Early Season Bowling for Seamers

Here we are already! The clocks have gone forward, the first Championship matches are about to get underway, schools are breaking up and children and adults across the country are chomping at the bit to get outdoors and start their own first games on grass!

All the hard work done indoors over the winter, grooving actions and finding some rhythm suddenly seem a long time ago. When you get the ball in your hand and you stand at the top of your mark to run in for the first few deliveries of the season, the feeling is very different. Suddenly it all counts! The wides, the no balls, the short balls and half volleys you feel that you got away with indoors will now go against your figures and, more importantly, against the team.

How can you give yourself the best chance of picking up wickets in what, traditionally in early season, will be bowler friendly conditions? Try not to let the expectation take over your thoughts. The batters will take one look at the emerald surface and the comments will start to come your way. ‘A few easy wickets for you then?’, ‘Nice day to be a seamer!’, ‘Over to you!’ and so on. In these circumstances, it can be very easy to get wrapped up in the expectation and try too hard, getting frustrated when wickets do not come ‘easily’. Relax, and aim to get the ball full and on off stump. Keep it simple!

Indoors, you will have been used to getting the bounce and pace from back of a length. The same length outdoors will generally be too short. This will allow the batters the opportunity to see movement, the ball will sit up giving the batter all the time in the world to pick exactly where they want to dispatch you through the leg side. Get the ball full of a length, giving it a chance to swing, and encourage the batter to come forward. As much as possible, you need to ensure that the batter is playing you off the front foot, as they are more likely to mistime a drive leading to catching opportunities in the off-side ring. On softer early season wickets, the ball is more likely to move laterally as well as stopping in the wicket slightly. Don’t forget that the batter is used to indoor conditions where they will have been able to throw their hands through good length balls with little risk! If they do this and it comes off a couple of times, keep going, the batter’s suspicions in the surface will reduce, confidence will grow and it will only take one delivery that stops, or cuts a little and you will be in business!


A suitable length varies from early season to late season
© 2019. A Leading Edge

From the diagram above, you can see that there is far less margin for error, particularly on length in early season. These lengths will vary from wicket to wicket and as you progress through the season as the wickets harden up through July and August.

As a bowler, it is your responsibility to work out as fast as possible, the correct length to be bowling on any given pitch on any given day. These lengths will vary from bowler to bowler and from wicket to wicket. Taller faster bowlers are able to bowl fuller and still extract bounce due to the angle of trajectory of the delivery. Shorter skiddier bowlers will find a good length, with the ball hitting the top of off stump, slightly shorter than a taller bowler.


Bowlers of differing heights extract different bounce from the same length
© 2019. A Leading Edge

On a damp early season wicket, it might well be the slightly slower skiddier medium pacer that enjoys more success with deliveries kissing the surface and moving sideways off the pitch and through the air. The taller bowlers who hurl the ball into the pitch will extract more of a tennis ball bounce, which whilst maybe less penetrative can prove harder for the batter to time and therefore scoring runs can be difficult. If the length is too short, however, this type of bowler can find that they go the distance!

When you have found your length, stick to it and tie the batter down giving them little opportunity to score. Try to get yourself in a place where all that exists in front of you is you, the ball and whatever you are aiming at, be it the top of off stump, the spot on the pitch or the wicket keeper’s right knee. In your mind, nothing else should be there and you need to try to find the length that works, and replicate the same delivery time after time. Don’t get bored!

Getting your fielders in the right place is crucial to bowling dot balls and creating the pressure necessary to take wickets. With your early season default length being on the full side of a good length, you will need to have your field set straight as you are expecting the batter to hit down the ground with a straight bat. It might be a good idea to have a short cover for the one that stops on the batter as an uppish drive will go at catchable height through here. There is usually some lateral movement wither through the air or off the wicket or both so reliable slip fielders will need to be ready. In the diagram below, showing a possible field for a seamer, five players and the bowler can take up the positions in the 90° arc in front of the bat. Always put most of your fielders (and your best ones!) where you are expecting the ball to go.


Potential field setting for a seamer on a soft early season wicket.
The aim should be to bowl as full as possible, getting the batter to hit down the ground.

