Exit Due Proper Dignity…..Sadly Not Quite

Tom Parker

Twenty years of devotion to a task that involves a level of passion and care beyond the expected work position description requirements is a considerable achievement. A finding of inner self over many special moments that fundamentally involve a grounded connection to the earth. A space that many millennials would regard curiously as foreign in thinking and skill sets.

The role of the curator in cricket is aligned to the pure attraction of the game. Their offerings provide the mystique around the conditions that players have to encounter. Many a broadcaster devote enormous slabs of expert opinion around the pitch conditions that flow into the outcome of the combatants in the contest being able to adapt.

This week Tom Parker retired after twenty years of work to acclaim and recognition from the SCG Trust, management, staff and colleagues. Unable to be restrained from his true inner thoughts, he revealed the professional pain he had been carrying in being “worn down by criticism.”

Worn down

It seems that rarely a day goes by when awareness of an athlete /player / personality experiencing tough times arrives digitally through our incoming paths.

Please spare a thought that many in the sporting background – curators, ground staff, umpires, medical staff and more – all carry emotions within that are influenced and attached to the not so obvious, yet critical elements of the game. These fundamental conditions of an environment that are now demanded and expected by, which allow the next gathering of stars to shine with their adoring entourage.

Kudos Tom Parker on having the courage to “fight for the truth” if it helps in trying to find a form of inner peace as you search for a new enjoyment instead of the hallowed Bulli Soil.

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Spin Bowling Strategy #1

Being asked to deliver a class on spin bowling to an attentive and enthusiastic audience of students in Bangalore presented some initial daunting concerns.

What would be possible that a cricket coach from outside of India teach the locals? Particularly after another series loss where Ravi Ashwin and Jadeja had proven, yet again, utterly dominant. Was there something in Nathan Lyon that impressed them which we were not fully appreciating?

The class assembled. Attendance was optional. It was a rather hot Saturday afternoon.

Spin Master Class #2

Therefore, deciding to park all the usual knowledge and video references about the techniques and variations that many spin bowlers apply, the direction that we went down revolved around the strategic.

The sessions then shifted the focus towards the strategic elements on skills, tactics, process and practice.

We took the position that is generally quite common on the sub continent for the majority of cricket played at domestic level. What is available to the spin bowler when the wickets are flat and conditions are favourable for batting.

Working through the skills (tools, weapons) that a bowler is able to call upon, we placed these into segments with key elements:

  1. FLIGHT = Drift, Dip & Loop
  2. BOUNCE = Rise, Slide & Normal
  3. TURN = Left, Right & Straight

Then by turning our attention to some of the best spin bowlers that the students selected, we discussed their methods and attributes. Some of these listed as per the board below.

We also learned that Rangana Herath had adopted a philosophy around length. Initially he shows you he can turn the ball, then he takes that away. Next he mixes the length and pace to introduce deception within his method:

  • Full length = hit the bat on the sticker
  • Short length = hit below the knee roll

This steered us through a discussion that continued along understanding the process followed by these masters of their craft and how this could be applied in practice. A very small extract of these which we then used as the basis for our practical session included:

  • Breathing technique, inhale through nose and exhale through mouth
  • R – R – R = Reflect / Relax / Refocus (Warne, Zampa)
  • Stick to what is known and able to do well
  • Use slight variations around angle and pace
  • Slow things down, get back to what you do well
  • Bowl six (6) balls to fielder at mid on / off before start first over.
  • Clear conversation with captain about field placings as early as possible.
  • On match day, spend as much time as possible bowling out in the middle to properly feel what it is like

Spin Master Class

So in conclusion, we found an endless interest in learning together more about the art of spin bowling and recognising that it is still as healthy and significant to all formats of the game than ever before.

 

Posted in Execution, Karnataka, KIOC, Knowledge, Skills, Spin Bowling | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Australia the world’s best fielding nation

Improvement arrives with focus and clarity from the top. Encouraging to read of the intent by Cricket Australia “there’s a plan to make Australia the best fielding nation in world cricket, and it’s already in effect.”

Full article > http://bit.ly/2jh3QYA

Great catch

The philosophy and logic is sound and promising. Kudos for shining a spotlight on this skill.

“We all acknowledge that fielding can change a game.”

