Score Big Without Boundaries | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Score Big Without Boundaries

Ticking over the scoreboard is a coaching mantra for a reason.

The thing that kills limited over innings in the school and club club cricket game are unnecessary dot ball strings. Batters often get carried away with the notion of smashing the ball over the ropes, forgetting the importance of scoring between those big shots.

So, ability to mix boundaries with singles and doubles is crucial, let's look at some skills.


Dropzones for Singles

Picture a zone either side of the wicket like this:

Your batters can practice to take advantage of these "dropzones" on the off side gap from cover to point or either side of square leg on the leg-side. This can be achieved on both front and back foot.

Many players use a less pressurised bottom hand grip to take pace off of the ball when defending the ball into these gaps.

Others use the angle of the incoming ball or a strategic shift in body position on the crease to open up the onside gap in particular. Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Smith are two of the better exponents of the "lateral body shift".

The value of a duff contact

Other single opportunities into these gaps occur when players mistime shots.

The increase in shot intent often makes the anticipating fielders fall back onto their heels. Then the ball dribbles off of the bat as a result of a poor contact.

Many singles are missed when this happens yet by building awareness, we can pick up a boatload of singles. "World-Class backer upperers" make these every time!

How can you coach your players to pick these often missed singles?

Run down to 3rd man

3rd man is an option on wickets that come on to the bat. Marcus Trescothick is a master of this. He releases the pressure on his bottom hand and the pace of the ball runs down the face of the bat on its journey to 3rd man.

A good way of developing this is to get someone to throw underarm balls at the batter from short distance. The batter kneels on the ground. This may sound bizarre, yet immobilising the legs will reduce excessive movement in the body and increase the focus on the arms, hands and bat face.

Once the upper body skill has been adopted, stand in your normal stance, move to the ball (forward or back dependant on feed height) and replicate the shot.

See the batting from stance element of the drill below. Not bad for an Old Timer!

A word of warning: Build the awareness of pitch pace/type and it's impact on this shots' effectiveness. I see far too many players attempting this shot on slow pitches. The ball runs off the bat far too square: Gully thanks the batter for taking a ridiculous option.

So talk through the options with your batters and help them work on their safe options to stop the dot rot.

Finally, great thanks to Hampshire Batting Coach, Tony Middleton for these tips. Tony has developed a huge number of players into 1st Class level and beyond over his 19 years as a High performance Coach. He has some brilliantly simple approaches to batting and is part of my delivery team on the ECB Level IV batting module.

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