What if I told you you can add 50 runs to your first inning score with one tactical change?
It’s possible, because I have seen it happen.
I’m talking about the “pre-death” batting phase. And I’m going to show you how to exploit it in club and school cricket.
What is the pre-death?
We all know about the death: The last 10 or so overs of a limited overs match where you go all out to get a big score. Typically in club cricket this yields 50–80 runs.
The pre-death is the overs before the death. Sometime around over 30 (in a 50 over match), the field spreads, the batting tempo increases and more runs are picked up. This phase usually brings 30–60 runs.
The surprising thing is how much difference this makes to the final score.
Why is pre-death important?
At my own club this season, we have been tracking the rate of scoring to see what influence it has on the final score.
The phase that is most influential on the final score is overs 30–40. The pre-death.
Let’s look at the facts.
The team averaged 152 in 2016, winning 15 from 19 matches.
The average score in the pre-death was 41 runs. When the team scored more than than 47, the average final total rose to 197.
The more you get in the pre-death, the better you do overall, by almost 50 runs on average.
This is by far the biggest single phase influence. The first 10 was next, bumping averages score to 174. The other middle overs had much less influence on the final score.
So, now we know the importance of the pre-death, how to we exploit its power?
How to have a better pre-death
We all know that batting at the death is about powerful hitting with scant regard for the risks. The result is more runs and more wickets.
But you can’t start throwing the bat at everything in the 30th over.
You will be all out before you get to the death. You only have to see how poorly some professional teams did during List A batting power plays. And that was five overs.
So, the art of pre-death hitting is about controlling the game by increasing the rate while keeping enough wickets in hand to go for broke later. Thriving with intent.
Here are some things you can do,
- Set a target. When you get to over 30, talk to your partner and work out how many you think will get you ahead in the next few overs. In my teams case, aiming for 50 runs is both possible yet challenging. Just be careful about either restricting yourself or overstretching. Be prepared to revise as you go.
- Get off strike. One of the most simple ways to score more is turning dots into singles. Most club sides face 65% or more dot balls. So, get up the other end more often. It doesn’t take technical changes, it does take a better awareness. The sweep and roll and drive and single are brilliant controlled ways to score at fives with very little risk taking.
- Send in a hitter. If a wicket falls at the right time, you can send in a pre-death specialist: A batsman who can play with controlled agression. The ideal player for this is someone capable of scoring a fifty in 20 overs at a good strike rate, yet is happy to wait to be called in at a certain time rather than a fixed number in the order.
- Pick a target. Not runs this time, but moments to up the rate. You could target a bowler, a ball in the over or even an area to hit into. This is a good way to score, but requires skill in picking the moment correctly. Practice it if you plan on trying this method.
We tend to lump overs 30–40 as part of the “middle overs” before blasting off at the end. However - as we have seen - the reality is that this phase has an unnaturally strong influence on the game. It’s time to take advantage.
Treat the pre-death as a different stage of the match and target ways to score more.