In cricket, sides are always changing. To survive, every team needs to scout and recruit players.
But that's difficult.
If you bring on young players - a sensible thing to do - they will take years to get to the required standard.
If you seek out players from other clubs, you can be accused of "poaching" for personal gain rather than scouting and recruiting for the good of the game as a whole. Once you get that reputation, it's tough to break.
But, there is still that hole in your first team that you need to fill with someone, and your current squad doesn't have the right fit.
What do you do?
Have a scouting team
Scouting starts with focus, and for that you need a team. Naturally you can't have a network of full-time scouts hunting for you, but you can pick some guys who can do a similar job.
For example, you are a club who has recently been promoted to the top division. You might have a combination of senior players and retired old heads provide their assessements of opponents.
In this case you are looking for people who might want to move up a division but their team are stuck where they are, or perhaps players in better teams but cannot break into the first XI.
You can also tap into your network of "those in the know" like players who play University or rep level cricket, or retired players who know about players who like your club. It's really all about using all your contacts to hunt potential players.
The goal is to have a long list of people who might be keen to join you, not being too critical of their skills.
Choose and approach
With your list and scouting team, you can discuss the players and decide who to approach. This is part science and part art.
You can use PV/Match video data if you have played against anyone on the list to analyse their technique and see how they performed in the match. Of course, this is incomplete information but it gives you a great start. having video is also useful as you can review with several people more than once.
If you think they might be a fit on the field, you then need to decide if they are open to a switch. This could be a practical reason like moving house or a cricketing reason like wanting to play a higher standard.
Part of this might be to decide if the player trusts anyone in your team enough to understand what the approach means. If you are friendly with someone they are more likely to listen and less likely to see the approach in the wrong light.
Once you have planned who is likely to listen to your ideas, get in touch and work your magic.
Be prepared for a "no". You may have misjudged things, they may want what you cannot give. But if you don't ask you will never know.
One often overlooked part of this is someone's character.
You can have a very good player who causes issues in the team, or an average player who becomes the glue of the team. It's hard to spot this, and impossible to measure it, but if you can scout someone's mindset too, you will better understand if they fit into your team culture.
This is important because players you bring in can take time to become part of the side. You might put a few of your own squads noses out of joint in the process. So, your choice has to have the character to handle this.
You also have to prep your current team that you are actively recruiting for talent too. You want them on board that it will strengthen the team and not see it as a threat. This is easier if the player you bring in meets their expectations on and off the field.
We are dealing with human beings with egos and emotions after all!
- Cast a wide net, narrow down your search.
- Do your homework technically and with their mindset.
- Be practical but ambitious.
- Use your personal contacts as these are most powerful.
- Be prepared for rejection.