Strategy for Cricket
by Frederick Everson
Hereís the deal. Itís your throw and you need one bulls eye to close the game. Your opponent has the bulls closed, but his 16 is open, and he needs two of them. You both have 139 points, so the game has been a dogfight.
Your first inclination might be to go for the win Ė hit the bulls eye and get it over with one dart. Miss that dart, and you still have two more in your hand, but the pressure is building. Miss the bull with the second dart, and now you are in a do or die situation. You need to hit the bull for the win, or hit a 16 to force your opponent to hit two 16ís and a bull if he is going to win. Miss that third dart under pressure, and all he has to do is hit the 16ís. Hard to bet against him missing the 16 two out of three times here Ė especially with the number of points scored.
The play that makes the most sense here is to drive the 16. Hit a trip, and you have plenty of breathing room and little pressure for the next two throws at the bull. Even a single 16 means your opponent will have to hit two singles and a bull to close should he get another throw.
If the first dart misses the 16, go right back at it. The last thing you want here is for your adversary to step up to the line with only a pair of singles to hit to win the game. If you should miss the 16 twice, you can step back, take a deep breath, and still win the game with a bull.
The point is this; bulls can sometimes be elusive in a close game. You are apt to throw a more relaxed dart at the bull if you know your opponent has a to hit with all three darts.
I was faced with this situation in league play a couple of weeks ago. We were in the third game of a best of three match, and we had split the first two. I threw at the 16 with the first dart and hit it. I followed it with a single bull for the win, and my opponent acted like I poked him in the eye with a sharp stick. Had I missed the bull with my next two darts, Iím sure the 16 points would not have put his panties in such a wad. But since he got beat, the strategy was lost on him. Indeed, he would have preferred to see me throw at the bull three times, and if I hit, that wouldnít have bothered him either. The reason it would not have bothered him is because my throwing three darts at the bull was his best chance to stay in the game. My hitting a 16 wasnít meant to denigrate his play Ė it was designed to keep him from winning, which it did. And if you donít play to win, whatís the point?