Thursday, 30 January 2014

How to bat in the middle order

Is there really much difference in batting approach between number 4 and number 7?


There certainly is, and if you get the wrong person in the wrong place in the order it will end up costing you games.


For example, at my own club the 1st XI has a strong batting line-up with players capable of scoring runs quickly right down the order to number 9.


We currently have an aggressive stroke maker batting at number 4. He's the type of player who is best when batting with abandon. He doesn't like to build big innings, he just wants licence to hit out and he does it with a straight bat and a range of strokes.


But when he is asked to build a score he tends to freeze, get bogged down and get out playing half-heartedly.


Because he is not suited to batting at 4 he is likely to get out when the side are in trouble at 30-2 putting us even deeper into trouble.


So what are the traits required of each position in the middle order (and where would are current number 4 be better off)?


Number 3 and 4


These are the most crucial batting positions because statistics have shown that you are far more likely to win matches if your 2nd and 3rd wicket stands are good.


So if you are to bat in either of these positions you must be able to play a responsible innings. That may mean seeing off the new ball with a solid technique if you get in early. It may also mean scoring quickly if the ball is older and the bowler's tired after a good stand from the players above you in the order.


If you are regularly batting at 3 or 4 in the order, practice by working on technique with bowling machines or throwdowns and look to improve your ability to build innings over long periods with middle practice.


Number 5 and 6


Lower down the order batsmen have more freedom to play their shots. The ball is older and there is less time to build big innings. You still need a decent technique but you can get away with more risks in the pursuit of quick runs for a declaration or chase.


You will face a lot more spin batting at 5 or 6 because the spinners tend to operate when you are batting.


So when you practice, think of yourself more as a Twenty20 batsman; spend time working out where you can score by innovating. This may be big hitting straight over the top, sweeping, working the ball into gaps or even clearing the front leg and slog-sweeping. Whatever it is, work on it in practice to get it right in the middle.


However, don't forget you still need to be able to bat in orthodox ways. Even 20 overs is a long time to bat and difficult to start slamming everything from the first ball. Make sure you work on technique as well, especially against spin.


Number 7 and 8


When everything is going well these positions are the most fun to bat. You are coming in at the end of an innings with the idea of scoring quickly to either win a match or get big runs in the last handful of overs.


This still doesn't mean 'slog every ball'. Like 5 and 6, you need to hit with intelligence. Work out what areas give you the most runs at the lowest risk. For example it's safer hitting a left arm spinner over the off side with the spin than over the leg side.


Don't be afraid of practicing hitting during nets, it's what you will be doing in the middle after all. Pick your strengths and work on getting them perfect. If you have time, perhaps work on developing another shot that can get you quick runs.


If you are not a natural big hitter, learn to work the ball into gaps by manoeuvring your body and either slightly closing or opening the face to find the spaces that will be there with the field back.


And be ready to run hard. Really hard.


All that said, make sure also that you have a solid defence. There will be times where you need to recover from a collapse or even save the game by batting out for a draw. But don't spend too much time on this as it will be a rare issue and anyway, it's not as much fun.


This is where the current number 4 in our side would be much happier. Freed from the shackles of technique and responsibility he can just biff.

Are you batting in the right place?


How to read the pitch

  1. How wet is the pitch? The wetter the pitch, the slower it will play. Also, if it is drying out the ball will turn considerably, but will get easier the drier it gets.
  2. How much grass is on the pitch? A green top pitch with a lot of grass will have a lot of seam movement, especially if the pitch is hard. It will be hard for spinners to turn the ball. Pitches with no grass tend to help spinners, especially if dry and dusty (although they tend to be easier to bat on first before they have deteriorated).
  3. How hard is the pitch? Hard pitches will have a higher bounce and the ball will come onto the bat a lot more quickly. Pitches like this are hard to prepare in the UK so they will rarely be seen. They tend to give an equal chance to bowlers and batsmen. It will feel firm to the touch
  4. When is the pitch most likely to help my bowlers? Conditions change throughout a day. Green pitches tend to get easier to bat on. Wickets can get more dry or wet (if it rains). They can start to break up if they are soft (which will help the bowlers). If it is going to get easier to bat, bowl first. If it is going to get harder, bat first.
  5. What roller will be needed between innings? If you have the option of a roller between innings you should usually take as heavy a roller as possible (the laws state you are allowed 7 minutes if you are batting 2nd). The exceptions are dusty wickets that can break up under rolling.



When to adjust your bowling length

Different conditions and match situations require different lengths of bowling.

To be a good bowler you need to know when to make a change to your length, and how to make it.

This comes from knowing your bowling style, strengths and role through proper practice and match experience.

For example, it's no good being a military medium pace bowler who swings or seams the ball to bang it in half-way if the wicket is fast and bouncy. You are negating your strengths and giving the batsman all the time he needs to see the ball.

So what are the keys to reading the right lengths to bowl?

  • Reading the pitch: Is it a damp, slow track, a dry crumbling wicket or a hard bouncy track? Who is going to get most out of the conditions and what areas on the wicket are offering the most to each bowling style?
  • Reading the overhead conditions: Is the ball likely to swing or is it a day where orthodox swing is unlikely? Will your bowlers have to get the ball full and allow swing or hit the pitch back of a length?
  • Reading the game situation: Are you attacking or defending? What is each bowler’s role? At the end of a T20 game you may be looking for yorkers but in the longer version of the game you may be looking to slow the run rate and build pressure on an established partnership.
  • Reading the batsman: Observe his grip, stance and set-up; this often gives away if he is a predominantly front or back-foot player. Pressure a batsman early on by using the conditions and your strengths whilst trying to work on his weaknesses.
  • Use the man with gloves on: Your wicketkeeper should immediately judge the pace and bounce, especially if it differs from your initial analysis. He can then advise good areas to hit and what the wicket has to offer.

