The anchor role in one-day cricket

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2 minute read

This isn’t repeat until funny. This is repeat because you haven’t said it in a while and people seem to be missing something pretty obvious about one-day cricket – English people mostly.

It’s about anchors and openers.

A batsman’s ‘range’

No batsman likes to be stereotyped, but let’s be honest, they all operate within a certain range. Shahid Afridi’s most responsible batting might just occupy the same ground as Alastair Cook throwing caution to the wind.

Better batsmen have a wider range. Rahul Dravid can score surprisingly quickly. AB de Villiers can be uncharacteristically defensive should he need to be. All the same, when planning your batting order, it’s worth considering a batsman’s general tendencies.

Alastair Cook is best suited to the anchor role. Where do you want him to bat?

An opener to anchor the innings

No, no, no. Christ, no.

The first 10 overs, a fifth of a one-day innings, is predictable. Fielding restrictions are in place. You know who will be at the crease. You can make a plan.

Why would you plan for one of your two batsmen to be an anchor when the whole point of the powerplay is that it’s an opportunity to slog a few boundaries?

England try and position a batsman down the order to take advantage of their batting powerplay, even though they don’t know what will happen and even though it only lasts five overs. Why is the totally predictable 10-over powerplay at the start so different?

Are you suggesting England open with two attacking batsmen? What if there’s a wicket?

Who cares? Don’t consolidate with no wickets down. Bring in Cook or Trott when someone’s out, not before. At least dream of a successful first powerplay, even if it doesn’t necessarily happen.

Your opener doesn’t have to Afridi it, but nor does he have to be Alastair Cook playing at the top end of his range.

But Sachin Tendulkar is there to bat through the innings and he’s the best one-day opener around

Sachin Tendulkar is also a frigging genius. His batting range is double Cook’s. He can pretty much match Sehwag shot-for-shot if he sees fit, but Sehwag’s presence generally means he doesn’t have to.

After 733 international innings, Tendulkar is pretty bloody adaptable. He’s two batsmen in one. England don’t have that.

You seem annoyed

We are a bit. We’ve read a lot of solutions to England’s one-day batting woes and they all take as gospel that your sensible batsman has to come in immediately. To us, that just seems inefficient.

Also, we hate repeating ourself.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. Who’s asking all of these questions? Does KC have a contrary alter-ego, like a more irritating Tyler Durden?

  2. Don’t get too hot under the collar, KC.

    You don’t want people suggesting that you might be “a bit of an anchor” yourself (or words to that effect), now do you?

  3. What? I would definitely open with Alastair and Craig.

    A key-sweater to complement a Kieswetter seems too precious to pass up.

  4. KC, you’re being obtuse. One of your one-day openers should be a top-order test-match batsman, because that’s what Sachin does; the other should be your wicketkeeper, because that’s what Gilchrist does.

    The syllogism goes something like this:

    1. All Adam Gilchrists should open the batting in ODIs.
    2. All Adam Gilchrists are wicketkeepers.
    3. Therefore all wicketkeepers should open the batting in ODIs.

    It’s a tried-and-tested strategy, so we should keep trying and testing it until it starts working.

  5. Hashim Amla scores at run a ball, scores big, anchors the innings and is a damn fine test batsman too.

    Problem with England is thinking too much. Just let him go out and play.

  6. By him I mean Cook and not Amla, England don’t need another South African in their line-up

    1. Cooky is, at the moment, batting as if this 50-over match was 20 overs long. If a solid team bowling performance is all it takes to convince him to bat like two millionaires having a millionaires batting competition, one on top of the other’s shoulders, then god bless solid team bowling performances.

      Wow, that sentence flew out of control. Anyway, he is 60 off 44 at the moment.

  7. You’re conclusion’s backwards.

    The first 10 overs are predictable. The next 20 overs are sometimes predictable. The last few overs are hardly ever predictable.

    The batsmen with the small range need to be in first. It doesn’t matter whether that’s a defensive or attacking batsman, because either can work in one day cricket, though you won’t want two defensive batsmen. If your batsman has only one game plan, tell him to do it immediately. That’s plan A.

    Later on, you might have to carry on with plan A, or switch to plan B, or if enough things have gone wrong you might be onto C or something even further down the alphabet of failure. You don’t know what the bloke coming in at 5 might have to do. This is where you want your versatile batsmen, the ones with the wide range.

    It doesn’t make sense to need a quick change of plan as the third wicket falls and then send out a batsman with only one plan. Having a narrow “range” does not always mean defensive.

    At any rate, England have far bigger problems than having a bloke scoring hundreds as an opener. Incidentally, Cook scored his hundred the other day with a SR of 80. That’s quicker than some hundreds scored by the likes of Gayle, Sehwag and Trescothick. Tendulkar alone has four slower than that. And perhaps if someone had stuck around with Cook for longer, or the Sri Lankans weren’t quite as good, Cook could have scored more.

    And perhaps, finally, England can worry about the guy who scored 3 off 13 opening. Because a miss is slower scoring than a single.

  8. If I was an opposition captain, I would not be that concerned by seeing Alistair Cook hang around for most of an ODI innings; you know that he won’t take the game away from you.

    There lies the rub.

  9. Ah, just get Boycott and Gavaskar to open up for us. Might as well go the whole hog.

    1. Oddly heart-warming for an advert. Suppose that’s what you’re going to get from Murali and Swann.

  10. And to tell you the truth, he did return quite annoyed from work all week

    1. Whoa whoa whoa. What’s all this? This is new and deeply shocking information which is going to require a complete change of opinion about the King Cricket we thought we knew.


      No, I’m not having it.

    2. It’s okay, it’s the old internet trick that is: “Pretending to be someone you’re not”.

    3. Oh, that old internet trick. That one is nearly as old as the other old internet trick of pretending that revelatory information is not true but is the result of an old internet trick.

    1. If you were doing it for a trick, you’d have loaded an appropriate avatar, surely?

      Unless the person in question were pressed for time because he had a newsletter to write for The Cricketer or something like that. Maybe the trickster wouldn’t bother if that were the situation.

    2. Jesus’s avatar doesn’t look anything like Jesus.

      Sam’s avatar could well be Jesus, though, assuming (as I do) that Jesus wore shades.

      King Cricket’s wife’s avatar is pretty much what I’d expect.

  11. Back on topic…

    England win the toss and… will bowl first. Alistair Cook, the captain, says that the pitch has a touch of green on it, and the overhead conditions might make things a little twitchy for the batsmen early on, but mainly England want to bowl becuase THEY DON’T HAVE AND NEVER HAVE HAD THE FIRST IDEA OF WHAT CONSITUTES A GOOD SCORE ON ANY PITCH, AND THEREFORE THEY NEED SOMEONE ELSE TO SET THE PACE FOR THEM.

    1. Alternatively, Anderson and Bresnan can use the swinging conditions to reduce Sri Lanka to 20/4. That also is handy.

  12. I’m delighted to say Cook is utterly proving your point KC point by only getting 43 off his first 33 balls to open the innings.

    He doesn’t care that it might rain, and Duckworth-Lewis might come into play. It’s a low total, should be an easy chase, and he is determined to bat like Geoffrey Boycott in all conditions.

    Or perhaps you are being unfair to the lad?

  13. I also stuck that earlier bizarre comment of mine up as a reply to an unrelated post. Yay me. In conclusion, Libya is a land of contrasts.

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