It’s not easy being number three.
That's why most people shy away from the position. Your chances of failure are high, but the the rewards of succeeding make you the best batsman in your team: Bradman, Sangakkara, Dravid.
Whether you are forced into that position or chomping at the bit to have your chance, what can you learn from these great names that can be taken into your own game?
You’re constantly ready
You have no time to relax. You have to be ready to bat from the first ball and you still have to be ready to bat when the openers have put on a 250 opening partnership. It’s the unknown which is the worst part.
Those lucky openers know they are getting right to the task. The show-pony number four can switch off for a bit. While you have to be ready any moment. Sometimes for a long time. You have to be the battle hardened gritty warrior while still having a good looking technique.
More than any other position, you are expected to both look the best and have the strongest focus. If you mess up after an opener has made a mistake you have put your team in trouble. That’s a lot going on in your head while you sit and wait. So, build up a method of keeping you mind positive while you wait.
Being on high alert for long periods is not easy. Some people handle it better than others. Natural number threes can do it well, the rest of us might struggle a little more but even the worst “waiters” can develop a method of doing well.
Batting at three consistently requires a vast range of skills. More than any other number, so adaptability is crucial.
If early wickets fall you need to rebuild an innings, keeping risks as low as you can whilst also thriving. The longer you wait, the more you have to become the swashbuckling middle order dasher. Occasionally you even need to be an outright hitter if you find yourself batting in a powerplay or at the death.
It’s all about context.
You still have all the same shots no matter what the match situation. The difference is how you use them. Be clear on your plans for each scenario and put some practice in so you know what types of plan work best for you in different situations.
A quick side note related to this is about T20. In the short format, number three has even more options. You might be asked to bat through and score quickly, or smash the opening bowlers to all parts with abandon. Knowing your strengths and adapting to this role is even more crucial in T20.
You‘re a team player
Speaking of roles, despite batting being about you individually, cricket is also a team sport. That means “putting in a shift”.
Mostly, batting well yourself leads to the team doing better. Runs are runs after all. Determination is a powerful trait when it comes to batting. It’s not always about you though.
You may not like or agree with the plan for the innings, but you need to go with it for the good of your team spirit. You might have to go with a few other things you don’t like as well, to fit in with the culture of the team.
If you’re a clean-living tee-total fitness freak, you might have to find some ways to socialise with the rest of the side who consider the social side more important. That’s why understanding culture is important.
Know your place in the team as both a cricketer and as a person. It’s vital.
Fitness is about more than playing a long innings without getting exhausted. But it’s mainly about that!
Again, it's adaptability which is at the root of it all. If you can still hit a long ball and scramble a quick single on 100 not out you are the perfect player to bat at number three.
One simple way to do this is to commit to being fitter than anyone else in the team.
It’s not only helpful to batting, it fires your competitive spirit, motivates you and brings you closer to your team mates. You are setting a standard and leading the way, just like people want to see you leading the way in the middle. You gain more respect from team-mates and opponents.
There are no down sides.
Most of the time you can’t do much about luck. That said, there are things you can do to have some more good luck.
Psychologist Richard Wiseman has researched into luck and found lucky people behave in certain ways: You can make luck.
You can also be more accepting of bad luck. If something out of your control happens, why worry about it? Instead focus on what you can do and enjoy the random luck you do get by taking full advantage.
Surely there are few more satisfying ways to get a big score than doing it after getting dropped on nought! With the right mindset, you can do it too.