Can we play a game, now? #noIDEIR

Fascinating picture, courtesy of, of what is claimed to be the world’s largest cricket lesson, taking place at the Sydney Cricket Ground last week.

600 players, all lined up on their cones, ready to bowl the ball backwards and forwards with their partners.

What’s not to like?

Perhaps the number of players standing still?  And the time taken to set up the guide ropes, and the cones?

Players who might prefer to be playing the game?  And coaches who could have been facilitating game-based learning?

The image is certainly striking.

Reminiscent of the photos of coaching from the 1950s, with ranks of players going through the movements under the watchful eye of an old pro.

Pictures like this, positioned (possibly not ironically) next to the MCC Academy, at Lord’s


Now, I am sure these lads could all push the front pad down the track, and put the bat next to it, bat handle ahead of the toe, head over the (imaginary) ball with the coach watching on…but I wonder what happened when they faced a bowler.  Did that movement pattern repeat under match pressure?

BTW – if that is you in the pic, I would love to hear how that forward defence served you in the game.

I found a fascinating description of Movement Training using the Military System in The Oxford Pocket Book of Coaching Cricket, D.C.H. Townsend, 1953.

It is a very practical guide to coaching, derived from the first MCC Coaching Conference at Lilleshall, in December 1951. Contrary to expectation, the author frequently emphasises the need for technique to be the servant of outcomes, and never an end in and of itself.

If the technique does not work for you, find one that does.

Back to the Military System – presumably familiar to any readers in the 1950s, with memories of compulsory service in the Armed Forces and the PTI, but alien in the extreme under the modern systems of games-based learning.

All movements should, sequentially, be

  • Introduced
  • Demonstrated
  • Explained
  • Imitated
  • Repeated

Hence, the acronym IDEIR.

Which brings me back to that wonderful picture from Sydney.

Lots of players who can stand on a guideline, by a cone, and propel the ball towards a partner, who will catch it (hopefully, or scrabble after it, if the delivery is wayward), and bowl it back.

All the time, no doubt, wondering “can we play a game, now”?

Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

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