This is the first part of a two part series by Laurie Ward from The Complete Cricketer Academy in Cape Town, South Africa.
The start of a match dictates how it will develop. Getting a flyer or taking early wickets puts pressure on the opposition. As a team you should look to dominate from ball one.
And that means winning the first hour of the game whether you are batting or bowling.
There are a number of ways to do that, and it all starts with preparation.
Practice the specific skills required for each discipline to maximize your impact at the start of the game. Don’t expect just to turn up on the day and perform.
On the day, arrive early as a team and judge and understand the wicket and conditions. Plan accordingly, discuss roles and be warmed up and organized ready to go from the off.
Winning the first hour with the bat
The top three, particularly the openers, have a defined role in all formats of the game.
Know your role and your style of play. A golden rule is to not get out in your first 12 balls. By the time that you have received these you should have been in long enough to judge conditions and to have got your innings moving.
For the early part of the innings:
- Keep it simple: Know your strengths and play to these. Know areas where you are not as strong and avoid these.
- Know where your off-stump is: Practice drills reading line and length in the nets. Learn how to leave well.
- Get your feet moving: Incorporate the “Hayden Shuffle” or similar to get you thinking about your footwork.
- Respect the conditions and the bowling but always look to be positive: Don’t take on the conditions if they are difficult up front or don’t give it away with over-confidence or risky/flashy shots if the conditions suit batting.
- Be patient where necessary: Bide your time if the game situation allows. Do not attack the good ball out of frustration. The bad ball will come. You cannot score sitting in the pavilion.
- Build your partnership: Set small achievable targets. Rotate the strike, punish the bad ball. Pressure the fielders with positive calling and running. Be aware of the gaps and weaker fielders and play to these. This will soon undermine the teamwork of the opposition.
Click here to go to part 2 on bowling and fielding.
image credit: SarahCanterbury