Establishing a “safe zone” is a fresh look at to avoiding the ultimate batting disaster: getting out to an awful delivery.
There’s danger in the unexpected.
Who works on the ball that noone ever expects? Whether it’s the waist high full toss two feet outside off stump, or the long hop that practically yorks you on its second bounce.
Be it in training or a cup final, I’ve seen many a player bat exquisitely against a quality new ball attack, only for the ball slip out of the occasional bowler’s hand resulting in a full toss on the hip, that promptly finds a fielder’s hands.
Some wag will always shout “cricket was the winner” as you trudge off.
Safe zone batting
To combat this I have introduced a “safe zone” over the past 18 months at The Portsmouth Grammar School. It’s not a focal point for a session, but when the freak ball arrives it allows the batter to play with clarity rather than panic.
The way it works is simple: Whether you draw it on a board, or you mention it at the start of your session, a specific area is nominated where batters can safely attack should the unexpected arrive.
It’s important that this isn’t a focal point for to aim towards all the time. Your session will have an objective and this zone shouldn’t take away from that focal point. More so, it offers an area of the pitch that the ball can be dispatched to with assured safely, should the unexpected arrive.
Batters start to retain this idea of safe space in the back of their mind. So that when the opportunity arises, the loosest of all deliveries is efficiently put away with clarity, rather than causing a comical dismissal.
In the age of T20 cricket with fielders spreading far and wide, many coaches are adept at generating good pitch maps for players to use. And when that’s the case there’s less demand for a safe zone. But with the ever increasing range of deliveries that bowlers are practicing, inevitably the odd loose ball will slip out. Preparation is key.
Try introducing a safe zone.
You might not need it all the time, but having it there could help one of your batters turn a match winning opportunity into a comprehensive victory.
Sam Lavery is Cricket Professional at Portsmouth Grammar School and host of the PitchVision Cricket Show.