Don’t do what I do, do what I say…

To indoor nets last Sunday – my first time as a player for two or three years, and hopefully a preliminary to playing a few games in the summer.

Remembering the tenets of “purposeful practice”, and everything I say to our Colts when I am coaching, I set myself a couple of very specific goals for my first batting practice.

  1. Play myself in, and adopt a very deliberate structure to the session
    1. 10 balls played with a dead bat, or left alone completely;
    2. 10 balls “looking for singles”, manipulating the ball into imagined gaps;
    3. pick up the pace;
    4. hit anything in sight (it always degenerates to this, in the end – but now I can call it “20/20 practice”).
  2. Try out the “action position” – this sounds like good advice, but I wanted to try it for myself before I suggested that any of the Colts start moving their feet before the ball is released…

I think I managed my second goal (more on this later).

But…the second ball I received was full, and slow, and pitched around leg, leg-and-middle. Did I play the dead bat, as per the session goals? Continue reading “Don’t do what I do, do what I say…”

Coaching “intent”

Over the course of the winter indoor season, our Colts’ teams have twice been turned over by an opposition side fielding two or more spinners.  Not unlike England against Pakistan, in fact.

There was no suggestion that they were undone by “mystery” spinners, nor even by bowling that was exceptionally good.  They simply did not know how to deal with a problem they had not faced before.

In truth (and speaking as one of the coaching team), this is a failure of coaching, for not helping them to prepare for new challenges, or for not teaching the young players to think on their feet, most certainly not of the players.

So the latest edition of the ECB CA “Wings to Fly” could not have been more timely.  The focus is on “purposeful practice” – allowing the players to learn for themselves by making practice as much like the game as possible. Continue reading “Coaching “intent””

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?”