Should the worst batsman be at number 11? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Should the worst batsman be at number 11?

The worst batsman in the team is placed last in the order. Why would anyone do anything different?

I think there are circumstances where you would consider putting a better batsman at 11, and the chance to do so happens more often than you might think.

Let's consider the traditional approach. Why does the worst batsman go in at 11? The main reason is to make sure that more talented batsmen have more time at the crease. Going in at 11 gives you only the 10th wicket stand to score some runs. Going in at 8 gives you a potential of 4 stands to make a difference to the score.

It's especially useful in longer games (2 days plus) to have players at 8 or 9 in the order who can hold up an end while a more talented batsman helps you build a large total. Except for nightwatchmen, this is the technique that has been used with success in first class and Test cricket as long as anyone can remember.

However, consider a typical English club game; a single innings match played in an afternoon with the potential for a draw.

Your team bats second and the game is drawing to a close finish. In the last over you need 4 to win when the 9th wicket falls. Who would you rather see walking to the wicket at that point? Someone who doesn't know which end to hold or someone who can hit the winning boundary?

Now put the situation another way around. You are battling to save the match and lose the 9th wicket with 5 overs to go. Wouldn't you prefer to see someone who can bat it out coming in at 11?

The point is that number 11 almost always has one of two jobs to do: win or save the game. Both of which require a certain level of skill under pressure. Isn't it a bit odd to make the worst batsman in the team bat in what could be the most critical position?

That's why, when batting second, I prefer to put poorer batsmen a little up the order and save the slightly better man for the last slot. This not only means you have more faith in a result going you way, it also gives the lesser batsman the message that you have faith in his ability. You never know, his or her new found confidence might even lead to an improvement in the overall batting of the tail.

What do you think?


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I think you are right, but sometimes if you put your number 11 batsmen at about say 7 or 8th, he may miss or block many balls and decrease the run rate putting a lot of pressure on other batsmen, and clever teams will try not to get the bad batsmen out and just make him eat balls!

But i know what you are trying to say, and what u said is absolutely right.

Out of the bowlers the most defensive batsman should bat number 11 because the other batsman are able to bat with them with a lot less pressure. If the number 11 has a sound defence then the only way you're going to get them all out is if you get the other batsman out. I'm a bowler and I bat 11 most of the time, I've probably got the best defence out of the whole team and should probably bat a little higher but for the team I bat 11.

no that is no true any team can put there BEST batsman lsat so if they are loosing the batsmen will increse the run rate and pressure the bowlers so which ever batsmen is last you wont know if its tactical or random so watch out!!

I check this website out at least 3 or 4 times a week it’s great. But this is the most ridiculous article I have seen on this site. This appears to suggest that you should prepare to fail (playing for a loss or draw). Why wouldn’t you have a bit of faith in your batsmen, in their preparation, in their ability to do the job that is required when required. If the batsmen do the job that they are in the team for, then you will not require your number 9 or 10 let along 11.
As anyone that has played cricket before will tell you things don’t always go to plan and from time, time 9, 10 & 11 are required. But this only happens when your batsmen fail; hence putting people that can bat at 11 is planning to fail. Keep things simple bat batsmen where batsmen should bat & bat bowlers where they should bat. If you find your team relying on number 11 to get over the line on a regular occurrence you may need to have a look at your batsmen, not your number 11.

Thanks for the comment Ad, I'm not suggesting putting a specialist batsman at 11, just not putting your worst batsman at 11.

Cricket would be a very dull game if it was based entirely around formulae! I think this article is saying "Sometimes it is worth thinking outside the square to gain some tactical or stategic edge over your current opponent"
I am a big fan of zigging when your opponent zags - it can put them off balance and distract them which may shift momentum. Never get too set in your ways. It always pays to at least look at doing things differently. What can be the harm in exploring some new approaches?

As Mike Brearley says, "the alternative may have been even worse". I quite like that.


i'm the captain of my suburban cricket team and i find it hard to agree with the point raised in this article. I've seen it happen too often (under other captains) where for whatever reason the batting order gets messed around with and suddenly a decent batsman is stuck at 11, and is under immense pressure to do make a score with no wickets in hand (or overs to spare). To me this seems a waste of a batsman who could have better been utilised at 8 or 9 (and hopefully no.11 won't be required). Ideally you'd like to have 11 guys that can all bat, but realistically i think it's a negative tactic to put someone other than your worst batsman at 11.

I captain a top division league side with the fairly unique situation of having probably 9 competent middle order batsman and a bowling attack full of all rounders, no absolute rabbits and no real star batsmen. Each players career average is probably in the 20's - low 30's and at least 7 have made a senior century.

This situation can make batting orders very hard to calculate and every now and then I have tried 'odd' things including on several occasions batting myself at 11 through simply having no logical reason to bat anyone else below me if I'm not opening. It has come off a couple of times and often unsettles the opposition when it works. It does however rely on a competent batsmen staying with you and limits the opportunities to take risks if the run rate is high.

In my experience it has worked best when chasing a biggish total and the opposition lose focus once 8 or 9 are down and they've got runs to play with but when there is still a large number of overs left. A good bat at 11 can take their time, play normally and exploit over attacking fields , quietly building a innings. It's amazing how quickly the oppositions concentration and confidence collapses when the last pair start putting runs on and not giving away chances, its so far from their comfort zone and what they expect at that phase of the game - suddenly the fielders start making mistakes and the bowlers begin to become ever more erratic. It doesn't take long for the opposition to start getting on each others backs and panic to set in as they realise just how many overs are left.

I don't think it is a viable pre meditated tactic but as a result of circumstance it can be very effective, I guess ultimately having the aim should be to have competent batsman all the way to 11. On the flip side keeping a more competent, technically correct batsman down the order (8/9) after the bigger hitters can work well as they can often exploit poor captaincy and fields that have been pushed back by the bigger hitters before them.

Interesting insight Tom, although I don't think your situation is unique, at my current club the 1st XI usually have 8 "top six" batsman, 4 of whom are genuine all-rounders. It's been a similar story at all three clubs I have played for. I like your idea of saving a batsman though, it's certainly creative and would raise eyebrows (which I always like to do).

I just came across this and had to have a laugh. If you saw out #11 then there would be no way you would promote him ahead of another player - a genuine #11 (or #10 if we were 1 player short).