Is there really much difference in batting approach between number 4 and number 7?
There certainly is, and if you get the wrong person in the wrong place in the order it will end up costing you games.
For example, at my own club the 1st XI has a strong batting line-up with players capable of scoring runs quickly right down the order to number 9.
We currently have an aggressive stroke maker batting at number 4. He's the type of player who is best when batting with abandon. He doesn't like to build big innings, he just wants licence to hit out and he does it with a straight bat and a range of strokes.
But when he is asked to build a score he tends to freeze, get bogged down and get out playing half-heartedly.
Because he is not suited to batting at 4 he is likely to get out when the side are in trouble at 30-2 putting us even deeper into trouble.
So what are the traits required of each position in the middle order (and where would are current number 4 be better off)?
Number 3 and 4
These are the most crucial batting positions because statistics have shown that you are far more likely to win matches if your 2nd and 3rd wicket stands are good.
So if you are to bat in either of these positions you must be able to play a responsible innings. That may mean seeing off the new ball with a solid technique if you get in early. It may also mean scoring quickly if the ball is older and the bowler's tired after a good stand from the players above you in the order.
If you are regularly batting at 3 or 4 in the order, practice by working on technique with bowling machines or throwdowns and look to improve your ability to build innings over long periods with middle practice.
Number 5 and 6
Lower down the order batsmen have more freedom to play their shots. The ball is older and there is less time to build big innings. You still need a decent technique but you can get away with more risks in the pursuit of quick runs for a declaration or chase.
You will face a lot more spin batting at 5 or 6 because the spinners tend to operate when you are batting.
So when you practice, think of yourself more as a Twenty20 batsman; spend time working out where you can score by innovating. This may be big hitting straight over the top, sweeping, working the ball into gaps or even clearing the front leg and slog-sweeping. Whatever it is, work on it in practice to get it right in the middle.
However, don't forget you still need to be able to bat in orthodox ways. Even 20 overs is a long time to bat and difficult to start slamming everything from the first ball. Make sure you work on technique as well, especially against spin.
Number 7 and 8
When everything is going well these positions are the most fun to bat. You are coming in at the end of an innings with the idea of scoring quickly to either win a match or get big runs in the last handful of overs.
This still doesn't mean 'slog every ball'. Like 5 and 6, you need to hit with intelligence. Work out what areas give you the most runs at the lowest risk. For example it's safer hitting a left arm spinner over the off side with the spin than over the leg side.
Don't be afraid of practicing hitting during nets, it's what you will be doing in the middle after all. Pick your strengths and work on getting them perfect. If you have time, perhaps work on developing another shot that can get you quick runs.
If you are not a natural big hitter, learn to work the ball into gaps by manoeuvring your body and either slightly closing or opening the face to find the spaces that will be there with the field back.
And be ready to run hard. Really hard.
All that said, make sure also that you have a solid defence. There will be times where you need to recover from a collapse or even save the game by batting out for a draw. But don't spend too much time on this as it will be a rare issue and anyway, it's not as much fun.
This is where the current number 4 in our side would be much happier. Freed from the shackles of technique and responsibility he can just biff.
Are you batting in the right place?