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International Test Cricket

 

This article has been copied from the December 98 issue of PC Gamer.  It is a very nice to see a magazine like PC gamer dedicate 3 pages of its Guidelines section to ICC.

International Cricket Captain Handy Hints and Tips

Ah, the sound of leather on willow, the smell of cucumber sandwiches.  Re-live those summer days while you wait for our brave lads to get to Australia.

It's in the Squad

You can't win matches without a decent squad, as any cricket pundit will quite rightly tell you.  Careful management of your players is the first step to success in ICC, but this doesn't mean there is a perfect team.  It is quite possible to win matches with a batting-heavy approach, or with unusual bowling configurations.  If Sri Lanka can manage with one bowler, so can you.

The crucial thing is to know your own, and the opposition's weaknesses.  For example, remember that your star players might be constantly called up for International duty, so have a decent cover for them.  Lancashire is a good bet against this; Mike Atherton is the only one who will disappear on a regular basis.  You need at least 20 players, but not all of them need to be much good.  Just make sure you have a good balance of bowlers, batsmen, all-rounders (at least two) and wicket-keepers (one of them a young, cheap reserve).  if you have a good mixture of players available in your squad, then you will be in a position to make tactical decisions in your team selection.

Batsmen

Opening partners are you most important batsmen, so try to mould these two early on in the season.  They should be able to go right into the first match and score plenty of runs; remember you will be relying on them to see off the aggressive first-string bowlers unscathed.

Middle order batsman can be a mixture of flamboyant and stolid, in that order (i.e. send in the safe batsmen after the crazy ones go for ducks).  remember that they will be your main source of runs in both limited-overs and championship matches, so mix up experience with youth and don't be afraid to pay big money for a couple of big scorers.

All-Rounders

All-rounders are vital to having a strong team, and there are plenty out there.   This may be a good position for your Overseas Player; think about Klusener or Pollock.  If you are signing young players, look for strong all-rounders.  They might just be able to dig you out of a hole when you least expect it!

Wicket-Keepers

Try to get a wicket-keeper who is experienced (i.e. he can bat and will not give away many byes) but is unlikely to get called up.  The only way of rating keepers is the amount of byes they allow; so look for one with a high batting average and another young one to to keep the wages down.

Consider part-time keepers such as Speight and Warren.  Sadly though, you may find their batting is affected, especially if they have a bad innings behind the stumps.

Bowlers

Two fast or fast-medium bowlers should be sufficient for you seam attack, but they will only bowl as well as you direct them.  Watch seam bowlers' form closely, and don't be afraid to rest or train them.  Remember though, faster is not necessarily better!   Medium-pace bowlers (look at Ealham) are often much more economical, and it is always worth having some scope for variation.  Again, mix youth with experience in your squad, and have plenty of scope to vary your strike bowlers.

A good spin bowler is hard to fine.  If you can get Shane Warne, buy him and buy cheaper seam bowlers.  He will take wickets every time you use him, and he is incredibly economical.  There are many other excellent Overseas spinners such as Adams and Kumble, but Croft and Tufnell are good value and the best 'ready-made' domestic spinners you will find.  However keep an eye out for young spinners at the end of each season.  You can pick up promising spinners cheaply; just look for low averages (anything under 25 is good) and a rating of 'Excellent'.

Training

Only train young players if they will be used regularly.  Give them two training points of you expect to use them in most matches.  Depending on your openers and all-rounders, you may want to give them a training point each as well.  If one of your experienced players hits bad form, give them a training point or two - you will see the results.  Whatever you do, don't bother training players or aspects of players you don't need - some bowlers simply cannot bat.

Get Out There

One Day Matches

Batting Tips

Be careful with the aggression control; 7 or 8 should only be used in the final overs of a game with wickets in hand!  Be sensitive to how well settled your batsman is: 6 should be a good setting for a settled batsman to get plenty of runs without too much risk.