Points to remember

– Bring the batter forward by bowling full and straight

– Don’t offer any width

– Set your field straight

– Be patient and stick to your ‘top of off stump’ line and length

– Create pressure from your end by bowling as many dot balls as you can. Your 10 overs 1 wkt for 15 runs may not make the match summary, but you can guarantee that you will have done a fantastic job in heling the bowlers at the other end get their wickets through the pressure you put on the batters to score off someone else.

Have a great season! Good luck

PL & WD

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.

The Run up and the Pain of No Balls

The Run Up and the Pain of No-Balls

You mention the name ‘Whispering Death’ to any cricketer worth his salt over the age of 40 and they will be able to conjure up the image of one of the most fearsome sights for a batter in the 1970-80s. The great West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding gliding silently in to the wicket off his extended and rhythmical run up was a thing of beauty, balance and harnessed power.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMmKSR2Pfes

Sir Ian Botham, in a career spanning 16 years and 114,532 deliveries, never bowled a single no-ball. Not one! It is an incredible statistic. There are others on the list too, including Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Dennis Lillee and Lance Gibbs. A single run penalty at the time seems fairly inconsequential. Add the extra ball and any runs scored from it, especially in games where the free hit rule is in play, other no-balls your team mates bowl and particularly at school level your team can find themselves bowling an extra two or three overs, giving away 12 to 18 free runs at the very least. There is a very real likelihood that bowling no-balls can cost your team the game on their own, so it is important for bowlers to get their run ups right.

The importance of a repeatable and reliable run up for a young bowler is paramount. During your winter training, how many no-balls do you see bowled in the indoor nets? Getting the front foot right indoors is so important, whether you are able to approach off your full run or not. The habits you are building by bowling no-balls indoors are very difficult to get out of when you head outdoors and take the ball in the first games of the season.

Generally, indoor facilities will have at least a front foot line and a stump as reference points for the bowler. In bowling no-balls indoors, you are subconsciously training yourself to approach and take off using the stump as a reference point. Outdoors, the stumps and front line will be an identical constant, as will your take off point due to your subconscious awareness of the location of the stumps ahead of you. That you bowl no-balls and then struggle for rhythm for the next few weeks is hardly going to be a surprise. Indoors, always try to have an umpire standing to help you identify where your front foot is landing. The presence of an umpire will also help as you are training yourself with a further reference point which you will also have outdoors. Indoors, make sure that you have your umpire stand where you would expect him/her to stand when outdoors. As the bowler, you are very much within your rights to ask the umpire to stand closer or further away from the stumps (within reason), so find out where you are happy with the umpire standing and make sure that this is a constant. It is important to emphasise the positive relationship that you need to forge with the umpire, so in asking him or her to adjust their standing position, always do so politely!

In our new book out later this year, ‘A Leading Edge for Bowlers’, we look in detail at ways in which we recommend you build your perfect run up. If you are able to relax, not consider your run up and focus completely on the intended outcome of your delivery there is significantly more chance of success. It is frustrating to see talented your bowlers turning to start their run up from a different place each delivery, stuttering half way through their run up trying desperately to spot their stride and then either bowling way behind the popping crease or way over. It is not just young bowlers with this problem, in the 1990’s there was a fast bowler at Somerset who had the most random ideas about a run up. Andre van-Troost was a Dutch quick bowler and one of the most frightening bowlers to face. a) you never knew when he was going to turn and run in to bowl so you always had to be ready and b) when he bowled, not only was he very quick, but he had absolutely no idea where the ball was going! In early season, when the ground is quite soft, as a bowler you will be able to see how god your rhythm is by the consistency of your foot marks in the turf. For a bowler coming off a longer run, it is both satisfying and reassuring to see, after 4 or 5 overs, the footprints ahead of you that you have made as you stand at the top of your mark.

Spend time both indoors and outdoors in the early season getting a reliable run up right. The benefits of time spent on this, you will find, are incredible for your confidence in your approach to the crease and the consistency of your bowling will improve. Good luck!

PL & WD

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.

Batting on Early Season Wickets

Batting on Early Season Wickets

It’s fast approaching and for many first-class county players the start of the season has already arrived. With it comes the opportunity, or should I say challenge, of batting on green early season wickets. Nothing can replace the feeling of getting outside onto grass for the first time after a winter of resting, reminiscing about 2018 and merriment. That joyous feeling of your spikes sinking into the top layer of the wicket as you take guard. Often, however, that joy is short lived when the batter looks down at the colour of the wicket and the amount of live grass on it.