How to adjust your bowling length

To hit good areas a bowler should be able to deliver the ball with a repeatable action but aim at different lengths within this. The use of drills with simple cone targets is common. You can add points to make drills competitive.

 I often talk to young bowlers about aligning their 'lasers' at a target on the pitch.

These are imaginary beams from their front arm elbow and both eyes, lining up towards a cone target on the length they are aiming for.

It's essential for the eyes to be focused on the area that they are looking to hit throughout the run-up, during delivery and even in the follow through (if possible) to keep the body and head aligned correctly.

The same overall process applies to spinners, but the young spinner needs to develop the “feel” for how and when he needs to release the ball according to variations in his flight and pace.

 Here we work with the pace and drive through the crease and variations in release point and arm speed and how to disguise these or even give false cues to the batsman.

As with most things in cricket, the better that you practice and learn the better you are at developing the skills and knowledge to take into the game and various match situations.



Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Do you recognise these 5 bad coaching styles?

Every week during the cricket season an army of volunteers go out to do duty in running junior club cricket.

Without them clubs could not function. However, not all of these helpers are helping.

Many are failing the players, teams and clubs that they represent due to lack of knowledge, understanding or even the ability to engage with young cricketers, their parents or the opposition.

We have all seen them and should learn from the errors of their ways. Here are some stereotype characteristics of Dad coaches (for they are always Dad coaches) but these traits are not that exaggerated.

1.    The Dad helping out: Often forced into this role due to lack of suitable coaches within a club, this Dad is offering a noble gesture to pick up the reins but can also cause major issues within team dynamics, team structures and parent relationships. Young players are desperate to bat and bowl and often their parents are even more desperate to see this happen. Dad Coach is in an unenviable position of having to pick batting/bowling orders under the watchful eyes of players and parents alike! Some promote their less gifted child at the expense of the team, some bat or bowl their child lower than should happen at the expense of the child.

2.    The Dad living his lack of sport through his child: These coaches are often the most dangerous to teams of young cricketers. Not having learnt themselves through experience of playing the game, its special moments and ambiguities they base their knowledge on their armchair experience of the game. They can push their players to the very edge through unreasonable expectations, limited concept of how the game works or just sheer pressure on their child and their team to perform. How many young players have you seen visibly shrinking during a game with their parent/coach verbalizing every tiny failure in their performance? These coaches can also often be seen slogging their young bowlers or bowling at full pace to their 10 year old junior batsmen in the nets.

3.    The Unqualified Dad Technical Coach:  Often linked to the above, these coaches are doing a massive disservice to their young charges. Teaching incorrect technique not only has implications on players’ skill sets but also can often lead to injury. A player needs to groove good habits, particularly from Under 10 upwards. They need to be shown good technique, tactical elements, teamwork, attitude, etiquette and respect for the game. All of these are often lost, damaging the prospects of all players involved.

4.    The Competitive Dad: The Testosterone flows too freely with these characters. They are often confrontational with other coaches and spectators and often push players away from the game with negative and often aggressive behavior in the face of failure or defeat. Games are often played in unnecessarily hostile atmospheres and there is a fear of failure that transposes onto the team and reduces flair and enjoyment for the young players involved. Instead of looking for the positives and learning from mistakes these coaches undermine confidence and spoil the game for youngsters with critical tirades at the end of an innings or match.

5.    The Pushy Dad: These coaches often do not understand the natural development process of young cricketers. They put intense pressure on their child and ultimately the team with exaggerated performance goals. Other players within the team are often overlooked or even shunned in favour of their own child. Not only does this damage the team dynamic it also puts untold or often unrecognized pressure on the coach’s son/daughter from their teammates.



10 Ways to bowl faster

1.While you need a certain amount of natural ability to be able to bowl at 90mph, everyone can improve on their natural bowling speed no matter how fast they are.

2.Imagine you are bowling in a railway track. This will help you run-up straight, keep your weight moving in a straight line in your action and follow-through straight. If it doesn't go at the batsman, then change it!

3.Your non-bowling arm is far more important than your bowling arm. Use it properly by driving it out and down so it passes your side. When you do this properly, it will accelerate your bowling shoulder and help increase speed. Some have argued that this can stop genuine swing happening, so take care if you rely on traditional swing.

4.Keep your elbows and arms pumping in as you run up and load up into your action. Nothing throws your momentum and straight lines off like unnecessary side-to-side movements. Keeping your action tight helps you to control the release of the ball.

5.Start your run up leading with your arm. This drives force down your body and into the ground for greater speed. Drive your arms fast in short a short pumping action which will force you forward faster.

6.Make sure you fully rotate your shoulders on completion of action. If you have a name on your back imagine you are going to show it to the batsman when you finish. This will help you think about how much of a shoulder turn you're aiming for

7.Try to drive your chest through the crease just before you let the ball go. The sensation is that of being pulled forward by the batsman with a big rope attached to your chest. This gets you as far in front of the ball as possible and increases arm pull and speed of the arm

8.At the point of delivery, your hips and nose will be facing the batsman. If your bowling hip is lazy it will lag behind thus dropping your speed. If your nose isn't facing the batsman, your head is probably falling away. The hips are the powerhouse of your body. Get them in the right position

9.Try not to throw your non-bowling arm too high as it gets you off balance and affects your timing. Remember, you're trying to go forwards, not up and down.

