It only seems like a few years ago when every team had at least one batter who would walk to the wicket with his team-mates giggles carrying across the outfield.
We were all waiting for the inevitable death rattle as the "bunny" plays all round a straight one.
Top level coaches now encourage the "bunny" to think about scoring runs rather than just surviving with leaves, blocks and evasion. As a result it's common to see lower order players reverse sweeping and moving across their stumps to tuck the ball into the on-side for one.
So how can we develop the next generation of lower order batters in our clubs, academies and schools?
Change your terms of reference
Make batter into "run getter"
Simple changes in language strategy will shift the mindset of all the players in your team towards lower order batting.
In the teams that I coach that all batters are referred to as "run getters".
I tell all the players that there is no rule in cricket that decrees that the top order has to score more than the lower order. The number next to her name just gives the running order, not a change in intention.
Shift your language to shift player's expectations. Do this and watch your player's behaviour in practice change for the better.
Drive your lower order success with KPIs
What average would you consider a success for your last 3 rungetters?
What should they strike at?
What should a 9, 10 and 11 rungetter's scoring % be?
Do your sums, run some historical stats on your team and the most successful teams in your league and motivate your players performance with objective measures.
Bowlers love stats as a general rule. They all take pride in their bowling average, strike rate and RpO, Now inspire the by using batting stats to drive their practice and match performance.
Paul Collingwood was buddied up with Monty Panesar during the 2009 England Tour to the West Indies. He worked solidly with Monty on developing his understanding of batting, on how bowlers would look to attack him and how Monty could develop his run-getting game.
When Monty saved the Cardiff Ashes Test match in 2009, there was no one more ecstatic than Colly. All those throw-downs, bowling machine sessions, chats over coffee and review discussions in the evenings were well worth it. His investment of time set England up for an Ashes Series win.
3 simple measures that will convert your Bunnies into run getters.