Can club and school cricketers use the fashionable tactic of targeting certain bowlers?
The idea is simple: You know you are coming up against a side with a mixture of quality of bowling. So, you decide to take fewer risks against the good ones and make up the difference by attacking against weaker bowling.
If the plan works, you end up with a bigger total than if you play every bowler on their merits.
It’s also great in limited over games where there are restrictions on the bowlers. You can force a weaker bowler out of the attack, meaning the better bowler has to bowl out sooner and you have more overs against part-time bowlers.
Here’s how you do it
Choose a target
Your first consideration is to decide who to go after.
If you play regularly against the opposition you will know who this is before the game. In fact, you can prepare early in training sessions up to the run up to the game with the target in mind.
There are no rules about who you target because it could be anyone in the right circumstance. Here are some types of bowler I have seen targeted well:
- The accurate but relatively slow medium pace bowler.
- Any bowler who is not getting the ball to do much (spinners on a flat pitch for example).
- Quick but wild fast bowlers.
- Part-time bowlers.
- Any bowler with a short boundary in your hitting area.
As you can see, your target does not have to be a bad bowler. They may be very good, but conditions are against them and in your favour.
You can agree the target beforehand or - if you are feeling confident - even decide to take someone on during the game when you realise they have a chink in the armour.
Attacking the bowler
When you have decided to go after someone, stay calm. It’s easy to get carried away and start swinging. This is not mindful batting.
Instead, mentally switch your gear up.
Go from “just batting” to “controlling the game”. Instead of waiting for the bad ball, think about where you can create a boundary.
If you have prepared well, you know your scoring areas. You know the shots that get you to score more quickly and you are confident you can take a bigger risk than normal because it will likely pay off.
One excellent example of this I saw in a club game was a friendly match where a club professional opened the batting against a keen but inexperienced medium pace swing bowler. The overseas batsman defended the first ball of the match and saw it was a gentle pace with a little away swing. He decided he could easily play this type of bowling and promptly hit the second ball of the match over mid off for a giant six.
The formula was there: weaker bowling combined with batsman confident in his scoring areas. The batsman had not changed his game, but had calculated he was good enough to risk it.
This method takes a combination of good technique and tactical nous. Sometimes you will get it wrong, so be ready to be flexible.
Imagine you are the batsman above. Imagine you decide to play the same shot and you are as confident at is as he is. Now imagine you attempt it and edge it down to third man.
You might decide to take that clue. The bowler could be better than you think. You need to get your eye in more. You might think that shot is not as easy as you thought. You drop down a gear and decide to wait for the bad ball a bit longer instead. There is no harm in that.
The point is, like all batting, you need to constantly assess your approach based on bowler, conditions and how “in” you feel. It’s more than simply deciding the bowler is rubbish and trying to smash it without a plan.
Prepare to attack
Using PitchVision at nets will help you with this. You can find out what kind of bowler you are able to attack with a high degree of success, and what kind of balls give you more trouble.
Once you know this, you can practice to make yourself more confidence in your best shots and hide your weaker areas.
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