5 Sure-fire ways to play aggressive cricket | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

5 Sure-fire ways to play aggressive cricket

Will playing attacking cricket get you better results than playing the percentage game?

You can have both.

Fast bowling, big spinning and hard hitting are fun, but cricket is a subtle game. Even Twenty20 has nuances. The best brand of aggressive cricket you can play is the selective type. Aggression is a mindset, not an on/off switch.

It's important to know what it means to be aggressive in your cricket. Saying you will play aggressively is a good soundbite but is it always practical and how do you apply the theory?

1. Find your freedom

Look at one of the finest positive cricketers of modern times: Viv Richards. He played with an uncluttered mind. He looked to score quickly. When he saw the chance he took it. He was a genius with the bat, but his mindset is exactly what you need to copy if you are to become more positive in your game.

Try to bowl fast, try to spin the ball as far as possible and look to hit the ball as much as the game situation allows. In short, learn how to stay relaxed and confident under pressure by doing what you know works. This will give you the freedom to play positively.

2. Select your spot

Imagine one of the least aggressive match situations: Playing out for a draw. There is no benefit to aggressive play in that situation surely?

As many Test match commentators tell us, it's often fatal to try and defend everything instead of scoring at your normal rate. Your play could easily start to feel unnatural to you and you end up losing your wicket. You can even be aggressive in defence.

Aggression is not a choice between slog/play properly. It's a continuum where you can select any spot between the two depending how you want to play. It's very rare you will find yourself at either end of the spectrum.

The answer is to assess the situation and be as positive as you can be given the circumstances. That may mean learning how to work the ball into the gaps while batting or learn some variations when the ball is not doing what you want it to. There is always something else to try.

3. Practice aggression

It's not uncommon to go into the nets on practice day and slog from the first ball. As you have gathered, this is just one very limited form of aggressive batting. There are several more effective methods.

Practice games are far and away the best way to practice an aggressive philosophy. You can set a match situation (end of innings, middle overs, opening few overs) and a target for runs or wickets. Make it challenging and you will be teaching yourself to play positive.

You can also work on skills that allow you to play more aggressively. Seamers can groove their actions to get every ounce of pace, spinners can learn how to accurately bowl variations (like googlies, arm balls or extra flight) and batsman can develop new shots.

4. Sledge (with caution)

Sledging, rightly or wrongly, is linked to aggressive cricket. There is no reason why it should be but used carefully it can be very effective.

The key is to pick your moment. Some players respond to comments by improving their play, especially if they are feeling confident. The right thing said at the right time can undermine a player's confidence though. As a game of confidence this can make all the difference and even influence the rest of the team. You know you are on top when a side are quiet in the field for example.

I'm not suggesting you take the negative side of sledging too far here. The key, like all aggressive cricket, is to be positive in your intent. Just swearing at someone is not as effective anyway. Be precise and original.

5. Get stronger and faster

Imagine a player had a choice to workout and eat healthy or not. If he did put in the time in the gym he would be lean, strong and athletic. If he didn't he would be overweight.

The former choice can allow him to take more quick singles, bowl faster and hit harder in all situations. Not bad for a couple of visits to the gym a week.

Despite the incredible weight of evidence in favour of this, some people still fear strength and speed training. They are worried it will somehow upset their delicate cricket skills. This is a shame for them, but a boon to you.

You can use their fear to take yourself ahead of the pack and become the most positive, attacking cricketer you know.

Combine your new found physical attributes with a strong mental approach and you will be streets ahead.

Photo credit: andrewhall

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Sledging doesn't make you a better cricketer.

It may be linked to aggressive cricket, but you can't show me that it has a positive correlation to your own cricket.

Simon Barnes wrote about this very recently: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/columnists/simon_barnes/article42...

Essentially, if you don't sledge - don't start because I promise you it won't help you score a hundred. And everyone won't think you a prize tosser either.

True, but when done right it can make your opponents worse cricketers. Steve Waugh did it against England on a regular basis. However, I see your point. It's easy to take too far and there is no benefit to your own game.

As a captain of a small cricket team I tell my players not to sledge unless the other team does so as I feel it ruins the spirit of the game. Otherwise very helpful especially as I am a batsman from the lower order. Around 6 or 7 and need to work on batting more aggressively

Why does sledging always have to have negative connotations? Just because the media picks up on the rogue element it doesn't always have to be that way.

Sledging can simply be a case of saying 'Hello' or telling the batsman he's looking good. It's about getting in the mind of the opposition, not verbally abusing them. The problem is we only focus on the negative and as a result we now associate sledging with asking after the opposition's mother or the parentage of their children.

A classic piece of sledging came from Flintoff to Tino Best. Nothing nasty was said, just a challenge for the batsman to smash the ball out of the park. It worked as he got into the mind of the batsman and as a consequence he was caught on the boundary going for the big hit.

Nothing derogatory was said, nor anything abusive. When used in this way sledging can be a help either to the team sledging or the team being sledged, depending on their responses.

However, although it may sound I'm all for sledging I will concede there is a line. Too many people cross it, simply because they either lack the wit or intelligence. Banter is fine but as ever it is understanding where to stop.

Completely agree with the comments. Only ever sledge back. I specifically remember last season a wicketkeeper dropping an absoloute dolly. When my time came to bat, I was going nicely, just pumped their spinner for a big straight six (held the pose of course) and the wicketkeeper threatended to punch me. I simply responded by saying "You wouldn't do much damage with those hands boy".

That proufoundly shut him up.

However, classicly, one of their seamers ended up getting a quadruple wicket maiden.

He threatened to punch the man wearing a helmet and wielding a cricket bat? Never go to a gun fight with a knife.

Yes but he was also wearing a helmet plus had three stumps and two bails to use.

i being the captain of my team have always told my players to avoid sledging as far as possible . its not that i am against sledging but it distracts the attention of the player and he is unable to focus on the game. a good player might lose an opportunity of his lifetime if he loses his temper.