Today we are delighted to introduce a new guest writer to miCricketCoach. Ben Baruch is a 13 year old cricketer from Buckinghamshire in England. He has played district level cricket. Today he gives his views on how to improve your strike rate, something very important for all young players looking to make an impression.
Everyone can whack get 8 off 3 balls, but is that really useful to anyone? To play a very useful innings, you must not only score in quality, but in quantity.
Most cricketers dream of scoring as quickly as the pros, but use lack of talent as an excuse. However, talent is not as simple as it may seem. Scoring slowly is not a technical fault in most cases, but a mental one.
Here are my tips to overcome both the technical and mental side of fast scoring.
1. Get a solid technique
Yeah, I know. You’ve probably heard this so many times before but what does this practically mean?
- First, you can’t score runs in the pavilion. You have to be able to keep the good balls out. That means being able to stop the deliveries that you cannot hit for runs. These are normally the balls that are hitting the top of off stump. It also means that you can keep out yorkers. This doesn’t require very much technique, but is essential to staying in.
- Once you can stay in, you can start to play some shots. If you want to be most effective, but least dangerous, then I suggest learning straight and off drives, as the on drive is very hard to play, the leg glance, flick through the on side, pull, hook, cut, and to the spinner, the sweep. Most batsmen try to score runs with just a couple of shots, which can be successful, but easy to defend against.
- Another good way to learn about aspects of batting is to watch the professionals play on television, or even better live at a ground. You can also get very good coaching books or join PitchVision Academy.
A solid technique means that not only can you score almost risk-free runs, but also you can prevent ways of getting out that now means you can stay in for as long as you want, theoretically.
2. Do the maths
It may sound ludicrous when I say it like this, but when the pressure gets to you, your mind seems to tell you that to get a strike rate off 130, you need fours every ball.
This is pretty much down to panicking.
Once you are experienced, this will not affect you at all, but unless you have played many games and scored lots of runs, this will not affect you. But every century starts with the first ball, and every experienced player had his first game.
If you’re panicking, take a step back and think about it. If you edge the first ball of the over for four and leave all the other balls in the over while you are getting your eye in, you will still have a strike rate of nearly 70, and you are now seeing the ball very well. You don't have to hit out again at all in the over.
If you now see the ball better and hit a couple of bad balls for four, your strike rate has rocketed up and you haven’t even played a shot in anger.
What if you have been batting a long time and have played out a few dots?We all have at sometime.
Do not panic. If you are near the end of the innings and you have wickets in hand, you can deliberately try and hit the ball harder past the fielder or go over the top. There is no slow scoring that a few boundaries will not recover.
Another tactic is ff one batsman is struggling, but the other is on form or has their eye in. The more comfortable batsman can score more quickly and relieve pressure from the struggling batsman. Batting is not individual, but in partnerships.
3. Improve your running
When you start your innings and your eye is not in, runs will not come to you the way they seem to when you are well placed and in. So instead you have to create the runs yourself. This means creating singles by manoeuvring the ball.
This is playing the shot into the gap in the field. The key to this is to look for the gaps in the field before the ball is bowled. Look for the gaps and try to hit them, instead of looking for the fielders and trying to miss them.
If you push the ball to a fielder who isn’t concentrating, there is often a quick single. There may also be singles if you hit the ball slightly to the side of a fielder or to his wrong hand, or if the fielder is standing quite deep. Very few club cricketers are prepared to take on a fielder’s throw, but doing so could add 10-20 runs to score.
If you hit the ball into the outfield, and you have taken a single and the fielder has nearly got the ball, guess how much time it will take for him to get the ball to the wicket and judge if you could take another run.
By taking singles regularly and keeping the score ticking over, you can keep your strike rate at 100 and the twos, threes and fours will take it towards 150.
When you played hit and run at school, most people only think of it as a way to let everybody bat. On the contrary, using the hit and run technique a great way to score quickly without trying.
4. Learn from the best
When I asked Graeme Hick for his best twenty20 tip, he said, “Never play out a maiden.”
Maidens build up pressure and pressure leads to wickets. When faced with a few dot ball, you can always go back to tip and run.
Once you are in, you must look to dominate the bowler. Domination means you play so well or are attacking so much, there is nowhere he can bowl dots. This can get the bowler demoralised and they will start to bang the ball in or over pitch the ball. When this happens, just relax and give it what it deserves. You’ll find runs come in no time.
Kevin Pietersen said that he always tries to dominate the bowling once he got to 10.
Most importantly: Watch the ball. I know you’ve heard it before but when it comes to playing, batsmen start to worry about various things. Whether it's your grip, stance or anything else, it will lead you to stop watching the ball. Just think to yourself “Watch the Ball”, over and over again.
When you are playing well, you will be watching the ball naturally and everything else will follow. After all, to score runs you have to hit the ball, and to hit the ball you have to be watching it like a hawk.
If you want to learn everything there is to know about technique, check out Gary Palmer's interactive coaching courses. Gary is a coach with over 20 years experience teaching players to become first class cricketers. For the first time he has put his drills online, only at PitchVision Academy.