Finally ~ Progress driven by ……. women (gasp!)

An indulgent rant for positive progress.

WBBL Header

So all that it has taken is a little amount of reasonable exposure for Women’s cricket to rapidly shift the staid thinking and lack of planning that has plagued the sport of cricket for decades. Eons in fact. However more amazing has been the contributors and catalysts who deserve extremely high kudos for this development in Sydney.

This week came the amazingly good news from Hurstville City Council of an $11M investment in a development at Penshurst Park.

The News press (Carly Adno @CarlyW226) went with the headline:

Women’s cricket receives massive boost with announcement of $11 million sporting hub

And it should be bold and loud as well. Displayed for all to see. A decision advanced because of the increasing needs for the women’s teams. Brilliant.

This announcement, a tremendous boost for all cricketing groups in the vicinity. For a moment, kindly just pause to reflect and consider as to how this has occurred with remarkable acceleration.

Growing interest in women’s sport. A slow burner for a while, now ignited to a whole new level in cricket because of the WBBL. Tick that box, flying.

A multi million investment by a council! Preposterous. Maximum credit and green elephant stamps to you Mayor Vince Badalati, definite positive action for one newly elected.

If you live in Melbourne, watching an endless procession of state and federal politicians thrust a shovel into the Junction Oval turf denoting some intent to build a cricket facility of substance, all is ok, they are now…..finally. Credit to Mr Andrews, he kept the $25M pledge in place.

The triumph here though belongs to Hurstville City Council. Read the following and weep with the faith that leadership really does exist. Hopefully others will follow, using this as a foundation block to properly value the benefits of sport entwined through the community.

Mayor of Hurstville, Cr Vince Badalati, said he was delighted that this new facility has been given the green light to proceed by council following Cricket NSW and Cricket Australia’s contribution of $400,000 towards the project.

“This partnership between Cricket NSW, Cricket Australia and Hurstville Council will be the first facility in NSW incorporating professional standard indoor and outdoor training facilities, as well as an all-weather synthetic community oval,” he said.

“Hurstville has a long and proud association with one of Australia’s most loved sports and many of Australia’s male and female cricket stars. Moises Henriques, Kurtis Patterson, Rene Farrell and Nicola Carey all commenced their cricket careers in our great city while Josh Hazelwood and Trent Copeland now call the St George District Cricket Club home,” he said.

“On behalf of Hurstville City Council, I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to Cricket NSW and Cricket Australia for their generous contributions”, he said.

“The cricket precinct within the Penshurst Park sporting hub is a terrific partnership between Hurstville Council, Cricket NSW and Cricket Australia, and will provide vital cricket facilities and infrastructure to the region,” said Andrew Ingleton, Cricket Australia’s Executive General Manager of Game and Market Development.

“I applaud Hurstville City Council and Mayor Badalati for their vision and investment into this precinct, which is a best practice model other councils would do well to follow.

“This precinct will support the continued growth of our game and assist in our vision to be Australia’s favourite sport and a sport for all Australians.”

Cricket NSW Chief Executive Andrew Jones said the development of Penshurst Park sporting hub was a massive boost to the St George region and cricket at all levels.

“For cricket to be Australia’s favourite sport and sport for all Australians, we need to ensure that players and coaches from the grassroots through to the elite level have access to quality facilities all year round.

“The Penshurst Park precinct will stand alone in its innovative design to allow mums and dads, boys and girls to train alongside world class male and female players.

“I would like to commend Hurstville City Council, led by Mayor Badalati, and all those who have contributed to this world class community project,” he said.

The project is expected to be completed in time for the 2017/18 season.”

Expected to be completed in 2017/18. Incredible.

The gauntlet has been thrown down to continue this investment into sporting infrastructure that will serve so many so well. Again to all involved, kudos and bravo for the foresight.

And thanks to the women, for illuminating the minds of possibility.

(Insert emoji for all hands clapping loudly, Mother Cricket is delighted).

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Batting – How To Assess Success, Part 1

Some old school logic, aligned to the beliefs of Robert Baddeley “Bob” Simpson AO, on how to properly assess the performance of a batsman over a season in Premier / Grade cricket.

  • Compile a list of all the performances.
  • Take out the two best and the two worst.
  • Take out any second innings runs when the match result has not altered.

QED: What you have left in total and average is typically reflective of the batsman’s true ability.

Harsh? Maybe.

Accurate? Reasonably.

