What is the ‘farm the strike’ tactic in cricket?

A cricket team features eleven players whose names are usually displayed as per the batting order. The batting order is such that it begins with the two openers, the middle order batters, the lower order batters, and finally the tailenders.

The idea of such an arrangement is that it allows the batting side to send batters that continue to keep the score ticking for them. Based on the strength of each batter, they are positioned in the top half of the batting order. A pinch hitter batter or a batter who can play seam bowling better is usually an opener or a top-order batter. Middle order batters are ones who have a wider skillset and can play both seam and spin bowling. The lower order batters and tailenders are most often positioned based on their skill level.

There are instances when the batting order ‘collapses’. This means that the bulk of the top order batters failed to deliver as expected. It often results in a more skilled batter batting along with a tailender. In such a case, since scoring is of paramount importance irrespective of whether the side is batting first or second, it becomes imperative for the batter with a higher skill level to take the strike more often.

The batter with a better skillset faces most of the deliveries by scoring runs in even numbers in the first four or five balls of the overs and later takes a single on the fifth or the last ball of the over. By rotating the strike in the later end of the over, the tailender gets the strike on these balls.

The task of the tailender is to remain not out by not scoring any run and simply guarding their wicket. When the over ends, the strike rotates, and the more skilled batter, who was at the non-striker’s end for the final deliveries of the over retains the strike for the next over.

This tactic is called farming the strike or shephered the strike. The batter with a better skill has to be vary of the number of balls bowled in an over. This helps them in utilising the conventional rule of changing the striking ends upon the conclusion of the over. Farming the strike is often used in scenarios when a bulk of scoring is yet to be done in order to take the team’s total to a defendable score.

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