Apart from all the coaching, mentoring, guidance and instructions to be imparted, to make the strategy a proper reality a sense of measurement is essential.

Neil Buszard, a deeply respected coach, has long championed the desire to bring a form of measurement into reality to uncover a “fielding average” and “impact ratings”. Bringing some simple elements of  fielding analysis to the surface will help the knowledge in:

  1. Properly assess player performance
  2. Understand the impact of fielding
  3. Allow the coach to properly focus on development of fielding skills
  4. Create ability for players to compete between themselves
  5. Build confidence in player from skill improvements
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How To Select A Captain

The choice of a captain, for what is in many cases, the most important position of influence. How should it be done? A mixture of art, science, logic and hope.

A suggested series of  logical steps and involvement to consider are contained in the following actual example. Specific aspects can be adapted to suit needs. For the purpose of context, most of this content is as per the situation where it was applied.

Purpose

To provide a considered and thorough framework to identify candidates for the role of captain and complete an assessment process for recommendation to the Cricket Committee.

Guiding Principle

Identify leader whose main focus is the club with the ability to manage aspirations accordingly so that they do not become distractions to the position.

Process

  1. Select management / personnel to conduct process as a “Selection Panel.”
  2. Receive from Cricket Committee confirmation of guiding principles (as above),
  3. Identify potential candidates within and outside playing list.
  4. Initial direct interview with identified candidates to confirm interest.
  5. Schedule interviews for candidates with panel.
  6. Agreed series of assessment questions to be determined by panel (refer section below, “Assessment Questions”)
  7. Assessment questions to be made available beforehand to candidates in preparation.
  8. Scoring to be applied by panel to assess candidate during interview (refer section below “Scoring Mechanism”)
  9. Reference check any knowledge that comes from the interview for due consideration.
  10. Selection Panel finalise recommendation and submit to Cricket Committee for approval.
  11. Candidates notified in person with feedback from process.
  12. Announcement made internally throughout club.
  13. Announcement made public.

Assessment Questions

To consist of the following but not limited to:

  1. What three (3) things is the captain totally responsible for?
  2. What values, do you believe, does our captain stand for?
  3. Describe your philosophy around captaincy?
  4. What are your expectations for the season and beyond?
  5. What personal behaviours do you believe are strengths and what need to be improved or worked on?
  6. Describe your communication style and methods?
  7. What do you expect from the coaches by way of development and support?
  8. Scenario1: A player is regularly behaving in a manner that suggests a disconnect from the group at practice and game day. How do you handle this?
  9. Scenario 2: The team has lost three matches in a row, two were close results but one was a disappointing loss. What would you do to shift this trend?
  10. Scenario 3: Our team structure is likely to be exposed to regular disruption with the availability of personnel. What role do you play in managing this?
  11. Why do you want to captain this Cricket Club?
  12. What are the things that you, the coaches, your teammates are doing when things are going well?

Scoring Mechanism

The candidate is scored by the following assessment method to their answers independently by each member of the Selection Panel:

  • 5 = Strong
  • 4 = Good
  • 3 = Average
  • 2 = Needs Help
  • 1 = Poor

Bonus points out of 5 for each of the following character behaviours by each member of the Selection Panel:

  • Eye contact
  • Calmness & emotional control
  • Listening
  • Understanding of question

Best possible overall score = 80 (16 assessment scores x 5 points).

Final overall score to be total tally of points from each member of the Selection Panel = overall figure out of 240 (if 3 members on Selection Panel)

This mechanism to be used as a tool in formulating the decision regarding the preferred option for captain to be recommended to the Cricket Committee for due consideration.

 

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Essence of Leadership Wisdom, Impossible to Imagine

A leader with unprecedented wisdom and perspective.

Whatever the match result of IPL 10 tonight between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant, Steven Peter Deveraux Smith will emerge with this exact outcome more firmly entrenched within his soul and spirit.

Australian cricket is presently navigating cautiously through challenging waters with the current imbroglio being played out between head office and the administration. Smith, one of a small group of key players targeted to have a rest in April and May away from the IPL.

Reported recently ” CA wants to keep the players fresh during their off days in April and May when the cash-rich League is played and insisted that there is nothing “sinister” behind the move.

The offer, made to Test captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, however, were met with a lukewarm response from the players, who normally get a one-year contract.”