10.Your bowling arm starts to bowl from the downswing, which is close to your bowling side hip. Getting your bowling hand into this position quickly from your load-up helps you improve your speed and timing.


9 traits of world-class batsmen that anyone can copy

Viv Richards. Sachin Tendulkar. Ian Botham.

All of these men are greats of the game. I've seen them bat over the years, often standing at the non-strikers end, and I have noticed several common technical points with them and other exceptional batsmen.

Now that I'm a coach I consider these traits non-negotiable for any player who wants to be a successful batsman against good quality bowling.

1. Stance

The front shoulder is slightly open, eyes are level. The head is in line with the stumps at the bowlers end and slightly forward of the body.

2. Backswing

The back swing goes back over off stump. The elbow of the bottom hand points towards the stumps.

Aligning the elbow like this stops the bottom hand being too dominant and aligns the forearms towards the ball so that the bat swings in a straight line for the maximum amount of time.

3. Head position when driving

The head is forward of the front foot when driving or defending the ball along the ground in the V between extra cover and midwicket. 4. Point of contact

When driving, make contact with the ball slightly forward of the front foot but under the eyes. This encourages leaning in to the shot.

Lean towards the ball predominately with the head not the shoulder to stay open and balanced.

Let the ball come, giving more time and wider variety of options of where to hit the ball.

5. Back foot heel

Defend and drive the ball off the front foot with the heel of the back foot raised. This allows leaning in to the shot to hit the ball on the ground.

A raised heel means the head is forward of the body and in a great position to play the drives and forward defence.

6. Back foot turn

When playing straight and towards mid on back foot is 'turned in' and the toes are pointed up the wicket towards very straight mid off. This gives better balance, alignment and overall access to the ball.

7. On drive position

When playing the on drive, take a smaller stride and place the front foot down the line of leg stump, this gives you good balance and alignment to play the shot. Only place your front foot outside the line of leg stump if you are improvising for quick boundaries.

8. Checked drive

Finish all drives and defence with high hands and leading elbow in the check drive position. This means the bat swings in a straight line through the ball towards the target area. The full face of the bat will be presented towards the ball for the maximum amount of time. This will lengthen the 'hitting zone' with minimum risk of getting out.

9. Bat speed

Don’t try to swing the bat too fast through the line of the ball when driving straight. This compromises technique. Focus on timing the ball by swinging the bat with a rhythmical flow so that technique is maintained.


Monday, 27 January 2014

How to select a winning club cricket team

A good cricket team is made up of different personalities and skills. Helping make the right blend of these elements starts with the captain and the team he or she selects.

Selection at club or school level is different from the top tiers. There is very little concern about picking the extra batsman and the like. In fact for many captains the only selection issue is whether you can raise 10 other players!

The other main consideration not seen at the top level is to give everyone a game. As captain of a recreational side its part of your job to give your players the best opportunity to enjoy the games they play for you, even if you are serious about winning. A good captain can find a balance between the opposite stools.

Those differences mean you can't learn selection tactics by copying the ideas of your local first class team. It's a different game and requires a different approach.

The basic template

There are many options available to you but at club level a good general template is:

  • 5 batsman capable of scoring 50 or more
  • 5 bowlers (including 2 spinners) capable of taking wickets and bowling a decent number of overs.
  • 1 wicketkeeper

This gives your side a balance to allow you to adapt to almost any situation.

It's possible and sometimes necessary to break from this template. However, before choosing to go in with just 4 decent bowlers consider what would happen if one of them pulled a hamstring in the first over and another bowled badly. You might have to make do with 2 good bowlers and some rather average fill in bowling.

The spinners are most important for games with a possible draw. Good spinners are vital at club level for getting weaker batsmen out. You can still use 2 spinners in limited over format games but they have a different job.

5 bowlers allow you to operate with 2 spinners without having to over-bowl them. There is always the risk that a spinner can be punished against a set batsman and they can't be as well protected if they are part of a 4 player attack.

A common problem with this selection is there are more all-rounders (of variable quality) at club level than first class. Often this means your 5 good batters and 5 good bowlers are the same people. This can cause problems: Bowlers do not get enough overs or batsmen are forced down the order.

Selection is the time to carefully consider such situations. Avoid them where possible. That said, you can still give people a game with some thought. For example, weaker batsman can be pushed up the order above your star players. They may be out first ball or they may rise to the challenge. Either way they will feel they have had a game and you will have probably lost nothing.

Specific tactics

Selection is also the time to consider specific tactics for the coming match.

Take some time to find out some information about the game: the layout of the ground, the strengths and tactics of the opposition (local paper reports and last year's scorebook can help with this), the way the wicket might play and the weather forecast. Each element can make a difference.

For example, on a well known true batting pitch with the weather set fair. Will you really need 6 or 7 top quality batters or will a bigger choice of bowling be more important?

Whatever tactics you decide on the day, choosing a team is more than just picking the best 11 players. You have to strike a balance. This balance is not restricted to batsman, a wicketkeeper and bowlers. Your team needs to reflect closely the tactics you have for winning the match. That's where roles come in.

The role of roles

One of the joys of cricket is the diversity of its roles within the team. From tall bowlers to short batters and everything in between there is a role for everyone. There are tactical roles too. You may have a bowler whose role it is to bowl defensively and hold up an end while expensive strike bowlers operate at the other end. It may also be an experienced opening batsman who may score slowly, but always gets you off to a good start in a longer match.