For some, the negative thoughts and therefore mindset they create for themselves can be the reason their innings doesn’t last too long. As we know, the length of grass and the lack of firmness of the wicket can make the ball misbehave or move extravagantly. There may be the odd occasion where you receive a delivery that you just can’t do anything about it, but if we are honest, how often does this really happen? It’s more likely still to be down to human error, from forming a poor game-plan and not sticking to it. Batters who still think they are in the indoor nets will likely have indifferent footwork and push at the ball, both of which the player can generally get away with indoors. Outdoors however this creates problems.

The most successful batters in early season will have formulated simple plans prior to the season and have the mental toughness to implement them consistently in matches. Knowing the location of one’s off-stump is always vital, but never more so than in April and May. With it, an understanding of which balls to play at, especially defensively, is equally important. Being clear and disciplined between attack and defence is crucial, as edging a ball through to the keeper or cordon that you didn’t need to play at is incredibly frustrating. The same applies to pushing out at the ball especially in defence. Play the ball later, allowing the ball to come to you, making contact under your eyes will help you at this time of year.

Should you get into your innings and find that you have survived twenty minutes to thirty minutes and are feeling good, be mindful that just because you have got through a tricky period the next batsman has not. Always consider who is waiting to come in after you and do what you can to protect the partnership that is forming. It is always easier to score the runs once you are established than expect the same from a batter coming in on zero. Embrace the challenge at the start of the season because valuable time spent at the crease can set you up for a bumper season. Good luck.

Tips for early season success:

  • Formulate a good plan prior to batting,
  • Have the discipline to stick to the plan,
  • Establish where your off-stump is,
  • Play the ball late under your eyes,
  • When defending work out which balls to play and which to leave,
  • Once in stay in and protect the next batters waiting to come in.

WD & PL

Cricket: A Leading Edge for Captains is available as a paperback (£12.99) and eBook (£3.99) from Amazon.co.uk. Books are also from Walkers Bookshops in Oakham and Stamford, and from CM Cricket in Stoughton, Leicester

Educating your Captains – Reduced Rate for Schools & Clubs

We wrote our book, ‘A Leading Edge for Captains’ when we identified a need for such a book amongst school and club junior captains, but also amongst players of all levels of the game. Whilst we as coaches spend a lot of our time coaching the physical skills of the game, the mental approach and deeper understanding often is left relatively untouched for a variety of reasons.

Our book, which is available on Amazon.co.uk as well as in a number of independent book shops around the UK, is designed to be a fast track for players to learn and understand more about the game from a captains point of view. It gives players the opportunity to get an insight into the game from thought provoking contributions from current and ex-first class players from around the world in bite sized chunks that are easy to read and reference.

We wrote the book with education in mind and as such, we want as many young people to read the book as possible. We are therefore announcing a scheme whereby schools and clubs have the opportunity to buy copies of the book at a reduced price direct from us in the lead up to the coming season. We feel that the books will make perfect awards for the young school and club captains when these positions are announced in the next few weeks.

The book is for sale at £12.99, but for schools and clubs wishing to buy copies for their captains, we are offering the following prices:

1-10 books – £8.50
each book thereafter £6.50

If you would like to take advantage of this offer, please get in touch with us on email (aleadingedge@hotmail.com) and we can arrange copies to be sent to you, which can be personalised and signed or left blank for you to present in school assemblies or at nets.

PL& WD

 

A Leading Edge for Rutland Schools

This week sees the exciting launch of our ‘A Leading Edge for Rutland Schools’ project, thanks to support from Schoolwear Solutions and Ian Guyler.

Below is a copy of the letter written to all Rutland Schools announcing the project. We are delighted to have taken bookings from schools to visit and speak to the children about positive leadership and look forward to securing more school visits in the coming weeks.

To whom it may concern,

I write with exciting news to let you know that thanks to Schoolwear Solutions and Ian Guyler Business Consulting, A Leading Edge Publications will be delivering two complimentary copies of our book to your school in the next few weeks.

