They always say the second season is harder than the first…
Another year of Seniors Cricket, my first as a properly qualified member of the team. (I played in 2021 as a permitted “under-age” player!).
The teams did well, again. 4th XI finished (distant) second to a resurgent Kent, 2s & 3s both qualified from their regional groups, only to fall at the first (1/4 final) national knock-out round. The 1s had their National Final postponed to April 2023.
My own season reached unexpected levels — I started in May opening the bowling for the 4th XI, but by late July was batting at no.4 (and scoring runs) in the 2nd XI!
I can’t believe I had suddenly become a (much) better batter simply by coaching a lot, but I managed to put together a sequence of good scores, starting as a “pinch hitter” in the 3s.
It’s true the bowling seemed less taxing in the higher XIs than in my first season of 4th XI cricket.
And we did play on some very nice grounds — one used until quite recently as a County out-ground, home games on a regular County 2nd XI venue — with good pitches and very large, very flat outfields (anathema to the Seniors fielder, who is happy to jog after the ball to retrieve it from a nearby thicket, less so to chase it across acres of open turf).
Learnings — technical/psychological
It wasn’t the way I batted, but the absolute confidence I felt at the crease. For a remarkable 6 week run, I simply never believed I would get out.
And if I knew where that self-belief came from, I’d bottle it and sell it by the crate!
- Focus trumps practice, for me, at least (don’t tell the batters I coach!).
- “See ball, hit ball” is too simplistic, but reducing the game to the absolute basics certainly helped concentration — rather than playing strokes, the focus was on controlling the ball with the bat.
- Wait for the ball, to the point of hanging on the back foot until the ball is half way down the pitch. Doubly important at Seniors, because none of us bowl quick, any more!
Learnings — physical
A little research, and some advice from an S&C coach suggest two avenues to investigate in pre-season.
- Movement quality — adequate mobility and stability in the right areas.
- Active coaching helps — throwing, picking up, carrying (kit). I might even look at coaching the u5s again — lots of basic mobility activities, and someone has to demonstrate them! ”Little Legends” and “Mini Masters” sessions were my best work-outs, pre-lockdown.
- Strength training.
- Being stronger and more robust facilitates greater opportunity to express power, whether hitting, bowling or fielding. There is also plenty of research showing the benefits to weight training for senior adults, developing and maintaining muscle mass and bone density.
The Seniors competition is changing from the Dukes ball for next season. I don’t know what the replacements are like, but I doubt they will swing and seam like the Dukes. So long as the new balls stay hard, there might not be much impact on batting.
But it might well be time to slow down the run-up and the bowling arm and start spinning the ball.
And we’ll see if it is any more successful…