Once you know about the cricket stack, you can relax about your technique and actually start playing well.
But what is the cricket stack?
To find out, let’s look at cricket life through the technical lens, as most people do.
Have you ever been playing poorly and thought to yourself you need to get in the nets to get rid if those flaws? Do you go to nets and practice hard, trying to find that little trick or tip that will get your game repeatable? Do you use the bowling machine or throwdowns to keep grooving until you’re perfect and perfectly in form?
Go deeper into the stack
The cricket stack offers a solution to this loop of failure.
Instead of looking at the game as a process of technical error correction, we delve down beneath technique and find out the real secrets to runs and wickets.
Imagine a pile or stack of skills, each one building on the last until the top sees a shining example of cricket excellence. It transforms the way you prepare from fear and frustration to focus and success.
Let’s look at it in detail.
Tough at the top
At the top of the stack is broadly called “mental toughness”. In this case, we are talking about the ability to put your skills into action when you are not in a perfect situation.
As we know, there are moments in cricket where things are imperfect. Conditions and preparation can be unhelpful. Failure in inevitable most of the time. Players with toughness are able to see past the moment, remain confident and put their skills into action.
At moments like this, your technique is not relevant. It’s purely about you ability to stay in control before, during and after moments of higher stress. No technical change or fix can make you more resilient or give you more grit.
Technique and tactics
One step down and we can see technique sit with game sense in the stack.
You see, technique is still important. It only sits below toughness in the stack. That shows us it is a skill that has to be built upon. The idea of “mastering the basics” by working on technical changes is missing the point. The basics are lower down the stack!
Game sense is also with it. Tactical skill is essential because without this understanding you can’t execute the right skills at the right time. If you played a T20 like you played the first morning of a four day game you might get a few comments! Context is crucial.
The underpinning of skill
So what is more important than technique?
The parts of cricket that underpin skill need to be your focus because if you get these right, the above levels develop more naturally.
The first element is adaptability. Training in ways that make you adapt are important because cricket is such a variable game. Surfaces change, weather differs, opposition have a range of tactics and styles to play. If you train in exactly the same way in controlled sessions you will never develop an ability to adapt when situations change.
So, try and trip yourself up: Bat on different surfaces with different balls and bats. Add a slope to your run up or raise your heart rate before bowling. Create scenarios where you need to work hard to succeed in ways you are not comfortable. Throw some (safe) chaos into the mix and see how fast you can adapt.
It might mean changing your precious underarm or bowling machine drills for something a little less certain.
Which brings me onto another factor: Self-sufficiency.
We live in a world where we are told what to do all the time. But no one can bat or bowl for you. That means it is up to you. So the awareness to organise yourself - and your team mates - becomes vital to good cricket.
Set yourself to play like this by preparing like you are clear and organised. It’s easy if you are aware of your game.
Yes, it might mean learning how to get to the match on time. That’s one aspect. On the cricket scale it means turning up to practice knowing what specifics to work on that are accountable. It also means knowing why you are working on these things, and how you are going to do it in a net session with all your other team-mates. You might have seen this three question structure before.
Naturally, coaches are helpful in setting up games, net sessions and drills. Yet, it’s your goals that need to be met because it’s your average that you have to live with. No coach can change that!
Deepest in the stack
Finally we reach the bottom of the stack, and the most important aspect to your cricket.
We have covered this a great deal before, and you can review mindset here if you wish.
Suffice to say, the reason you play cricket is most important to your success. Those cricketers with a mindset based on self-improvement have more chance than those who play to prove their worth. Without this approach at the bottom of the stack, it becomes increasingly difficult further up the stack (including your technique).
This also ties in to the team culture. Culture is also at the base of the stack because it defines why everyone in your team play. Culture is the mindset of the whole team. Read about it here.
Summary: Build your stack
The stack is just a concept of course, but one that is proven to help build the games of cricketers around the world (whether they realised they were doing it or not). It takes the focus off restrictive technical error-correction and puts it onto developing an adaptable, confident game:
- Base: Mindset and Team Culture
- Underpinning: Adaptability, Creativity, Self-Sufficiency, Self-Awareness, Decision Making
- Skill: Techniques and Tactics
- Peak: Mental Toughness, Grit, Fight
These are not just motivational words to put on the wall and hope. They are actionable skills you can develop, as long as you have the right focus.