If you have ever captained at any level you know how fast cricket can move even if things seem to be going slowly.
The ability to think fast is vital. If you can process a large amount of game information and turn it into a relevant tactical move in a ball or two rather than an over or two it stands to reason you will win more games.
How do you train yourself to do this?
Experience is a critical factor. You need to mess up before you get things right, something I and every other captain has experienced first hand. But messing up doesn't make you a bad captain.
If you are new to captaincy and find yourself behind the game, don't panic. Try these tricks instead.
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- Stay in the present. A common captaincy error is to set fields or use bowlers for a situation that has passed. A couple of quick wickets or a bad over can transform the game, yet many captains stick with the same tactics, especially going too defensive too early. Play the game based on the situation now, not 5 minutes ago.
- Have confidence. You know more than you think. If you have played a decent amount you will have a wealth of experience to draw from. Trust your own knowledge of the game and confidently make changes as soon as there is a need (or keep things the same if there isn't). Sometimes you need to back yourself and just do it.
- Watch everything. Batsmen are different, weather conditions can change, pitches alter over the day, bowlers become tired, fielders move out of position and game situations can change with every ball. Take the whole lot in and keep watching.
- Work on hunches. Sometimes all you have to work on is a hunch. Often hunches are dead right. Why not go with some wild plan if you have a method to your madness? If it fails you can always change again.
- Make a plan then break it. While you should always have a plan, you should be prepared to break it when the situation allows. If you put a side in you will be attacking to bowl them out for as few as possible, but if you can't bowl them out you should be comfortable trying to stem the runs until the declare or run out of time.