A Leading Edge for Captains’ is a new educational book, written by Wesley Durston and Patrick Latham, two county cricketers turned cricket coaches, is a book aimed at young people interested in developing a greater understanding of positive leadership and management. The book uses the sport of cricket as a vehicle to illustrate many points relevant to life in general and more directly helping young players to understand in more detail the role of the cricket captain. We are about to enter one of the biggest summers for English cricket with the Ashes plus a World Cup in England and Wales in the same year. The summer of 2019 will be all about the cricket!

Schoolwear Solutions, supported by Ian Guyler, have kindly sponsored A Leading Edge in delivering the book to every school in Rutland. Your school will receive two books, one of which A Leading Edge would like to be placed in the school library, giving the whole school community access to the content. The second book, we would like the school to use as an award for a student in their school who has shown good positive leadership skills, an interest in captaincy or a position of leadership within the school or to a student that the school feels would benefit from the contents of the book. The award must be the choice of the school, and A Leading Edge authors Wesley and Patrick would be happy to present the book to your school in person.

As part of the sponsorship arrangements, Wesley and Patrick will be available to a number of the Rutland Schools for follow up coaching sessions, group mentoring talks and year group assemblies on positive leadership, drawing on various points from the book to help the students understand more about the art of captaincy and the responsibilities of the role. If you would like to find out more about A Leading Edge and arrange a visit in your school, please contact us via email aleadingedge@hotmail.com.

We would like to thank Schoolwear Solutions and Ian Guyler for their foresight and belief in our project ‘A Leading Edge for Schools’, and ultimately enabling us to deliver these books and our positive message on leadership and captaincy to your school.

We very much look forward to hearing from you with regard a visit to your school and we very much hope that your students and staff enjoy reading our book. Watch out for the package, which will arrive with you before the Easter holiday! If your school is on Twitter, you can follow us on @aleadingedge1 to keep up to date with the latest information on ‘A Leading Edge for Rutland Schools’.

Yours in Sport,

Wesley Durston & Patrick Latham

Testing Your Boundaries

In his interview after an incredible 156 contributing to the England win in the 2nd ODI in Grenada, Joss Buttler spoke quite brilliantly and openly about his innings, his enjoyment of the game and for the behind the scenes training that goes on out of the public eye.

His interview was different from others in that he appeared to speak completely candidly, rather than tow a party line with standard rehearsed responses to the questions which was very refreshing. One of the comments he made in his interview caught my attention above the others as an important coaching and training point for all young players.

In talking about his own training and the enjoyment of range hitting amongst other aspects of his batting development, Buttler talked about using the lack of consequences in a training session to find out what he can and cannot do with the bat.

In saying this, Buttler intimated that his focus was far from practicing what he knows he can do but more on what he cannot yet do. It shows a fantastic positive and growth mindset, illustrating once again that the best players in the world are always looking to improve and never wanting to be at a standstill.

In an interview after England’s win over Italy at Twickenham in the 6 Nations Rugby last weekend, Eddie Jones spoke about the 1st XV and the 2nd XV all competing for places and pushing each other, not allowing any player the thought of comfort and security in their position in the 1st XV. “All the players from both teams are looking to make improvements in their game all the time”, Jones said.

In terms of what Joss Buttler’s training mindset means to him and how he trains, the knowledge of there being no consequences gives him the freedom to try new things.

For example, seeing how an adjustment in his grip allows him to access different parts of the ground but at the same time highlighting any negative side effects of any given alteration, however small. In tinkering with your technique in this way, you may hit on something that works for you, which, over time can be developed. Quite often batters will go into a net situation thinking only about protecting their wicket and trying not to get out. Don’t get me wrong, there need to be sessions, or part of sessions, that are devoted to protecting your wicket, but leave some time in your training for invention.

There is a line that younger players might find difficult to identify between the aimless ramps, scoops and reverse sweeps and this kind of positive inventive practice where something is tried before assessing how positively the change will affect performance then deciding to continue or reset and try something different. Younger players will need significant guidance and help in working on inventive sessions. It is important to note that all invention and audacious strokeplay stems from a sound technique with good footwork, balance and a knowledge of where your off stump is.

When working on inventive sessions and testing your limits, to get it right, consider the following:

In what situation of the game are you likely to bat?

What bowlers are likely to be on at this stage?

What is the field likely to be?

How many runs per over are you likely to be asked to score?

What areas of the field are you trying to access?

