Pakistan warmed up for the World Cup by having a practice match between themselves. It's quite a change from the normal nets, nets and more nets.
Why did they do this?
As David Gower says in his autobiography, there is a world of difference between having a net without any of the pressure of a game and actually being out in the middle.
Nets are a safe haven to groove your technique under supervision or get your eye in before a big match, but they are not good for tactical awareness or technique under pressure.
You can recreate this pressure by setting up a game situation in training instead of just netting. However, that doesn't mean just picking 2 teams and having a 10 over slog.
To get the best from a practice you can customise the game to meet your team or player goals. Greg Chappell calls this "context training":
- Use a new ball with your opening bowlers and opening batsmen.
- Start the game in the middle overs with the spinners on and middle order batsmen at the crease.
- Have a target score to get in 5 overs for your lower order players.
- Practice running between the wickets and stealing singles.
- Have high pressure situations with lots of close fielders and sledging.
There are plenty more things you can do in a "game" situation than you can do in the nets. It also gives a structure to your valuable training time that is more like you get in the middle.
So at your next training session ditch the nets unless you are working on technique. A well set up training match will boost your tactical and dealing-with-pressure skills, which is a whole lot more useful.
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