How are you supposed to improve your game when your club has no practice sessions?
There are many club sides that do nothing but have a good game followed by a couple of pints afterwards. It's more common in English village cricket teams who have no pretentions to league success.
What if you are stuck in a team like this despite you aims to improve?
Frustrating I'll bet.
It's something reader Daniel has contacted me about via Twitter. If you are going to enjoy your cricket more and succeed you owe it to yourself to find some way to practice when the formal version is missing. Here are 4 suggestions I came up with:
1. Find a practice buddy
You might not be able to get the whole team down for practice, but what about 1 or 2 others with a free hour to spare? It works well in the fitness world where training buddies motivate each other to work harder and more regularly.
You could find your buddy at work or school (nobody made it a rule that you need to play for the same club), a family member or even someone you find via a forum or local paper classified section.
If you are a bowler it's even easier. You just need a bag of balls and some space to bowl in. Dave seems to do a good job with just his young sons to help.
If you can muster up enough people you could even have a park, playground or beach cricket match. It all counts as practice to your brain, even if it's tape ball.
Research into sport psychology has shown a clear link between thought and action. In other words, if you think about doing something (like scoring a hundred), you are more likely to do it. We don't exactly know why it works, but it does. It's such a powerful tool; there is one study out there that has proven that just thinking about doing bench presses three times a week will increase your strength!
It does take a bit of work to get used to though. You have to clear time and space to really visualise the success. However, doing this for 20 minutes a couple of times a week is equally as effective as having a net (possibly more so, depending how well a net is run).
3. Play more cricket
As I touched on before when talking about beach cricket, you are able to learn cricket skills in less formal environments too.
The summer evenings after work here are always having matches like these. Pub teams, midweek leagues, work teams or just a game down at the park all give an opportunity for you to play in a more open environment.
One or two of these matches a week can easily make up for a lack of practice and keep your eye in for the main event.
4. Go to another club
If your team does no practice, why not find one who does? You could move completely, or just tag along to other teams nets while still turning out for your own side at the weekend. It might be a bit cheeky but why be shy about it? It's just a game after all.
Braver souls might want to try even more drastic measures like joining the committee and convincing the club to start net sessions. But becoming a committee member can be more daunting than facing a fast bowler on a dodgy track.
What are your experiences? Does your club have regular nets and are they worthwhile? How to you make up the slack? Get me on twitter or leave a comment.
Photo credit: Eleventh Earl of Mar