As a new ball bowler, bowling in the Quick Start Overs is a challenge in itself. It's the hardest job to do and it's the hardest time to do it, but that's what I strive for. I love bowling in the Powerplay overs because that's my job and that's what I am here for. The reason why I have been given the new ball is because I have been successful with it. It is like a double-edged sword; you feel proud that you have a chance to bowl upfront but the fact also is that sometimes it can go against you. The first six overs of a game for me are the most crucial ones - the time where you try and take as many wickets as you can. But it's also important to strike when you are bowling through the second stage. That is, in the Extreme Performance Overs. Towards the end of the innings, you need to close down the game. That is why it is important to get wickets at the death as well. I would say that one's Bowling Efficiency is tested the most during the Quick Start and Extreme Performance Overs.
The Castrol Index explains Bowling Efficiency as the function of wickets taken by a bowler and the rate at which they are taken. Basically, it is the combination of a bowler's strike rate and economy rate. I think that this a very good indication of a bowler's performance, because one can't judge a bowler on the basis of his wickets or economy rate alone; you need to factor in both. For me, Bowling Efficiency is all about bowling tight, taking wickets but ensuring that you get as many balls as you can with the least amount of runs scored off you. That is how I judge if I am bowling well.
There is never a choice between trying to take wickets and controlling the run flow. But it is important to be flexible depending on the situation of the game. Sometimes, it is better to bowl dot balls than to take wickets because you may have a batsman in there on a particular day who is finding it very hard to score. In such a case, the worst that can happen is that they get the batsman out rather than tying him down and that gets a new batsman in who can probably score more freely. So sometimes rather than taking wickets, bowling dot balls to a batsman who is having a hard day is probably the best option. At other times, you have to try and keep bowling wicket-taking deliveries. So as a bowler you have to sum up the situation and bowl accordingly.
In my opinion, the one current bowler who best embodies the concept of Bowling Efficiency is Sunil Narine. Narine has been the bowler who took the 2012 Indian T20 League by storm. He did everything perfectly - he was very efficient, he took a lot of wickets and he didn't go for a lot of runs, and he bowled a lot of dot balls. He played a key role in the team and is one of the reasons why we (Kolkata) won the tournament. It was a good experience bowling alongside Narine, and I believe he has a great future ahead of him.
All in all, bowlers must strive towards a high Bowling Efficiency in order to boost their overall Castrol Index. The Player Index is a sum of all the performance measures awarded for batting, bowling and fielding efforts. So you see how it boosts not just the player's own graph but also his team's overall Castrol Index.
This is an exclusive column by Australian pacer Brett Lee for castrolcricket.com