This, as we all know, is rarely going to be successful, especially on early season wickets for the batters. Also, for the bowlers you need to have that month or so of practice in order to ready your body for the demands of the season.I see how important winter practices are; but are nets still the best practice? I think however much you dislike them they are still the best way to train as a bigger group. However, the ways in which they are used are perhaps not as productive as they could be. Instead of a steady stream of bowlers each taking it in turns to bowl their ball and then wait for five others to do the same before having another go, there is a better way: Scenario-based nets. In these sessions with some careful thought and preparation, far more can be achieved without ‘flogging’ the bowlers. It needs to be specific to the players involved but results can be achieved whilst making the session more relevant and purposeful.
For example, three new ball bowlers each with a brand new ball bowling to three batters who would normally be the two openers and the number 3 in the order. The scenario facing the players involved being the start of the innings with a focus on the first ten overs. Bowlers should bowl in blocks of three balls or in overs (half overs reduce waiting time for the others.) If a flipchart or whiteboard is available, field plans can be drawn up making it specific for the scenario. Batters are then able to play the bowling according to the field set. For example, if they flick the ball down to fine leg they jog through for a single, thus changing the strike as if it were a game. Similarly, if one batter is out then number 3 comes in making the net more competitive and a possibly even introducing forfeits for being out/bowling wides or no balls.
In the adjoining net have the middle-order batters facing up against the spinners and medium fast bowlers with equally well thought out scenarios (4/5rpo, etc.) I feel this way there is a lot more purpose to the practice and everybody is involved reducing the dead time that can often manifest in a net practice. Think smart and use everybody’s time more effectively.
WD & PL
A Leading Edge is a series of educational cricket books written and illustrated by Patrick Latham and Wesley Durston. Their first book, ‘A Leading Edge for Captains’ is now available on Amazon as well as in a range of independent bookshops around the UK.
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