Warning: The MCC coaching book is not as outdated as you think | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Warning: The MCC coaching book is not as outdated as you think

In recent years a new criticism of a player has entered the vocabulary of cricket: That of 'slavishly following the coaching manual'.

You may even know someone of the type.

They have a perfect off drive that goes straight to mid off every time: A great shot for none. They are typified by slow scoring and a lack of power in their shots. They may even be described as a player from another age.

The assumption is players are limited by their techniques. By honing their shots to mirror the classic 1952 coaching manual pictures they end up looking pretty and not being able to get the ball off the square. They can't hit the ball into the gaps and are easily tied down by accurate bowling.

Is this true?
Whither the coaching manual?

These days it's all about scoring areas, not shots. The top players are able to work the same ball into different parts of the field depending on the game situation and the field that is set. That's modern batting.

There is no mention of individual style, trigger moves or reverse swing in the book. It has become dusty as it sits on the shelf unread and unloved.

But have we gone too far?

I have started to think recently that this perception of technique has strayed too far away from the reality. I think there is more to the coaching book than history.

Returning to the textbook

Since the MCC coaching book was first written there has been a lot of research into biomechanically ideal techniques. The latest computer modelling very often comes up with identical findings to the old school coaching techniques. Playing straight in the 1950s, it seems, is still as sensible in the 21st century.

It's a similar story with bowling. We may now have added front on actions but the basic 4 points of grip, smooth run up, rhythmical delivery and fluent follow through are still as vital today as they ever were.

These techniques were first written down because they worked. They are still being taught today by top coaches because they still work now and sport science has proven it.

Good players always build individual fair on top of proven technique, not instead of it. A firm grasp of technique in any discipline builds confidence in your game.

Adapting to modern cricket

That's not to say we can just copy the old book. Things have changed and we need to adapt.

For example, we mentioned playing straight before. You would assume that Twenty20 and death batting in limited over games would encourage the opposite: Switch hits, sweeps, reverse sweeps and slog sweeps.

In fact, most of the best Twenty20 batters are ones who can play with the straightest of bats. They are able to hit anywhere through an arc between cover and square leg in the ait or along the ground simply by playing drives and flicks off the legs with technical perfection.

Where does that leave the modern player?

It will depend on where you are technically at the moment. However, a good rule of thumb is this: Learn sound technique first then adapt later. If you try and develop the 'sexy' stuff first you risk missing out an important part of your game.

How close is your technique to technical perfection?


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Hi David

I'm interested in the point you make about modern players being able to hit the same ball to different areas according to the match situation. I think this is definitely possible on good wickets, but do you agree that alot of the wickets at club level limit the amount you can improvise?

Either way I would be really interested in an article on the various options one can take to hit the same ball to different parts of the ground - have you covered this before?



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