Cricketers by and large are categorised into only a couple of fields in which they perform for their teams – usually compromising of batsman, bowler or wicket keeper with the addition of all-rounder status who can perform prominently with bat and bowl. Aside from the clear disciplines to which players are known for, phrases are often used for front line batsman who can bowl but are not used often enough or deemed good enough to be recognised as an all-rounder such as “occasional bowler”, “part time spinner” and “batsman who can bowl”.
It always beneficial for the individual and team if this sort of cricketer can develop his second skill (bowling) to make them more valuable to the team and give the side more options with the ball. This is especially true in 20/20 cricket, where a bowler is limited to only four overs and different bowlers and styles of bowling are often useful to a side to offer variation and different questions for a batsman trying to line up bowlers.
There are increasing instances of front line batters graduating to be effective limited overs bowlers with players looking to increase their skill set to either keep themselves in a side or push for further recognition. When Gloucestershire signed Benny Howell a few years back he was known purely as a batsman and spent the majority of his first season not bowling at all. Through working on his bowling and variations of slower balls he is talked about as one of the best 20 over players in England and has been signed to play in overseas 20 over competitions. Joe Denlys first decade as a cricketer was known purely as a fine top order batsman who represented England in limited overs cricket as just a batter but in recent years has added some overs of leg-spin to his game in the shortest format.
This sort of cricketer can offer some excellent value in a “Top Bowler” market where the leading wicket taker for his side in the innings takes the honours. So, an improving bowler who has spent a fair bit of his career not bowling will naturally have a very poor wickets to match ratio on his statistics and can well be priced far higher than his improving skills and performance warrant. Another angle to look at is a team with a new 20/20 captain having different ideas as to who to bowl and when. An example of this is Sam Billings taking over as captain of Kent and opening the bowling with Denly in Kent’s opening two game and offering an outsider in this market a chance to take early wickets and represent excellent value on his market price.
The shorter the format and the less overs a bowler can bowl offers the greater variance in who picks up the most wickets. A four or five-day match would never see such a type of bowler as mentioned above worth touching with no restrictions on how many overs bowlers can bowl and front-line bowlers bowling most of the day/innings and never remotely worth opposing. With the English 20/20 season in its opening match’s, it will be worth keeping an eye on which teams and captains are using different resources than usual and some potential for some unexpected winners in the top bowler market.
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