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Thread: Anatomy of an Opener

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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    Anatomy of an Opener

    I'm sitting here at home, poring over a squad list ahead of the first couple of school games of the season and staring at the number two position on the batting order, without the slightest idea of who's going to fill it.

    I have one natural, obvious opener, and am pretty happy about my 3-4-5 combination, but there are five or six boys who could conceivably do a job, in all kinds of different ways. Some are strokeless, some almost reckless, some give a left-right combination, some hard working, some with outstanding hand-eye...

    So I started to think, what would you want from your ideal opening partners?

    Who have been the greatest opening pairs of all time (I can answer that without help) - and what's made them so effective. What would be the all-time partnership: not just as the two best openers, but the best combination?
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    Hall of Fame Member Marcuss's Avatar
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    Guessing you're playing limited overs matches? How many overs per innings? What sort of player is your #1?

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    International Coach flibbertyjibber's Avatar
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    Go for the blocker to give the players at 3,4 and 5 more chance against lesser bowlers later in the game.If the school cricket i played is anything to go by you need to see off the opening bowlers as most schools had not a lot to follow them.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcuss View Post
    Guessing you're playing limited overs matches? How many overs per innings? What sort of player is your #1?
    No, time cricket, believe it or not!

    2.15pm start, last hour (20 overs) from 5.30pm. A full-length match will run ~35 overs per side if you get through your overs at a decent rate and/or time your declarations properly.

    The #1 plays county cricket and is very technically correct but can get nervous and hesitant and hence tied down. I'm loath to select another player who can't turn over the strike regularly (I used several options last year as well) because you end up with pressure building and unnecessary shots played.


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    Hall of Fame Member Marcuss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Pickup View Post
    No, time cricket, believe it or not!

    2.15pm start, last hour (20 overs) from 5.30pm. A full-length match will run ~35 overs per side if you get through your overs at a decent rate and/or time your declarations properly.

    The #1 plays county cricket and is very technically correct but can get nervous and hesitant and hence tied down. I'm loath to select another player who can't turn over the strike regularly (I used several options last year as well) because you end up with pressure building and unnecessary shots played.
    That rules out the strokeless ones then. Wans't the "it's a benefit to have a RH/LH combo" shown to be a fallacy? In Test matches at least. I suppose that you're more likely to struggle to adjust your line at U1?s but I wouldn't put too much emphasis on it myself.
    The reckless player might not be best suited either, I'd say any player that has a solid enough defensive shot with a few scoring shots that has half an idea when the best situation to play said shots is.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcuss View Post
    That rules out the strokeless ones then. Wans't the "it's a benefit to have a RH/LH combo" shown to be a fallacy? In Test matches at least. I suppose that you're more likely to struggle to adjust your line at U1?s but I wouldn't put too much emphasis on it myself.
    The reckless player might not be best suited either, I'd say any player that has a solid enough defensive shot with a few scoring shots that has half an idea when the best situation to play said shots is.
    I've decided that what I'm going to do is going to take a few of the options, combine it with whether they want to do it - I think you can tell a lot from who fancies it - and do match situation for half an hour in games tomorrow against a strong fielding side. That'll tell me enough to make the call.

    I'm interested by the RH/LH being a fallacy.- I've always hated fielding/keeping/bowling to a mixed partnership and it also causes major field setting issues at youth level cricket. Where did you read about this?

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    Hall of Fame Member Marcuss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Pickup View Post
    I've decided that what I'm going to do is going to take a few of the options, combine it with whether they want to do it - I think you can tell a lot from who fancies it - and do match situation for half an hour in games tomorrow against a strong fielding side. That'll tell me enough to make the call.

    I'm interested by the RH/LH being a fallacy.- I've always hated fielding/keeping/bowling to a mixed partnership and it also causes major field setting issues at youth level cricket. Where did you read about this?
    Think there was a Cricinfo feature about it and IIRC there didn't seem to be any advantage from it.

    http://stats.cricinfo.com/ci/engine/...sults;type=fow
    Hmm, of the 19 partnerships to average more than 50, twelve of them are RH/LH combinations. Maybe I made it up
    Last edited by Marcuss; 25-04-2010 at 01:49 PM.

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    Cricketer Of The Year zaremba's Avatar
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    I'd like to see that article, would be interested by it (and would instinctively doubt the reliability of its conclusions!).

    In youth cricket at any rate, I reckon (with no stats with which to back myself up) it can seriously disrupt the bowlers.