Shane Warne and ex-England international turned sport psychologist Jeremy Snape are big advocates of ensuring you and your players are clear in their roles. It gives the players confidence to go out and do exactly what is asked of them.

It's equally important to match your player's skills and personalities to the roles you want filled. A hitter may struggle to graft out runs for example. A wild fast bowler may never be able to fill the stock containing role. Be cautious when you define these roles, especially if you are changing something that someone has always done. Talent may restrict you, as will the ego of the player if he feels he has been slighted in some way.

What if things change?

We all know how quickly selection ideas are lost in the middle as the game shifts. You can't account for that in selection but you can communicate to the players when your ideas have shifted. As long as players are aware what your plan is supposed to be and that you may change it any time there will be no surprises.



Sunday, 26 January 2014

WASP (Winning and Score Prediction)

For years while watching limited overs cricket, we have seen projected scores at different intervals being displayed on our television screens. But in the New Zealand vs India match today, we saw something different in the form of WASP (Winning and Score Prediction). Here, we have a look to differentiate between the two and explain what WASP brings to the table.

Projected scores are completely based on runs scored and looking at different totals at the end of an innings, using various run rates. For example, if a team’s score is 200 at the end of 40 overs. There could be four variations of projected scores:

  • Current run-rate: 250
  • 6 per over: 260
  • 8 per over: 280
  • 10 per over: 300

Such projections do not bring in the quality of the bowling team, it doesn’t bring in the equation of wickets left and many other parameters into the picture. The only thing it is concerned with is the run rate at which the batting team is going at. In addition, projected scores are displayed only in the first innings of a limited over match.

WASP, on the other hand, differs and gives us a predicted score in the first innings and the probability of a team winning the match in the second essay. It doesn’t just take the match situation into the equation but also factors like the team’s past record are very important parameters in its calculation.

For example, take a India vs Kenya game where India need 100 to win in 10 overs with 5 wickets in hand. In a normal match situation between two closely-matched teams, the bowling team will be favourites there but with India being a much superior team, WASP would give India a higher probability for victory.

Also, this system takes the pitch and conditions into consideration. Hence, if India need to 100 to win from 10 overs in the sub-continent – the WASP percentage would be much higher than when India find themselves in a similar situation in a country like South Africa, where the Men in Blue have a poor record against the Proteas in limited overs cricket.

New Zealand’s premier cricket broadcasting channel Sky Sport have been using WASP for over a year now.

This is how Dr Seamus Hogan - one of the creators of WASP - described the system:

Let V(b,w) be the expected additional runs for the rest of the innings whenb (legitimate) balls have been bowled and w wickets have been lost, and let r(b,w) and p(b,w) be, respectively, the estimated expected runs and the probability of a wicket on the next ball in that situation. We can then write

V(b,w) =r(b,w) +p(b,w) V(b+1,w+1) +(1-p(b,w)))V(b+1,w)Since V(b*,w)=0

where b* equals the maximum number of legitimate deliveries allowed in the innings (300 in a 50 over game), we can solve the model backwards. This means that the estimates for V(b,w) in rare situations depends only slightly on the estimated runs and probability of a wicket on that ball, and mostly on the values of V(b+1,w) and V(b+1,w+1), which will be mostly determined by thick data points. The second innings model is a bit more complicated, but uses essentially the same logic.



Friday, 24 January 2014

COACHING : Talent Identification

What makes a successful bowler?

When looking to select bowlers the most important factors to consider are the following;

For a Pace Bowler;

1. That he can bowl fast

2. That he can bowl accurately

3. That he has good technique

4. That he is tall, strong, powerful and fit


To be a very talented pace bowler, you have to be quick. Medium pacers are good at lower levels but will not succeed at the highest levels.

For a Spin Bowler;

1. That he can spin the ball

2. That he has good technique

3. That he can bowl accurately

4. That he has strong fingers, wrists, forearms


For a spin bowler to be effective he must not only spin the ball, but has to get loop and drift. Significant movement both through the air and off the pitch will give the spinner maximum wicket-taking opportunities.


What makes a successful batsman?

The primary aim of every batsman is to become a consistent and rapid run-getter for the team. When looking to select batsman the most important things are in this order;

1. That the player has good hand eye coordination

2. That he can judge the length & line of the ball quickly, and move quickly into position.

3. That he can concentrate for long periods of time

4. That he has courage and a desire to score runs

5. That he has sound technique


A batsman perhaps more than a bowler, needs to be mentally strong. Good batsmen in test matches can bat for well over 6 hours. It is very hard to keep your concentration for every ball faced in this time. Batsmen who have the ability to apply themselves for a long period of time are more likely to be successful.


How do I identify a talented player?

Once your team is playing in a competition and you have selected your players in roles to suit their talents, you observe how well this player performs in matches. If all of the qualities above are identified in a player then he backs it up with good consistent performance, you may have a talented player.


Can this Player go to the next level?

This is a question that people often ask when talking about talented players. It is a combination of things. However progression to a higher level requires a combination of factors. The athlete must want to do well in the sport. He must be committed to training and train with 100% effort. He must also have the ability to handle pressure and expectation. He must be mentally strong. He must be fit and healthy with a supportive home life. Above all he must have the talent and back this up with performance. All of these things combine together for an athlete to have the best chance of reaching the top.


COACHING : Manage a Team

How to Manage a Team

Over many years of coaching junior cricketers I have formulated a way in which all players play an important part in the team as well as giving the talented players enough opportunities to perform.

