How to take wickets by staying in the game | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to take wickets by staying in the game

There are basically two ways to bowl a cricket ball.

The first is trying for the 'magic' ball. Perhaps it's the yorker that swings in fast and late, or the off spinner that drifts away before turning and bouncing. They are unplayable and make the batsman look helpless against your superior skills.

A lot of bowlers spend a lot of time trying to run through the opposition by bowling like this and ending up frustrated. The yorker is slightly over-pitched and becomes a full toss. The off break doesn't turn or spit and is smashed through the covers.

My own team played a game recently where we won against the odds by attempting a different approach: To bowl at the stumps.

Conditions in this game were not conducive to ripping through the opposition. The pitch and the outfield were slow. The sun was warming us in a cloudless sky.

The captain was quick to pick up on the situation. He knew no matter how good or bad his bowlers, scoring would be difficult. He told the bowlers to keep the ball on a length hitting off stump or a little straighter. The bowlers responded and what do you think happened?

The opposition eventually messed up.

Frustration set in. The batsmen had nothing to hit. They tried to manufacture runs but none of them had professional level skills to do so; most of the time they ended up hitting it to a fielder. We stood in the slip cordon watching them gradually commit cricketing suicide.

And we won by bowling them out, despite only having 118 runs to defend.

My point is that you don't need to swing it round corners or turn it square to take wickets. If you stay patient, set fields well and keep smiling even when it's going wrong then you are in the game.

And you can only win if you stay in the game.

Image credit: salsaboy


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If you were bowling on the stumps why couldn't the team just flick the ball around the corner or through midwicket? I've always been taught to bowl just outside off stump.

They could but we were bowling at off stump to middle and off so they would have to hit across the line. Possible but risky on a slow pitch. If you bowled outside off stump on that pitch and in those conditions you are giving the batsmen a slightly better chance - bowled and LBW are out of the way and they have more freedom to drive. If the wicket was harder or the batsman was hitting straight balls through to leg with success then perhaps your line would have been better.

What you just said here happened to my team. We bowled them all out for 96 and thought we were a million dollars. And we were bowled out for 45 by some clever fielding positions with the only small gaps on the leg side or a straight drive. But these shots were impossible to play as every ball was top of off and we just ended up giving them catching practice.