Well the best advice is to return to the basics of batting, that means “packing” away the fancy crowd pleasing strokes, like the reverse sweep….if I see another high risk sweep going for one run I am going to scream….. no wicket is worth one run. Of course T20 cricket has not helped and we are seeing less and less batsmen who are capable of batting for sustained periods of time and actually wearing down a bowling attack. They all simple want to come in score at 200% strike rate. This trend has now found its way into test cricket and as a direct result we having test matches which do not even last 3 days never mind 5. Run rates of a “pure” test match seldom uses to surpass 2 runs per over and batsmen would value their wickets, batting a full session was the order of the day.
So this article is to remind batsmen of what they need to do to ensure they can constantly be in a positon to score runs at a reasonable rate with a sound average which would add value to a team. Whether you are playing for the local friendly side or whether you are striding out to represent your county.
Let’s start at the nets, most batsmen have no game plan when striding into the nets, they simple go in and focus on hitting as much balls as possible and for me this is the incorrect approach. First decide what area you will be working on during the session, get into the nest and assess the wicket (just as you should in a game situation), so this would mean leaving a few deliveries and defending a few. The focus of the net session should centre around being dismissed as few times as possible.
The second important approach to a net practice is to take time to get your eye in. This used to be a popular saying on the coaching circuit, nowadays you don’t hear it. It’s get in a score from ball one, that may be ok when you playing T20s but not when striding out to bat in tough sub-continent conditions on day 3 or 4 of a test match.
The third important aspect of batting in the nets is to have a solid defence! A batsman cannot score runs if they are out, so when you play a defensive stroke play it with positive intent. This will help later in the innings when you start pushing the ball around and accumulate runs but more importantly it prevents you from settling into a negative mind-set. A defensive stroke can result in an opportunity to take a single.
The last aspect of batting in the nets is to be looking to rotate the strike. No bowler enjoys it when two batsmen are rotating the strike well. This leads to the batsmen wearing down the bowlers and this is when you can capitalize on the bad balls that follows.
Remember even the great batsmen go through a bad patch… sometimes they feel that they are not sure where that next run is going to come from. They return to the nets and follow the basics and when the form returns all the wonderful entertaining strokes that we all enjoy returns.
COACH STUART BOTHA