How to stop another batting collapse | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to stop another batting collapse

Last season my team were cruising to an easy victory in a one day game. We had skittled the opposition for 144 and were 120 for 2 in reply.

I was down to bat at 6 but had not bothered to pad up, a situation which rapidly changed when we lost our best batsman to a rash shot followed almost immediately by the new batsman muttering something about unplayable deliveries as we passed each other.

What was interesting was how our team's mindset had changed during the collapse.

Amazingly we lost 3 more wickets chasing the last few runs, finishing 7 down but crawling over the line. Each new batsman seemed increasingly worried about the demon bowling and the pitch seaming around.

Yes, it was green and the ball was keeping low but it seemed to me to be more about us fearing something based on the evidence of wickets falling suddenly. We seemed to be convincing ourselves that the collapse was being caused by external factors like the pitch or bowling. But this is the same pitch we had been batting on easily for the first half of our innings.

Ex-England batsman Ed Smith calls it a 'low score mentality': Batsmen go into their shell and become hell-bent on defence to stop the collapse. If it has happened a lot before (as it does with most club sides) the team may be already in the mindset of "here we go again"!

To me that is the wrong way of thinking. It would be like me asking you not to think of a banana. The fact I mention it brings it to mind. Think of stopping the collapse and all you have in mind is, well, a collapse.

Ask yourself this about your team: How many collapses have you had that were down to brilliant play by the opposition and how many were down to your side making mistakes? I imagine the latter happens a lot more than the former.

So if it's a mental thing to collapse, how do we stop it?

Get the focus right

If there is a secret to stopping collapsing I think it's about focus.

Many captains and coaches may advise the incoming batsman to 'just don't get out'. You might even be thinking exactly that as you walk to the middle and your batting partner comes up.

But there are so many more positive things you could be thinking about:

  • Where are the areas I can score?
  • Who are the weak fielders we can take a run to?
  • Play the ball on its merits

You do need to be highly focused as a batsman. You do need to be calm as a batsman. You can achieve both of these things without even looking at the scoreboard. Instead, use the stop technique to get rid of the negative thoughts, control your breathing and watch the ball onto the bat.

Thinking ahead

What can help this process is talking to each other about how you deal with a collapse before it happens.

That is simpler that it sounds. Just take 5-10 minutes after training to sit down with the rest of your team and talk through a collapse situation. Ask people what they would be thinking about and how they might play.

You can do this kind of planning for any situation but is particularly good for when things are going wrong. We rarely plan how we will act in the field if the score is 214-1 or if we lose our top order in the first 5 overs. Talking it through and imagining how we can get out of the hole is a useful way to stay positive when it happens.

I know this works because guess who stayed calm and hit the winning runs that day? I might not be the most talented batsman to walk the earth, but at least I have learned to keep my head under pressure out there. If I can, you can too.


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