After a handful of IPL 3 games the Royals had yet to register a win and were already written off as failures for another year.
After 7 games they had jumped to third in the table and looked unstoppable, despite not having the huge names of other teams.
Can your team copy the Royals method if your own season starts badly?
I think you can, and here's how.
1. Don't practice your batting or bowling
Forget about working on your batting and bowling when you are in a slump. What really matters is the fielding.
Dropped catches demoralise. Bad ground fielding makes a team feel sloppy and undisciplined. Fielding is the bellwether of a cricket team and so becomes even more important in times of strife.
Rajasthan know that nothing raises a cricket team more than brilliance in the field.
Be it dramatic like Jhunjhunwala twice throwing down the stumps against Deccan or efficient like the inner ring squeezing batsmen to cut off the release boundary.
When you are losing move fielding up pecking order during practice. It's amazing how often a diving stop or one handed catch is the moment that momentum shifts.
2. Forget your roles
One of the hallmarks of Shane Warne's team is their clear role definition: Everyone knows what they have to do, be it Michael Lumb hitting out in the first 6 overs or Warnie himself choking teams by slowing the run rate in the middle overs.
But roles are not about being inflexible. If something isn't working it's perfectly reasonable to make a change.
For example, tradition dictates that your fastest bowler gets the new ball. Against the Chargers Shane Warne used a medium paced swing bowler and a spinner in the first couple of overs. One was a success with Sumit Narwal taking Gilchrist third ball.
3. Stroll into the unknown, whistling a happy tune
Under pressure it's easy to revert to tried-and-tested tactics. But if anything, a slump is the time to take more desperate and experimental tactics.
So do what the Royals did; Open the bowling with a spinner. Put in slip and silly point to a new batsman even in a T20 match. Keep mid on and mid off up to invite the lofted drive. Leave a huge gap through square cover to the off spinner. The options are endless.
The trick with this tactic is twofold:
- Base your experiment in some form of common sense.
- Play it out with utter confidence.
And it's that confidence that is all important. As long as the whole team back the idea you have a fair chance of it working.
While things will not always go your way (you are in a slump after all), it's not like things can get worse if you experiment.
4. Take your chance, it won't wait for you
Eventually you will force fortunes around. Expect it and take the chance with both hands.
Winning teams do this, while average teams either miss the chance altogether or see an opportunity as something out of their control: A bit of dumb luck that can't last.
Rajasthan are very good at this so follow their lead. When you get that chance, gather the players in and tell them this is the moment luck has turned and to make the most of it.
Chances are the opposition, unless they are really switched on, will see your change of fortunes as bad luck on their part, start playing nervously and end up collapsing. All you need to do is keep the screw turning.
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