To challenge this theory, an examination of recent seasons in NSW, QLD & Victoria. These states have dominated the upper order in the national team. How strong is the depth at the level below? Is 600 runs regarded as a good enough season? Should the measure of quality be 1000+ runs?

Top runs scorers in Premier / Grade cricket NSW, QLD & Victoria recently.

  • 2014/15 – NSW = Phillip Wells 1096 @ 109.6 & Adam Crosthwaite 1076 @ 63.3
  • 2014/15 – QLD = Ryan Broad 823 @ 48.4 & Andrew Robinson 801 @ 57.2
  • 2014/15 – VIC = Ben Fletcher 877 @ 62.6 & David King 806 @ 44.7
  • 2013/14 – NSW = Nicholas Larkin 866 @ 43.3 & John DiBartolo 854 @ 47.4
  • 2013/14 – QLD = Andrew Robinson 1134 @ 54.0 & Daniel Wilson 826 @ 41.3
  • 2103/14 – VIC = Simon Hill 972 @ 57 & Aaron Ayre 910 @ 39.5

More competition information can be found at the following MyCricket links:

In Part 2 we will look at whether the “Simpson Logic” holds true in these cases and how this method shifts the perception of success over a season.

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Does The Bat Hit The Ball Or Does The Ball Hit The Bat?

Does the bat hit the ball or does the ball hit the bat?

Where does the intent and ascendancy in this contest originate?

The question arose during a conversation with a fast bowler (clocked at 144+ kmh) at first class level. As it turns out a rather thoughtful fast bowler who has recently achieved academic qualifications that gives balance to the melon picking experience on his career resume.

Ball Hit Bat or Bat Hit Ball

Ball Hit Bat or Bat Hit Ball

It was revealed from his bowling view that he is not just trying to hit the bat hard or beat the bat at pace. The intent was to hit the keepers gloves hard, at pace. Logic suggests the rest takes care of itself. Or does it? Is this a secret within bowlers who are recognised as having the skill to bowl a “heavy ball.”

Heavy ball – When a delivery is quicker than it looks and hits the bat harder or higher than is expected (Source: A glossary of cricket terms…..rather useful).

Flip the view around to the batsman. Does the opposite simply apply in that he believes that the bat hits the ball?

We pondered and politely argued the merits of both.

The end result. Probably a draw. For now.

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Batting Ugly

Invariably over the course of a season, conditions shall emerge from the unknown that inhibit logical and established batting methods. Skills honed by countless hours of hitting balls from machine, bowler, throw downs, drop balls, under arms and “Amla drills” will be rendered less than desirable. Batting with the bat side on, or a stump would seem more attuned than trying to find the middle of the willow.

Possibly a little extreme

Possibly a little extreme

Probably bat first here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clarity, a rare commodity disguised and entangled in the nervous strains of tensions surging through the neuro regions within the batsman’s mind, will be sought for. Batting ugly! Can the ingredients be found?

Who knows what lurks

Who knows what lurks

Might give the bowler something early

Might give the bowler something early

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Batting ugly, herewith offered a definition of sorts.

“Devoid of style and technique but resolute in application to remain at the crease for a long enough period in forming an innings of substance that shapes the course of the match.”

A method and plan of clarity that calls achingly upon the powers of concentration and control over instinctive muscle memory.

This correspondent was fortunate enough to witness an impressive example first hand in recent times. Please allow me to set the scene.

Country setting, late spring warmth under bright blue skies. Win toss, bat first, lose opener early to a snorter, runs start to flow through boundaries struck to all sides.

Wickets tumble, starts consist of dots and the occasional stuttering single. A powerful list is removed for 107 after being 1/31. The last 76 runs eked out over 36 overs, a one day game becomes mired in sludge beneath the glorious mountains.

The opposition step up, the chase so paltry to invoke no serious threat in “improving” conditions.

Rampaging fast bowler emits plentiful pent up steam. Warm up complete on the diametric plane opposite to not interrupt the youngsters longest throw competition from the boundary into the wicket during the break. Turning around to the end proper he starts the innings. Opener gets off the mark and turns the strike over to more distinguished and highly rated captain, full of confidence after a recent pair of 80+ scores in powerful wins.

Rhythm in motion, thundering towards the crease, arms whirring fluently at speed. Short ball, lifting and steepling at pace. The batsman awkwardly moves into position to play but arrives too late. Leather crunches into the helmet casing. A stagger of sorts does not force the ten count but the image is dire, and the condition upsetting. Play stops as head is checked for damage. Batsman refuses to leave the middle. He is the only one present in this frame of mind.

