It has to be the worst job in coaching or captaincy; telling a player he or she is not in the side, sometimes when it's not even the player's fault.
But it doesn't need to be all bad.
If you handle the situation right, you end up with better players.
Each drop is different, and knowing how to adapt will allow you to give your players the best possible chance of bouncing back.
And that all starts with a simple question: Why?
All drops are not equal
Player's are dropped for three core reasons:
Injured players are usually simple. They can't play at all, but there will be more complex situations. A bowler, perhaps, who is unable to bowl but can still bat well enough to drop down a level and play as a batsman.
The other problem with an injured player is what to do with him on his return. The ideal would be to give him a run out at a lower level to make sure he is fully recovered and have his 'game head' back on. But in club cricket with a lack of talent that isn't always possible.
It gets more difficult if a player is dropped for reasons of form or tactics.
If your star batsman has a run of low scores you may decide he needs to rebuild confidence in a lower grade, for example.
The worst drop is the player who has done nothing wrong and is dropped for tactical reasons. A medium pacer who is called in to bowl on a green top then dropped when the next game is played on a flat batting wicket is one classic case. Another is the senior pro, getting on in years getting replaced by a younger player not quite as good but with potential.
How not to drop someone
One of the pitfalls of dropping a player is to assume the reason why is clear to everyone and to not tell the player.
That's when a player finds out he is in the 3rd team without a word from the 2nd team captain who was enjoying a cold drink with him just a week beforehand.
Some people can feel let down by this, especially if the reasons are tactical. And in club cricket, the captain and coach has a responsibility to keep players happy as well as win matches (After all, there are plenty of other things they can be doing on the weekend).
So whatever the reason, a player who is dropped always deserves to be told.
What's the attitude?
However, how you tell a player depends very much on the player's attitude.
Everyone responds differently to the news, and you should know each player well enough to know how to present the information.
The laissez-faire cricketer will need nothing more than a quick chat. He or she won't care too much what team or grade they are in, as long as they are playing.
On the other hand, the intense and ambitious youngster may be devastated by being dropped on form or tactical reasons. It's up to you to outline that this is not a disaster. With this player it's important to tell him there is a way back, including exactly how.
On the other hand, you may see no way back for an older player barring lots of injuries. You would be wrong to give false hope, so make sure you and the coach/captain of the side he is in clearly defines what you want him to do from now on. Most senior players respond to being asked to act as a mentor to players on the way up, for example.
Adapting your approach to help meet the player's needs will show them you are concerned for them as a player and a club member. And players who know that are more likely to play at their best, even if they have been dropped.
image credit: ~Duncan~