New close-season, new session format — play-review-play-review…& repeat

First session of winter practice with the u9s on Sunday; slightly disappointing turn-out (just 5), but possibly compounded by the soft-ball u9s being billed as “the level before you get to play proper cricket”!  I can’t imagine this helped the numbers!

I went with a new session plan, making the most of the chance to play games — essentially, we mixed free-play with “directed” review (I asked leading questions) to allow the players to have a bat and a bowl, and to think about the tactics needed to be successful.

I deliberately avoided giving much technical input, but I do now have a couple of ideas for more formal “practice” later in the winter.

We spend a lot of time coaching skills & techniques, not enough time practicing on how to win games — play-review-play-review etc. might go some way to remedying this.

With only 5 players, we played batter vs. fielders, using the full hall space — each batter received 5 balls from each of the bowlers, and tried to score as many runs as possible; penalty for getting out was to run 4.

Between each innings, we briefly reviewed the play — mostly “what went well?” and “what could we do better?” — I steered the conversation a little, but the players quickly caught on about hitting gaps (plenty of them, with only 4 fielders) and running hard; more work needed on fielding as a team — with not a lot of backing up, most batters benefited from overthrows at some point in their innings.

If we had had more players, I would have tried the street20 format — harder to guarantee everyone a decent time batting, but I’m sure it could be done, with a little manipulation of the batting orders for each game.

We got through 8×20-ball innings in an hour, even allowing for reviews between innings.  That would equate to 4 full street20 games — plenty of opportunities for batters to have a go, hopefully.

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Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB CA cricket coach working at the MCC Academy, the Essex Indoor Cricket Centre, and with the junior sections at Oakfield Parkonians CC & Regent's Park CC; All Stars Cricket Activator; Chance to Shine; ECB ACO umpire.

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