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Cricket Coaching

The Thrill Of The Chase

by Wisden Staff

Four of the best target-getters around, including England and India’s ODI skippers, give us their pearls on how to be the one that stands up and takes your side home… 

THE ICEMAN: MS DHONI 

“The problem for the finisher is that, too often, there is not much else to come. The big shot is not necessarily the best or smartest shot. What matters is staying in. I am never in a hurry. My aim is to leave it till the bowler and me are on level ground, i.e. to the point at which he is under as much pressure as me. Then we see who can handle it. And most crucially, to stay humble. Assume nothing. Each day is different. I always tell the team that today somebody will be a hero. You have the chance, go and take it.”

91*, INDIA v Sri Lanka, ICC Cricket World Cup Final, 2011 

“Something in me said I should go [in to bat at No.5 rather than his usual position of No.6]. I was changing into my batting shoes when Gary [Kirsten] came in and gave me a look. ‘Should I go?’ ‘Yes, I think you should go, man,’ he said. I had played a lot with Murali for Chennai in the IPL and felt I could read him. If I got it right, I felt I would calm the others down. You ask if it was a gamble. I believe that it is not about a right or wrong decision but about an honest and well thought-through reason. I knew in my heart it was justified and felt that the team trusted me.”

THE CALCULATOR: EOIN MORGAN

“When you’re chasing down a target, you need to work out not only what you need but who of the bowlers has what left. From there, you know who they want to hold back and who they want to maybe sneak under the radar because they haven’t had a good start. You can then start to target bowlers.”

Morgan identifies which bowlers to put under extra pressure

Morgan quickly identifies which bowlers to put under extra pressure

128*, MIDDLESEX v Surrey, Royal London Cup, Lord’s, 2014 

“We lost a few wickets but, looking at the scoreboard, Neil Dexter and I needed to go at more than six and we basically had to make sure they went back to George Edwards, who was going at about 10 an over, before the end. So we had to really go after the bowlers now and it ended up being Stuart Meaker [Meaker’s last four overs went for 42 runs, as Middlesex won by six wickets].”

THE BLUDGEONER: ALEX HALES

“A lot of ball-striking is natural rather than technical. When you are trying to clear the ropes it is easy to lift your head and think about other stuff rather than the ball coming down at you and holding your shot. The shots that go furthest are the ones when you’ve watched the ball all the way on to the bat and held your shot. That’s something I didn’t necessarily do at the start of my career. I got out because I was just trying to moose it out of the ground with no technique at all. That’s something I’ve worked on in the last few years.”

THE EXPERIENCED HEAD: SEAN ERVINE

“In a run-chase, my mindset is always positive first. I will start my innings off by rotating the strike for the bloke who is already in. If we have two or three overs where we haven’t got any boundaries then it will be up to me to take the risk. Generally, I’ll target the first two balls of each over and it will always be whether the ball is in my ‘area’, then I would have sussed the different places where I want to hit the ball. Young players play with even less fear. But they’re also becoming more tactically aware.

“I’ve played for a long time so I’ve learned to deal with different situations and how to go about it. You can’t buy experience off the shelf – you just have to play on and learn from each knock. You’re not always going to get it right, but hopefully the percentages are in your favour.”

Ervine: one of county cricket's most experienced run-chasers

Ervine: one of county cricket’s most experienced run-chasers

44*, HAMPSHIRE v Somerset, T20 Final, Southampton, 2010 

“A lot of being out the middle in pressure chases is just looking like you’re calm. It’s something I do quite naturally, I don’t tend to look like I’m under pressure, but deep down I obviously still feel it. Winning is everything and we wanted to get over the line for the team and everyone around. The position that I bat, I get into these situations a lot more than guys at the top. Even though I’m nervous, I just focus on the simple things.”

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