If in the southern hemisphere, the darkness of June in the depth of winter strangely stimulates thoughts of cricket. Rested loins, joints and minds after another summer from seemingly so long ago become expectant.
The Australians have just cruised through a two test jaunt in the Caribbean with minimal harm, except for the non start by regular opener Chris Rogers. All this under the looming anticipation for the Ashes, this promo from Sky Sports lighting a fire within the varieties of social media:
Due to this, not much prompting is required to get some activity happening amongst the committed. Indeed, one such illustrious tragic recently confirmed that finally being part of a victorious premiership after seven losses over many fruitless seasons has only hardened the resolve to play on, and on, and on and ……………
However in seriousness, complexity of nets availability, standard and timeliness should not hinder the early phase of preparation. Many different types of activity can be incorporated as the variations and a vibrant mind can be of benefit. A few of these described as follows.
1. Fundamental upper body and core strengthening exercises can be completed in comfort while watching the Ashes. Structure the sets Tabata style between each delivery and rest in the commercial breaks. Do this regularly and notice the difference in condition.
2. Running at a pace and standard that you are comfortable with to build up the BASE volume should be of at least 30 minutes duration over four sessions per week minimum. If at an advanced level, introduce sprint and fartlek type drills as well. Completing a time trial over either 2km or 3.2km at the end of each month is recommended to understand the improvement.
3. Batting drills that involve visualisation. Set up in your stance and place a series of balls, markers or cones to simulate position where the ball lands. Rehearse the complete range of movement to execute the shot. Be perfect in approach to the ball, head position, control of hands in back lift and shot type, weight over the ball, full face of the bat. Perform this perfectly up to ten times consecutively. Allow yourself to imagine the ball hitting the bat and placement into the gap. Work through a full range of strokes. The purpose of this activity to train the muscle memory instincts.
To bat right, get your mind right by Martin Crowe and excellent reference.
“I learnt techniques of visualisation, of playing the future out in the mind first, using pictures. I learnt concentration – turning on and off to conserve energy, and encouraging a fierce focus for each ball for five-second periods. I tried removing negatives with Bruce Lee tips, imagined screwing an imaginary piece of paper up with my hand, tried to stay in the now by activating one of the five senses in between balls.”
4. Ball control. Whenever possible keep a ball in your hand, especially for bowlers. Try different grips, wrist position, release points and grip pressure. Become comfortable with the ball as you work through the variations so that when training starts there is a developing muscle memory. Nathan Lyon gives a brilliant insight in this Master Class for Off-Spin bowling.
Enjoy the resumption of your cricket immersion. Be patient and purposeful, build your skills and condition your body to enjoy all that the great game provides ahead.