Paddy Upton’s predictions for Cricket in 2027 are fascinating. He talks about brain training, innovation in clothing and many other pointers where technology might intervene for the better. As far as the mechanical changes are concerned, quite interestingly Upton suggests in the coming decade the bowlers might be allowed to deliver the ball with either hand without informing the batsman beforehand; a bowling equivalent to switch-hit. Though, they will still have to indicate if they are going to bowl from the right or left of the wicket. Why not? In the recent past, the laws of cricket have been changed to comfort the bowlers and bring out an even contest between bat and ball.
The ODI fielding restriction now allows a maximum of two fielders outside the 30-yard circle for the first 10 overs. From 11 to 40 there is a cushion of 4 fielders on the fence and in the last 10 overs, there can be a maximum of 5 boundary riders. What it has done for batting sides around the globe that they now don’t leave it until the 40th the over to start accelerating.
Teams are looking for big shots from 30 to 40 to acquire momentum so that the extra fielder on the fence won’t have a psychological impact on the run scoring. With the ICC Champions Trophy starting from 1st June in England and Wales teams will play the same mindset. If that is the case then let’s look at a comparison between spinners and pacers on who is more suited to bowl from 30th to 40th over in the Champions Trophy.
The English summer has already begun. By June the league fixtures of the Royal London Cup, the 50 over tournament would have been over. Rain shouldn’t play a spoil sport but then rain is the most constant element of English weather so it will be around always. The three venues for the tournament are Edgbaston, Kennington Oval, and Sophia gardens. Birmingham has already seen a series of high scores in the domestic tournament. And could well be the best batting strip of the Champions trophy. Both Kennington Oval and Sophia Gardens have shown signs of a seamers paradise so far. If the trend continues this might be a tournament dominated but the pacers and not the spinners.
Let the spinners have a go
My argument will be in favor of the spinners bowling from 30 to 40 over. Firstly, with two new balls being used overs before the 30th will actually present a harder ball that will tend skid on hence make it difficult to turn. So a captain can hold his spinners back until this point. Secondly, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph this is the phase where the batting team is looking to go big and build momentum. In such a scenario they are ideally looking for pace on the ball. With the spinner, they will have to create that
Firstly, with two new balls being used overs before the 30th will actually present a harder ball that will tend skid on hence make it difficult to turn. So a captain can hold his spinners back until this point. Secondly, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph this is the phase where the batting team is looking to go big and build momentum. In such a scenario they are ideally looking for pace on the ball. With the spinner, they will have to create that
With the spinners, they will have to create that pace and sometimes while trying to hit too hard batsmen tend to lose their shape. A spinner can operate with 4 outfielders. If the stock ball of the spinner is spinning into the batsman this means he can operate with the mid off inside the ring on the off side and have a long – on, cow corner, a square leg and as per the strength of the batsman either have a deep extra cover or a deep fine leg. Similarly, if the stock is going away then he can operate with the mid-on inside and have a choice between having a deep square leg or deep point.
Pakistan has picked the leg-spinner Shadab Khan and he should do a lot of bowling in this phase. Same is the case with England have persisted with Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali and they might have to take the responsibility in the crucial middle overs. New Zealand will rely heavily on Mitchel Santner and Jeetan Patel but Australia only having picked Adam Zampa might have a little trouble. But then with the kind of a line up they might prefer Australia might even leave out Zampa and go in just with the part time off breaks of Travis Head. This is where I believe India has missed a trick by not including Kuldeep Yadav on their side. They will have the services of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja but a wrist spinner just puts a little more doubt in the batsman’s mind. And watching him bowl to top class strikers in the IPL he definitely looks prepared for the bigger stage.
Bangladesh will turn to their most trusted spinner; Shakib Al Hasan, Mehedi Hasan and the part-time offspin of Sabbir Rahman and Mahmudullah Riyad. Sri Lanka will be pleased to have the mystery china man Lakshan Sandakan in their squad. He created havoc against the Aussies in their last tour to Sri Lanka. The fact that the world has seen very little of Sandakan makes him a surprise package. Along with Seekkuge Prasanna, the leg break bowler and the ambidextrous Kushal Mendis makes the Sri Lanka spin heavy, again. South Africa will rely hugely on Imran Tahir. Most of the above spinners can turn the ball both ways and that makes them difficult to line up and hit the big shots.
What can the pacers do?
Let’s look at this scenario from a pacers point of view. When the batsman looks to attack a pacer, he usually turns to his variations. The top of length ball ironically becomes a bad ball. He turns to his Yorkers. Now a right handed bowler running into a right-handed batsman needs to have a long on and long off if he is even thinking of bowling a Yorker. I am considering both, the wide yorker and what Malinga bowls. With the slog mindset, it is almost a norm to go in with a cow corner. These are his primary outfielders. If he is only allowed one more, there is a dilemma and that is whether to protect the inside edge and keep a deep fine leg, whether to have the cushion for the wide yorker and have a deep extra cover or even place a deep square leg just to avoid being predictable.
There are way too many areas to cover up. The case is identical if the pacer is looking to bowler his slower one’s as well. But with five men out the batsman will be completely handicapped. To bowl with a deep fine leg/deep square leg, long on, long off, cow corner and extra cover/deep third-man is a luxury which the pacers will love to have. Especially, when the batsman is bound to one way of scoring runs and that is to look for boundaries. In the above field placing, the pacer can execute his yorkers and slower one’s it is almost impossible for the batter to get a boundary. He will have to do something freakish and AB De Villiers isn’t easy.
The point is, over 30-40 is the time where most batting sides will try and find the boundaries just to get into the last 10 with a lot of scoring momentum and the only way to curb it is by picking up wickets. Spinners can play that role efficiently even if they have just 4 fielders on the fence. Also if they are held back and they are bowling with 5 fielders on the boundary, two set batsmen on the crease will still hit the spinners comfortably. The idea is to make it difficult to find boundaries in the last 10 overs hence fast bowlers with good Yorkers and slower balls are imperative to any limited-overs outfit.
Hence, in my opinion, the spinners should operate from 30 to 40 overs and the pacers should take charge off the slog overs. If you agree, high five. If you don’t then I am sure there is a substantial reasoning behind it and I will appreciate if put that in the comments.
Written by Babasish Nanda