I recommend coaches devise a way in which all players have a roll in the team, similar to the example below. This is important to consider when selecting the team. Divide the team into batsmen, bowlers and allrounders. If you can have a squad of 14 players this is the perfect size. To help with squad selection see chapter 10 Talent Identification.

Batsman: These players bat in the top five. Their job is primarily to get runs. They are not allrounders but maybe occasional bowlers. These players should have good technique and concentration.

Allrounders: These players bat from 6 – 8 in the order. These are the players who can bat and bowl as well as the wicketkeeper. So you should have two bowling allrounders and a wicketkeeper.

Bowlers: Batsman 9-11, select players who bowl in the top five but are the weakest batsmen. If doesn’t really matter what type of bowlers they are but their job is to be a main bowler.

How the team operates: Three specialist bowlers and two bowling allrounders gives you the five bowlers required for a one-day match. Use these 5 as your main bowlers using the more occasional bowlers when conditions suit. The opening batsman’s job is to see off the opening bowlers and give the team a good platform to build a good team total. Number three is generally your best batsman. Number 4 & 5 should be a stroke-playing batsman. Your allrounders including the wicket keeping should be able to build an innings and also accelerate the scoring during the final overs.

Succession: A Team will always have players in and out with injury other commitments or the start of a new season. So it is logical that there be a progression or succession policy. This means that when one player is unavailable, someone else should be given his role. An example is that a regular opening batsman is out injured. So you promote your number 3 to opener, number 4 to number 3 and so on. Then you review the other players in the squad work out what roles they can perform. In this case the coach needs to find a batsman or an allrounder. Once you have selected this player then reorganize the batting order accordingly. It is important for a player’s confidence that they are asked to do things slowly rather than being put straight into a pressure situation in which they have little experience. This also applies to the end of one season to the beginning of the next.

Performance versus Equal Opportunity: This is a very difficult question for every coach. You need to involve every player of your team, but also you want to give opportunities to your best players to achieve. This is a large reason why I believe in the above way of managing a team. Even if a player is the world’s best allrounder, it won’t hurt him to bat at number five or six. He still has plenty of time to score runs and may still even opening the bowling. When selecting the players for their roles, take into account what are the player’s strengths and weaknesses. Even if you can see no strength, pick a role and get that player to practice his role. If player has goals you might be surprised at how well they perform their role.


Monday, 20 January 2014

COACHING : Spirit of Cricket

Spirit of Cricket

The Preamble – The Spirit of Cricket – ICC Laws of cricket

Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game. Any action which is seen to abuse this spirit causes injury to the game itself. The major responsibility for ensuring the spirit of fair play rests with the captains. 1. There are two laws which place the responsibility for the team's conduct firmly on the captain. Responsibility of captains The captains are responsible at all times for ensuring that play is conducted within the Spirit of the Game as well as within the Laws of cricket. Player's conduct In the event of a player failing to comply with instructions by an umpire, or criticizing by word or action the decisions of an umpire, or showing dissent, or generally behaving in a manner which might bring the game into disrepute, the umpire concerned shall in the first place report the matter to the other umpire and to the player's captain, and instruct the latter to take action. 2. Fair and unfair play According to the Laws the umpires are the sole judges of fair and unfair play. The umpires may intervene at any time and it is the responsibility of the captain to take action where required. 3. The umpires are authorized to intervene in cases of:

Time wasting

Damaging the pitch

Dangerous or unfair bowling

Tampering with the ball

Any other action that they consider to be unfair


4. The Spirit of the Game involves RESPECT for:

Your opponents

Your own captain and team

The role of the umpires

The game's traditional values

5. It is against the Spirit of the Game:

To dispute an umpire's decision by word, action or gesture

To direct abusive language towards an opponent or umpire

To indulge in cheating or any sharp practice, for instance: (a) to appeal knowing that the batsman is not out (b) to advance towards an umpire in an aggressive manner when appealing (c) to seek to distract an opponent either verbally or by harassment with persistent clapping or unnecessary noise under the guise of enthusiasm and motivation of one's own side


6. Violence There is no place for any act of violence on the field of play.

7. Players Captains and umpires together set the tone for the conduct of a cricket match. Every player is expected to make an important contribution to this.

• The laws of cricket are important. However, the way the game is played is just as important.

• The Laws of Cricket contain a preamble, which says:

• Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game. Any action which is seen to abuse this spirit causes injury to the game itself. The major responsibility for ensuring the spirit of fair play rests with the captains.

• The laws say that captains are responsible at all times for ensuring that play is conducted within the spirit of the game as well as within the laws.

• According to the laws, the umpires are sole judges of fair and unfair play.

• They may intervene at any time



Sunday, 19 January 2014

COACHING : Coaching Philosophy

Through my experience in the Australian cricketing system, I have developed my own personal philosophy to cricket coaching.

I like to approach cricket coaching with a simple and logical development. I follow a simple equation.

Planning + Process + Execution = Outcomes

Firstly I instruct the players what to do and how do it (Planning). Then I make sure that their mental approach is positive and that they can `stay in the moment’ during every delivery (Process). After these I try to improve the skills and techniques of every player (Execution). I believe that if I concentrate on this approach then the results (Outcomes) will take care of themselves.

`Success is a science. In order to succeed you need to create the right environment.’

For every action there is a reaction. Keeping this in mind I try to create a positive and competitive training environment. I try to conduct training to closely reflect a game situation.

As a coach I try to monitor my players level of intensity and team spirit. These two are often very hard to gage, let alone manipulate for maximum results. In general you try to build trust amongst team members, encourage a positive environment that is concentrated on the process rather than result.