Steve Smith Credit Goenka

This IPL, Smith was made the captain of the Supergiants over MS Dhoni. A situation that would appear unthinkable, unlikely and an unnecessary risk to many. The outcome of making the IPL final, a grand and due reward indeed, fully supported by owner Sanjeev Goenka.

Smith has been delivering an ongoing historical remit of performances, unparalleled in batting brilliance since August 1st 2013 in Manchester.  5251 test runs @ 61 in 100 innings has him placed rightfully with cricket legends. At only 27 years of age, having endured a contrasting range of captaincy consequences to batter and confound the psyche since accepting the role, where does he turn to gain this wisdom and perspective.

Steve Smith India Gratitude

 

Thankfully the social platforms of choice allow us a direct passage and ability to determine the authenticity of feeling within.

During the recent Border-Gavaskar series, Smith regularly used “adapt” in his comments, demonstrating an acceptance of where he wanted to lead the team rather than subscribe to the historically aggressive methods applied.

“It was a fantastic learning curve. I think the way the guys were able to adapt and really challenge India in these conditions was terrific. I’m really proud of the way the boys competed in this series.”

With proper perspective he adopted a thinking and planning process that fully considered all that was ahead and around, not letting himself fall into the historical trap of sameness.

The images and comments within this Instagram post are revealing. The tactics applied with RPS to uncover Rahul Tripathi and Washington Sundar while the forgotten Jaydev Unadkat rediscovered his talent, evidence of a leader in charge of his team.

To immerse himself in discussions with Dhoni and Stephen Fleming, handle the expectations of an enormously renumerated Ben Stokes, manage the emotions of Khawaja and Zampa biding their time as international extras and finish 5th position overall for the Orange Cap  lends weight and depth to the points stated in the aforementioned post.

Therefore the question begging to be asked is this.

For Steve Smith to be allowed to continue his quest for leadership excellence, to properly gain the extremes of responsibility, is the pathway of knowledge unfolding that shares the Indian and IPL experience not better than resting at home, possibly spending time planning around the same familiar colleagues?

The natural smile on his face, the sheer joy of different companions, the reverence from those respected would suggest that the eventual answer for some, is impossible to imagine.

Footnote: The author has completed several trips to India during the IPL and witnessed first hand the adulation and deep respect for Smith as a player from the now resting Rajasthan Royals to the present. It is impossible to properly describe the goodwill and admiration that he is afforded. This overall, if properly harnessed, surely is an asset and for the benefit of Australian cricket.  

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Don’t Be Impatient

Feb 2014 was the last time an Australian #6 scored a century for Australia in test cricket.

Centurion Park, Steve Smith walked to the wicket at 4/98 – a not unfamiliar position.

On the second day in the 102nd over, Smith worked a ball into a gap behind square for the single to reach the milestone.

Steve Smith 100 centurion

How life can quickly transform for a player who made his test debut as a leg spin bowler (developing), lower order bat (useful).

Still youthful, now just 27 years old. Only 54 tests, batted in 100 innings. 5251 runs @ 61 with an equal number of centuries and 50’s – 20 of each. Probability of 40% that when Smith walks out to bat he passes 50.

As a benchmark for this remarkable consistency, Ricky Ponting had a probability of 36% with 41 centuries and 62 scores of 50+ from 287 innings.

The extrapolated future suggests Smith may shift this high watermark well beyond 15,000 runs and contain around 115 test match innings with a score of 50+.

“He’s been brilliant. He’s been unbelievable. He’s been Bradman-like with the bat but all the stuff behind the scenes has been exceptional,” Lehmann said of Smith.

Even moreso incredible as Smith has been completely true to himself in technique, style and temperament. There is very little from the traditional coaching manual that reflects his methods, apart from the final moment as the blade meets the ball and sends it with power and purpose towards the identified end point.

The Indian tour even seemed to add another layer to his powers. The ability to adapt. Not just tactically, yet also very apparent in his mind, extending his resilience to the task at hand.

Back though to the opening line time stamp of February 2014.

For such a long period, so many options tried being unable to deliver a score of substance. For many years, this was one of expectation when the #6 position was occupied by players such Symonds, Hussey and North.

