Tactics | Super Smash Eliminator - Otago v Canterbury
Written By: Jeet Vachharajani
Picture Courtesy: Dream11 Super Smash
Otago Sparks & Canterbury Magicians faced each other two consecutive times to cap off their round-robin & we have them facing each other for the 3rd consecutive time in the all-important Eliminator.
I thoroughly enjoyed the two clashes between them with some very good cricketing skills on display. The first game saw Otago win comfortably by 7 wickets & it was a rare occasion where I saw Amy Satterthwaite err with her bowling tactics. While tactics could have been better by Canterbury in the first clash, they were just purely out batted by the Sparks in the second clash despite Canterbury trying out some very good things.
Here are some of the tactics that we could see in the Eliminator and also some driving forces of late for the two teams.
1 - Impact of Bella James as an opener
Suzie Bates had all the job to do as an opener with Polly Inglis struggling & then Olivia Gain also being found out by left-arm spin. Otago had to promote Bella James in Bates' absence & they did. With James opening, their PP woes were put to bed as their run-rate in the said phase increased from 5.5 to 8.3 since James started opening.
In the last game, Canterbury smashed the 2nd highest score of the season. In response, Otago registered the highest score in the PP & by some margin. This was a result of a stunning onslaught from James & Gain upfront.
The new opening pair of James & Gain has worked really well with their attacking gameplay. They look to maximize the PP & it has reflected in their strike-rates in the phase. They sit at the top of the table with James in particular, being miles ahead.
2 - The need to frontload Emma Black
Wellington frontload one of Jess Kerr/Maneka Singh, Central Hinds frontload Claudia Green, Northern Brave frontload Shriya Naidu, & Otago usually frontload Emma Black. All these pacers are top-notch swing bowlers who leave a significant dent in the PP if they are on song or have favorable conditions. Sparks have been slightly up & down with Black's quota of overs in the PP & could look to bowl 3 in the Eliminator. Black is the only bowler in the Sparks' lineup to have done really well & that shall be made use of in the big game.
Her effectiveness has recently dropped once the PP is done with her economy rates across the 3 phases being 5.2-6.8-8.4.
3 - Polly Inglis cutting down shots to mid-off
Inglis has made a fair effort to cut down a few shots. She has been caught thrice at mid-off & been stumped twice when looking to play it to the same region. This issue has been more evident against the spinners as she has struggled to generate enough power & elevation with her bottom-handed hockey shots.
Adjustment: What she has done really well in the last 3 games where she has registered 30*-43-47* is shown restraint & cut down the shots to mid-off. This shot looks instinctive & it makes sense when you watch her technique closely, but she has done really well to adjust & avoid more such dismissals. What has increased has been a focus on playing more sweeps & reverse-sweeps than usual.
1 - Canterbury's tactics to Bella James & Olivia Gain
In the first game, Canterbury probably wanted to open the bowling with Kate Anderson, but my guess is that she was too exhausted after batting through the first innings which led to Canterbury changing their plans.
In the next game, they opened with two RAOs in Anderson & Amy Satterthwaite which was a pretty good ploy, but didn't work for multiple reasons. While Anderson erred on length, Satterthwaite erred on line. James was too good to miss out on those hit-me deliveries & latched onto most of them. Result - 24/0 (2). Also, while they have been dismissed to RAO before, they still have been able to maintain a very high SR. The idea was right because both these batters have struggled against spin, especially James vs. RAO. But, it didn't work out well though as the batters cashed in on the loose deliveries.
Canterbury would still be better off opening with Missy Banks or Gabby Sullivan from one end & Anderson from the other. Banks from ATW bowling her outswing & inswing could be a threat to both batters, despite being off-colour in the last few games. Gain, in particular, loves to smash the ball to midwicket & cow corner + can thread the fuller balls through covers. So if an RAO is bowling to her or Banks looking to bowl inswing, then they'd rather look to protect the leg side boundary because that's where Gain is going to go.
2 - Why Canterbury needs to move on from their opening pair of Anderson & Gerken
Canterbury had a shocker for two games in a row. They averted a disaster in the first one, but couldn't do so in the next. Kate Anderson & Abigale Gerken gave anywhere between 6-8 run-out chances to Canterbury out of which none were converted by their fielders. They bizarrely ended up stitching together an opening stand of 78 runs in 12.1 overs. In the next game, the miscommunication between the opening duo was very evident again, but the Sparks weren't missing out this time as they grabbed the very first opportunity to run out Gerken.
Another big problem with Gerken opening is that she struggles against left-arm spin & Otago has two of them who have played international cricket for England. Gerken was out LBW first ball to Linsey Smith in the previous game, but the umpire ruled it in Gerken's favour before she was run-out the next ball. If Canterbury continues with the same opening pair, then not only would Otago yet again look to open the bowling with Linsey, but would also be looking to pounce on any run-out opportunity presented.
What Magicians should look to do is open with Laura Hughes & ask her to continue doing the pinch-hitting. Next batter walking in should be Natalie Cox. Cox got a new role in the middle-order when Gerken took her opening slot & it was a very good move. But against a spin-heavy Sparks attack, you'd rather have one of your best players of spin walking out to counter the spin that will be dished out in each phase of the game.
3 - Amy Satterthwaite's unusual numbers beat the trend
We have often heard why you should look to avoid bowling RAO to RHBs & LAO to LHBs. But, Satterthwaite's returns this year breaks that theory. She has particularly struggled against non-turning LAOs who throw it just outside the off-stump & get it to drift either way. She has been dismissed twice by LAOs & twice by RAWS. Linsey & Kirstie Gordon bowled a fair bit to Satterthwaite in the last game, but had their lines wrong on most occasions. You err, & Satterthwaite is too good to spare you.