Jordan Finney has played and coached all over the world. Here are his tips on adapting to new conditions.
Have you ever wondered what is meant by “adapting to conditions” in different countries?
Having experienced this first hand across three different continents, I know the answer is simple: The ability to alter ones game slightly so that you can still be effective in a different environmnent.
Below are some practical examples of what is meant by the above, and hopefully this will make things clearer:
From UK to India
When I was playing out in India, in my first innings, batting in the middle order, I did not face one seam bowler. I batted for over an hour (23 overs) and scored 72. I quickly worked out that to score runs here, I shouldn’t fear the spin bowlers, despite this being their forte.
The first ball of my innings fizzed past the outside edge from the leg-spinner and made me realise that sitting in and waiting for a bad ball was a dangerous game. I had to work out a plan on the spot. I know I am most comfortable working spinners for singles, but to do that I needed to get the men out from under my nose, to then allow me to play the touch game.
I figured advancing down the pitch was dangerous with the ball spitting, and that the horizontal bat was the way to go. Something I would not normally do in England.
After two slog sweeps and a conventional sweep, all that was left under my nose was a short leg and a slip. This allowed me to wait on the back foot and milk the bowler through the off side, playing after the ball had spun.
Again, the lateness to which I was playing was far different from England, I realised I had to go right back on my stumps instead of the “half and half” approach you can get away with on the slightly less receptive UK wickets.
From India to South Africa
In the UK spinners pace is discussed an awful lot. Pitches are often produced to help the seamers, and conditions often don’t suit the art of spin bowling. A lot of the time the spin in the UK is very slow, therefore if one does bite, the batter has time to wait back and milk the ball. Therefore my pace when bowling in the UK is quicker, to try and get the most out of the pitch.
Having played on five different pitches in South Africa so far, I have had to adapt. The ball flies through off the seamers and offers very little spin. However I worked out quickly that pitch conditions suit slower spin bowling.
Getting the ball up in the air just makes the ball stop in the pitch a touch and can get the batsman feeling for the ball. Similarly the arm ball just kisses the surface and rushes the batsman compared to the way it digs in back at home. Having played five Twenty20 games so far, and only having one average performance with the ball in the first game, I can say that I have adapted quickly.
Batting in South Africa
Batting is South Africa has been a pleasure. The ball doesn’t seam about as much as at home, and after eight overs there is no swing. However what you need to adapt to is the fact the wickets are hard, bouncy and true.
When the ball stops swinging you find that the length of the bowlers means balls bouncing between belly button and shoulder height, with the odd exception being one at the head. The bowlers are very accurate with this, meaning that scoring options can be limited. I have learnt in the short time of being here, that a higher back lift to the seamers has allowed me to get into position quicker, and I have been able to successfully run the ball through third man with a horizontal bat, and also execute the pull shot with much more ease. Something that can be difficult at home when bowlers are bowling fuller.
How to adapt to conditions
Above are examples of how you can adapt to conditions, and how quick this is needed. We all know that cricket is a funny game mentally, and taking longer to adapt will only make you worry more and more. Therefore there are simple ways that can help you adapt much quicker:
- Ask questions about the wickets from the locals, and how they play. They know best, and will at least give you a head start in formulating a plan, instead of just throwing yourself in at the deep end.
- Net on grass wickets in the middle of you can, so you can get a feel with the bat and ball as to what works and what doesn’t work.
- Assess conditions when you play your first game; think quickly on your feet and don’t be scared to try something, if your original plan is not working.
- Don’t get to disheartened after a bad first game, people will not expect you to hit the ground running in alien conditions. Just make sure you learn from the first game, take the information and use it to formulate a more conducive plan.
Remember that in any conditions on a cricket field we are always learning, even in our native lands. However when placed in foreign conditions the need to learn becomes greater. The ability to learn, aids our ability to adapt faster.