`A man can make a mistake, but he isn’t a failure until he starts making excuses.’

In order to help with the managing of players and team spirit I believe in quotes. A good quote can really get the message across. Here are some of my favourites;

Coaching Quotes – various authors

• `If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you’ve always got.’

• `The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it but what they become by it.’

• Discipline =

1. Do what has to be done;

2. When it has to be done;

3. As well as it can be done; and

4. Do it that way all the time.

• `Planning and preparation, sacrifice and self-denial, effort and hard work, persistence and perseverance = Attitude.’

• `There is always room for improvement; it is the biggest room in the house.’

• `Win without boasting; lose without excuse.’

• `Do not brag, for it is not the whistle that moves the train.’

• `The bigger a mans head gets, the easier it is to fill his shoes’

• `A competitor will find a way to win. Competitors take bad breaks and use them to drive themselves much harder. Quitters take bad breaks and use them as a reason to give up.’

• `Thinking with practice transforms to instinct.’

• `Teams need common goals, week to week objectives and the realization that when the team has success they all get rewarded.’

• `Courage is the resistance of fear, the mastery of fear, not the absence of it.’

• `The two characteristics great leaders have, is respect and presence.’

• When you make a mistake there are only three things to do, first admit it, second learn from it and third don’t repeat it.’

• Tell me, I hear. Show me, I see. Though Involve me, I understand

There are no great men, only men whom by circumstance and forced to be great.


Efficient versus Attractive Players

A player does not have to posses a beautiful, picture perfect technique to be effective. A perfect technique does not guarantee success; test cricket is full of cricketers who do not posses perfect technique. The important thing is that the player is effective by taking wickets or scoring runs. Often a player who is pleasing to the eye may posses a basic technique flaw, as long as a specific style is not limiting the players performance it is wise not too change it. People are all different, different techniques and approaches work for individual people. The best players are the ones who work the hardest and play with pride in their performance.

`A war is made of many battles. It is on the outcome of the majority of these battles that the war is won.’ – Winston Churchill

In a way a cricket match is made up of many small battles, every ball is a battle between the bowling team (including fieldsman) and the batsman. If a team can win the majority of the balls then it will win the game. This approach can help players to stay `in the moment’ completely concentrating on every ball.

Current popular thinking in the psychology of cricket says that, to win you must attack. You must pressure your opponents. A positive frame of mind is necessary to performing near or at potential. Pressure cricket is successful cricket. Whether you are batting or bowling, the side under pressure is on the defensive. If a player is on the defensive his energies are consumed by surviving. If you can keep your opponent on the defensive, he forgets about attacking and you cannot lose unless your opponent attacks. A player under pressure is more likely to make poor decisions thus increasing the opposition teams’ chances of success. However pressure can be transferred rapidly through counter attack. This quick change of fortune helps to make cricket the fascinating game that it is.

To create pressure when batting, a batsman should always be looking to hit the ball for four runs. `If he cannot, three then, maybe two, OK a single.’ The way to put pressure on the bowlers is by hitting the lose deliveries for four, but also trying then to limit the number of dot balls faced. This is where running between the wickets becomes most important. If a player can drop the ball at his feet and the non-striker is alert, the pair may take numerous quick singles. This helps the batting team by not letting the bowler get into rhythm against one batsman rotating the strike also helps to draw the field closer thus making it easier to hit boundaries.

`You have to occupy the crease to build a big innings but it is no use just standing there! You have to play straight, run hard between the wickets and want to win!’ – Bob Simpson Former Australian Captain and Coach

Pressure in the field is a two-fold process, involving the bowler as well as 10 fieldsmen (including the W/K). It is important to know that the bowler is the first link in the chain of pressure. If he cannot consistently bowl to a plan, with a field set to that plan, he will never create pressure. Once the bowler has let go of the delivery it is then up to the fieldsman. Fieldsman in the circle should walk-in enthusiastically. All fieldsmen should wish for the ball to come to them. Unless they want to be involved, a day in the field can be long and tiring.

Loud encouragement of the bowler, clapping hands and looking positive all has to do with putting pressure on the batsman. To help create team spirit, success should be celebrated (within reason) and defeat met with no excuses from players or coaches. An objective analysis of the game to identify weaknesses. Do not dwell on failures or negative emotions such as blame. Stay positive and constructive with your criticism this will create a positive learning environment.


Friday, 17 January 2014

10 Management lessons to learn from cricket

There are ten clear lessons we can learn from cricket.

1.Lead from the front, take calculated risks: What differentiates a great leader from a good leader is the “Ability to lead from the front” and the courage to take “calculated risks”. Every risk has a probability of failure but if you don’t take risks, you don’t achieve anything.

During the finals of 2011 World Cup, when India lost its 2nd wicket, in walked skipper MS Dhoni to bat. The entire Wankhede stadium let out a gasp, just like the billion viewers watching the match on TV. What made an out-of-form Dhoni to take the bold decision of promoting himself up the order ahead of the inform Yuvaraj Singh – this was the question on most of our minds.  It was a brave but risky move, especially since Dhoni was not in the best of forms. However, this is what great leaders are made of. Dhoni wanted to lead from the front, which he did so well and was one of the main architects of an Indian victory.

2. Work with your strengths, be a “Change Agent”: In today’s competitive world, we are so much interested in addressing our “areas of improvement” that very often we forget to build on our strengths. Knowing our strengths and using them to our advantage are important as working on our areas of improvements. Do what you are good at, you need not succumb to “herd mentality”. This is the only way you can develop “Centres for Competence” in different Technologies and Domains.

