How playing poker has helped Notts limited overs ‘death’ bowler Harry Gurney

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 12 : Harry Gurney of Nottinghamshire bowls to Craig Overton of Somerset during the Royal London one-day semi-final between Nottinghamshire and Somerset at Trent Bridge on May 12, 2019 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Philip Brown)
NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 12 : Harry Gurney of Nottinghamshire bowls to Craig Overton of Somerset during the Royal London one-day semi-final between Nottinghamshire and Somerset at Trent Bridge on May 12, 2019 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Philip Brown)

Calmness has been key to Harry Gurney’s success as one of the world’s best limited-overs death bowlers.

Now the Notts left-armer, who has taken 115 T20 wickets in an eight-year spell with the Outlaws and recently returned from a successful stint with the CPL-winning Barbados Tridents, has given an insight into his role — including how playing poker has helped his game.

Gurney discussed the way the game’s shorter formats have become more tactical in an interview with Sportstar’s Couch Talk podcast.

“I try to react calmly whether I’ve been hit for six or I’ve knocked middle stump out of the ground,” he said.

“You have to accept that you are going to go for boundaries; that there are going to be days when the batsmen win. But that isn’t to say that you don’t try to minimise those days.

“Every time I’m walking back to my mark, regardless of whatever has just happened, I’m just trying to work out what the batsman least wants me to bowl.

“I do feel T20 is the most tactical form of the game, similar to a game of chess or poker, and I credit poker with my ability to make good decisions more often than not.

“One of my main philosophies is that I need to be able to bowl at least two types of deliveries to every field at the death,” he said.

“What’s also becoming increasingly popular in T20 is bluffing. A lot of bowlers will bring fine leg and third man up, and still bowl a bouncer because they are playing mind games with the batsman.”