Seeing the baseball threads here while listening to the England India cricket match has got me wondering about how pitchers go looking for outs. (Check me out with the terminology.)
So in cricket, there are four major ways a bowler can get a batter out:
- Bowled. The ball gets past the batter’s guard and hits the stumps (the three wooden uprights and two crosspieces). This is functionally equivalent to a strike in many ways. The principal exceptions being a) the bowler only needs to do it once and b) rather than a notional strike area which must be adjudicated by an umpire, there’s a physical, tangible target and so total clarity on whether it’s been hit or not.
- Leg before wicket. This does rely on the umpire’s judgement. Basically, if the ball hits the batters legs and the umpire judges that it would otherwise have hit the wicket, the batter is out.
- Caught - just as in baseball.
- Stumped. A bit trickier to explain in text, and probably least relevant to this question but briefly: there’s a line (the crease) parallel to the wicket and three feet in front of it. If the ball goes past the batter, as is caught by the wicketkeeper (catcher) then if the batter is beyond the crease (i.e. towards teh bowler) then if the wicketkeeper breaks the stumps the batter is out.
The point of this is that bowlers will bowl quite differently depending on how they are trying to get the batter out. I.e. it would seem obvious that they would always be aiming at the stumps, but in fact if they are trying to induce a catch then they will likely bowl to miss by a couple of inches because this is more likely to get a slight deflection of the edge of the bat that will fly for an easy catch. Or they might bounce it up at the batsman well high of the stumps so that the batter fends the ball up into the air.
In a more complex fashion, bowlers might set batters up for an lbw or a stumped over the course of several balls. I.e. gradually bowling shorter to draw the batter forward, or getting a few to shape away from the batter before curving one back in.
All that preamble out of the way, the question is: do pitchers pitch differently depending on the out they are trying to make?* Is there a way of pitching that is more likely to get catches at the cost of reduced chance of a strike? Can you watch a pitcher manoeuvre the batter over three or four pitches in pursuit of a particular out? Or are pitchers primarily looking for strikes and catches are down to the fielders?
*(I know that pitchers can walk a batter, but that’s not an out.)