It is also important that each of us behaves like a “Change Agent”.  Having an attitude of “we always do it this way” can be the biggest deterrent for improvements and enhancements.

During the 1996 World Cup finals, when Arjuna Ranatunga, the Sri Lankan skipper won the toss, he went against “conventional wisdom” and took the risk of bowling first. Past history of 5 World Cup Finals had shown that the team batting first had invariably won the Championship. However, Arjuna knew that his team’s strength was in chasing rather than defending scores. His ability to not only recognize his team’s strengths but also challenge the conventional approach coupled with Arvinda de Silva’s classy century helped Sri Lanka achieve its maiden triumph.

3. Learn to work without your best resource, Ethics / Compliance more important than competence: Every Manager likes to have the best resources in his / her team however we should learn to work without them to handle contingencies better. There are many occasions when our critical resources may violate the Company’s norms but we treat their illegal behavior / non-compliance with kids gloves for the fear of jeapardising the projects and deliverables. However, we should realise that Compliance comes first, irrespective of the person’s competence.

Sharne Warne, the star of the Australian team and arguably the best leg spinner in the World was slapped with a one year ban when he tested positive for doping. While the Media was ready to write off the Australian team even before the first ball of 2003 World Cup had been bowled, their Captain Ricky Ponting was unruffled and went about his task. Australia won the World Cup. It is important to note that the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) had no hesitation in showing the door to Warne, despite him being the most important member of their team.

4. Loyalty versus Productivity: A good leader should realise that though loyalty from team members is good, it should not be at the cost of productivity. He should be able to “separate the grain from chaff”. Learn to distinguish between “wanted” and “unwanted” attrition. Misplaced loyalty can result in loss of productivity.

In the 1975 World Cup played at Lord’s England, Gavaskar scored a painstaking 36 and remained unbeaten at the end of 60 overs against England but that did not help the team’s cause. It would have been better if he had got out. Compare this with the scintillating137 by England’s Dennis Amiss in the same match and you will know who won the match.

5. Don’t lose your temper, nobody wants it!: Even under the most challenging and adverse circumstances, learn to control your temper. Losing your cool will not only make you lose objectivity that results in poor emotional decisions but can also cause great errors in the Quality of your output. Cool head always wins !

During the quarter finals of the 1996 World Cup, India played Pakistan at Bangalore. Amir Sohail had just spanked local boy Venkatesh Prasad for 3 consecutive boundaries. At that moment, he lost his cool and pointed his bat threateningly at Venkatesh Prasad. The cool headed fast bowler, with the support of 50,000 local fans rooting behind him, bowled an indipping yorker and Sohail took a wild swing at it only to watch his timber shatter. This was the turning point of the match from which Pakistan, which seemed to be coasting towards a comfortable win, never recovered.

6. “Straight from the gut”: There is a famous Book with the same title from Jack Welch, former CEO of GE. While hiring, though its good to look at the resume and past achievements, learn to listen to your gut “feel”.

Imran Khan the former charismatic Pakistani captain was known for picking boys from his backyard and catapulting them to the highest echelons of cricket. During the 1992 World Cup he plucked Inzamam from nowhere and though the latter had hardly played any formal first class cricket, he showed his talent by single handedly winning matches for them and was a key member of the Pakistani squad which won the World Cup that year.

7. Keep the differences within the team, don’t succumb to external factors: There are bound to be differences and dissidence within your teams. Its important how you manage them. Never allow the external forces to take charge of the situation, it never helps.

During the 1996 World Cup semi finals at Calcutta (now Kolkata), the unruly fans took advantage of India’s poor batting display and disrupted the match. The match referee had no hesitation in abandoning the match, but not before he declared Sri Lankans the winners of the semi finals. India crashed out of the championships and Sri Lanka went on to win the finals and the World Cup.

8. Multi skills help: Whether you are playing cricket or developing software, its always good to have people who are multi-skilled, known as “all-rounders” in cricketing parlance.

A good Developer should have the necessary skill to do testing and a good Test Engineer should understand the nuances of a good design.

Mohinder Amarnath’s “all-round” ability of providing solidity to the middle order and at the same time snaring wickets with his innocuous looking medium pace helped India clinch the World Cup in Lord’s England in 1983. He was the “Man of the Match” during the semi finals and finals. Similarly Yuvaraj Singh’s multi skills helped him garner four “Man of the Match” Awards during 2011 World Cup and it was fitting that he was at the wicket when Dhoni hit the winning six to bring back the Cup after 28 years.

9. Differentiate personal adversity from professional work: We are taught to maintain the right amount of balance between professional and personal life. Apart from that, we should also know how to keep the two isolated. Never let your personal adversity reflect on your professional work and vice versa.

During the 1999 World Cup being played in England, Sachin Tendulkar’s father died. Sachin made a quick dash to India and was back in England in a jiffy. When he scored an unbeaten 140 century on his arrival at Bristol, England and looked Heavenwards at his departed father, he had the entire crowd at its feet and even the most “stiff upper lipped” could be seen wiping a tear or two.

10. “Rolling stone gathers no moss”: This is a very famous saying that we have heard since time immemorial. No article in today’s fast paced IT can be complete without talking of attrition! In today’s IT era, it’s a fashion to be changing jobs at the speed of changing clothes. Gone are the days when our parents would work for 25 years in one Company.

