Coaching | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

What the Ashes Taught Us about Playing Swing and Seam Bowling

2015 was a very odd Ashes. When the ball swung significantly England won. When the ball didn't swing for long periods Australia compiled heavy first innings scores and won as a result of scoreboard pressure.

Only 6 batters (Root, Rogers, Warner, Smith, Cook and Ali) averaged over 30 in the series. Cook and Rogers are Test match specialists, Warner adapted his method during the series, Smith and Root swapped over as World number one batters and there is a good chance that England's number 8 in this series will open the batting in the next one!

Other than these players, there were a lot of "walking wickets" on show in the series. Especially when either side got the ball to move laterally. As coaches, we have a huge role to play in the development of cricketers who have the skills to cope with balls that swerve in and out and also deck off of the pitch.

This comes in the technical wisdom that we impart on the players and also in the way that we expose the batters to tough conditions and to swinging balls.

Technically, when the ball swings, the feet have a tendency not to move.

Jos Buttler showed this in the last couple of test matches. His only method was to try and save himself with his excellent hand to eye coordination. But even that wasn't enough in tough batting conditions.

So what could Jos do to prepare himself for lateral moving conditions in the future?

How to Use "Britain's Got Talent" to Boost Your Batting Talent

Here's a brilliant batting drill based on a TV show.

First the back story: I ran a session this week with four cricketers from school who haven't played a great deal over the summer holidays. One of the players in the session has made huge progress this year.

How England Smashed my Ashes Prediction for Six

A few weeks ago I predicted a comfortable Australia victory in the 2015 Ashes. Most of the cricketing world, including England Captain Alastair Cook didn't think that his inexperienced side could beat mighty Australia.

How have England beaten the odds? And what can we learn from it?

How to Become an Adaptable Batsman

Sam Lavery talks about the power, and problems with "automatic response" batting.

As the players I coach progress through the age groups on the road towards the professional game, I often find myself trying to help them train their "automated responses".

How to Coach Confidence and Reduce Anxiety

Nomaan sent in a great question to the Pitchvision Cricket Show last week. It revolved around his lack of confidence, increased anxiety levels and being unable to transfer his considerable practice skills into a match context.

Ultimately he had lost "that loving feeling" for the game.

Drills to Improve Playing Fast Bowling

England's disarray against fast bowling at Lord's was not a surprise to those who have watched them closely over the years.

Despite Lords being a very good batting track, England seemed clueless against the fast bowling onslaught in the 4th innings.

Australia shifted their length of attack to push the batters back and then pitched the ball fuller to bring the stumps in or get the edge. The classic combination of short, short, full. The same combination that undid them in Australia 18 months ago.

So what can be done in this situation?

Here are some drills.

Name That Tune: Can Music Fast Track Performance?

In last week's spin orientated article, I mentioned a comment that Glenn McGrath made about singing a song inside his head as he was running up to bowl. It was inspiring and reassuring to hear a great of the game talk about this as we use music a lot when working with players at Millfield School.

How to Prepare for Bowling into the Rough

One of the features of this Ashes series will be the battle between spinner and batters as the rough patches develop rapidly through each Test match. The weather in the UK has been (relatively) dry for months. The pitches are drier than usual for this time of year.

The Australian left arm seamers will help the rough patches to degrade at an accelerated rate outside the right handed batters off stump. This shall bring Moeen Ali and Nathan Lyon into the game earlier as attacking forces. It is likely that the Stokes, Anderson, Broad and Wood will bowl some overs around the wicket at David Warner, if he stays in long enough. This will also add wear and tear to that rough area.

The developing rough isn't just a problem for the batter. It also creates challenges for the keeper and the bowler as well. I know what you're saying; "Test match spinners shouldn't be challenged by the rough? It should be all their dreams come true!"

For bowlers such as Murali or Warne the rough represented opportunity. For most spinners, the developing footholds can represent a threat.

This threat is the pressure of expectation.

What are Good Areas?

Sam Lavery has been thinking about a good line and length, and he's not happy with the term. Read on for his solution.

"Just hit good areas".

That's a phrase I hear almost every day as coach. Whether it's bowlers, batsmen or coaches, "good areas" is a term used widely used but often blindly.

Can This Story Help You Save a Ruined Training Session?

Picture the scene: We had a brilliant centre wicket practice the other day ahead of a Regional T20 finals day. I was keen to take full advantage of the time that we had available to us ahead of the big day.

That morning, I had a number of emails about various school events in what is always an incredibly busy last week of term. The upshot? Where we once had 15 players; we now had 10.

And it got worse. Both keepers were at school play rehearsal. The forecast said that rain was due at 1700; our practice was due to start at 1545. My best laid plans for a middle practice were in tatters.

What can we do to make this session as good as could be?