Play resumes. Bowler charges in with greater intent. Another short ball. Again not handled well, the fend being caught in the slips. The departed in obvious distress beyond the dismissal. His younger partner at the other end, a long devoted follower of his leader, remains calm in the moment. Head still. Eyes locked in steely focus. Without distraction from the carnage and emotions from being with a fallen mate, he understands there is still a job to be done at 1/5.

Recent innings of insignificance suggested another modest performance, 59 innings @ 19 with a highest score of 83 on the career record to date.

What occurred though from here was a valued observation in constructing a resistance of substance that shifted the match. Assessing the difficulty of the conditions and the obvious difference in class, the younger partner applied himself in the following manner.

  1. Remaining as completely still as possible.
  2. Reducing footwork to basically cover the stumps.
  3. Courageous slight press forward with full bat face.
  4. Firm top hand, close to eyes, over the ball.
  5. Barely a scent of a follow through, more holding the blade in the direction of the ball.
  6. Body in complete alignment within the shadow of a 4th stump.
  7. Leaving anything wider of this point.

For this situation, by removing as much risk and reducing the temptation of error the occasional ball arrived within this zone of control. Runs started to flow. Boundaries accumulated. Bowling changes occurred. Momentum shifted. The half century partnership surpassed.

Alas there was no complete fairy tale outcome as a curious waft at a tempter found the edge through to the keeper at 3/69. The individual score at 36 from 59 balls. More than enough grit to build the base for an eventual successful chase. Kudos.

Better innings will be played and witnessed by many. However for this correspondent the application shown and preparedness to “bat ugly” a gift that will resonate.

Well played Nathaniel.

 

 

 

 

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Credit The Coach For Discipline

The headlines roared the devastation of the player dropped for disciplinary reasons.

In the case of this specific player, the second time in three months. For two different first class teams. In two different countries. Both coached by a competitive fast bowler. Both teams immediately won the very next game.

The player had ”let his teammates down” and “we have high expectations of all our players” was explained by the coach.

Retired players jumped into the fray. “Maybe a fine would have been better,” suggested one.

Deliberately this correspondent has removed specific references to players, coaches and commentators involved in this incident.

The reason being to reflect upon the matter as it is typical of a regular occurrence confronted by many sporting teams every season. In many cases the softer option of taking no action or feather slapping justice the usual outcome.

The unique aspect about this case is that in both instances the team actually won after recent indifferent form. The replacement players respectively involved also made significant contributions to the team.

Was there a follow up headline to praise the coach or management for taking the hard line and making an unpopular decision?

Short term pain, long term gain has many interpretations.

This is another example.

How the player responds upon return, shall be fascinating to see.

But somewhere inside, where clarity is being sought, give a little cheer for the discipline administered.

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Selection Policy

The trumpets blare to announce the Medal events – Brownlow and Dally M.

The parades arranged for the AFL and NRL ultimate conclusion.

Nervousness flows from the winter tribes to the summer combatants.

Angst is worming through the veins and minds of the selectors within every cricket club across the nation.

Selection!!! Round 1!!!

So many conversations, musings, theories and hope that form the basis of decision making. With evidence, gut feel, validated improvement, history or optimism. Eventually grief and jubilation will be administered by the Selection Panel.

If the Selection Panel is not guided by a policy that delivers a comprehensive framework, then be prepared for a torrent of emotional conjecture and pain.

As a guide, please accept the following logic for clarity.

  1. Aims – establish what this is.
  2. Process – how selection is done and who is involved.
  3. Criteria – aspects of qualification.
  4. Additional – any other influencing factor.

Please find at the following link a recommended version to use if applicable. If you would like a word document copy, please contact the author via Twitter @CricketClarity – many thanks.

Selection Policy Draft – CC

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The Left Arm Orthodox Spinner – What Else Can He Bring?

An essential part of many a bowling structure is the left arm orthodox spinner to provide variation in angle and ability to turn the ball away from right hand batsmen.

Personally, childhood memories invoke the mysterious wizardry of the turban clad Bishan Bedi from the Punjab region in India. A career that produced 266 Test wickets @ 28.71 (an Econ Rate of 2.14) and 1560 first-class wickets evidence of his class. As described on his CricInfo Profile: – “the purity and perfection of Bedi’s art was a connoisseur’s dream. He was stealthy, silent and deadly, a master of deception who conjured variations in flight, loop, spin and pace without any perceptible change in action.”

Bishan Bedi #1  Bishan Bedi #2

For mine, an artist like Bedi, far more interesting than the gentle floaters of minimal rotation that are released in defensive hope that clog up the middle overs of many a side.

