England’s man for all occasions Tim Bresnan shares his tips on how to bowl and set the field during each stage of a one-day game.
The Opening Spell
- The first delivery of the innings is always tough, but you have to back yourself. It’s a new ball, and it might not swing for long, so you need to use it as well as you can.
- In general I’m aiming as straight as possible, giving the batsman no width, bowling as heavy as possible into the wicket. If it’s really swinging then you can be a touch fuller, bowl a bit more of an attacking length, but the basic is just to bowl as heavy as you can over off stump.
- Setting the field in those first overs you have to go for two catchers, so you’d probably have two slips, then a third man, a square fine leg. Then just a ring: point, cover, mid off on the off side, square leg and mid on on the leg side.
- You don’t necessarily need to be varying things too much in these opening overs if you’re getting plenty out of the conditions by bowling normally. In places like India we often want to be bowling slower balls from the off, but in England, particularly with the early starts, you can use the conditions to your advantage, bowl fuller and more orthodox for longer, and look to get something out of the wicket.
The Middle Overs
- By this stage your slips have gone out – you might have one, depending on the situation. You’re trying to squeeze the batsmen to try and make them make a mistake or go for a big shot. Just try to keep the runs down; go for less than four an over and you’re winning. You’re building pressure, the fielders are hunting on the single, you’re squeezing. It’s a time when you’re usually bowling with a spinner as well, so you can get through your overs quickly. Before he knows it the batter looks up and there’s another six or seven overs gone and he’s got to try and do something.
- You’ve got one man on the boundary on each side, third man, fine leg and maybe mid on or mid off back, depending on the situation. If the first four balls are singles or dots you might throw mid off back for the last couple just to get out of the over. You can bowl fairly full and hopefully he’ll just knock it to long off for one, and then you’ve just gone for four, say – you’ve bowled five overs for 15 or 20 – and the squeeze is really on then.
- When there’s a wicket and the new guy comes in you can attack more at that end, bring a few more men in and not give any easy runs. If they’re not getting anything to score off then they’re more likely to make a rash decision and get out.
- You need to adapt your bowling in the final overs, but how you do that still depends on the state of the game. If the tail’s in you might look to go heavy, bowl the odd bouncer to keep them honest. On the other hand, if you’ve got a batter in who’s striking it well, you’re looking to go to more obvious ‘death’ bowling, with straight fields (straight fielders on the boundary), bowling it full, in the blockhole, and if there’s a short boundary one side or the wind’s blowing a gale, you’ll be protecting one side more than the other. The death is where you’re looking to out-think each other a bit.
- Deciding which balls to bowl when in your over is mostly down to gut feeling. You’d usually save your bouncer to the middle because that’s usually a dot ball. You probably wouldn’t bowl it up top because then the batsman can set himself because he knows you’ve had your one for the over and everything else has got to be pitched up. You’ve got your two different slower balls and then a heavy ball over the top of off stump. It’s a case of working out the batsman and making it as hard for them as possible.
Nailing the yorker
“David Saker [England bowling coach] set up this drill when we were in Sri Lanka for the World Twenty20 – all the bowlers had a bit of a Ryder Cup going on. He puts two bricks on the popping crease and lays a bar on top of them along the crease line. Every ball you get under the bar it’s a par, under and hitting the stumps is a birdie, and over the bar is a bogie. The bar is probably a ball and half’s width above the ground, and it’s quite hard to get it underneath, but it helps you nail that skill.”