Why (And How) Bowlers Hunt In Packs

Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel
South Africa's pack of bowlers - one of the best in the world
©REUTERS / Action Images

Bowlers win cricket matches. But no bowler works alone. No matter how good an over is at one end, the other end needs to do its job too.

In other words, you need to hunt as a pack: a tightly bonded team that is greater than the sum of its parts. When a bowler gets tired he is replaced, but the pressure remains. That's what signifies a tight knit team.

Good individual performances are part of this, but it's rare a bowler wins a game single handed. That's why every bowler needs to feel like he is working for the wider aim of building pressure on the batsman. That can only be done by feeling like you are in a pack.

This is not just for the times when you breeze through your opponents like a knife through butter either. It's easy to work together when you are on top as a team.  Imagine it's 200-1 and the opposition are flying. Do you still feel like you are in a pack or are you looking at the other bowlers out of the corner of your eye and wondering why they are undoing all your hard work with poor bowling?

A true pack stays together even in the hardest of times, working as one.

How to build pressure

It's all well saying you need to build pressure, but how do you do it?

  • Take wicketsBatting collapses are about the mind-set of the batsman. Take wickets and you switch the incoming batsmen into panic mode.
  • Bowl maidens. If you can't get them out, stopping them scoring also ramps up the pressure. This is where the ideas of team maidens and focus balls come in. It requires the bowlers to work together and the fielders to be totally switched on.
  • SledgeGood sledging isn't abuse (abuse comes from frustration meaning you are not in control). Sometimes it doesn't even need a word to be said. A look or well-placed comment shows you are the one in control.
  • Keep talking. Communication within the team-in-the-team is vital. Stay up at mid-on when your over is complete to keep talking to the guy doing the work at the other end.

If someone is having a bad game, others are ready to work extra hard to take up the slack. Each bowler knows he may be in the same situation in the next game. It boils down to trust.

A stellar bowling unit has skills and a tough but flexible mentality. It's greater than the sum of its parts because its members trust each other. That's something any "unit" can achieve from the best internationals to the under 11s.

© 2014 Pitchvision Academy

For more coaching tips, videos and courses, please visit the PitchVision Academy website

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