Batsmen who like to take their time over scoring runs are seen as selfish. But there are times when slow scoring is essential to the success of a team’s innings.
It’s not all Geoff Boycott throwing away games just to have a red inker.
If you are a slow batsman yourself you will know acutely what I mean.
The numbers of cricketers who are just out to improve their average and stuff the team are very few. Most blockers consider it more important not to throw away their wicket than to biff a pretty 20.
It’s just as problematic to be 60-5 after 10 overs as it is being 22-1.
And that’s why teams need the slow batters as well as the flair ones.
Seeing off the good bowlers
There are times, especially at recreational level, where a bowler is dominant. And the ‘blocker’ comes into his or her own.
- There is a new ball that is swinging and you are facing a former first-class player who is up for getting a hatful today.
- It’s a dry turner that is having its 3rd use of the season and the opposition leg spinner has found his rhythm early.
I’m sure you can think of others.
The strokemakers in your side will back themselves to hit the bowler all round, and probably fail. Sometimes you just need to batten down the hatches and wait for the bowler to tire or run out of overs.
Going through the gears
Once the good bowler is out of the way, the slow-scoring batsman has done his job.
Really good players can go through the gears. He can accelerate to make up the difference against lesser bowling.
But even the worst blocker with no shots at all can have a swipe. Even if he gets out it’s fine because he is probably making room for a hitter who can make hay.
As always, it’s really all about making sure every batsman knows his role.
One of the best innings I saw firsthand was a club game I played last year where the opposition had set a target of just over 170 in 50 overs. This was probably about par on a tricky wicket.
Our experienced opener knew exactly how much time he had and set about his task by pacing his innings very slowly at first against an accurate opening attack. The run rate climbed steadily but we had a decent opening stand.
It turned out that the opposition only had 3 decent bowlers. As soon as the captain turned to a part-timer with a defensive field our opening bat opened his shoulders and played his shots. He ended up on 92 not out and won the game for us.
The perfect “slow-scoring” innings.
So before you complain about your defensive player, remember he can do a good job in difficult circumstances.
image credit: Kiran Raja Bahadur SRK