How to Move Smoothly Into the First Team | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to Move Smoothly Into the First Team

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A 1st XI regular has gone on holiday for 2 weeks.

You have been called up for the first time. It is the chance you have been waiting for all season.

This is a real opportunity; you have the chance to be more than just a stand in for the week and a chance to stake your claim to a regular place in the team.

What do you do to make the most of it?

Find your role

The first thing to consider is your role in the team.

Ask the skipper. Are you there as a straight swap; like for like? Or are you there to fill a different role?

If you’re there to play a different role then you need to make that role your own.

If you bring something different to the team then it’s your chance to show that you are the best at it in the club.

Ravi Bopara’s inclusion to the England team in the 2011 India tour was a good example of this.

He kept the in-form Ian Bell out of the side by demonstrating his second-string ability to bowl a few overs as a batting all-rounder.

If you are there as a straight swap your task is greater. You have to perform to a level that at very least competes with your predecessor.

But there are a few things you can do to compete on a level outside talent, at least until your skill levels increase; which they usually do when you are surrounded by a higher level.

Chances are you’re replacing somebody of a better talent than yourself, but this doesn’t mean they bring more to the team balance than you can.

Look to embrace all aspects of the team: Warm ups, their pre-game huddles, the banter and anything else in the team culture.

No team adapts to change quickly, so the easier you can make your inclusion the higher your chances of keeping your place.

Learn about the game

You will be playing with some talented cricketers and some wise heads; surrounding yourself with this experience will help develop your game.

Be keen. 

Enthusiasm in some respects can make up for talent. 

Whether it’s throwing yourself around in the field or offering to be chief ball shiner; make your non-skill related attributes shine.

Then after playing in the team for a few hours or a whole game, try to evaluate what you personally can bring to mark your presence in the team and on the game.

Stay motivated

Of course, there is a fair chance that - no matter how well you do - as stand-in you will be heading back to the 2nd XI.

If you do get dropped back down, try to understand what you need to improve on. 

Having a quiet chat with the first team skipper will show willingness to progress and help develop your game.

Then go back to the seconds and perform well; score runs or take wickets.

When your chance comes again, show that you have improved and call upon your past experiences in the side.

It may be a long and frustrating process, or it may happen quickly for you. Use these tips to maintain your drive and ignore the setbacks. 

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I would also add that you need to make sure tha Captain respects your role.

If you've been told that you are 2nd change bowler and he uses 5 others before you, he's leading you on, same if you've been opening the batting in the seconds and the 1st team skipper says he has brought you in to open the batting in the firsts, but then stricks you down at 9, 10, Jack.

If youre expectations aren't being met, or if you are being lied to about your role (so that you'll fill in as a fielder) then you need to talk to the captain about it. You might also have to consider moving club if it's an endemic issue and you want proper first team cricket.