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Cricket Show S6 Episode 34: A Lone Sheep

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There is a special guest appearance on the show with Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe joined by an indifferent sheep. Somewhere along the line, the talk turns to cricket topics too.

The show starts with some follow up thoughts on a recent article debating the importance of data analysis in cricket coaching. Is it all taking us away from the joy of the game, or is there merit in the numbers?

Plus there are the usual listener's questions - with a prize on offer - about high knees in a fast bowler, and what happens when you bowl so many googlies you lose your leg break.

Listen in to enjoy and learn.

How Direct Competition Makes Selection Simple

England travel to the UAE in a few weeks to take on Pakistan in an environment that has been very good to Misbhar-ul-Haq's Test team. The conditions will force England to have to pick a 2nd spinner to support Moeen Ali. This is likely to be the multi-talented Adil Rashid.

Some would see the selection of Adil as direct competition to Moeen. Some will say that Ali has been England's only spin option for just over a year and a half and now he has a direct threat.

However, I don't see it like that at all. To me, this is both Moeen's and England's biggest opportunity to take the World of Test Cricket by storm.

To me he is a fantastic batter who can bowl well as opposed to a front line Test spinner who can counter-attack with the bat from number eight. Ultimately, England could be accused of wasting his talent batting so low when their top and middle order have not always been firing.

The inclusion of a second spinner provides England with an opportunity to leave one of the inconsistent batters out and to push Moeen up the order. Then slot the capable Rashid in at number eight.

The English press are speculating that Ali should open the batting with Captain Cook but I would resist that option as I don't see it being a long term option.

Alex Hales should be given a chance to open up with the bat with Ali at five. Ali is a developing player against spin and an excellent player of fast bowling when it isn't directed at his head. I know that he is working hard on this aspect of his game.

The UAE wickets will suit him as the bounce is not excessive. However, opening the batting in South Africa would expose him to a new ball and two fantastic bowlers - Steyn and Morkel - on bouncier wickets than in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

I know what you are going to say, why would he have to open in South Africa as England will only need one spinner over there?

Six Shortcuts for Becoming an Excellent Batsman in Record Time

You’re impatient. You want success and you want it fast.

But batting is frustrating: You lack opportunities to practice and play in ways that help you improve. Even when you do get your chance you get a great ball first up and have to wait a week for another bat.

So here are six ways you can make to most of the chances you have and get ahead of the crowd to become a top-quality batsman in as short a time as possible.

1. Keep it Simple

Batting styles differ wildly, but one thing remains simple and true: Classy bastmen are world-class in the basics.

  • They have a setup that keeps their head still, eyes level and move to the ball in good alignment.
  • They are ready and focused on the ball as it is released.
  • They have confidence in their game-plan.

So the first thing you need to look at is your setup, backswing and initial movement. Most people think they have it licked.

Most people are wrong.

Spend time in the nets and be totally sure about it. Get someone to watch it or video yourself.

Where is you backlift going?

Are your eyes level?

Is your trigger move keeping you aligned?

To help, here is a worksheet to download and take to nets. Use deliberate practice and that sheet to start making a super quick difference.

Slay the Dragon: Seven Cricket Myths That Need to Die

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I really hope a dragon slayer destroys these cricket myths soon.

They are dragons that stop perfectly decent players doing a good job. Instead of a focus on the powerful things we can do to improve our game, we cower, afraid of the excuse dragons. It's time to go out with swords of truth to hunt every one down.

If you have ever said - or thought - any of the following it's OK to admit it. We all have at some point. This is a place where we can start again and get to the slaying.

So let's slay these dragons:

A Simple Tip for Improving Leg Side Takes for Wicketkeepers

Inspired by Mark Garaway's standing up drills, I did some work with some wicketkeepers on standing up to seamers.

We duly set up a drill with a bowling machine to work on leg side takes.

The machine was previously set up for right arm over, pitching on off stump, so rather than adjust the machine we:

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?

Revealed: The Secret of How to Bowl Fast

Research into fast bowling has revealed two simple changes to your action goes 50% of the way to top bowling speed.

Forget about "hip drive", "chest drive" and "pulling your non-bowling arm in": It's all about the feet and legs at the crease. This simple knowledge, which so far has been ignored by coaches, can be turned to your advantage.

CRICKET JOBS: Head Coach - Murrumbeena CC (Aus) *Premium Listing*

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Closing date: 7th September 2015

Just outside Melbourne the Murrumbeena Cricket club was formed in 1910 and has a long and proud history.  The club offers a very welcoming and family orientated environment and is centrally based at Murrumbeena Park in Murrumbeena and offers excellent training and playing facilities.

The club currently field 4 senior turf teams in the VTCA.  The club has a vibrant Junior Program with over 200 kids participating - 12 junior under age teams in the SDCCL (including an All Girls team), T20 blast teams and a healthy Milo in2Cricket program.  Murrumbeena was awarded the SDCCL Junior Club of the Year in 2014. 

Tactics You Should Be Using: Bowl at the Stumps

Does it seem a bit old fashioned to say "pitch it up, hit the stumps"?

In these days of slower ball bouncers, enforcers and bowling dry outside off stump you might think so. Actually, it's still an effective way to bowl in most situations.

Swing bowler on a slow English pitch in May? Yes.

Spinner on a Bunsen burner? Absolutely.

Fast bowler on a flat deck? Without doubt.

How Much Practice Does It Really Take to Become a Cricketer?

Go to nets, do your drills and play cricket. These are the steps to improving your skills. But how much time does it really take to make it as a cricketer?

One answer looked at in the last 10 years is 10,000 hours: A number plucked off the back of a study into top class violists, and popularised by authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Geoff Colvin. The idea has since been expanded to cricket. People have stated that simply training every day for 10 years will take you to of the cricket tree.

Hard work, yes, but you know what you need to do. It's been proven by science.

I got 10,000 problems

Except, in recent times, the headline of "10,000 hours" has demotivating to people who play club and school cricket. Most of us can't dedicate so much time to the game. If you train, on average, four hours a month, mastery will take 208 years!