The Third XI were playing a midweek game so we had a small group in the nets for this session. We used the newly repaired bowling machine for the first time this season.
Turnout was low, but the 1st XI top seven were all either playing or training (bar one who had told us about a prior commitment). This is a great sign to me; players ar willing to put in work and even when they can't make it to training, they let us know. That's a strong culture. If games were won on culture alone I'm sure we would be top of the league.
The session itself was mainly nets, with some fielding to warm up. We took the boundary rope in 10 yards to do some ground work and throwing at the stumps. We only hit about 10% at a single stump so there is work to be done there.
Inside, we had the machine in one net and bowlers in the other on PitchVision.
I have mixed feelings about the machine. It gives you a lot of reps in a short time and lets you work on things you can't get reliably from a bowler. However, it also locks you into a rhythm that is very different from batting in the middle. Plus, some people really can't deal with the way the ball pops out with no real bowler there.
However, at this point in our batting progress I am keen to try anything to stem the tide of wickets. The machine might not be the golden ticket to runs galore, but it's a new thing to try that might just get someone over the line.
I set the machine up to be bowling inswing, pitched up at 62-66mph. Players worked on driving the ball through mid on and midwicket. I like this drill because it forces you to play straight without falling over. However at that pace you can't just use the pace of th ball to hit it. Everyone who wanted a bat got a go and everyone decided to work on that aspect.
We also got a couple of overs of back of a length bowling to drive and cut.
I did intend to have a points game in the other net, but with the low numbers I decided to focus on the machine instead and didn't even mention the game. I suspect they did the usual thing of having a hit with no intentions or thoughts of game scenarios. Certainly no one mentioned any thoughts to me. I must be careful not to let this happen too often as I can see myself "giving up" and letting the kids have their way for an easy life. That's not going to help in the long run.
That said, the machine time was super productive for all five batsmen who used it. If I did it again I would take a moment to speak to each outgoing batsman to get their reflections on the session and plan for next time.
- The good: Lots of productive ball hitting with a technical purpose. A good fielding activity session outdoors.
- Needs work: Better run "live" net (give it an objective). Hit the stumps more often. I'd like to see a 30% hit rate as standard. Allow for better reflection after a machine session rather than just saying "next".