Good cricket again – can match rules help?

There is a lively debate going on in my Club this autumn, as our League seeks opinions on the best form of cricket to encourage younger players to stay in the game after they leave the Colts set-up.  Do we go with limited overs, because every one watches IPL and T20 and wants to play that way?  Or can we come up with a formula to make “time” cricket more attractive?

I admit to being biased.  I grew up playing time games (or “proper” cricket – there’s the bias!), and to me the dual challenge of scoring runs and taking wickets almost always makes for a more interesting game than the “simple” run chase of a over-limited match.

I enjoy T20.  But I still think that the more consistently successful players are using skills from the longer game.  And as a coach, I think young players will learn more varied skills by playing a variety of forms of the game.

But can “time” be made as attractive as T20 to the younger players?  I think it can.

Continue reading Good cricket again – can match rules help?

"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?

To Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox – does anyone sing?

Hardly anyone sings the Star Spangled banner, to the dismay of my companion, CC, a baseball traditionalist (who does sing)…I am a visitor, so I am forgiven.The line “the land of the free” does get the crowd cheering, but why wait so long to participate?

“They are all too uptight”, is CC’s diagnosis – “there’s no physical contact in the crowd, and no one sings until they have had a few drinks.” And, indeed, come the seventh innings stretch, many more voices join in with “Take me down to the ball game”. And by comparison with the anthem, the rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline…oh, oh, oh”, a favourite for the Red Sox fans, before the ninth is almost ecstatic.

But I had expected something else in the home of the brave, and so did CC.