When you have processed all this, have the ball thrown, bowled or fed into the machine to reflect the bowler, line & length and work out the different ways you might access the appropriate areas of the ground. Remember, there are no consequences, so if you make a complete hash of things initially, keep working focusing 100% on a positive outcome. Consider, if things are not working, why they are not working.

Yes, the likes of AB DeVilliers, Jos Buttler, et al. are the extreme examples, but these players show that literally nothing is impossible in terms of where you can hit the ball, it is just finding a way that works for you.

A positive approach, some structured thought behind your training goals and some honest assessment of success combined with perseverance and time, there will be no reason why you cannot make big improvements in your strike rate.

If you can find a way of giving your team the chance of the extra 10 or 15 runs, that might be the difference between winning and losing. Test your boundaries in the confidence that there are no consequences in training.

Cricket: A Leading Edge for Captains is available as a paperback (£12.99) and eBook (£3.99) from Amazon.co.uk. Books are also from Walkers Bookshops in Oakham and Stamford, and from CM Cricket in Stoughton, Leicester

Scenario Net Sessions

I’m constantly asked if there is a better way to practice during the off-season than simply having a net session. I think for so many players the monotony of nets mean that in lots of cases, club players would sooner miss them and trust their natural ability when the season rolls around in April. 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.

Enjoy.

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.

A Leading Edge for Rutland Schools

The book, ‘Cricket: A Leading Edge for Captains’, has been on the market for five months, and in the lead up to what promises to be a magnificent summer of cricket, we are very excited to announce a project we have been working on since the start of the New Year. This week, we have secured generous local funding which will enable us to put our project into action!

A Leading Edge has teamed up with Leicester based Schoolwear Solutions supported by Ian Guyler Business Consultancy. This positive new partnership will allow us to bring our book to every school in Rutland in time for the new season.

Thanks to the generosity of Schoolwear Solutions and Ian Guyler, we are able to deliver two complimentary copies of our book to each of the 29 schools in Rutland. One book goes to the school library, giving all children in the schools access to the valuable content. The second copy is to be present to a promising young leader in the school. The lucky recipient, to be decided by each school PE Lead/Head Teacher, will need to demonstrate an interest captaincy and in developing their positive leadership skills. Whilst the A Leading Edge for Captains uses cricket as the focal point, the sport is a vehicle for something much wider. The skills required to be a cricket captain transcend the boundary and spread through life, with the contents of this book having strong relevance to business, management and leadership of people in all areas of life. A Leading Edge authors Wes & Patrick will be visiting several Rutland schools to present books in person and hold coaching sessions and motivational talks to classes and small groups looking at captaincy and associated leadership skills, sharing first-hand some of the content of the book.

This is a fantastic good news story and a great opportunity for local schools to receive a visit from A Leading Edge authors, courtesy of Schoolwear Solutions and Ian Guyler Business Consultancy.

Schoolwear Solutions are a family-run business, specialising in supplying the best quality school uniforms and school sportswear, with solid values of excellent customer service, ethical sourcing of garments and massive buying power, the benefits of which we delight in passing on to our customers with the most competitive prices and the widest choice. For more information on Schoolwear Solutions please visit www.schoolwearsolutions.co.uk.

Ian Guyler has helped make many businesses successful, delivered business projects, catalysed team Leicestershire at MIPIM in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and has instigated fund raising projects for The Lords Taverners national charity to raise £250,000 in the last four years in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. www.ianguyler.co.uk

Cricket: A Leading Edge for Captains is available as a paperback (£12.99) and eBook (£3.99) from Amazon.co.uk. Books are also from Walkers Bookshops in Oakham and Stamford, and from CM Cricket in Stoughton, Leicester.

Leaving School & ‘Wandering’ About Your Cricketing Future?