Ranchi did not faze the approach of Glenn Maxwell as he arrived to pair with the captain at 4-140. Recalled for his 4th test match, now at 28 years of age, the delightful symmetry in it being just over 4 years since his debut. A partnership of 191, a century of patience and careful selection. The anti-christ of an innings given what many an expert or those in the opinion choir deemed, or wanted, him to be capable of.

Both men begin the IPL season as new captains of their respective franchises. An honor not bestowed lightly. The foreign views of those in control abroad can be learned from.

Don’t be impatient. The glimmer of hope for the test cricket future has arrived.

 

Glenn Maxwell.jpg

 

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From Little Things, Big Things Grow

How a cohesive approach in a country region has taken junior girls cricket from 0 to 100.

The surge of interest in cricket continues to become evident as knowledge arrives from innovative methods being applied to encourage participation. As sports clamber to find the next entry level program of interest to keep primary school age children active, interested and engaged, Warrnambool & District Cricket Association (WDCA) has achieved an impact of significance with a girls competition not played before. A recent encounter with Andrew Sloane (Program Manager at South West Sport and a WDCA Director) at a Vicsport event uncovered this knowledge.

The WDCA recognised a level of interest, were mindful of not overloading club volunteers and developing an environment where new volunteers could find their way to be involved.

From the initial awareness of 6 local clubs and a neighbouring association, assisted with funding from Cricket Australia and support from Cricket Victoria and the Western Waves, a series of practice sessions were scheduled. Stephanie Townsend, the WDCA Female Renegades Ambassador, travelled to clubs to conduct practice sessions and share her experience of playing at Premier Cricket level.

stephanie-townsend

Following this contact, cohesion and energy, 100 participants were unearthed and formed into a competition. Credit is due to the WDCA for the innovation in creating a competition by not falling into the application of traditional thinking.

The season was structured to cover six rounds from November 9th to December 14th on a Wednesday evening.  The age groups U16 and U13. Matches started at 5pm, consisting of 16 overs each, modified rules and played over three grounds. For the top two teams in U16 a final is to be played on Australia Day weekend as part of the Sungold T20 Tournament.

“Cricket is a sport for all, the steps that the WDCA have taken sets the foundation for a successful and sustainable junior and eventually, senior female competition.”                           – Andrew Sloane (WDCA Cricket Delegate)

The WDCA will look to build on their inaugural season with additional clubs already expressing interest in fielding female teams in 2017/2018.  The process is fluid however, and with growth will come continued learnings.  The challenge for the WDCA, and many other sports in the modern era, will be the need to strike a balance of innovation, stability, and adapting to its participants needs.

Purpose: To introduce girls cricket to the Warrnambool region.

Strategy: Create interest with a cohesive approach amongst stakeholders & activate an ambassador.

Innovation: Wednesday evening, modified rules, quality grounds and facilities used.

woodford-under-16-renegades

Posted in Country Cricket, Cricket Australia, Innovation, T20, Women's Cricket | Leave a comment

Busy Bucky!

“There’s nothing better than feeling wanted; and there’s nothing worse than feeling unwanted.” – UNKNOWN

With summer now actually here, by the calendar at least, the disjointed cricket schedule has been further weighed down by the plethora of books released from every direction. Many are very good judging from initial excerpts. The Santa order is in.

Amongst these publications has been the well regarded Chris Rogers, Bucking The Trend. A rather apt title for one who could have easily been a member of the one test only club (Stuart Law, Phil Emery, Matthew Nicholson, Bryce McGain, Dan Cullen, Roy Park et al) who through the sheer weight of performance and consistency found the door open for the 2013 Ashes.

During the recent weeks, the Hobart 85 debacle where “decision-making around the Australian team has lost its envied clarity” gave cause to many suggested remedies.

During the Hobart Test, Pat Howard sent out an SOS via press conference on a rained out Sunday, “for advice on how to scotch the bleeding of the Test team’s currently hapless top six.” A rather peculiar message in timing and context based on the conversation between Rogers and Gerard Whateley live on ABC Grandstand that immediately followed.

This week, Dean Jones, while launching his book Dean Jones’ Cricket Tips, suggested that Rogers would be an ideal candidate for Glenn Maxwell as “I think he really needs a mentor.”

Described by Cricbuzz, the left-handed opening batsman is a typical Test opener. He doesn’t have the flashy, aggressive or eye-catching game, but his patience, grit and self-confidence makes him stand out.

