Oliver Hannon-Dalby: “It’s hard work being a bowler in T20”

Oliver Hannon-Dalby: “It’s hard work being a bowler in T20”

Before the start of the Vitality Blast T20 competition, Deep Extra Cover’s Warwickshire reporter Terry Wright spoke to Oliver Hannon-Dalby.

Oliver Hannon-Dalby. Pic courtesy of YouTube

Yorkshire born but with the Midland team since 2013, the six feet eight inches tall fast-medium bowler was part of the team that finished runners-up in the Blast last year. 

“Last year, there seemed to be a revolution in T20 cricket,” said Hannon-Dalby, affectionately known as Ollie, “People now come out and try to hit every ball for six.

“It took us some time to adapt to that as a team but, by the time we did, we played some fantastic cricket with players like Sam Hain and Ed Pollock batting that way. We just hope to go one better this year.”

This new approach makes life tough for a bowler like Ollie.

“It’s hard work. You can get neck ache, looking at the ball being whacked back over your head.  But you’ve got to think on your feet and use whatever tools you’ve got.

“Some of our lads, like Olly Stone and Henry Brookes, can bowl at 90 miles per hour so they use their pace. I don’t bowl that fast so I use different tools like slower balls, and I try to be clever about how I keep the batsman guessing.”

There is an upside for bowlers in the new ultra-aggressive approach adopted by batsmen, as Ollie explained:

“With batsmen coming hard at you they are probably going to give you more chances, which will hopefully be taken in the field.”

Is there a plan to achieve the Bears’ goal of going one better this year?

“There’s such fine lines between success and failure in T20 cricket,” says Ollie, “As a squad, we talk about the fact that there are 14 qualifying matches. So if each individual puts in at least two match-winning performances, we’ll be in a fantastic place.

“That may mean something simple, like the opposition need 20 in the last over and I only go for 18.

Or it could be one of our batsmen getting a rapid 20 off 10 balls. Or maybe a great catch like the one that Grant Elliott pulled off in the semi-final last year.”

Mention of New Zealander Elliott leads on to thoughts about his role as captain of the Bears in the Blast.

“He’s a cool, calm and collected character on and off the pitch,” says Ollie, “He’s played T20 cricket all over the world, so he knows what he is doing.”

As for Ollie’s own career, he is delivering as a bowler this year in all formats and, though still well short of his 30thbirthday, is also increasingly taking a role as a senior player and informal coach to the younger players coming through.

“I was really lucky in the close season in that I went with our Academy to Barbados and helped out there.

“Just as Grant Elliott might stand at mid-off and give me some advice when I’m bowling, I can do the same with our young bowlers, passing on a bit of my experience.

“After a game, too, we can have a debrief and see what they have been thinking.

“We’ve got some fantastic young players coming through. Henry Brookes has raced past the rest and is now a first-team player. But there are plenty of others.

“We have a great Academy system run by Paul Greetham, Mo Sheikh and Kadir Ali who all do an amazing job.

“Maybe my own future lies in coaching. At the moment, I’m happy to help out.

“And on the field, we have the priority of winning promotion in the Championship because we belong in the top flight. Plus, of course, we aim to go one better in the Blast this year.”

And with those final thoughts, Ollie re-joined the rest of the Birmingham Bears squad, hoping, no doubt, for a few wickets to go compensate for those neck-aching moments when the ball disappears into the stands.

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