Looking out for a hero – pick your role models

When I am working with our Colts, I always try to illustrate a coaching point with examples from the First Class game.

A lot of the boys try to hit the ball too hard, and fall over as they go for a big shot.  I try telling them to stand still, and to keep their balance.  But there can be few better examples of perfect balance at the batting crease than MS Dhoni, hitting the winning 6 in the final of the 2011 World Cup.  They have all seen the pictures, all seen the poise and the twirling bat.  And some of them are hitting the ball a lot more often, and more cleanly, now they follow Dhoni’s example.

For straight lines when bowling – Dale Steyn.  Run straight towards the stumps; look straight ahead; follow through straight; bowl straight…it works!

For absolute focus on the task in hand – Alastair Cook, every time he bats.

And now I might have a new role model – Kevin Pietersen.  Not (this time) for the inventiveness in his stroke play, or confidence to back his own methods, but for his innings in the Mumbai test.

Not just a great innings, but a great innings when it mattered, both to KP himself and to the England team.  Now if I could just encourage the Colts to follow KP’s example, and to find the commitment in themselves to perform at their best when their team needs them, I think I might be working with some even better young players. Continue reading “Looking out for a hero – pick your role models”

On deadly ground, fight

“On deadly ground, fight…Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape…and there is nothing they may not achieve.”  So wrote Sun Tzu, in his Art of War.

That sounds like fighting talk…but what does a Chinese general, strategist and philosopher, writing some 2,500 years ago, have to say about cricket?

I watched the second innings of an indoor game yesterday morning.  With little chance of defending a very low first innings total, the bowling side took the only approach open to them – to try to bowl the opposition out.  And they succeeded.

OK.  Division 3 of a local indoor cricket competition is hardly Sun Tzu’s “deadly ground”, but with nothing to lose, they produced a performance as convincing as any I have seen.

So perhaps there is something in this, for the future of “good cricket”.

Continue reading “On deadly ground, fight”

Match rules again – providing positive incentives for positive cricket

It’s that time of year, again.  The League is consulting on possible changes to match regulations for the 2013 season.  And the proposal this year is to play a lot more limited overs below 1st XI.

I can’t fault the logic behind the proposals.  1st XIs already play a lot of limited-over cricket (National, regional and League cup competitons, twenty20, some Sunday league formats), so lower XIs should too.  Many Captains throughout the League, but especially below 1st XI Premier, probably do not really know how to manage a “time” game, let alone how to win one.

But, as I have written before, my preference for the time game stems from a desire to see all of the skills of the game come into play, and limited overs cricket can (sometimes) require limited skills – what space is there for the young spinner to learn to deceive the batsman with flight, for example?

I suspect the battle might be lost, this time.  Match rules can be imposed to restrict overly defensive field placings, but perhaps there are more creative ways of providing positive incentives for positive cricket. Continue reading “Match rules again – providing positive incentives for positive cricket”