Last man standing – another game for the coaches’ kit bag

One of the games we play with the Colts at our Club is ‘Last Man Standing’ (not to be confused with Last Man Stands). It’s a lot of fun, with batters and fielders fully engaged, and in spite of the very simplistic rules there are a number of learning opportunities embedded in the format.

Batters come to the crease in rotation (as in racing/relay/carousel cricket) – if they get to the bowler’s end without being dismissed, they return to the line of waiting batters to have another go; if they get out, they join the fielding team; Last Man Standing is the winner.

Players quickly come to appreciate that there is more to batting than a perfect forward defensive or a reverse sweep.

[aside – no, I don’t directly coach either stroke.]

  • Placement into gaps and fast running are as important as technique, very often more so.
  • Players have to develop (and refine) tactics – do they block and run, or hit out for the open spaces? The latter can work well early on, when there are fewer fielders; less so as the outfield fills with a dozen or more of their team mates plus coaches and parents.
  • The game introduces competition (and can be brutal – we generally play ‘if you are out, you are out, no ‘first ball grace’, no ‘three chances’).
  • Fielding can be especially fierce – fielders enjoy trying to dismiss their teammates, and, with no penalties for overthrows, players are encouraged to (try to) throw down the stumps from any angle. Continue reading Last man standing – another game for the coaches’ kit bag

Squares…with a twist

We have probably all played the catching game ‘squares’ (sometimes called ‘catching tennis’) – two opposing teams trying to throw a ball so that it bounces in the other side’s “square”, and defending by catching the ball before it bounces.

It is a very simple game to develop catching and throwing skills, and one that can be readily modified to challenge the skills of the players involved, by making the target squares larger or smaller, or closer together or further apart, by allowing one hand, one bounce catches, and by changing the type of ball.

But this simple game can easily break down if the initial throwing is poor – rules like “underarm only” and “over head height” seem to get forgotten very quickly.

So this simple variant, from Damo Wilson, is well worth trying.

Introduce a third team as the ‘net’, between the two competing teams.  Encourage the ‘net’ to block low throws; if they can catch the ball, they replace the throwers in playing the game.

In effect, a game of mass ‘piggy-in-the-middle’.

The quality of throws rapidly improved when we tried this, as did the level of competition (and engagement).

Well worth a try, especially if your ‘squares’ degenerates into a game of skittles!

The leg-side game — making the batsman think.

Nice variation on the leg-side game this morning, thanks to Oli Rae.

Batsman set up close to net on off-side, leg-side with targets at mid-on and square leg; random feed — short-of-a-length (for the pull stroke), bobble-feed on leg stump (on-drive).

Batters aware of leg-side options, but not able to set-up for pull or drive in advance of delivery.

  • Outcomes:  much improved striking by all members of the group.  They were able to predict the stroke, but had to retain their stance until the ball was delivered.
  • Additional learning: be aware of the gaps in the field, and target them when the opportunity arises.