Pakistan 3 – England 0 (Tests); Pakistan 0 – England 4 (ODI): spot the difference?

Pakistan out-played England in the recent Test series, in the United Arab Emirates.  The 3-0 “spinwash” marked the slump that the more pessimistic of England’s followers almost wished on the team.

“England can’t play on sub-continental pitches” (the soil for the Dubai strips was shipped in from Pakistan).

“England’s batsmen can’t play spin”

And all this, apparently, without Saeed Ajmal’s teesra – more often than not, England simply failed to hit the ball (Pakistan’s batting was only slightly better, at times) – 32 of the 60 wickets to fall were LBW or bowled.

So, come the ODI series, England fans expected more of the same – only for the team to confound those expectations with a 4-0 series win, and commanding batting, from skipper Alistair Cook and Kevin Pietersen, in particular. Continue reading Pakistan 3 – England 0 (Tests); Pakistan 0 – England 4 (ODI): spot the difference?

"Action stations" – whatever happened to standing still and waiting for the ball?

As a young batsman, the absolute importance of standing still until the bowler released the ball was drummed into me. And more recently, as I have worked through various levels of the coach education process, the same mantra is still repeated – pick up the bat, yes, think about leading with the dipped front shoulder, but don’t move the feet too early.

It’s not easy. And when young players see the professionals twitching, shuffling their feet, and generally not standing still, it can be even harder to convince them to stick to the text-book and wait until the ball is released.So I was fascinated to read an article in the Summer issue of the ECB Coaches Association “Coaches Matter”, with Graham Thorpe, now England’s Lead Batting Coach.

The article describes how England’s top batsmen are now being coached to adopt the “action position” as they wait for the ball, replacing what can be uncoordinated trigger movements with a coordinated pre-delivery sequence to initiate rhythm and activate muscles. Continue reading "Action stations" – whatever happened to standing still and waiting for the ball?

Twenty20 – “good cricket”? Oh, yes!

There is an interesting discussion on the PitchVision Academy on the merits of twenty20 as a coaching model for young cricketers. Sometimes the performances of the top players can look almost superhuman, and it can be difficult to find ideal models for younger players to follow.

Trying to hit the ball as far as Chris Gayle, or playing the Dil-scoop, or bowling 150kph yorkers like Lasith Malinga – surely, that’s only for the professionals?

Is there something in twenty20 for younger players (and amateurs at all levels) to aspire to?

If you saw the IPL2011 game between Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils, then the answer has to be yes. Continue reading Twenty20 – “good cricket”? Oh, yes!