Selecting a Cricket Team is Hard and Thankless: Here is How to Get it Right (Mostly) | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Selecting a Cricket Team is Hard and Thankless: Here is How to Get it Right (Mostly)

Being a selector is difficult whether you are picking the India team or your local club cricket XI. Is there a way to make it easier?



And No.

You will never get it right every time, but you can have a deep understanding of where things could go wrong, and where things have gone right in the past. This will give your the best chance of choosing the right team for your level of cricket.

Let's look at some of the unique challenges of selecting at club, school and academy level.

What's your template?

The absolute basic first question is to know what you need to get through the game.

In the case of my limited overs club side, league rules state you can bowl 10 overs. So, we know we need five cricketers who can bowl. Add in a wicketkeeper and you can see six places filled already. The rest of the places are batters.

However, the template from here can vary wildly depending on conditions, history and who you have available. In my team's example again we have;

  • Three specialist batsmen capable of scoring fifty or more
  • Three batting all-rounders who can score fifties but also bowl five or more overs
  • One wicketkeeper-batsman
  • Three bowling all-rounders who can reliably give 10 overs and also score thirty or more
  • One specialist bowler

This team has three spinners and four seamers. I would recommend at least five bowlers with two spinners for most flexibility.

Generally two spinners is a good idea, especially if your games are possible to be drawn. But even in limited overs cricket, the good spinner is hard to get away and ends up doing well. plus, There is always the risk that a spinner can be punished against a set batsman and having a spin twin can help ease the burden.

The all-rounder effect

You will have noticed a big group of all-rounders in the team above. This is a common problem in non-professional cricket. Often the top six batters have three or four first choice bowlers. The knock on effect is that lesser-skilled but more specialist bowlers do not get enough overs or batsmen are forced down the order.

How do you deal with this issue?

First, do your best to avoid it by picking a balanced team. However, sometimes you can't avoid it and find yourself with - for example - a batsman who has to bat eight. In this case you have two options,

  1. Speak with the player, make sure they are prepared to do it and try to share the "TFC" position around a few guys rather than have one do it all season.
  2. Give them a chance up the order. If they are a good young opener then open with them. Maybe they get out first ball every week or - more likely - they will adapt and survive and grow into the job.

he worst thing you can do is let a player fester and barely get a game. Yes, some players are happy to be part of the team beyond their own game. Realistically, most will get fed up and feel ill-treated. You could even end up losing them to another team when all it really needs is a bit of communication and planning ahead.

Borderline policy

If you have selected a team before you will know most of the team are nailed on pretty fast. The first eight or nine names on the sheet barely get a mention. The fun - and stress - is in the borderlines.

It's these places that tells you a lot about the makeup of a selection committee and even a whole club.

  • Do you pick the talented but not-quite ready youngster or do you go with the slightly-past-it old stager?
  • Do you make a one-off change based on conditions or stick with a well-gelled unit?
  • Do you drop the formless star player or give them other go based on past performance?
  • How much do you reward a player who is more committed to training over another who trains less often?

These decisions are best based on general policy applied to specific cases. That way, if the discussion gets to an impasse you can say "well, we all agreed our policy was to go with youth when it was a close call, so let's get the youngster in."

Another unique borderline case in amateur cricket is the player who can't play every week. Players who often drop out or can only play a handful of games can be disruptive to the team. So, as a long term policy, decide if those runs and wickets are worth the hassle. You can always change your mind if you realise you made the wrong call.

Bad decisions

Despite your best intentions you will make bad selections. People will feel hard done by. There will be muttering about unfairness. This is inevitable.

The good news is you can do something about it.

Start with a clear selection policy that everyone knows about. Write it down if it helps. Make rules, but take care over them. If you say "don't train, don't play" then you better stick with it, even for the bloke who smashes hundreds but can't get to training due to work. That's tough unless you have a very understanding group of players!

For every other situation, the best route is to be open about your decisions and happy to explain them to anyone.

You might find you have awkward conversations with players who have been dropped or not picked. The alternative is worse: Saying nothing runs the risk of alienating players, creating cliqués and losing people.

If you don't realise a selection decision might cause an unhappy player, you can hear complaints on the grapevine (in my experience, it's rare for someone who is disgruntled just to ask about the decision face to face). In this case, actively make the move to speak with the unhappy party as soon as possible. They may never agree with you decision but at least they will appreciate you trying to smooth the waters.

What are your experiences as either a selector on someone on the outside of selection looking in and wondering what the devil is going on?

Broadcast Your Cricket Matches!

Ever wanted your skills to be shown to the world? PV/MATCH is the revolutionary product for cricket clubs and schools to stream matches, upload HD highlights instantly to Twitter and Facebook and make you a hero!

PV/MATCH let's you score the game, record video of each ball, share it and use the outcomes to take to training and improve you further.

Click here for details.


We've had an interesting year, as we expanding from 1 team to 2 teams. At the start of the year, we took your advice and the 1st team had 11 good cricketers all getting a go, with some excellent all-rounders taking the hit and agreeing to play as only batsmen or bowlers in order to make sure everyone got a game. The 3rd best bowler in the club wasn't bowling because he was playing as a batsman, and a lad capable of scoring tons was not getting a bat because he was the opening bowler and agreed to bat at 9 behind the specialist batsmen. However we found that the 2nd team were weak as a result of us "wasting resources" up in the 1sts, and were getting stuffed every game.

Controversially, mid season we had an emergency meeting, we decided to flip things around take a different route. We asked our all-rounders in the 1sts to shoulder the load, and put 2 batsmen and 1 bowler down into the 2nds to give them a chance of winning. We asked members of the 2nds to take it in turns to "do a stint" as specialist fielders in the 1st XI.

Both teams turned their seasons around and finished with winning records. Quite often the top all-rounders in the 1sts had the game in the bag so early that the specialist fielders we called up were able to have a bat or a bowl. The players we dropped down to the 2nds all had great seasons as a result. The atmosphere in the club improved.

Hello Sir,my name is M Furqan Khan.I am from Pakistan.I am good all-rounder in cricket.I am a fast bowler and a very good batsman.My average is about 70+ in bating.So,I want to become an international cricketer.I need a chance.So can you give me a chance