6 Ways To Become A Better Number Three Batsman
The number three position is the most difficult at any level. That's why the position is filled with the best player in the side: Richards, Bradman, Dravid.
What can we learn from these great names that can be taken into our own game?
1. Get good at waiting
Unlike most positions in the order you have no time to relax. You have to be ready to bat from the first ball and you still have to be ready to bat when the openers have put on a 250 opening partnership.
All players get nervous waiting to bat, but a good number three can always keep the butterflies in check. It's very difficult to score runs if you have worried yourself into a nervous wreck waiting for one of the openers to fall.
Most people can't just watch the game and stroll out when the wicket falls with barely a care. If you get nervous, try this simple breathing exercise to calm you down a little.
2. Have an adaptable style
The main reason why number 3 is considered the best batsman is because it consistently requires the widest range of skills. You need to be the most adaptable player in the side.
If early wickets fall you need to rebuild an innings by batting with care and reducing risk. On the other hand, if you come in after a big opening stand you need to bat with the flair of a swashbuckling middle order batsman.
It helps to have experience batting as both an opener and down the order, so you have a feel for the difference, because a chance in style is really about a change in mindset rather than technique.
You still have all the same shots no matter what the match situation. The difference is how you use them.
When rebuilding you will look to play straight, score runs from your better shots and take fewer risks. When you are attacking you will be using your full range of shots and not be afraid to take a few more risks, especially as an innings comes to a close.
3. Put in a shift
Batting is highly individual but you still need to consider the needs of the team, and that means playing selflessly or 'putting in a shift'.
Long before you walk out to the middle you will have found out what the captain requires from you. Sometimes this is obvious and you won't need to speak about it. Other times it is less clear. For example, If you play limited overs cricket with field restrictions you may be asked to bat with more freedom if you get in during the opening overs. On the other hand the captain might want you to bat through to the later part of the innings to build a solid base for the middle order to throw the bat.
In short, know your goals and work towards them.
4. Have the best technique in the side
As the most adaptable player, you also need the widest range of shots available to you. So you need to work on technique harder than anyone else.
Most of us can manage the glamour shots of cover drives and pulls, but number three is about honing the less exciting and more difficult techniques. It starts with drives, flicks and glances, especially through the on side.
You also need to be able to defend with confidence, especially on the back foot to faster bowling (a technique that can make or break top order players).
Finally, you need to know your options for adapting and hitting out. This is especially important for Twenty20 games, but can also be used in longer matches. For example, when trying to score quickly before a declaration comes.
You can't practice this too much. So get in the nets as often as you can and bat until the bowler's drop or the bowling machine overheats.
5. Be the fittest player in the team
Second only to a confident technique is the knowledge you will not get gassed halfway through an innings. Again it's adaptability which is at the root of it all. If you can still hit a long ball and scramble a quick single on 100 not out you are the perfect player to bat at number three.
One simple motivation I have found works is to invoke the competitive element: Commit to being fitter than anyone else in the team.
If everyone is willing you could compare bleep test times, squat numbers or any other measure of fitness. If the rest of the team don't want to get involved you can still make the resolution and show your fitness in your long innings, powerful hitting and fast running.
6. Be lucky
You may think that luck is not something you have control over, but you would be wrong.
Psychologist Richard Wiseman has researched into luck and found lucky people are simply people who behave in certain ways. In other words, you make your own luck.
You can read more about how that works in this article on how to be lucky.
by David Hinchliffe, PitchVision Academy
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