Selection for the school ‘A’ team should not be seen with such importance as it often is. There is a lot of pressure on children to represent their school ‘A’ team at any age group in any given sport. This pressure comes from peers, families, teachers, but most of all from the children themselves. Cricket has far more to offer than just the high-pressure, cut and thrust of league and county cricket. As school coaches, we often see huge excitement and enthusiasm for all sports at the start of the school term, which, after selection for the initial training squads and first teams of the season can, to an extent, fall away as realisation dawns that the ‘A’ team seems out of reach. Too regularly, we focus on the high performers and interest in the development of the top players in the top teams can become a priority, rather than celebrating the success and relevance of players who are not particularly interested in cricket as a career or pursuing to higher levels after school, but who have a deep love for the game. Whilst opportunity for ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ teams is there to participate in inter school and inter club matches, arguably we do not consider enough the future development and interest of what will become the life blood of recreational cricket. For the top school players, we offer plenty advice and create links to clubs, district, county and other well-trodden pathways, but for those super keen cricket lovers who may not wish to follow the club or county pathway, we possibly fall a little short in advising them about alternative cricketing opportunities after leaving school.

Every year, there will be cricketers leaving school for whom club cricket is not a realistic option. This may be down to commitment in playing a large number of fixtures every weekend, a feeling of inadequacy, pressure of league cricket and the desire to play socially rather than having to consider league rankings, promotion and relegation, etc. Some of these players will play a little through university but sadly may ultimately be lost to the game if they are unable to find an alternative to club cricket.

On leaving school, I learned of an intriguingly named cricket team called ‘The Stragglers of Asia’. Traditionally, although rules are slightly more relaxed today, to play for this team one was required to have played cricket east of the Suez, which tells you a little about the wonderfully colourful history behind such teams. ‘The Stragglers’ offer wonderfully traditional cricket in idyllically quintessential settings, predominantly in London and surrounding counties. There exists a chance to play with and against like-minded people who are there for the enjoyment of the game, revelling equally in success and failure with the opportunity to play a smaller number of fixtures over the summer combined with opportunities to tour around the world playing cricket. Add to all this the amazing networking opportunities with some exceptionally well-connected people, the odd mountainous cheese board, fine wines and a glass or two of port over a long lunch and the whole scenario becomes a rather attractive prospect. Wandering Cricket Clubs, those traditionally without a home ground, ‘wander’ around the country being hosted by schools, clubs, military and other sides, is a genuine alternative to club cricket which is affectionately termed ‘jazz hat’ cricket on account of the brilliantly eccentric coloured and patterned caps and sweaters on show.

It is important to note at this stage that whilst this article is directed at players who may not feel able to play club cricket for whatever reason, the mix in abilities and ages amongst wandering cricketers is what makes the whole experience so welcoming, and fun. Part of the challenge of the majority of wandering games is to ensure that the day sees a ‘perfect’ game of cricket leaving all results possible as late into the game as possible. Ideally, the winning runs will be scored, or the last wicket will fall in the last few balls of the day. This takes a little bit of imagination from the captains, who also need to ensure that all players get as equal an opportunity as possible in the games. What you can guarantee from playing for a wandering side is a plenty of laughs, relatively little pressure and generally a close match of encouraging inclusive cricket, spreading the message of a lifelong love of the game where the whole family is welcomed to a day of cricket.

Wandering cricket will take you to any number of fabulous locations and give you the opportunity to travel around the world touring with your chosen side should you wish. Among the grounds you can find yourself arriving at can include the beautiful Ascot Park, The Hurlingham Club, The Royal Household, The Honorable Artillery, and any number of top Independent School grounds around the country.

The Wandering Cricket culture is quite remarkable, and offers something to cricket lovers that club and county cricket does not. Cricket is a game that holds a future for everyone, so if you are someone who feels that the end of the cricketing road comes as you leave school, please do not forget to explore off the beaten track, as this is precisely where Wandering Cricket will take you.

Good luck, and I hope this list of wandering clubs and their founding dates (source: nomadscc.com/wandering-cricket-clubs) is useful in your search for what will prove to be hugely enjoyable and rewarding cricket.

PL & WD

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.

