Practice what is required in a game

Most amateur bowlers spend a disproportionate amount of their time trying to hit top of off stump with a good line and length.

Often this is due to the coach doing what they have always done long before the T20 revolution begun.

T20 or limited overs often require the bowler to produce a range of skills such as slower balls, yorkers, quicker balls, bouncers, slower ball bouncers, bowling wide of the stumps or adjusting the line to batsmen who are giving themself width. If 90% of your training is top off stump, you will not be successful with T20 or limited overs in the long run as necessary skills are ignored.

Possibly in your own time train to the following:

  1. 10 good length balls top of off stump to right hand batsmen
  2. 10 good length balls top of off stump to left hand batsmen
  3. 10 slower balls
  4. 10 yorkers
  5. 10 bouncers (where appropriate)
  6. 5 slower ball bouncers (where appropriate)
  7. 10 spot calls whereby training partner calls out during the gather “wide of off stump” or “down leg” to replicate batsmen changing their stance position a moment before release.


Every batsmen has different strengths and weaknesses. Some batsmen will struggle with a certain line and length yet for the same delivery another batsmen will hit a boundary.

Unfortunately most amateurs don’t do homework on batsmen and this increases the likelihood of them not doing well.

A few simple ways to find out about opposition players:

  1. Ask a coach
  2. Get in contact with players who have played with or against the player you are seeking information
  3. Notice any scorecards, wagon wheels or video footage
  4. Take notice of any relevant players during their batting warm up on game day

One thing is certain. If you train and think like an amateur you will stay an amateur! If you train and think like a pro it’s hard to argue that you won’t improve your performance.

Change of pace

Ask most T20 batsmen when confronted with the same delivery over and over their task of scoring as much as possible becomes easier as they get used to the delivery, formulate a strategy and line the bowler up.

Many bowlers and coaches think of changes of pace as slower balls. Changes of pace also include faster balls.

Amongst others, slower balls include off cutters, leg cutters, palm balls, split finger and out the back of the hand. It is essential to have a reliable slower ball that ideally is produced with the same energy and action to that of the orthodox delivery. Often the hardest slower balls to hit are the ones that are slightly different. For example, out the back of the hand is very different to what batsmen normally face.

Line & length

Different periods of a T20 game often require different lengths. In the first few overs when the ball is swinging, full or good length deliveries coupled with the odd surprise bouncer often works.

The middle period suits changes of pace. The length may have to be brought back a fraction for stock deliveries. Limit any width.

The last few overs can suit yorkers but are high risk as small mistakes land in the slot. Depending on your skill level with yorkers, good lengths are sometimes more of a percentage option.

As mentioned earlier, a bowler should adjust their line and length depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the batsmen.

Bowlers should be mentally ready to adjust their line and length last minute if has been noticed that the batsman has shifted their stance position a moment before delivery.

  1. Batsmen who back away – follow then to the legside
  2. Batsmen who step inside – follow them offside
  3. Batters who advance – a slower ball or a bouncer are often good counters.

Mental game and emotions

This article suits the serious bowler and if you don’t yet appreciate the importance of the mental side of cricket there is much to be learnt!

Each bowler should have a mental routine whereby they think of certain things at the top of their run up, during the run up and a moment before release.

Bowlers should have mental tools to handle pressurised situations or when a few balls have been struck for a boundary. If you don’t have an idea on this, search the mental topics within the skill library.

Field settings

This obviously depends on the type of batsmen, the situation of the game, the conditions and the strengths of the bowler. The point of this section is to communicate that at times an unconventional risk pays off. For example a 3rd man or fine leg in the ring early in a batsmen’s innings. Try to get the batter attempting to score in the riskiest area of the ground.

Dominic Marsh