How to Use Matches to Inspire Awesome Cricket Solutions | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to Use Matches to Inspire Awesome Cricket Solutions

It's been an exceptional start.

Millfield School started the cricket season this week with two unbeaten Festival wins in the Under 15's and Meyers XI (U18's). We have seen lots of evidence of the winter work paying dividends. A number of players have hit personal best scores or wicket hauls.

However, the rigours of match play exposed a couple of glaring holes in the U15s bowling attack from both a mental and tactical perspective. This forced Steve Wilson (Assistant Coach) and me to think on our feet.

In the first game of the festival, our bowling attack conceded 22 wides in only 50 overs.


Incidentally, the opposition leaked 30 wides as we chased down 239 with overs to spare.

The lads bowling actions are basically sound. This was not the problem. So what caused the huge number of wides?

The art of great cricket coaching: Another set of eyes

Steve is a great assistant coach. He noted the bowlers were getting to the end of their marks, turning very quickly and bowling.

We started to chat through Geoff Lawson's mantra,

"Review the previous ball. Picture the ball in your head that you want to bowl. Check that the field setting matches that ball. Commit!"

We obviously couldn't tell if this process was happening cognitively as we don't have MRI scanners. Yet there was no physical sign of a process being in place at all. This inspired the following day's team talk.

Using the team talk: My own bowling story

I was a wicket keeper in professional cricket, most people know that. Yet in club cricket I bowled seam. I wasn't the best - too short to be a problem to anyone really good - but I swung the ball at decent pace and thought clearly about what I was trying to do. 500 club wickets isn't bad for keeper.

I told a story to the players about how I would use the walk back to my mark to review and choose the next ball that I was going to bowl. Before I turned at my bowling mark I would have a quick check to see if the field supported my next intended delivery. I would place the ball in my hand and then visualise that ball in my head again before committing to that delivery with everything I had left in my body.

I asked if anyone used their walk back in the same way.

I was met with blank expressions and people gasping for words as they tried to answered my question.

Have you ever asked your players that question?

What would they say?

Bowling preparation to deal with the challenge

The bowlers then went out to the middle to bowl through to the keeper or a catching mit. Steve encouraged each bowler to build a process similar to mine into their walk back and turn. They started to practice with focus and purpose.

So, on Day 2, Millfield U15s restricted the opposition to 162 in 50 overs. The bowlers gave away only 8 wides. They had the same bowling actions as the previous day. They now had a mental process.

On Day 3 we bowled the opposition out for 118, conceding only 3 wides.

Same bowlers, same actions. But now with a process and strategy.

Now, there is no guarantee that this process won't slip at some point in the coming weeks. It's up to us players and coaches to keep practising with purpose and executing in games.

Millfield's bowlers reacted well to this strategy. It could work for you too. Give it a go!

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