In addition to this astute observation is that Rogers, if anything, is far from a product of the Australian system. His craft, skills and resilience constructed from repeated seasons in the English county system at Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Middlesex (plus a season at Somerset following his retirement from test cricket). A balance from a bygone era that has faded with the cluttered schedule.

chrisrogers-297x202

A current national level selector, harbored a view of Rogers in 2012/13, that he was more likely to be active in club cricket as a talented junior was set to usurp him in Sheffield Shield ranks for the Bushrangers. That talented junior is now playing club cricket, while Rogers went onto a distinguished test career of 25 matches with 2015 runs at 42. The selector is still employed and making decisions on the future of many. Hopefully he has learned from this obfuscation in judgement.

At the moment, the direct official coaching and mentoring position in Australian cricket is under the direction of Ryan Harris at the Under 19 National Junior Championships in Adelaide.

This involvement at development level has occurred before. A valuable indicator of an ingrained willingness to adapt and share wisdom without searching for a profile. Not unlike the patience and grit that has served the baggy green so well. Qualities to be somehow inserted properly into the system.

A busy time for Bucky ahead it would seem.

 

 

 

Posted in Ashes, Bushrangers, Chris Rogers, Management, Middlesex CCC, Premier Cricket, Ryan Harris | Leave a comment

Leading Youth

What engagement skills are required to effectively connect with the range of attentions spans for youthful cricketers today? The explosion of participation and shift in ethnic backgrounds has made our game stronger for those with a passion to play. How a captain is able to nurture and encourage in a competitive environment calls upon a broader range of leadership skills for younger players in senior competition.

The old school “do as I do” instructions blurred by the accessibility to streaming and YouTube official and fan clips.  A recent conversation with a long term captain of lower grade teams with experience from over a decade provides the following when given the responsibility of leading youth.

  • Let them play, back them in. Allow the talent enough rope to succeed or fail.
  • Instill competitiveness from history and experience. Draw a thread between now and who has been before us with the club against the opposition.
  • Treat them like adults. Hold them accountable for their actions. Be the same with older players in the team. Show no favoritism.
  • Enjoy each others success.
  • Attitude and plan to win from any position. The more difficult position, find a way to get through. An early batting collapse as 5/69 is able to become 6/301.
  • A passion for learning is contagious, it has been around for centuries.
  • Be prepared to step back and listen to the conversation unfold.

Undoubtedly there is plenty more. Thanks @jhuddart79 for your wisdom. Look forward to our next chat.

jon-huddart

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Trust. Bowler & The Captain

The relationship between bowler and captain presents as many challenges as there are rewards. The equation to satisfy the intent to capture 10 wickets calls upon so much more thought power and creativity to produce the opportunities.

Calmness, clarity and an accepted plan the overall objective. This may well fall into the skills set and character of the captain. However, a rampaging, snorting quick or a moody, over aroused tweaker present  their own demands at the time.

Kristen Beams , Southern Stars and Vic Spirit leg spinner, was able to deliver a tremendous insight into this complexity of the game with purpose and simplicity. Her logic all based around trust. A simple aspect to have an awareness of, but not always an easy thing to attain. I was fortunate to be able to listen to her point of view around the building of trust between captain and coaches for spin bowlers.

kristen-beams-appeal

The first element for coaches is to understand the player, their character and temperament. What age and skill level are they at? what is their appetite, their willingness to learn?

From here, encourage the spinner to maintain ownership over their bowling, technically and tactically. Encourage them to experiment with grip, release point, angle and pace.

At practice, set up the environment for the player to practice game sense situations. Consider using coat hangers with shirts hanging from a net to indicate fielders. Manufacture targets on the pitch to aim at or to spin into. Even consider keeping a few balls wet on occasions to learn how to handle. These conditions do happen.

Moving into the match situation and relationship with the captain, key points as noted by Kristen:

  1. Expect the player to know what field to start with. Always easier to start defensively and adjust field positions as spell evolves.
  2. Captain be specific in task request. An example could be that we need 3 dots.
  3. Let the player work it out from here. Give them responsibility and allow the trust to flow that they can deliver.
  4. If the plan doesn’t work at this point, captain steps in to discuss and change. If this occurs, player can’t take this personally. Is just a time to adapt and adjust.
  5. Smile.

kristen-beams-smile

 

 

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