Recent shifts in coaching responsibility has allowed this correspondent to be fortunate enough in having access to an impressive range of coaches with experience from the Test arena to high level Premier cricket.

Consideration as to how we can enhance the skills set of the players within our structure has initially focused upon the spin wizards. Due in some course of a shared history with deep respect to the “spin to win” mantra. In our coven, the particular transfer in mindset of a left arm orthodox spinner from defensive to attacking.

Following is an insight into how the conversation and thinking has flowed so far in preparation for the new season. Thanks to JMW and hopefully the eager willingness of players to allow us the gratitude of discovery.


There are thousands of words and a myriad of ideas, the key aspects (in no priority – except SPINNING the ball!) and those that I’ve seen work very well for a number of successful, elite orthodox spin bowlers.

1. Spin the ball! Hear and watch the ball come out of your hand. The spin delivers dip and bounce. On flat pitches the revs on the ball will help you beat the batsman in the air.

2. Flight and trajectory above the helmet encourages the batsman to HIT ME! As spin bowlers we just accept that a batsman will get hold of us. Use the width and depth of the crease to generate these variations.

3. No singles/No rotation. Keep the batsman on strike so you can work them over. Forget the boundaries. (On many occasions, the boundary is a desperation shot). This means you know your field placings for all situations and have worked it through with your captain.

4. Be very clear about your STOCK BALL. It’s something to go back to.

5. Know your LINES – will vary according to the conditions and game situation.

6. Rush the batsman (NOT yourself).

Into this are a number of elements (casually described as “No No’s”) to avoid and remove from the planning, practice and skill set.

1. Not trying to turn the ball. If you don’t, it rolls out and is “fruit!”

2. No stock ball.

3. Bowling too straight.

4. Bowling flatter when you get hit for a boundary.

5. No flight.

6. Not pivoting on your front foot.

7. Not varying your pace.


Hopefully this will prompt further thought where the LAO can become more prominent than just a holding option and a highly valued member of the bowling group.

Enjoy and release fully…..with clarity.

 

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Skills Bank #1 – Touch

A “Skills Bank” can be defined as an ongoing active investment in the basic technical principles to establish a foundation of skill.

This can apply to any of the skill aspects involved in cricket to form the basis of training sessions and match day preparation.

Touch drills are beneficial in numerous ways for fundamental hand / eye co-ordination, position, posture or balance for fielding and batting.

Variations can be introduced with a range of different ball types ie: golf balls, tennis balls, squash balls or length between players.

This post provides a simple list of activities in pairs. Suggestion is to complete each drill for about 1 minute with a short rest in between to reset position and balls. Please feel free to connect directly if any further explanation is needed, always here to help.

PURPOSE:

  • To build volume of clean hands touches
  • Simple repeats with intent, apply perfect technique & balance
  • Aim for zero errors or fumbles
  • Concentration & confidence builds

EQUIPMENT:

  • Cricket balls
  • Tennis balls
  • Golf balls
  • Squash balls
  • Cones

DRILLS:

Throws to be flat & towards the partner.Practice consistent ball release with a direct open hand release. Fingers extended towards the target. Catching with two hands:

1. One ball = waist high
2. Two balls = waist high
3. One ball = knee height
4. Two balls = knee height

### Change partner, form a new pair & repeat 1 – 4

5. One ball = below knees
6. Two balls = below knees
7. Two balls = “Spiderman” where ball stays in same line, same side of body between pair, one hand / same hand catch and release (imagine right and left hand moving in a piston action)

### Change partner, form a new pair & repeat 5 – 7

8. One ball = one eye closed with hand, opposite hand catch release
9. One ball = fast hands
10. Two Balls = fast hands

VARIATIONS:

  • Different ball types
  • Catching with one hand
  • Alter length between the pairs
  • Throw to be across the body rather than straight, introduce angles
  • Half volleys

Overall a program based around these suggested drills will deliver around 250 to 400 touches in the Skills Bank. An ideal warm up activity in the early phase of preparation where space may be restricted or for incoming batsmen to complete before they start a net session.

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Where Next For Trevor Bayliss – Glorious Lords

For England to win the 1st Ashes Test at Cardiff so comprehensively has certainly shifted the initial belief by many of the experts and usual cheerleaders.

