Monday, March 18, 2019
Updated: Sunday, April 24, 2005
Test batting tactics for the England tour

Wasiq Khan

I believe there is general agreement that the fortunes of the BD team rest on the batsmen. I do not think we can expect our bowling attack to get England out twice in the test matches. Consequently the onus is upon our batsmen to ensure that we put up a respectable show. It is time we begin to objectively consider the appropriate tactics that our batsmen should adopt against the bowlers we are likely to face.

The England bowling line-up is likely to consist of the following - Harmison and Hoggard to open, Simon Jones or James Anderson first change and Giles as the tweaker. Flintoff is not playing.

Firstly - our batsmen should be able to play Giles. If they cannot, on pitches that are not conducive to spin, then we really shouldn't be playing at this level. I would hope that Giles should not pose a problem.

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This leaves the pacers. Harmison relies on speed and takes wickets in bursts. He said so in a recent interview with the Independent. In the same interview he said that the South Africans had figured him out, left most of his deliveries alone and that he did not expect the Australians to do so given their attacking tendencies! This statement is quite telling for the following reasons:

  • It exposes Harmison's mental frailty. If he does not get wickets early his frustration gets the better of him and he loses his effectiveness as a bowler.
  • He seems unable to adapt his bowling to the circumstances. This is what makes Glen McGrath outstanding. McGrath has an uncanny ability to vary his line, length and pace to "think" batsmen out. Harmison is not of that calibre.

So, in order to tackle Harmison, our batsmen primarily have to leave anything that is outside of offstump or going down the legside alone. Our batsmen are short and one of the most difficult things for a tall fast bowler to do is to figure out the appropriate length to bowl at a shorter batsman. Anything pitched at or short of "conventional" good length (i.e. for batsmen of average height) can be ducked under. Harmison will then be forced to bowl a fuller length which will reduce his pace and lead to half-volleys that could be put away. Frustration will set in and his potency would be neutralized. Once again, Harmison is no Mcgrath.

Jones/Anderson can be dealt with similarly. These two bowlers seem to have lost a bit of the "zip" that characterized the early part of their careers. If Harmison and Hoggard can be seen off I would not be surprised if Ashraful or Saleh actually have a go at them.

Which brings us to Matthew Hoggard. He is in the best form of his life and I have to admit at this point that I am not sure how best to deal with him. As a swinging bowler Hoggard pitches at a much fuller length which, given our batsmen's tendency to prod and poke, could prove to be fatal. All I can think of is to send in a right-left opening combination to upset his rythm.

I believe that if our batsmen think long and hard about the bowling they are going to face and apply themselves very very diligently, they should be able to post scores that will give our attack something to bowl at. They should use their height disadvantage to their favour by ducking. Most importantly, they must learn the art of leaving balls alone. Honestly, I do not think that anyone in the current England attack is capable of bowling deliveries which "follow" the batsmen - and are thus the most difficult to defend - at an appreciable pace. If our batsmen do their homework properly and bat TO A PLAN then the English pace attack should not hold any devils for us.