The Slogger's Guide To Building An Innings
It's hard to break a reputation as a batsman.
If you are down as a "see it, hit it" slogger, no one expects you to play a composed and well-paced innings.
But there are times when you can play with more nous and boost your average. Take the recent county match where Sussex were 116 for four on a tricky batting pitch with T20 smasher Luke Wright at the crease.
Wright scored a controlled 158, still filled with his trademark bat speed, but also solid in defence, relying on sound technique - as well as sheer power - to score.
Picture a similar moment in your games: 40 for four after 17 overs. You go in at six. Do you follow your instinct and go for it?
If you do, how will the captain greet you if you fail?
Perhaps it's time to consider a more circumspect approach. Here are some tips:
Choose the right shots
You don't need to play all your shots all the time.
At one stage in his career Andrew Strauss gave up on almost everything except flicking the ball off his legs. Anything off the stumps he learned to leave alone. This retraction slowed his scoring rate, but allowed him to build big scores when he was low on confidence.
Take a leaf from that.
Riskier shots like cuts and cover drives look impressive, but in times of rebuilding, you are better off leaving them out. It's fine to leave outside the off stump for a while.
If you have a shot that you play well and is low risk, then keep it going. Look to defend or leave balls you might otherwise have a go at. It pays off when the bowlers get tired and start feeding you bad balls.
Keep your focus
The hardest part of a long innings is keeping an iron concentration on the task. This is doubled when you are naturally attacking and feel forced to play outside your normal game.
So, start by switching your frame a little. Instead of thinking "I have to play against my natural game", think "I am still an attacking batsman; I am just waiting for the right ball to attack".
Following that, make sure you have a ritual.
Between balls, develop a way to switch off and think about anything except the game. Some batsmen walk away to square leg, some garden, some adjust their pads. It's idle, but essential. Pick something that clears your mind and stick with it.
If you notice the "I'm just going to go for it" thinking creeping back in, learn to recognise your impatience. Then ignore it and think of something positive, like how it will feel when you raise your bat for three figures.
Using these methods, you're still the same big hitting hero, but you will also be the match winning one more often.
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