From personal attendance at a splendid Melbourne University Cricket Club function in the MCG Long Room on Day 1, the buoyant mood at the gathering in expectation of a dominant performance by the Australians was bordering upon overwhelming. As the England upper order stuttered to 3/43 with wickets shared. Lyon snaring Cook in traditional off spin inducement, a combination of good bowling and shrewd tactics from Clarke. An early edge from the bat of Root……..that was horribly missed by Haddin, and it all went wrong from here.

In the home rooms, Trevor Bayliss, the new leader of England off field, early grimness as the inner emotional roller coaster swayed from anguish to emerging confidence. A pitch, initially described by Jim Maxwell as a “CEO’s wicket”, was able to oddly render the Australian strikers impotent whereas England always threatened. Maybe had more to do with skill, persistence and intelligence for the duration. A more confident aggressive outlook by the visitors, actually falling behind in the eventual result on many measurements.

Noted by George Dobell – “The convenient narrative will suggest that England have been freed up by the promotion of Paul Farbrace and the arrival of Trevor Bayliss. And no doubt both have made important contributions.”

With a lead of 1-0, momentum has rapidly shifted. The result claimed in four days, possibly providing a welcome pause for Australia to regroup and sensibly reflect that the present away record stands at losing 11 of the last 17 away Tests and only one of the last 15 Tests in England (or Wales). The mood amongst the locals transfers towards expectation and premature jubilation.

So to Lords the series moves for the 2nd Test Match. The spiritual home of cricket that is the ultimate experience for the players, the purist and the tourist. Here Bayliss will find himself inhabiting the rooms by turning left to the Home rooms, instead of right to the Australian rooms after walking into the Members Pavilion from the playing surface.

This post from here shall provide an insight as to the environment that he now finds himself. Please enjoy.


The joy and weight of local adulation will be a unique pressure to the new England coach in Trevor Bayliss as he arrives at Lords wearing the Crown and Three Lions.

Trevor Bayliss at Lords

Trevor Bayliss at Lords

The feeling and tone within the team during and after Cardiff as described by Jimmy Anderson.

That tone was set by new head coach Trevor Bayliss, according to Anderson. “He was brilliant – very different to most coaches I’ve had in the past. Just very laid-back. He just sort of glides around the dressing room throughout the day and then he always picked the right time to say something.”

The view before the game from the ground will be an interesting challenge to remain focused on everything planned within the majesty of cricket’s greatest ground and the assorted flotsam who invade the playing space pregame. He will observe players going through rituals and routine, keeping any minor deviation in check.

Centre wicket v Somerset  Centre wicket pre match v Notts  857  858

He will leave the ground, up a slight slope through the immaculate white gate and into the Members pavilion. Once inside the Members, maybe glancing back over his shoulder to the middle before turning left, cutting the corner of the bar and then left again.

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Today, Bayliss will continue that glide up the staircase past the gaze of many legendary captains and players. The portraits a magnificent array of classical and obtuse.

Vaughan, slightly abstract

Vaughan, slightly abstract

He will arrive at the doorway to the players room, cross over a short passage that to the right leads to the bathroom amenities, and enter the dressing room.

Around the walls are leather benches, hooks and chairs where the players will be in their own assorted state of meticulousness or random scattering. A large bureau in the middle of the room acting as a bench top, seat or leaning post. On this will be placed team lists, vitamin drinks, fruit, gum, newspapers, various publications, tickets in envelopes for friends. If anything is missing or needed, an omnipresent butler is always lurking to assist.

Massage tables, medical equipment will be near the single sink and the refrigerator below stocked with a range of beverages. The screen will have on the live broadcast feed with a direct connection to the analysis program where any aspect of play can be instantly scrutinised. This will also be connected to the main database where players and coaches can access footage from any match files stored in the library.

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He will be greeted by the tradition of ringing the 5 minute bell, the bell located just outside the Bowler’s Bar to signal the imminent start of play.

As the team depart the room behind Captain Cook, he will then likely position himself on the narrow balcony. At best about five chairs can sit abreast on this tiny landing with others perched behind within the arched doorway.

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The view upon the ground, breathtaking. Practically within touching distance to his left the members in various moods of attentiveness.

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Other staff and sundry in the rooms will decide to either watch the screen or hunch in reverse across the benches to view from a side window.

Side Window

Side Window – Obscured View

The roar of the crowd and waves of applause will fill the atmosphere, an orchestra of humanity in a form of sporting symphony. Good luck to both teams as the contest unfolds. And a story for another day, as the players and coaches refuel during meal breaks, never a shortage of options – including copious beef.

Beef at Lords

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Early Pre Season – Suggested Activity Structure #1

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.

 

 

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