Fresh from taking 4-25 in the Royal London One-Day Cup final – a haul that took him past 100 wickets for the season and nearly dragged Warwickshire to an unlikely victory defending a paltry total – Jeetan Patel talks AOC through the different aspects of bowling spin in 50-over cricket.
Early wickets have fallen – what next?
Here, you’ve just got to try to maintain what the seamers have achieved early on – it’s attack, attack, attack. If you’re taking wickets regularly throughout the 50 overs, they’ll struggle to get a par score as it’ll see the lower-order guys coming in earlier than they are comfortable with, which is obviously not their forte. If you’re taking wickets batsmen are constantly looking to get in and, in truth, you get in by accumulating runs rather than smashing boundaries.
You’ve a chance here to get catchers round the bat – maybe a slip, leg-slip or a catching mid-wicket. You want as many catchers in areas that the ball is going to go as possible but you also want to keep guys in the ring so they’re having to take risks to hit boundaries or even take singles. If the pitch is doing a bit, you’ve certainly got the opportunity to give it some flight and tempt them, trying to spin it off the wicket with those catchers waiting.
The openers have got off to a flyer – how do you stop them?
Obviously in this situation it’s about looking to defend. It’s key to always seek wickets but here you’d look to raise the pressure and chase an error from the batsman through defence and drying up the runs, frustrating him. You might set a leg-side field, make sure you give them no width so they’re only scoring one run per ball – if anything at all – and that they’re hitting to the leg-side. You’d be looking to bowl a little bit flatter, a bit quicker, and when I say ‘defensive’ I mean you’re looking to get guys off strike – a single’s not a problem. If they’re rotating the strike and mixing it with a few dot balls, then the run-rate comes down, the pressure rises and a false shot or a wicket become a possibility. As soon as that happens then you can start attacking again and get back into the game.
PLAN IN ACTION!
An example of this came in the One-Day Cup against Surrey earlier in the year. Steven Davies and Tillakaratne Dilshan had got off to a flyer chasing a decent target and were ahead of the rate. My target was to drag them back down below the required rate. I dried it up a little bit with a few flat ones before Davies hit me for six. The most important thing was not to be worried by this – I didn’t mind him getting after me. I bowled a similar one next ball and bowled him. We’d created the pressure, not been phased by the six and forced the false shot. From there, they folded and we won comfortably.
What if the batsman is getting after you?
If the batsman is giving me a bit of tap, I won’t be afraid to post catchers in unorthodox positions. Normally, people associate having guys on the fence with being a defensive move but if that’s where the ball is most likely to go then they are your catchers. You could flight it a bit, try to entice them down the wicket to hit it to one of those deep catchers. The other option is just to dart one in at him, gift him the single, get him off strike and frustrate him by starving him of the opportunity to score.
Setting your field
The most important thing as a bowler in white-ball cricket is to be reading off the same page as your captain. I’m not someone who feels the need for absolute control over setting the field. Generally, you should have the same idea almost every time and there might just be one or two things that need tinkering with, a slight adjustment here or there. At Warwickshire, some days Chops [Varun Chopra] will think one thing and I’ll be thinking marginally differently but we have a great understanding which is why I’m pretty comfortable letting him do what he wants with the field and I just bowl.
KEY TIP: STOP THE TWO!
My theory has always been that the team who scores the most twos ends up winning one-day games. Twos are really, really annoying as a bowler. They look pretty harmless on the surface – at least they’re not boundaries – but they really do stack up. Singles are fine – rotating the strike keeps the pressure on and stops people settling – but twos hurt as the scoreboard can motor a bit more. Three twos from the first three balls of an over and you’ve leaked six runs with three balls remaining. For this to work, it’s important that the field is set perfectly, that there are no gaping holes and that your fielders are prepared to give their all to turn twos into ones.
Bowling in partnerships
For me, it doesn’t really make a difference who’s at the other end. That said, it’s always great fun to bowl with another spinner, particularly when it’s turning. Ateeq Javid has been fun to bowl with this year as we have a good understanding. That’s the key: understanding. If you both appreciate whether you’re attacking or defending, then you won’t go too far wrong. When Teeqy and I bowl together, it’s normally about really turning the screws after our seamers have taken early wickets or trying to hem batters in when they’ve made a good start. In both situations it’s about setting fields that make it really hard to score, tailoring them to specific batsmen and maintaining a tight line because one poor over heaps pressure on the bowler at the other end. One of you can maybe attack as one defends or vice versa, but the key is to raise the pressure with an understanding of each other’s strategy.