Imagine batting against a paceman who can get the ball up to 150kph. No one is comfortable, not even the best.
If you get it wrong at that speed, it’s going to hurt.
Most of us will never even face that kind of pace. Yet you still feel the same discomfort. For youngsters it might be 100kph when you start to feel it. Even for adult players, 130kph (80mph) is faster than most club players.
You can’t style it out, you have to be ready, physically and mentally for the challenge, whatever the pace that you consider “quick”.
Here’s how you get there.
Warm up with technique
It’s important to have a trusted method for batting against faster bowling. You don’t have a lot of time to make a decision, so you have to trust that the first choice is the best one.
Doubt brings fear, fear brings failure.
So, before you face pace, get some technical work done with simple throws and drop feeds with soft balls. Get your movement and position drilled as best you can.
A full discussion on technique is too long to get into here, but the best players of pace all have a way of;
- Moving in line quickly.
- Transferring weight.
- Driving the ball on the downswing.
- Pulling the ball with full arm extension.
There are lots of ways to do this, and you will have your own preferences. Whatever they are, work on grooving them in the warm up until you feel you are moving well.
Overload your method
The main chunk of your session against quicker bowling is best designed to overload your method safely, and gradually improve it against faster and faster bowling.
That means nets against bowlers are not right.
Nets usually see a range of paces and a range of abilities. If you only face a quick bowler every five balls it’s hard to overload your game, especially if they bowl a lot of wides and no balls!
Instead, two of the best overload methods are;
Bowling machines are more accurate than any bowler and allow you to increase the pace against certain shots consistently.
This “lifeline” drill is an example of using a bowling machine to practice batting against much faster bowling that you are used to.
The sidearm is slightly different.
While you can still vary the pace from 80–130kph like a machine, the accuracy is not as good as the machine. On the plus side, it’s much more like facing a bowler because you get to see the approach and release.
In the hands of a good feeder, the sidearm allows you to slowly increase the pace you face until your method breaks down. It’s less technical drilling and more about being aware of how your method works against varied line and length at a consistent pace.
At my club, I use a yellow “club” sidearm to warm a batsman up, move onto the white “pro” when they look comfortable, add a run up to increase the pace, before finally moving to the pink “elite” cricket ball thrower. The pace moves up through the range.
Bowling with a Sidearm on PitchVision at 82mph
At some point, your technique fails you and you know this is your zone to work to improve. Drop the pace a little and keep going until you feel good there, then move up again.
You will be suprised how quick it gets with this “boil the frog” approach.
Head in the game
Intimidating fast bowling relies on both skill and getting into the head of the batsman, forcing errors.
If you trust your method because you have systematically tested it like above you will not worry, even when you feel uncomfortable.
You know you can defend, weave and duck.
You know you can pull and drive.
You know you can get runs.
If you are coming up against real pace soon, make sure you prepare well and feel ready with this approach.