short leg or silly point? Or did the batsmen constantly spoon the ball to short midwicket or short extra?
- Attack with gaps. Think about what risky shots you want the batsman playing and which shots are low-risk. Make sure to leave a tempting hole to entice him into playing a low percentage shot. Conversely, make it as difficult as possible for him to pick up easy singles by working the ball with the spin.
- Protect yourself. In order to be the best bowler you can, you have to have the confidence to spin the ball as hard as you can. Sometimes this means the ball comes out wrong (hopefully not too often). You should know from painful experience where bad balls end up getting hit, so give yourself a boundary sweeper or two to turn those fours back into singles, and give yourself the confidence to spin the ball hard with a little boundary protection.
These ideas (plus these basics) should give you some good guidelines to setting a good "starting field".
So put the fielders in position and use all your skill and cunning to try and dismiss the batsman.
About the author: AB has been bowling left arm spin in club cricket since 1995. He currently plays Saturday league cricket and several evening games a week. He is a qualified coach, and his experiences playing and coaching baseball often gives him a different insight into cricket.
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