Fighter Batsmen and Stud Bowlers

Insight of the day: Batting is inherently fighter and bowling is inherently stud. Of course there are severral stud batsmen (eg. Sehwag) and fighter bowlers (eg. Giles) but if you look at it broadly – a batsman needs to get it right every ball, while a bowler needs only one ball to succeed.

The fundamental idea is that bowling success can be more lumpy than batting success – for example the maximum that a batsman can do if he has one great over is to score 36 runs – whcih in the context of the average game won’t amount to much. However, if a bowler has one great over and picks up six wickets, the impact is tremendous.

The bowler can afford to be much more inconsistent than the batsman. He might get a few balls wrong, but he can suddenly make an impact on the game. For a batsman to have a significant impact, however, he should be able to carry it on for a significant amount of time. An “impulse”  (a large force acting for a small time period) will do the batting team no good, while it can be a tremendous boost for the bowling team. On the other hand, steady unimaginative play by the batsman is good enough, while a bowler needs to necessarily show patches of spectacularity to have an impact.

Hence, batting is fighter and bowling is stud.

However, what the advent of one day cricket has done is to invert this. By limiting the number of overs, and creating conditions where a team need not be bowled out, it has turned things upside down. Of course, a stud performance by a bowler (say a hat-trick) can have a significant impact on the game, but inconsistent and wayward bowling is likely to cost the bowling team significantly more than it does in Test cricket.

Similarly, with the game getting shorter, an impulse by the batsman (say a quick 40 by Sehwag) has a much larger impact on the game than it does in Test cricket. And on the other hand, dour batting  – which is so useful in Tests – may actually be a liability in ODIs. Similarly the mantra for bowlers has become containment, and thus fighterness in bowlers has a greater impact – and so people now do respect bowlers who can bowl long spells without taking wickets, but just containing.

Remember that even now, to succeed in Test cricket, you need to have the correct characteristic – Sehwag’s batting might appear stud and risky, but he has the ability to play really long innings which is why he is a really good Test batsman. If he didn’t have the “longevity gene”, he would’ve still remained a one-day wonder. Yes – now teams do pick a fourth bowler to do the “holding role” – keeping one end tight while others attack. Still, the holding guy needs to have some ability to pick up wickets by himself.

Preliminary reading on studs and fighters theory:

Studs and Fighters

Extending the studs and fighters theory

8 thoughts on “Fighter Batsmen and Stud Bowlers”

    1. i’m not sure this tallies with what i’ve said. as i’ve said you can have stud batsmen and fighter bowlers. batsmen need not be fighter and bowlers need not be stud.

  1. Sehwag really does not need the ability to play long innings. His prowess lies in the fact that he scores the same number of runs in lesser time. Thulping is the order of the day in batting. The traditional grinders like Padams and Atherton are gone by. Only Shiv remains from that genre. Dravid, for all his fighter instincts is getting increasingly sidelined.

    1. no – he needs to be able to bat long enough for him to score 50 runs, however long that is. given his studness, he doens’t need to be as fighter as others (for eg, to get 50 he needs to stay 30 balls while others need to stay for 50).

      and don’t make the mistake of matching studness with fflamboyance nad fighterness with grind. some fighters can be extremely elegant to watch – like dravid, or maybe gavaskar.

  2. It is a v.good generalization. A fighter batsman like Chanderpaul may end up with a career batting average of 50. But a fighter bowler like Chris Harris is never going to have a test bowling average of less than 25.

    @varun – sobers was mainly a batting allrounder. Averaged 35 with the ball which isn’t special

  3. Interesting. Had never thought of cricket that way.

    Where does this theory lead ? Stud is generally more attractive than the fighter (at least in the short term, and from the point of view of the impatient new generation and casual viewers). ODI gives more scope for studs as it elevates the batsmen and still gives scope for bowlers for studness.

    T20 takes it even further. Even bowling a maiden over becomes a stud activity. Or even a few great stops.

    Perhaps that is the explanation the casual cricket watchers find T20 more attractive and ODI more than Tests.

    But like movies centred around stunts and fights, too much studness can soon get invaded by a certain sameness and boredom. When we were kids, we all loved stunt movies and often could not bear to watch movies with a proper storyline. When we become mature this changes a bit. Same with T20/ODI/Tests.

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