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"Ten Percents" Part 3 - Reducing your Economy Rate

Our third "Ten Percent" focus is on bowlers reducing their economy rates.

The average bowler economy rate in one of our local junior leagues last season, for all bowlers who bowled, was 5.7 runs per over. That's a score of 114 in a T20 game, excluding byes & leg byes - so probably 120 or so would be an average score in these (non-pairs) matches.

If we can reduce the economy rates of all our bowlers by just 10%, down to an average of just over 5.1 runs per over, that reduces team average scores to around 103 instead of 114. 11 valuable runs from just a 10% improvement. That alone could be the difference between winning and losing matches, aside from the other 10% improvements you can make.

There are some key skills to bowling tightly and keeping the economy rate down: -

1. Understand what your "stock" (standard) bowling delivery is and look to bowl it accurately and consistently every ball.

2. Setting the right field for your bowling at the right time of the game.

3. Understanding how to adapt to changing circumstances

Let's break down these individual elements and examine them more closely: -

Bowling your stock delivery

Every bowler has a standard delivery.

For a swing & seam bowler it's moving the ball into or away from the batsman looking to take the edge or induce a false stroke for a Bowled, LBW or caught in the field.

Fundamental to this is to bowl full enough that the ball would hit the stumps if missed. I see many young swing and seam bowlers pitching the ball far too short to the extent that it completely rules out any chance of LBW and no chance of a clean Bowled therefore bringing their only potential dismissal modes down to one - Caught. If you only learn one thing from this - PITCH IT UP!

For a spin bowler, you are looking to bowl with flight and turn, pitching the ball just on the stumps or just outside of the off stump and turning in. Note Leg Spinners should not be looking to pitch the ball outside of leg stump for their stock delivery as that rules out LBWs. If you are lucky enough to be turning the ball that much that it can go from outside leg to outside of off, pitch it up instead so the batsman is in the way of the ball. For older players who can employ a short leg and silly point there is more validity to an outside leg stump tactic but at junior level it's just costing you an opportunity to dismiss the batsman.

Whether you are bowling swing, seam or spin, the most important advice is - Don't try to bowl lots of varieties. If it's working, leave it. In a T20 game, a Dot ball is a good ball. You don't have to be taking a wicket every ball. In the modern professional game, having a variety of deliveries is a necessity as batters are now so proficient in clearing the boundary. At junior level it's much less common. Only use your varieties if the batters are on top and you need to manufacture a change in fortunes. If you're keeping it tight, keep going. Have confidence in your approach.

Setting the right field So you know what you are looking to bowl each ball. Setting a field should be relatively easy now. Hopefully you have read our earlier blog on fielding position names and so you should be getting familiar with the terminology.

There is a free app on ios called Team LineUp where you can set your fields and save them. I used this app to build fielding plans for the Iceland national cricket team when we toured Malta in an international series last October.

Set a field for your bowling. Think about the following: -

1. Where you expect to build pressure and take wickets

2. Where you expect batters to likely to be trying to hit you for runs

3. What are the danger areas of when you bowl a bad ball (everyone does, assume it will happen occasionally and give yourself some protection in the field)

Adapting to changing circumstances

Sadly, not all plans always go perfectly. You are going to come up against the odd team, or batter, who are going to be comfortable with your bowling. So, you need to have a Plan B.

As well as setting the field above, your ideal field, set a defensive field too. For this exercise, assume the batting team are scoring two or more boundaries an over and you're looking to halve this at least. Set your defensive field and save it.

MEASURE & PRACTICE There is no substitute for practicing bowling. Bowl as many balls as you can at every opportunity, stop when you begin to get tired, and measure where they land.

There are a few tools you can use for this. A simple hula hoop on the ground is a good starting place. Or a dustbin lid, or maybe even a clipboard if you are being ambitious and want to push yourself.

You don't need your full run-up. A good bowler should be able to bowl accurately all the time off any run-up. That's a good sign you have a repeatable consistent action that you can do it off any length. So as long as you have a bit of space, you can practice this at home.

We have set up our own Pitch Map tool using Microsoft Excel. While we are all under lock down, we are making this available for free. Please contact us if you would like to use it. You can use it on a phone or ipad and it's very simple. It will tell you your percentage consistency and accuracy and will give you a great guide to improvement in numbers. See if you can improve your scores by 10% or more!

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