Should bowlers look to take wickets or contain runs in T20?




Numbers may not tell the real stories always but it gives a lead to follow.

The team that takes 6 or more wickets in each innings, more or less wins the match in T20.

From the inception, Twenty 20 cricket is a game played by batsmen to fans and bowlers as often pushed to back stage. Life for bowlers at T20 became a hell and got even worse with grounds steadily bringing the size of boundaries down rather than increasing it. But on hindsight, T20 against much of some disagreements, is a child of cricket game. And so, like in any form of cricket, bowlers are the trump cards. If you don’t think so, then better recollect Indian team squad and their performance at 2007, 2009 and 2010 editions of world T20. You can have a hitter till no. 7 or 8 in the batting order but if you don’t have good bowler, then you can’t win the world.

So, a good bowler is a wicket taking or economical one? Player who does both. Anil Kumble, one of the best Indian spinner will instantly go for kill against tail enders and against top order batsmens, more often he chooses to build the pressure by consistently bowling good balls and not giving away any easy runs. One’s decision making ability is what differentiates them into decent, good and great bowler.

Is it holds true in Twenty20 also? How it can’t be? Those statements are written in base class of cricket. You automatically inherit those if you are a bowler and depending on a format, variations are need to be added.

Constrain* Team after losing Inns  Won Lost Tied NR W/L Avg Runs per match Runs Per Over
Overall 0 to 5 124 95 23 2 4 4.13 146.35 8.23
Overall 6 to 10 198 59 131 8 0 0.45 144.4 7.35
Batting First 0 to 5 46 33 10 1 2 3.3 169.02 8.7
Batting First 6 to 10 115 48 63 4 0 0.76 148.1 7.46
Batting Second 0 to 5 78 62 13 1 2 4.76 132.98 8.05
Batting Second 6 to 10 83 11 68 4 0 0.16 139.29 7.2

*Constrain – Only matches involving Australia, West Indies, India, England, South Africa, Srilanka, New Zealand and Pakistan teams are considered.

The table above clearly shows the importance of taking wickets even at T20 cricket. In 198 innings of a T20 match after losing more than 5 wickets, a team had went to win 29.8% and lost 66.1% times. And whenever a team lost fewer then 6 wickets in an inning, they more often ended up winning a match. Further increasing the conditions to first and second innings, weights on wickets increases more. Though the difference between losing 0 to 5 wickets and 6 to 10 wickets in batting first is negligible due to the fact teams often save wickets during initial overs and throw their bat at will during end overs only, but in case of batting second, keeping the wickets in hand is invaluable.

Player Name (Constrain*) Mat Overs Runs Wkts Ave Econ SR
DP Nannes (Aus) 14 49 385 23 16.73 7.85 12.7
BAW Mendis (SL) 17 65 382 30 12.73 5.87 13
Umar Gul (Pak) 34 118.3 851 48 17.72 7.18 14.8
SW Tait (Aus) 18 67.4 483 27 17.88 7.13 15
IK Pathan (India) 16 58 455 23 19.78 7.84 15.1
Abdul Razzaq (Pak) 27 50.3 340 20 17 6.73 15.1
RJ Sidebottom (Eng) 16 55.4 405 22 18.4 7.27 15.1
JE Taylor (WI) 17 60 473 23 20.56 7.88 15.6
GP Swann (Eng) 33 116 742 44 16.86 6.39 15.8
IG Butler (NZ) 13 45 362 17 21.29 8.04 15.8

The second table shows the top 10 players with best strike rate who bowled atleast 200 balls in T20. Anything around 6 is great irrespective of the conditions and only three out of top ten players possess it but if you take wickets, then economy of around 7 is very much acceptable.

So all the bowlers and teams in the upcoming world T20, the blueprint to succeed is taking wickets. You can opt for either containing runs or go for kill plan but must produce wickets. If your team is capable of taking more then 6 opponent wickets, then safely bet to end up as winning side.

*Stats courtesy espncricinfo.com

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