Cricket Strategy and Tactics

The Toss

Cricket strategy begins with the coin toss. The captain winning the toss has an important decision to make: whether to bat or field first. This is not as trivial as it may sound.

First Class Matches

The primary considerations are the state of the pitch and the weather on the first day of play. Normally, a cricket pitch is at its best on the first and second days of play, soon after it is prepared and before the rigours of play have worn away at it. This means batting is easier in the early stages of the game than towards the end. For this reason, most captains elect to bat first.

However, the pitch can often retain a little moisture on the first day of play, especially if the weather is humid or has been rainy. In this situation, fast bowlers can achieve a lot of swing and the bounce off the pitch is less predictable, making batting considerably more difficult. Captains sometimes decide to try to exploit this by sending the opposition in to bat first, in the hope of getting several of the batsmen out early while conditions favour the bowlers. This is much more tempting if the captain knows he has good bowlers capable of making the most of the conditions, or if his batsmen are relatively weak and thus susceptible to the same tactic.

One-Day Matches

Similar decisions must be made regarding the wear of the pitch and changing weather over the course of the single day of the game. Over a single day, a pitch sometimes starts out slightly moist, offering assistance to bowlers, but quickly hardens up for the rest of the day providing fairly consistent play. One-day pitches are usually prepared to be similar to first class pitches on the second day of play, so the moisture factor is not as important unless there has been overnight rain or heavy dew in the morning.

On the other hand, many one-day matches are now played beginning in the afternoon and continuing into the evening under floodlights. It is universally considered more difficult to bat under floodlights than during the day, so most captains elect to bat first in such day/night matches, unless other factors outweigh this.

An additional factor is local weather conditions. If they are conducive to evening dew, additional moisture on the outfield can make the outfield slower for scoring, but at the same time make bowling and fielding more difficult.

Bowling, Fielding, and Batting

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