    So,

    1. LH/RH

    Added to which:

    2. Decent defensive technique
    3. Ability to leave the ball
    4. Ability to turn over the strike

    And that's about it really. I wouldn't worry too much about an opener's run rate in youth cricket (but see (4) above). What I want him to do is not to get out too early, and to see off the best bowlers' opening overs with the new ball.

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    Hall of Fame Member Marcuss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaremba View Post
    I'd like to see that article, would be interested by it (and would instinctively doubt the reliability of its conclusions!).
    It does seem as though the Cricinfo article is nothing more than a figment of my imagination but there is quite a bit of stuff out there on it. One BBC article I found says
    Interestingly, the team tested the often-quoted assumption of commentators that a combination of a left-hander and a right-hander at the crease is the most difficult to bowl at.

    Dr Brooks says: "Their rationale is that it breaks up the bowler's ability to bowl a particular line and length, but if you look at all the partnerships there were in the World Cup - including two left-handers or two right-handers together - there is no evidence that this particular combination is any more successful."
    But it also says :
    Scientists who studied the World Cup found these players hit more runs, batted longer and tended to lose their wickets only because they slogged out.

    But the explanation for this better performance is not so straightforward.

    The researchers think the bowler's experience of left-handers is crucial because the advantage is less evident at the highest levels of the sport.

    Lower league bowlers may not have the experience to deal so readily with a player taking up the alternative stance and get hammered to the boundary more often.

    "It's strategic in the sense that left-handers only have the advantage when they are rare," says Dr Rob Brooks, from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
    So RH/LH may be the way to go in school cricket.

    BBC article : http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3191380.stm
    May also be worth looking at : http://pappubahry.blogspot.com/2008/...t-handers.html
    Last edited by Marcuss; 25-04-2010 at 02:07 PM.

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    Cricketer Of The Year zaremba's Avatar
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    I read in Wisden the other day that when Watson opened at Edbaston last year he was the first right-hander to open in a Test since Michael Slater at Leeds in 2001.

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    Hall of Fame Member Marcuss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaremba View Post
    I read in Wisden the other day that when Watson opened at Edbaston last year he was the first right-hander to open in a Test since Michael Slater at Leeds in 2001.
    For Australia I guess?

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    Cricketer Of The Year zaremba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcuss View Post
    For Australia I guess?
    Oops.

    Yes.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcuss View Post
    It does seem as though the Cricinfo article is nothing more than a figment of my imagination but there is quite a bit of stuff out there on it. One BBC article I found says
    But it also says :


    So RH/LH may be the way to go in school cricket.

    BBC article : BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Left-handers top cricket stats
    May also be worth looking at : Pappus' plane - cricket stats: Left-handers
    The second link was a really good read. Alas, we only have two left-handers in our 23, one of whom is a chinaman bowler who is going to be 9, 10 or 11 for the B team.

    It's probably better news for my county side, which has several lefties.

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    Hall of Fame Member age_master's Avatar
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    I like the opening combination of one defensive player and one more aggressive one. The bloke at the other end playing shots takes the pressure off the more defensive player while he gets his eye in, though after the new ball is seen off you want the defensive player to start playing more shots.

    Another good thing to have is 2 players who run well between the wickets. If your defensive player can turn the strike over easily it makes a huge difference. Playing the late cut effectively or pushing it between 2 firlders and running keeps the score ticking over nicely without to much risk.

    As for left handers, as an outswing bowler i would always rather bowl to left handers. I think it depends on the bowlers as to whether this is effective or not. It is annoying for the fielders and the captain though.
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    Global Moderator Prince EWS's Avatar
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    The most important things for an opener in youth/lower level cricket, in my experience anyway, are the ability to leave and the ability to play off the back foot. WRT leaving, I don't necessarily mean that he has to be particularly selective in his shot selection, but merely that he doesn't defend at balls that will safely pass outside off. If the batsman has lots of run-scoring shots that's fine, but you don't want him aimlessly defending outside off.

    Play off the back foot might not be quite as relevant on whatever sort of pitches you get for these games in England, but over here I think it's the thing converted middle order batsmen struggle with most in lower level and youth cricket. If the new ball gets dug in by an opening bowler, it's going to bounce and carry a lot more than if you're batting six and the third change bowler drops short with a soft ball. They don't have to pull or hook as such but they have to have a sound technique in getting themselves out of trouble - whether it be indeed pulling, or merely riding it or getting out of the way of it. Whatever it is though, it's important they feel comfortable about it and can get onto the back foot quickly without premeditation.
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