You should also take into consideration factors such as the fielding restrictions or when facing bad bowlers.  A trick which sometimes works during the fielding restriction is to start your batsmen on a setting of 2, then after four or five overs set it to 6.  Normally, though your aggression should be judged by the state of play; if you are losing wickets, then you have no choice but to lower your aggression.  If you develop a partnership, gradually increase the aggression towards the end of the match, with the last couple of overs on maximum - earlier if you have a lot of wickets in hand.

If you find yourself in the tricky position of needing five or six an over from five overs or so with only a couple of wickets in hand, take advantage of the 'bowl ball' feature.  Set a high aggression for a couple of balls until you get the runs you need from the over.  then lower the aggression for the remainder of the over to minimise the risk of losing wickets.  This tactic is not guaranteed, but it's your best bet when you're in a tight spot.

Bowling Tips

Check the pre-set field setting carefully.  You may find glaring omissions due to the complexities of the field restrictions, such as the lack of deep cover and a short third man.  It really is worth experimenting with your own field setting in the one-day game, and try to develop the best fields for your different bowlers.

Don't listen too closely to the manual's bowling advice.  Bowling away from a batsman's strength will not necessarily stop him scoring; it is certainly less likely to get him out.  For a start, changing the line will unsettle him - this is a good thing for it will slow the run rate.  For example, if a settled batsman's strength is batting off his leg-stump and you persistently bowl outside his off-stump, you are likely to get clobbered just as hard as if you bowl another line - and you will have very few chances to take his wicket.

if you need to be very economical at the end of an innings, use the same tactic as suggested above for batting.  Choose 'bowl ball' and if you are put away for runs, change the line or field or both.  If you have Shane Warne or another good leg spinner, bowl most of his deliveries (not all - remember to mix them up) at leg stump for maximum economy and effectiveness.  But the best way of slowing a scoring rate is to take wickets! (the PC Gamer article actually says runs! here but I'm sure that is a misprint!)  Bowling defensively will usually slow the rate, but there is no guarantee of this, especially against settled, quality batsmen.

In a one-day match, a mixed bowling attack is your best bet, being sure to make the most of your bowlers' strengths.  Alternate attacking and defending bowlers to begin with, and finish on a very defensive note (unless you are in desperate need of wickets).   Spinners should be used defensively at first unless you have a turning wicket.

Championship Matches

Batting Tips

if you bat first, your aim is to score as many runs as you can.  Don't declare for less than 450; if you can force the follow-on you will be in a very strong position.   If it is a good pitch, bat confidently but not too aggressively.  Allow your batsman to settle, then on a setting of five or six they will give very few chances.

The key is to settle them slowly; start them on an aggression of 1, then build it up by one point every six or seven overs.  If you lose a wicket, reset everyone's aggression to 1 and repeat the process.  You will not lose many wickets and should score steadily.

Bowling Tips

If you bowl first, remember that you will be batting last - don't leave yourself with too much to do!  Here is a trick: if you can't bowl the opposition out in their second innings on the fourth day, and they are about 100 runs ahead, put on a terrible bowler.  When he is driven for six, the computer is likely to declare, which will give you a fighting chance.  Computers are such gentlemen...

Again, alternate your bowlers and swap them around to find effective bowling partners.   your spinners will revel in the pitch conditions by the fourth day, so if you expect the pitch to deteriorate significantly towards the end of the match, try to bat first.  If you combine aggressive with defensive bowlers, and seam with spin, you are likely to get better results as the batsmen will not become settled.  When attempting to bowl out tail-enders, set everything to maximum aggression; with a bit of luck, you'll have them out after just a couple of boundaries.  Fielding tactics is a tricky business, but you should be fine if you co-ordinate your field with your bowler's aggression.

Conclusion

The key to success in ICC is to do your homework properly.  Know your own strengths and weaknesses, and those of the opposition.  Most importantly use your star players effectively.

Have PC Gamer got it right?  Have they got it wrong?  Do you know better tactics?  Send me details so everyone can share.  All hints will be credited and you could win a prize.

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Revised: Saturday, 16 March 2013.
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