Why waste your best bowler in the final over?

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The idea that England might try and bounce out Virat Kohli proved as wide of the mark as a Devon Malcolm loosener. They decided to pepper him with half-volleys instead. And it worked.

They adopted a similar method against Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni, occasionally mixing things up with a surprise full toss. That didn’t work.

Eoin Morgan also gave Chris Woakes the final over and we’ve no idea why. After nine overs, Woakes had 4-46 and had looked England’s only halfway effective bowler. Bowling the final over, what influence could he have?

Even if Woakes taken four wickets in four balls in that over, he’d only have restricted India to 367. Had he bowled his final over a little earlier in the innings, even a single wicket might have resulted in a score less than that.

Teams routinely put their most effective bowlers on for the 50th over of an innings. Why? Unless it is the second innings and the chase is tight, the final over is the one in which you can least affect the outcome of the game.


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  1. Yuvi now averages 49.8 in ODIs against England (1493 runs in 37 matches, 30 completed innings) and boy I cannot wait to see the last of that guy. India might well keep him around another five years just to troll the ECB.

  2. For “best” bowler as in “wicketlikeliest” I think Yer Maj is spot on.

    For “best” as in “most economical” – dunno, perhaps a good death bowler can save you 10-15 runs in this over compared to a poor one, whereas they ordinarily are saving you only 2-3 runs per over?

  3. The counter argument is that if you have a notable weapon in the attack the batsmen can treat him with respect until he is bowled out knowing that they can go after the lesser bowlers to come after.

  4. On International Cricket Captain, I frequently used to completely use up my best bowlers in the first half of a T20, in the expectation that they would take loads of wickets and my part-timers could then just bowl ‘containers’ at the opposition’s lower order, who would struggle to score 4 an over. It was surprisingly effective (as long as you had two world-class bowlers and you were playing against Leicestershire).

    Of course, real-life international cricket is exactly the same as International Cricket Captain on a medium difficulty setting, which is why it continues to baffle me that I have been overlooked for so many coaching roles.

  5. As a sort of addition to this, I don’t know why Woakes and, especially, Willey aren’t bowling more with the new ball. Neither of them are exceptional death bowlers, and as you say bowling at the end doesn’t really seem to affect much anyway unless you are a Malinga. With Rashid off colour/dropped, literally the only time England look like getting wickets is when Willey and Woakes are bowling with the new ball – why not let Woakes bowl 7 and let Willey bowl through if he’s going well?

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