At the time of retirement, the Company would reward their 25 years of loyalty with a Two Hundred Rupee HMT watch that they would proudly display on their wrinkled wrist. In any field, whether its sports or IT, its important to continue in the “same field” to acquire good functional and domain competency. A best example of “continuation” comes from none other than Sachin Tendulkar, the God of Indian cricket. In his 21 years of Indian cricket, he has conquered most of the World records, more than what the rest have achieved put together. However, just for a moment, pause and think how little Sachin would have achieved if he had been changing his sport every 2 years !

Whether it is a game of cricket or professional work, the core values, ethics and principles remain unchanged!
- M R Dev Prasad

Thursday, 16 January 2014

COACHING : Basic Wicket Keeping

Set Up
• The crouch
• Feet approximately shoulder width apart
• Weight evenly balanced on the balls of the feet
• Gloves open and lightly touching the ground

• Always ensure a clear view down the delivery line
• To the spinners crouch with the inside leg in line with off-stump and about 2 foot lengths back
• To fast/medium pacers stand far enough back to take the ball about hip height (Keepers control the slips positioning)
• Always mark the positioning

• Keep the weight on the balls of the feet
• Maintain flexed knees throughout the sideways movement
• Keeping back; Position feet to take the ball on inside leg
• Keeping up; Keep the head in-line with the ball

• Point the fingers at the ground, sky or sideways, NEVER at the ball
• Extend the arms, then give with the ball
• Catch the ball in the palms at the base of the fingers, so that the fingers close around the ball

Mental skills
• Staying focused for every second of the days play is impossible. Keepers need to switch on as the bowler comes in and then switch off when the ball is dead.

Role in the team
• The keeper should lead in the field
• Set a high standard for you fielders to follow as how the keeper conducts himself on the field often is reflected in the whole team performance
• The keeper is also in a prime position to identify batters weaknesses, bowlers performances and field placements so as to assist the captain

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

COACHING : Basic Fielding #3

When taking a catch, fingers should only point one of different three ways;
1. At the ground
2. At the sky
3. Parallel to the ground (side-on)

In order to take any catch cleanly, as player must use length of catch also known as `soft’ hands. These principles also apply for taking outfield/in-the-circle catches. It refers to the cushioning effect on the ball. This is best explained through the example that, if a ball is thrown at concrete it bounces up, if it is thrown at a soft pillow it stays in the pillow and doesn’t bounce out.
Slips: Perhaps the most difficult position to field. Slips fieldsmen need great concentration, coordination and reflexes. The slips fieldsmen should position himself according to the wicketkeeper. 1st slips should be roughly a pace behind the keeper, 2nd slip in-line with the keeper, and 3rd slip closer to the batsman than 2nd. Slips fieldsmen should try to spread themselves as wide as possible. Players should have feet shoulder width apart, their weight on their toes (balls of feet) and their hands out in front.
Close in fieldsman: These fieldsmen are often employed early in the innings or when a spinner is bowling well. These fielders are in a dangerous position and thus should wear protective equipment at all times. Once a fieldsman is placed it is important that as the bowler moves into bowl the fieldsman squats slightly and stays still. By the fieldsman taking up a `half’ wicket keeper stance and staying low it helps them to move quickly. Weight should be low and distributed on the toes with feet roughly shoulder width apart.
Fielding in the circle: These fieldsmen main responsibility is to stop singles and boundary scoring shots when possible. About 20-35m from the bat these fieldsmen should `walk in with the bowler’. Once the bowler starts his run-up the in the circle fieldsman should start to walk in gradually building their momentum, so that at the moment the ball is delivered the fieldsman is in a balanced position, hands in front of the body and ready to move either, left, right, forwards or backwards
Fielding on the boundary: These players should make sure they position themselves right on the boundary. They are there to prevent the ball from going for four but also to limit the number of runs taken. When the bowler moves into bowl they should walk in a couple of paces.
Fielding is mainly an attitude; fieldsman must wish the ball to come to them. The most successful fieldsman concentrates every ball and likes to display their skills in the field. A long day or a long partnership may lead to a noticeable drop in the teams fielding performance. It is important that coaches recognize this and encourage their players to stay focused for the entire fielding session.
5. Basic Fielding
How to slide and dive
To try and keep the pressure on it is important to be able to slide and dive efficiently.
What is a slide? What is a dive? – The basic difference is that a slide is down with the feet first, then sliding on the thigh collecting the ball in the mid drift area. A dive is head first, with arms reaching to collect the ball at full stretch in one or two hands.
How to slide
The slide is often employed when the ball is racing away from you towards the boundary. The player chasing the ball wants to get his body behind the ball collect and return it quickly. Imagine you are running 45 degrees to your right, with a ball that is already past you on the way to the boundary. You judge where you will intercept it, then as you get close, you start getting side on. You then make a small jump and land with your left leg straight to the ground sliding on the area between your knee and hip. As you slide you gather the ball, quickly rise from the slide and return the ball to the keeper. If the ball is on your right side, slide on your left thigh, if the ball is on your left side, slide on your right thigh.
How to dive
With a dive you have less time than a slide and the fieldsman’s only concern is to stop the ball. As the ball will be traveling past you normally for a boundary, dives are usually at full stretch. You judge the speed of the ball and make an angle to it. Taking quick steps you cover the ground, your momentum is heading towards where you plan to intercept the ball. As you get within approximately the length of your body from the ball, jump head first at the ball, sliding on the side of your chest, with arms outstretched at the ball. If the ball is heading right, slide on the right side of your body, if the ball is heading left slide on the left. A dive should be the last resort as it takes a long time to gain your balance and be able to throw after a dive.