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Bowling tactics in First-Class Matches

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  • #31
    I feel my bowling has improved a lot the last couple of seasons I've played and I've changed a few things.

    The main thing for me has been squad building. In particular I look at 2nd XI 3 Day averages, and I find that a First Class bowler really needs to have 2nd XI averages of under 20 bowl and under 40 strike rate to be a reliable wicket taker. The sub-20 Bowl average is really the key - 17 Bowl and 34 SR will usually take wickets fast while 17 Bowl and 42 SR will take them a little slower but more economically.

    A bowler who has 2nd XI averages of ~25 bowl and ~48 SR might have occasional days where they do well if conditions really suit but they'll usually be smacked all over the place.

    Making sure I had plenty of genuinely good bowlers in the squad really helps when 2-3 get called up for internationals, as I'm not then left having to use mediocre backups. If I do play a bowler with ~25 2nd XI Bowl average it's likely to be my all-rounder, and he's mainly there as he's on form with the bat this year. Before I had a few too many around 22-25 2nd XI averages who I kept trying out in First Class matches without much success. They'd done ok in white ball games (their 2nd XI one day/20 over economy averages were decent) so I'd stuck with them but I had to be ruthless and let some go if I wasn't keeping them specifically for the Challenge Trophy.

    Besides ensuring I have real quality to bowl with I vary my setup depending on conditions.
    • If conditions look sunny and good for batting with no seam/spin weakness I'll typically take 3 Fast / Medium-Fast bowlers and 2 Spinners in a 5 bowler setup, trusting 6 batsmen to get the job done in my innings. The first 20 overs will be rotating the faster bowlers and after that I switch between pace or spin depending on opposing batting preferences. Having the multiple options helps while seeing which way the pitch is going to go.
    • If conditions look really cloudy throughout I'll likely use 1 Fast / Medium-Fast, 2 Fast-Mediums and 1 Spinner in a 4 bowler set up, sometimes with an all-rounder as a 5th option. In these conditions I often find the spinner isn't needed much as the Fast-Mediums take most of the wickets, but he's there in case a batsman with a pace preference gets really settled and digs in.
    • If conditions are a mix of sunny and cloudy with a wicket favouring seamers I'll likely take 2 Fast / Medium-Fast, 2 Fast-Medium and 1 Spinner in a 5 bowler setup. I can focus on the seamers more suited to sun vs clouds and have the spinner to send against stubborn pace preference batters.
    • If the pitch looks to really favour spinners I'll take 2 of them, and then 2 of Fast / Medium-Fast / Fast-Medium depending on cloud levels. If my all-rounder is playing (he's a RFM) he'll rotate in during the first 20 overs before the ball gets old enough for the spinners to come in, otherwise I take a 3rd dedicated seam bowler for that.

    If conditions are reasonable for batting I'll open on 4 aggression but will drop to 3 as soon as I see the batsmen are going to hit that too easily. Once they're getting settled (around 20+ runs) I tend to drop to 2 bars if the bowler matches the batter's preference, or stay on 3 up to 30+ runs if they're the opposite type. As cdm said, I find 2 bars rather than 1 still gives decent wicket taking chances but I will drop to 1 if a batsman is above 50 runs, looking really good and conditions are in their favour - unless the batsman prefers off side shots, in which case I'll tend to stick to 2 bars for central bowling.

    If conditions are really poor (a combination of clouds / lower visibility / bad wicket) I'll open on 5 bars, drop to 4 if they start hitting it and get above 10 runs and then 3 at 20+ runs. Then as before I drop to 2 bars somewhere around 25-35 runs depending on the bowler type and the batsman's preference, and how comfortable they appear. If they're playing and missing quite a bit still I'll stay on 3 bars longer. I generally don't go down to 1 bar in poor batting conditions.

    If conditions are ideal for batting (sunny, no degrading wicket yet) I'll often start on 3 bars as I find starting on 4 can give their openers easy early runs and set them going. As the innings go on I might then go up to 4 when a new batsman comes in if I feel they're weak, the innings starting to look shaky or the wicket starting to get bouncy/turn.

    At the moment I keep all my bowling set to a good length, but I might try mixing some short/full balls in next time I face a stubborn batsman.
    Last edited by Chris_; 10-22-2020, 12:38 PM.


    • #32
      There are some great tips in here - thanks chris and cdr. Any thoughts on good fields and bowling approaches for shorter form games? I'm struggling particularly in T20.


      • #33
        I put in another post (maybe “Batting in T20s still feels like an absolute mess”) the tactics I use for OD and T20s. I played a season of the 100 and works their too.

