Sunday 19 May 2013 19:51 UTC
Here be cricket.
Subject: The Batting Powerplay
SInce the introduction of the batting powerplay in ODIs the tendency has been for batting teams to take it towards the very end of the innings - a move that is much derided by the Sky commentators, especially Ian Botham. Well today England broke with the trend and proved why taking it earlier is the wrong idea (unless you happen to have most of your wickets intact). The basis of the commentators argument is that the powerplay would be better used by an established partnership rather than a group of useless tailenders. But I disagree. For starters the powerplay tends to result in a couple (or more) wickets for the fielding team, therefore breaking any established partnership. If the batting team were say, only two wickets down at the 30 over mark, then sure, losing a couple more wickets isn't going to do much damage so go for it if you want. But using it at that point when you're five down means you have more than 10 overs to survive with relatively few wickets - and a defensive field. The advantage of using the powerplay right at the end of the innings is that when the teams are evenly matched, the team batting second will usually need a bit of a slog a the end of the innings, therefore it's ideal if you can force the fielding side to bring most of their players in, leaving the outfield open. Furthermore, it doesn't matter if you don't have many wickets left when the powerplay ends, because you don't have many overs to survive. If the teams aren't evenly matched then it's irrelevant where the powerplay is taken.
At the time of writing, England need 60 from 9 overs with three wickets remaining - not unachievable, but a tough ask. Certainly the powerplay didn't work in their favour, although I've no idea what the commentators think as I've turned the sound off - not in the mood to listen to Botham bullspit his way out of being wrong again.
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