I Zingari Cricket Club 1845 Gents of Worcestershire 1848 Incogniti Cricket Club 1861 Free Foresters Cricket Club 1856
Emeriti Cricket Club 1872 Wanderers Cricket Club 1873 Butterflies Cricket Club 1862 Harlequins Cricket Club 1852
Gents of Cheshire c.1850 Lords and Commons 1850 Stoics Cricket Club 1877 Band Of Brothers CC 1858 
Yorkshire Gents CC 1863  Quidnuncs 1851 Bluemantles 1862  Gents of Leicestershire 1868
Hampshire Hogs  1887 Northern Nomads 1892 Craven Gentlemen 1892 Borderers c.1892
Somerset Stagglers 1900 Devon Dumplings CC 1902 Berkshire Gentlemen 1895 Romany(Yorks) 1895/1902
Nomads Cricket Club 1903  Frogs Cricket Club 1903 Gents of Staffordshire 1904 Glamorgan Nomads 1904
Cornish Choughs CC 1906 Gents of Shropshire CC 1906 Dorset Rangers CC 1906
Sussex Martlets 1905
Gents of Essex 1907  Yellowhammers 1907 Cryptics 1910 Invalids 1919
Gentlemen of Suffolk 1921 Gloucestershire Gipsies 1922 Durham Pilgrims 1922 Penguins 1923
Thames Valley Ramblers1921 Grasshoppers 1923 Stragglers of Asia 1925 South Wales Hunts 1926
Lincolnshire Gentlemen 1928 Jesters CC 1928 Romany 1929 Souwesters 1930 
Buccaneers  1930 The Stage 1931 South Oxford Amateurs 1933  Wiltshire Queries 1933
Gaieties CC 1937  Flycatchers 1934 Arabs 1935 Woodpeckers 1936
Forty Club 1937 Bushmen 1942 Cricket Society XI 1949 Boffins  1949
Lord’s Taverners  1950 Almondbury Casuals 1952 Ravers Cricket Club 1954 Grannies 1956
Badgers Cricket club 1958      Privateers 1958 Saints 1959 Jack Frost XI 1961
Lord Gnomes XI 1963  Mandarins 1963 or 64  Old England 1968 Thames Valley Gents 1968
Heartaches 1973 Touring Theatres 1974 Weekenders 1970s  Fleet Street Strollers 1976
Captain Scott Invitation XI  Kensington 1982(1848)  Chelsea Arts Club 1984 Hetairoi 1980
Journeymen 1988 Harry Baldwin Occass 1986 Sydenhurst Ramblers 1946 Gents of Shropshire 1906
Law Society 1929 Brighton Brunswick 1870 Paralytics   London Theatres     1957
London Erratics 1974 Butler XI 1988 Spasmodics  1935 Nondescripts           1870s
Gents of Herefordshire 1850s Paddington 1920 Moose 1979 Fleet Street Wanderers   1989 
The Philanderers 1986 Eclectics CC20

Making your Fielding Count: Diving Stop with Throw

I recently helped deliver a very good group fielding session looking at the technique of the all-important diving or sliding stop paired with a firm and accurate throw at the stumps. We all dream of being the ‘Jonty Rhodes’ of the team and although for most of us that is all it will be… a dream! For many though, with hard work on technique and practice you can be the team’s stand out fielder.

 

All you will need for this session is a gym mat, some balls and some stumps. In small groups you take it in turns to be the feeder, the fielder and the spare player (collecting balls whilst resting). In the first phase balls are tossed just to the right of the fielder who to start with is on their knees. The reason for this is to isolate the top half of the body in order to really exaggerate the rotation needed to access the ball. Once the player has done this, they need to decide once they have got the ball in hand, whether to catch then extend their arms to prevent the elbows touching the ground or, option two, to trap the ball onto the group before gathering much like a football goalkeeper in a smothering action. Take five balls each, returning the ball to the feeder then rotate positions before repeating on the left hand side.

In the next phase once you have accustomed yourself with the positions you want to get into, you look to perform the stop from a standing position. The real focus at this point is ‘opening up’ your hip and leg on the side nearest to the ball. In essence you are rotating the hip to allow your body to access the ball and not tear a groin causing injury. Do not be afraid to really go for it before phase three.

In this last phase you build up to the throwing part. Once the catch has been taken you need to get your body into the best possible position to impact the run-out. You must create a firm base using both your knees and feet to create a triangle; here you’ll generate your power. Your shoulders now need to align to your target and simply aim for the base of the stumps. Now is the time of year to practice these difficult techniques but after a while you will really feel like you are making progress so that when the summer comes around you will be volunteering for backward point duties!

Good luck and Enjoy

WD & PL

This and other coaching session plans and ideas for winter training for all ages and abilities are available as free downloads from www.aleadingedge.co.uk/products/

The first book in a series, entitled, ‘Cricket – A Leading Edge for Captains’ is now available on www.amazon.co.uk