This, that and the other. Mostly the other
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
When I look at all the teams in this World Cup working on their respective gameplans and devising their little strategies as to how to win matches, I laugh. I laugh and I laugh and I laugh. Then I cough. Then I retch for a bit. Then I drink a glass of water and try and get my breath back.
Why do I do this, you ask? Because they're all so astonishingly ignorant, that's why. All the captains and coaches, what do they know? Sure, some of them have won the odd trophy, but how many cricket World Cups have they won? Not many, if they've won any at all. I, on the other hand, have won dozens.
I've been playing cricket computer games ever since Graham Gooch's All Star Cricket in 1987 and I've learnt a thing or two in that time. Whether action game or strategy game, I've won the World Cup and in so doing, I've developed a foolproof one-day cricket masterplan.
Openers are overrated
Conventional wisdom has it that you need aggressive openers on the subcontinent; batsmen who are prepared to hit over the top. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
The truth is that your batsmen are never more at risk than at the start of the innings. It takes a good 12 balls to get into the rhythm of facing fast bowlers, by which point you'll have been clean-bowled four times. On one occasion, your batsman will have remained frozen in his stance as the ball passed him, not even flinching at the hollow clunk of the stumps.
What you need from an opener is really just that he takes more than eight balls to be dismissed. He doesn't need to score runs in that time. He just needs to be an impediment. Actually, a player like that would be wasted as an opener because openers are pretty much certain to be dismissed by their first delivery. An obdurate, strokeless No. 3 is what you want. Think Jonathan Trott.
Don't run between the wickets
Whatever the bowler, whatever the match situation, there is one ever-present danger. Never, ever, under any circumstances, attempt to run between the wickets. Think Inzamam-ul-Haq.
Do you know what happens when batsmen try and score runs by any means other than through boundaries? They get dismissed, that's what happens. They'll take an easy single and then turn for an astonishingly poorly judged second, even while the ball is in the wicketkeeper's gloves. Wicketkeepers being wicketkeepers, he may stand there, swaying gently for a good few seconds before acting, but eventually he will whip off the bails. Why risk it?
Your lower-order batsmen are the guys who'll score the runs. In fact, numbers nine and 10 are usually your best bet. If you've selected your team correctly, these batsmen should be just about competent enough to heave at the ball with a modicum of co-ordination, and the team will have assessed the pitch properly while losing seven wickets in the first six overs. It's time to cash-in.
Lower-order batsmen are also likely to be facing the fast-medium bowlers and they should be much easier to hit. The fast bowlers are too quick and when the spinners come on in about the 12th over, shots will be played a full six seconds before the ball has arrived.
|The truth is that your batsmen are never more at risk than at the start of the innings. It takes a good 12 balls to get into the rhythm of facing fast bowlers, by which point you'll have been clean-bowled four times|
So keep wickets in hand and batsmen eight, nine and 10 will have a six-over window in which to hit boundaries at will. Aim for around 100 runs during this period - this is more than enough of a total with the right bowling attack.
On no account try and bat out the overs. This will quickly get boring and you'll lose your boundary-hitting knack.
One specialist bowler is plenty and he should under no circumstances be a fast bowler. Fast bowlers are lethal when your team bats, but they're cannon fodder when you bowl - so too fast-medium bowlers.
Other than your one specialist, stock your team with medium-pace allrounders and spinners who bat a bit. This is the engine room of your team. These guys will get you the runs and they'll get you the wickets as well. The ideal one-day cricketer is someone who comes in down the order, hits 10 to 30 runs and who would bowl at medium pace if he ever actually bowled a delivery that wasn't a slower ball. Think Chris Harris - the greatest computer-game cricketer of all time.
Who will win the World Cup?
I've analysed the various teams in the World Cup and tried to gauge which is likely to come out on top. New Zealand are perhaps slight favourites, as they are most years, but might I perhaps offer a dark horse?
It depends on whether they get their tactics right, but the raw ingredients are there. If they pick the right bowling attack, they will have an engine room the like of which has never been seen before: part-time medium-pace bowling of variable quality and a rag-tag assortment of spinners, all of whom bat "a bit". It's almost unstoppable. I'm salivating at the prospect of it.
England's World Cup-winning bowling attack would be: Trott, Bopara, Collingwood, Wright, Swann, Tredwell and Yardy.
Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket
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