How to Dismantle the Opposition like Strauss and Flower's England | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to Dismantle the Opposition like Strauss and Flower's England

In August 2011, England became the number one Test team and they did it by systematically dismantling the opposition.

The method they used is one that you can learn to follow to create your own success in the English way.

It will work for you because nothing about England is especially magical or flashy. There was no top order destroyer like Shewag. There was no mystery spinner like Warne.

Everything they did was based around one simple principle:

Make less mistakes.

Often as cricketers and coaches we assume that the best team wins because they are the best. Sometimes this is true.

But it’s also true that you can be the best team by being less worse than your opponents. England showed that it can be done at the top level.

It’s even truer at lower levels where mistakes are more frequent.

How many games have you played where both teams get under par scores?

The side who make least mistakes win those games.

Prevention is the same as ruthlessness

While the idea is easy, the execution is somewhat more difficult.

You have to learn how to be relentless.

You have to practice bowling until you can hit the top of off stump 9 times out of 10. Or just to be sure, 10 times out of 10.

You have to bat the opposition out of the game with the right shots used at the right time, not a bunch of half-learned innovative shots used at the wrong moment.

Spinners don’t need doosras but they do need control of line, length flight and dip.

Seamers don’t need to bowl 145kph bouncers but they do need to get the ball to move in the air or off the pitch in all conditions (not just helpful ones).

You can't let up with focus because lost focus equals mistakes and you are avoiding those at all costs.

Master the basics

It’s both a relief and a bind to know this.

It’s a relief because you don’t need to be a magical super-player to win matches. You can be a mere mortal: which most of us are.

It’s a bind because you do need to be world-class at the basics, and that takes a lot of work in the nets nailing down your skills.

But it’s achievable.

England have done it through this method and your team can too. 

So pick your skill and work on it with relentlessness.

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David Hi

There is an excellent piece in today's Daily Telegraph about how England have gone about developing into the No 1 team in the world.

They have used technology (Hawkeye), Merlin, got the players fitter, worked on plans to different batters etc. Basically, they have tried to leave no stone unturned.

In the article it mentioned the Sidearm Pro. Have any other coaches used this, and what are their thoughts? Isn't it about time we had another article on training gadgets and how people use them?

Hope this doesn't create a hornets nest like Deadlifting or Timing the ball!

Best Regards

Robin Collins

I saw that, and yes the attention to every detail is frightening. I suppose that's what you can do with £30m!

I have a sidearm and it's very good, it save the arm and allows you to "bowl" faster. Just put some time aside to learn how to use it before putting a batter in the net as it takes a while to stop bowling bouncers/head high beamers!

" Isn't it about time we had another article on training gadgets and how people use them?"

Great idea Robin; hopefully including those bricks! Laughing out loud

Joking aside, there are many everyday props that can be modified; keeping the budget looking more like £30. Bricks, particularly, are very useful and can be used variedly to make improvements; not just in the mental skills area... broom handles are another!


I had similar problems with it, but now I am the leading wicket taker in the nets!

First of all I shouldn't have called them gadgets. They are training aids! You have to forgive me but I am a bit of a sucker when it comes to new 'things' coming onto the market.

I would be interested to hear how you go about using bricks. We have a big old tyre at the club but the groundsman won't let me use it. He said use weights instead. He missed the point that it is something different and that the players would find it a challenge along with some fun.

Crazy catches are a great way of having fun but also it 'stretches' the players especially in team games.

Any ideas will be greatly received.



Thanks for mentioning the article Robin. Just read it and its a great read. The Aussies used to be the spearheads in these areas with their aggressive cricket when they were on top, before them the West Indies started the whole focus on fitness and conditioning while they were on top. So each team that has dominated has done something better than the opposition. But whether you want to be the best in the world or the best in the village competition, the message and the lessons remain the same.

Sled training! I love it Robin, and so do the boys!

... the guy in the dark T-shirt is more efficient as he uses the correct muscles.

A tractor tyre is great for teamwork. However, I am probably with the groundsman... it is a good way to churn up the grass... as with the B-Ropes! However, the car park should be fine if it is Tarmac or concrete.

Bricks are also good for balance work, particularly with batting. You can use them in the same way as the 'hedgehogs' that the ECB use for the Academy up in Loughborough... just make sure you do the risk assessment Eye-wink

Liz Hi

Where are the huskies!? The sleds looks really tough. How do you get hold of these?

About those bricks you mention balance. Can you elaborate? Also the hedgehogs - are they small plastic pods you can buy from the ECBCA Shop?

Have you any comment on Myers Briggs for profiling players?

On a different point, before the Ashes in 2009 so called 'know it all's' (some Sky pundits and the press) were complaining there was more backroom staff than players. It's funny I haven't heard there are too many backroom staff now. What short memories these people have.

Finally, what must Duncan Fletcher be thinking. He has an aging side (although Dravid looks like he can play for another 5 years) that is obsessed with T20 and One day matches. It will be interesting if he can turn India around for Test cricket. I think Kirsten got out at the right time.

Best Regards,


Does anybody park a Jeep in the car park? Laughing out loud

I would leave the tyre as it is and throw some cement in the curve.


Sit a small child on a pallet... you will be fine as long as you do the risk assessment Eye-wink

Now I'm only sharing this because I like the music... Oh, and looking at firemen!

The 'hedgehogs' are the small pods with spikes, about the size of an adult hedgehog. They used to sell them at the CA shop but I just had a look and could not find them - [they have a good clothing clearance sale on at the moment].

I chisel them in half and place two where the feet should be for batting and a third where I want the front foot to land. The batsman is only to place the balls of the feet on the brick... good core work!

I find filling water bottles with sand a good substitute for bricks to carry around.

Sorry, that should be, "I chisel the bricks in half...", not the hedgehogs!


Not sure you should get me started on this subject.

By the way, with respect to Myers Briggs, I am ISTP.

I would not use this method to profile players. It is not so much that I disapprove of it, more the interpretation. Plus the fact that we are far too complex. Although this kind of profiling will give you an idea, I have found people can totally throw the results on their head in different situations... I definitely would not use psychological profiling in recruitment... but that is a different matter.

HOWEVER, player profiling I totally believe in. As a coach or manager, you can really get into the psyche of a player whilst helping them reach their goals and manage their perceptions.