This week, we had a batting masterclass from Somerset and England's Nick Compton.
Nick is someone who I have watched and admired for a number of years and a few weeks back he agreed to come in and work with our cricketers. His story reminded me of the session that we did with Kevin Pietersen. Their batting style of play may be different, yet their approaches to challenge, their drive, their hard work, honesty and willingness to share information with others was identical.
Here is what we learned from that masterclass.
World-class batting defence
One of Nicks aims for 2012 was to face more balls in County cricket than any other player.
In this age of innovation, it was refreshing to hear that Nick quickly established that the best way to bat is to build his game around world-class defence. He felt he would be in with a chance of scoring more runs than any other player in the country by occupying the crease.
The upshot was that Nick faced more balls in 2012 than any other player in world cricket, topped the run scoring in the County Championship and was selected to play Test cricket for England.
There might be something in this!
Nick ran a session with 4 of the schools batters. Another 25 cricketers were placed outside of the net and asked to observe the practice and offer feedback.
Nick cranked the bowling machine up to 90mph with '3' Away swing and told each batter that they would bat until they were out. As you can imagine, this was tough and Nick delivered a spell of unerring accuracy, pace and swing at these four players.
Each batter played and missed a heap, left a few balls, defended some good balls.
3 of them nicked off within 15 balls. One lad survived a 25 ball onslaught.
Their defence was challenged, yet they stood up pretty well.
Nick then asked for feedback from the observing group and then told the 4 players how well they had done. He then revealed the ball speeds and swing that he had delivered to them.
You could see each players confidence rise at that moment.
Nick then went on to talk about how he gets himself ready to bat. He spoke of emotional control, some strategies for managing this and how his consistency in preparation helps him to be ready to bat.
It was time for round 2 with the batters. Fuelled with confidence and strategies to cope with their emotions, each player then faced the challenge once more.
They adapted brilliantly.
All 4 players defended with confidence, they still played and missed a bit (who wouldn't?) yet actually started to score as well. All 4 achieved even better results than their first attempt.
How much do we work on our player's defensive game nowadays?
Can you honestly say your run getters from 1-11 all have world-class defence? If not, what can you do about it?