Low scoring games are an intense mental challenge for players. It's the side who can hold their nerve that come out victors.
How do you contribute to that?
It's about a combination of attitude, tactics and effort.
Let me give you an example to illustrate. My club side played it perfectly in the first game of the league campaign. It was a 50 over game on a difficult early season wicket: wet (but drying in the sunshine) and slow with an outfield to match.
Take your opportunities with the bat
In tough conditions 2 an over seemed about right for the first part of the innings and with wickets falling we scored at that rate until the last 7 or 8 overs. However, the good bowling of our opposition fell away towards the end of the innings allowing us to make over 120 in our 50 overs. This represented 20-30 more runs than the opposition were expecting to get.
The key was that we did not panic. We knew there were few runs to be had and we grabbed the momentum at the end of the innings instead of getting bowled out.
Win more balls than you lose
In the field we knew we had to bowl well. John Wright, the Gloucestershire coach, says that the key to this is to focus on winning more balls than you lose. In our situation that meant bowling dot balls and building pressure.
We did this by bowling at the stumps, using the movement the pitch was giving us and setting squeeze fields.
This tactics needs good bowling and even better fielding to pull off, especially with such a low total to defend. Gloucestershire were the masters of it during Wright's first tenure as coach in the late 90's and early 2000's. We did both by keeping the 'win more balls than you lose' mantra in our minds. Thinking this way allowed us to stay focused on the next ball and not lose concentration.
Bounce back from mistakes
We started bowling well and they were already behind the rate and had lost early wickets. However we knew that all it would take is one good 50 to win it. At one point a couple of players began to build a stand. We were still bowling well but a couple of catches went down.
I have played in teams in the past where a dropped catch means the game is lost. Heads go down and people give up. Today was different; we simply steeled ourselves to try even harder the next ball.
Keep your nerve
As the game gets tenser it's possible to get physically tense too. This is where mistakes creep in. However in our case the bowlers kept bowling the ball at off stump and the batsmen steadily committed suicide trying to get the ball away when there was nowhere to go. We bowled them out for less than 70: A score that has taken them over 40 overs to achieve.
It was a team performance where everyone chipped in and made a contribution with bat, ball or in the field. It was also exactly what was required to win the game.
Have you ever played in a low scoring game where you came out on top? What was your team's attitude and tactics like in the situation? Leave a comment and let us know.