Feb 9 2015
You have won the toss; do you bat or bowl first? Here are some tips to help you make your decision:
Dry pitch – This can only deteriorate as the match progresses, so it may be an advantage to bat first when the conditions are most in favour of batting.
An even covering of green grass – If you have a strong pace attack you may want to bowl first to take advantage of these seamer-friendly conditions. If the pitch is hard it should not deteriorate as the match progresses.
An even cover of brown grass – This covering discourages seam movement, so most captains will bat first with this type of pitch.
Strips of green grass running across the pitch – This indicates a pitch that is not totally flat and suffering from a condition known as “rolling bumps”. This pitch will have variable bounce and will probably get worse, so it may be wise to bat first.
Moisture in or on the surface of the pitch – This surface will assist bowlers in their attempts to swing, seam or cut the ball, so most captains will elect to bowl first, especially if there is a warm drying sun out.
A damp outfield – Many captains will be keen to field first in these conditions as the dampness will slow the ball across the outfield, making fielding easier and run scoring harder. There will be an expectation that the outfield will dry out later in the day, making run scoring easier.
A very hot day – This is usually a bat first situation. Having the opposition running around in the hot sun is physically draining and makes batting much harder later in the afternoon, especially for the top order batters who will not have time to fully recover.
A cloudy, muggy day – Here captains are often tempted to bowl first if they have quality swing bowlers in their line-up.
Whatever is the final decision, the captain should have consulted with his coach and senior team mates before making his decision. But in the end he must have the confidence to make the final decision if not everyone is in agreement.
Attack, attack, attack!
Never let the batsmen settle down. Keep them continually on edge. Here are some thoughts on how to do this:
Move a fielder after an odd number of runs have been scored to show the batsmen you are probing for their weaknesses.
Regularly change the bowlers.
Mix up the styles of your bowlers. For example have a left-armer bowling in tandem with a right-armer, or your fastest bowler with your slowest spinner.
Consider starting an innings with one of your slow bowlers.
Bring on a slow bowler just before an interval if they have been facing pace bowling for the previous half-hour.
Bring on a non-regular bowler for the last over before an interval.
Many new batters to the crease are extremely nervous. The longer the fielding team can prevent such a batter from getting off the mark, the more nervous he will become. Batsmen on 49 and in the 90s can become equally nervous, so put them under pressure with appropriate field placings.
Use attacking fields at the risk of “leaking” a few extra runs.
Set fields that are appropriate to each batter in a partnership; they are most unlikely to be identically skilled.
Be aware of the differences in the running between the wickets skills of each batter. The faster player will need to slow himself down to the speed of his slower partner, but many of them do not, and this can often lead to run-out opportunities.
Never let an innings drift. If things are not going to plan, change the plan. For example, encourage a batter into a possible false stroke by leaving him a big gap square of the wicket, or bring a fielder into the eye line of the batter.
Try and keep some overs available for your best bowlers at the end of a limited over innings and make sure they bowl all their allowable overs in the innings. They are your best bowlers after all.