We kept up the training themes this week as attendance soared with the season starting on Saturday.
We moved through boundaries, into strike rotation and finally quick singles. I ran the nets, focusing on keeping players in "combat" mode by having one on one bowlers against batters. In a group of six in two nets, this works perfectly. It's short, sharp, focused and intense. No one is bowling for too long (four overs each with plenty of rest) and the batsmen only have 24 balls in which to achieve the outcome.
More important, the guys get into it with gusto. Even the players who "just want to hit balls" try their best to achieve the aim of the session, be it hitting every ball for four or taking three quick singles an over.
I'm hoping a big part of this is because they all get reminded every session that this is their session, not mine. They have control over how much effort they put in and how they deal with what I present. If you don't like it, I say every time, get together and change it. Nobody as all the drills and answers. Self-sufficiency is crucial to a good cricketer.
I have given over the outfield stuff, so far, to our new coaches. I have left them to it because I can't be everywhere at once, and I am getting feedback afterwards. They are reporting the themes are a handy way to stay on message but it give them freedoms to do what they want. I can see they both still need to learn some stuff, but don't we all? Broadly I'm happy we just need to hone the teamwork to get in a good rhythm. It does mean we have missed out on a couple of drills I wanted to do this week, including range hitting and tip and run stuff that only really works outdoors. But we are hitting most things most if the time and so I'm happy, as long as we keep striving to improve as a coaching team.
We have had a player train as a guest from another club: He lives locally and it's much easier for him to attend nets with us than his club in Edinburgh. He has reported that he is impressed with the amount of fielding work we do, which is exactly what I want to hear. I want us to go up a notch in the field this year and we have really hit it hard. It's a slight shame we have not had as many first team players come as regularly as I would hope, but that's club cricket. People commit as much as they can. It's my job to make training an appealing place to be!
Our overseas players are both in situ now. I have only seen one of them perform and it was an impressive display. More importantly, he seems to be a strong character. He works hard, doesn't complain, gives plenty of banter and always has a smile on his face. After last year, where I abdicated to the overseas player's lassaiz-fair approach, I am being slightly more active in offering my coaching, asking questions and building up a coach-player relationship with these key guys. It's early days yet, but we will see how it goes.
Saturday and Sunday see the first warm up matches, so we can finally turn all this practice into actual cricket.
While this is friendly cricket and we are a couple of players off full strength, it is a big opportunity to,
- Get reacquainted with outdoor competitive cricket.
- See how much of the winter work has paid off in terms of better skills, better game plans and better ability under pressure.
- Start the process of gelling as a team, seeing as the side has four debutants, three of whom are likely to be regulars.