Club cricketer and controversial PitchVision Academy columnist AB is back with his views on playing on dodgy tracks.
The "up and down" pitch is a nightmare: one moment a full length ball balloons up to chest height, and two balls later a short delivery shoots though by the shins.
How on earth are you supposed to deal with this?
There is a method.
If you get a genuinely short or full ball, simply play it as usual and be sure to watch it carefully and strike it confidently, because you must always make sure to capitalise on any scoring opportunities you get on a bad pitch.
However, if the ball is somewhere around a good length, you must be very careful not to commit to an aggressive shot until you have seen the height of the bounce of the ball. Initially play forward or backwards as you usually would, but get ready to adjust to the variations the pitch might offer:
The full leaping delivery
The good thing about this ball is that although it's jumped at you, you do still often have time to adjust your shot as the pace will have gone off the ball in a kind of "tennis ball bounce".
As the ball is a full delivery, you've instinctively played forward, but if you simply try and carry on with your drive, you will risk skying the ball straight up in the air.
Instead, stand as tall as possible, ride the bounce, and abandon all thoughts of hitting the ball hard and instead play a back foot "deflect" shot - a late cut, a leg glance, or even just a back foot defence.
The short, shooting delivery
These are horrible deliveries that can easily crash halfway up your middle stump if you're not on the lookout for them.
The ball is short or back of a length, so you've initially gone back with ideas of pulling or cutting for four, but as soon as you spot the low bounce, forget the cross bat shots and force yourself into as much of a forward defence as you can, quickly jumping into a side-on position if necessary.
Play straight, and simply try to carefully deflect the ball away exactly as if you were playing forward to a full length ball.
Of course, a full shooter or a short leaper should present far less of a problem, because orthodox footwork should already have you in the perfect position to deal with them.
So the ultimate result is this: there aren't just front foot shots and back foot shots on a dodgy wicket: there are also front foot shots off the back foot and back foot shots off the front foot!
Just like a golfer practices his bunker shots as much as his putting, if you want to become skilled at surviving tricky periods on difficult village pitches, you should practice the footwork involved with these emergency shots just as much as you practice the more orthodox strokes.
To practice these skills in nets, simply force yourself to initially go forward to every delivery for a 5 minute spell*, and then go back to every delivery for a 5 minutes spell, and see if you can adapt your shots and survive when the ball arrives at an awkward height.
*Be careful about trying this against any genuinely quick bowlers you may have in your club!