Trials are unique: The feeling of nervousness on arrival, the pressure of your first delivery and - hopefully -the feeling of excitement as they crunch a pull shot from the “big lad”.
Here are a few tips. They may not revolutionise your stats at the end of the season, but will install a game plan, or a little structure to your trial. Possibly taking you from a player who just missed out, to the one that snuck in the back door.
How to arrive
First impressions last, so make a good one. Carry your own bag, don’t have parents drag it in after you, that’s never a good look. Introduce yourself with confidence, shake the coaches’ hand and smile. This shows from the outset that you’re confident, grown up, friendly and able to communicate. That’s one tick in a box.
Listen. There will always be at least one player who gets distracted and doesn’t hear what they’re supposed to be doing. Also, if you get an opportunity to answer a question or speak in front of the whole group, take it. Not only is this showing that you’re confident amongst your potential team mates, but it can also get your name thrown into the captaincy discussion which will arise further down the line.
Bowling under the coaches' eye
Go through your usual routines. Measure your run up out as best you can. If the trial is indoors your run up won’t fit as a seamer. Plan ahead and come up with a run up that you’re going to use for the day. This can put you ahead on 2 fronts: Firstly, illustrating your forward thinking nature. More importantly, giving you every opportunity to land your first ball on a decent line and length.
When it comes to displaying your attributes, think about your various skills, and how they need to be displayed.
For instance, to demonstrate you can bowl a slower ball, or a quick bouncer, you only need to do it once or twice. If you show you can give the batsmen the hurry up, then the coach is made aware that you have that skill. if you try three in a row and miss too it will lessen the impact. There is always the element of “risk vs reward” when bowling these types of deliveries.
Showing consistency as an attribute is very different. You won’t be able to prove this ability in one ball. Proving this skill requires concentration over a period of time. So when planning you bowling, stick to what you’re good at primarily as that’s the main message you want to get across. Once you’ve proven that, then you can start to think about illustrating the finer skills.
Batting with range and power
Illustrating your skill set as a batter works in a similar way. Proving that you have the ability to play a range of shots, or generate power, doesn’t take multiple shots. Look to capitalise on the loose balls, not by swinging recklessly but by punishing them with authority.
Hitting the ball back over the bowlers head once is memorable and proves you have power, so once you’ve proven you can play a couple of shots in each direction your skills are less likely to be questioned.
Show your temperament
It’s now your temperament and concentration that’s being assessed, so while you should remain positive, try to have a clear plan. Given that you’re likely to have a range of bowlers bowling to you, try to think fast and assess the situation, working as hard as you can against the guys who are causing you problems, and then really try to get on top of the weaker bowlers.
When it comes to the crunch and the coach has just about managed to remember all twenty something trialists, they will often find a group of players all with similar skill sets. Here is where you can add value to you reputation.
Show you’re a team player. This is a great way to tick an extra box, as a lot of players will sneak in because they fit the team dynamic as much as anything else. Display your work ethic. A coach will always favour a player with an ambition to learn and improve, over someone who’s disinterested. So try to give off the impression that you won’t give up.
A hard working, tough cricketer is every coaches dream.
And one last thing; remember to say goodbye.
It sounds basic, but as I’ve mentioned before, one of the key elements of trialling well is making yourself remembered. So always try and finish with a quick chat with the coach, ask him if he has any specific advice that can help you in the short term. Just something you can be getting on with while you’re waiting to hear that you’ve made the cut!
If you are having a trial soon, let us know how it goes, especially if any of this advice helped.