Research has show the simple truth: the better the batsman you are the faster you pick up the line and length of the bowler.
But how do you do that so you can emulate the likes of Kevin Pietersen who seems to have so much time he knows what the bowler has bowled before the bowler even knows?
The first thought is that it is something to do with eyesight or reaction time; natural born traits. The good news is that - when tested - top players are no better at reacting or seeing things than anyone off the street.
That’s good news for you because picking line and length can be trained; it’s within your control.
The even better news is that there is no secret drill, expensive bit of equipment or eyesight training trick either.
It’s all down to one simple thing.
You see, researchers looking into how top players did it found that they were able to pick both line and length before the ball was even bowled.
They were not reading the bowler’s mind.
They were just really, really good at reading the bowler’s movements.
So good they were not thinking about it consciously, they were accessing their subconscious database to instantly predict where the ball was going.
A database of information that had been built up by facing thousands of balls bowled over many years, each ball training the mind to react instinctively.
The bowler gives hundreds of clues every moment: The field that is set, the face he pulls, the way he runs in, the way the front arm goes up, the way the head moves and where the ball is released. Each clue is used by the highly-trained batter’s mind to instantly build up a predictive picture.
The one thing you need to do to pick up line and length
To create that database in your own mind you just need to face a lot of bowling.
Not underarm and ball drop drills
Although those elements have their uses, they won’t teach your subconscious mind.
Just face as much bowling as you can.
Of course, you need to build in a feedback loop to make sure you are learning as you are bowling.
You will be faced with a lot of failure, and a lot of times where you feel like you can’t be bothered to go through it all again.
But be like those batters - like KP who is famed for his work ethic and triumph against the odds - and power through the bad times to face all those balls.
It’s guaranteed to make you pick up line and length more quickly.