        I should say that for the LO matches in particular plenty of people have success with all different tactics. There are many different ways to play and I think that if you settle into a way of playing you then pick players who do well with those tactics, thereby making them more effective.

        I’ve used mine for years, with just a few tweaks and expect to win most tournaments. However they are born out of laziness. I enjoy the shorter formats but not enough to put in the effort to be changing fields and bowling tactics for every match or bowler so I found a way to be successful enough without expending much effort. I then play or drop players according to how they do with my tactics rather than adapt to players.

        Like I say, some swear by other tactics and if I played them online they could probably beat me so just try out a few people’s suggestions and settle on what works for you.

        My main suggestions for fielding placements are that you keep in the silly leg that the more aggressive fields have - it is surprising the number of catches you get there!


        • #34
          I actually had what i think is my best First Class bowling innings in any version of Cricket Captain in a recent match:


          It was the 4th day after we'd both had decent first innings and I knew I had to go aggressive as there wasn't enough time for both of us to bat again. I started out on 5 aggression (orange) and I think the only player I lowered it for was Tattersall, as I went to 4 bars when he was around 12 runs.

          The whole match was sunny and the wicket started in near perfect condition so I didn't bother taking any Fast-Medium bowlers with no sign of clouds. Jansen and Malkin are Fast (LF and RF) with strong 2nd XI stats while Morris is a RMF with the best strike rate out of my crop of Medium-Fasts. The 4th bowler in the squad was a spinner but he wasn't needed in this innings. Sunny and bouncy really seems to suit my fast bowlers. If I'd spread bowler types more for this match and included some slower bowlers I don't think I would've had such an impactful session.

          I think I was lucky that the wicket got bouncy for the 4th day. Where I've struggled with bowling is when all 4 days are sunny and the wicket doesn't degrade much at all. In those matches it's common for both teams to take 1.5 - 2 days each for the first innings and simply leave no time for anyone to get a win. I tend to have a few draws each year for this reason (or if a full day gets rained out and there isn't quite enough time to get a win in 3 days).

          As for fields and shorter games, I actually use the default fields. I should try tinkering with those but I'm at a state in my save where I'm comfortable with the bowling approach.

          For 20 Overs I have a set approach: Opening bowlers do their first 3 overs each at 1 bar outside off. Once the field is fully open they go to 0 bars outside off. When the first pair are done I give the next pair 2 each, then swap the first of the pair for my 5th and final bowler who gets 2 overs while the other finishes his 4. That leaves a pair with 2 overs each to end the innings. I might still use 1 bar outside off if if I feel their batting is weak and I have a chance of bowling them out before the full 20 overs but in good conditions it's full defensive mode after the first 6 overs.

          My main change between matches in 20 Overs is which 5 bowlers to take. First off, I focus on the bowlers with good 20 Over stats and in form - this means some of my best First Class bowlers get benched for the shorter format. For the stats I focus on Economy. Other than that I'll look at the conditions. If they're mixed I'll usually run 4 seamers, 1 spinner. If it looks to favour spin I'll go 3 and 2 or if it looks like a pure seamer wicket I'll take all 5 as seamers and no spinners, unless I have a spinner in really strong form.

          For 50 Overs / One Day my main change is opening on 2 bars down the middle for the power play, each opener getting 5 overs each on that. When that's done everyone is on 1 bar outside off the rest of the way - I prefer that over 0 bars for One Day matches as I aim to bowl them out before using all 50, not focusing purely on economy as in 20 Overs. Having the fielder at slip with 1 bar is very handy for catches. I like to have at least 1 spinner regardless of conditions as they can bowl 10 overs at once, while seamers need to be split for stamina. That lets me go 5-5-5-10-5 and have 4 bowlers left after the spinner is used up to run in pairs. There might be a 2nd spinner amongst those 4 if the pitch favours it. Again, I'll focus on the bowlers with the best One Day records and those in form.
          Last edited by Chris_; 10-28-2020, 10:52 AM.


          • #35
            Good result!

            I have always found that when looking to set a total in the third innings that if I allow 150 runs for the final session of the match then increase the total I am looking to set by about 100 for each remaining session I will get to a total where the AI will seem to tip into Trying a LO run chase.

            I then start off using my OD bowling tactics and only switch to aggressive bowling if the required run rate is heavily in my favour and they are six or seven down. I probably lose one of these matches every third season and win them about 90% of the time.

            It is not the overall total to chase that seems to be the trigger but the required run rate, so on a dead flat pitch you can set 150-165 for the final session and the AI will go full out and you could bowl them in a way you would in a T20.