This guest post is by Darren Talbot.
I had a very interesting conversation this week with Chris Hanson who runs a thriving junior section for East Molesey Cricket Club down by the River Thames in Surrey next door to Hampton Court Palace. A former club of mine, we got chatting about the success of their colts set up.
Chris told me that they had been focusing on fielding as the core of their training sessions.
As 80% of a cricketer's average match is fielding, he reasoned, if a team got highly proficient at that from the ages of 6 or 7 upwards, by the time they were seniors this would make a vast difference to what they could contribute to the club. Think how often you end up fielding a colt to field in the league team on a Saturday afternoon!
Think how often you would do it if they were going to save you 10 runs in the field every game.
Save 20 runs a match in the field
Indeed East Molesey have found that their success at junior level has increased immensely through this way of coaching. They are saving on average 20 plus runs in the field each match which in a typical junior 20 over match can be around 15-20% of the typical total score. To put that into context, this means teams chasing less than 5 runs per over instead of 6 runs per over to win a match.
Use a pound coin to cut out wides
At my club, Cobham Avorians, I had approached it from a slightly different direction. My experience has been that it is wides and no balls that make the difference between winning and losing colts matches. The majority of innings will see anything between 20 and 50 wides and no balls (at 2 runs per extra) and that can make the difference between chasing 120 and 150 in 20 overs! My scheme was to place a clipboard on a good length with a pound coin on top of it. The first player to land a ball bowled from his or her normal run up on top of the clipboard first bounce would win the money! Each week that no-one got the money an additional Â£1 was added. Needless to say after 2 or 3 initial weeks finding their line the Â£1 coins were being won within 10-15 minutes of the session starting. And sure enough our extras were reduced from an average of 50 down to less than 25.
Between East Molesey and Cobham Avorians we've saved 20 runs through fielding practice, 25 runs through target bowling practice â€“ so we should have reduced the target we are chasing to comfortably less than 100 off 20 overs.
Now all we have to do is learn to hit boundaries and run better between the wickets...
About the Author
Darren runs Darren Talbot Cricket Coaching and is a full-time UKCC Level 2 qualified cricket coach and a member of the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Coaches Association. He is also Academy Director of Cobham Avorians Cricket Club.
Darren captained Surrey Young Cricketers and played in the Surrey under 19 team as a slow-left arm bowler and attacking middle-order (occasional opening) batsman. He has also played league club cricket for various clubs in Surrey and Kent over the last 20 years including Walton-on-Thames, Dover and Cobham Avorians.
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