From John Van Der Westhuizen, South Africa
Recently I harped on about how poorly batsmen had been dealing with overs 11 and 12 after the tactical break. In the first 15 games we saw that batsmen were slightly more likely to lose their wickets than they generally were at other points in the innings. The Little Maestro himself said that batting sides lost momentum after the break, and that he was not a big fan of it. Commentators almost religiously point out the dangers facing batsmen after the resumption of play after these breaks. Well rest assured, as I am here to tell you that batsmen across the board seem to have adjusted and are now taking the tactical break in their collective stride.
For the purposes of this analysis, I have looked only at overs eleven and twelve, the two overs directly after the break. We found previously that on average over fourteen games, the batting side lost at least one wicket per period. Sounds like very little but bear in mind, a 'period' is only twelve balls. This wicket fell at an average cost of 16.5 runs and a run rate of 7.5 runs per over. How the numbers have evened out now.
After thirty one games, the average number of wickets to fall in this period has plummeted. That the tournament average is now only 0.55 wickets per period, and at a cost of 26.4 runs, speaks volumes for the way that batsmen have adapted in the last fifteen fixtures. Not only has NOT losing a wicket in this period become more common - it is bordering on becoming the norm. In the last seven IPL games (fourteen innings), only two wickets have fallen during overs eleven and twelve. Scoring rates have been consistently around the 7.5 runs per over mark. Bad news for the bowlers then, it would seem the game is still designed to relegate them to cannon fodder in the shortest version.
Having said that the wickets in SA have generally offered results for good honest work and hitting correct lengths. India would have been tougher work for the bowlers.
PS: The no-ball/free hit rule was not mentioned in my previous posting. So despite my efforts to paint a picture that's more user friendly to bowlers, it would seem the opposite has occurred. Not only does the period of overs eleven and twelve seem to offer them no grace whatsoever - but I have also now added another rule that makes their lives a misery. Remind me to send my three year old son to a good batting coach when the time comes.