Every year England play a match against an Associate nation: The Test side should win easily, but it's not always the case.
It's a situation many club sides also face.
For example, last season my own club team was relegated and are in a division where we should easily beat the weaker sides in 50 over declaration cricket. These are the "banana skin" teams that – when taken lightly – can cause an upset.
How do you stop them in their tracks?
Win the toss and field
The best chance a weak team has of an upset is to bowl first and restrict you to an under par score. It may be just enough for them to get over the line when they chase.
So, if you win the toss, field and cut off the option.
Of course, the temptation may be to bat first on a scorching day and a flat pitch, but remember you have a better chance of knocking off any score than you have of bowling out a team set on defence.
Bowl them out
Even fielding first, your aim is to take 10 wickets as quickly as possible. In short: A small total in a short time. So still attack and bowl them out.
To do this it's important to keep as many close catchers as you can, even when things are not going to plan. A couple at all times with defensive players cutting off scoring areas.
Use personal challenges
It's hard to motivate yourself when you are expecting a walkover, but this is what the weaker sides want. Ireland have exploited it many times full Test sides.
So, instead of using the opposition as a way to stay motivated, work on framing the challenge differently: This is a chance to show strength and focus and work on your plans. This is a time to show you can do the basics well even when the opposition are not as good as you.
This internal motivation is far more powerful and stops any slip ups in their tracks. And even if a slip does happen, you have to confidence to sail past it and get back to business.
Because getting to business is not always as easy as you think, and even against weak opponents you need a clear plan, iron nerve and robust confidence. You may only need to play at 75% to win, but avoid the mistake of thinking 60% will do.
© 2014 Pitchvision Academy