New Year, New Cricketer

Happy New Year! The drink is finished off, there only the unwanted coffee creams hiding amongst the discarded wrappers in the bottom of the chocolate box, everyone is back to school and work, it is cold, dark and wet but thankfully, the 2020 season draws nearer with every day.

Soon enough we will be back outside negotiating the first few balls on an emerald April wicket, avoiding fielding at backward point and discovering that we should maybe not have been bowling so many no balls in winter nets. We will be wondering why all those cover drives we hit indoors, that ‘definitely’ beat the field and crashed into the boundary boards, only make it into the deep for a long two.

So what have you promised yourself that you will do to create a better cricketing version of you in 2020? What cricketing resolutions have you made? I do not really go in for Latin much, and Roman Gods are not particularly a strong point of mine, but there is one appropriate God worth a mention this time of year. Janus, the Roman God of Doorways, Transitions Gates and New Beginnings depicts a figure of with two faces, one looking back and one looking forwards, representing looking to the past and to the future. It is his example we should take when planning our own transition to new beginnings for the 2020 season and making ourselves better cricketers for the year to come.

Begin by looking back over the last season and reflecting on what you did well, how and where you performed to add significant value to your team. Then recall the days that may not have quite gone to plan. When you consider the decisions you made, that in hindsight were not necessarily the right ones for the occasion, you begin to build up a picture of where you might want to make improvements to become a better player.

It is tempting to set yourself a big target that you expect to come to fruition magically at the start of the season. However, with one overall grand target, you are likely to find that you lose your way or become frustrated that you do not see the progress that you were hoping to see. Rather split up the journey into smaller more manageable goals and plan an achievable route to the main target. Your smaller goals will need to be considered, relevant and achievable, so that they contribute to the overall target. You will need to be able to complete the individual goals, giving you a sense of success and progress. Setting improbable, unlikely and irrelevant goals will lead to failure and disappointment. You will quickly lose interest in your progress plans and the overall target will not be realised. 

There is always more likelihood of staying with a resolution when you are accountable to someone else. If you can plan your pre-season resolutions with a friend or a teammate, you will be less likely to give up as you will feel a responsibility to fulfil your part in helping your partner succeed, even if you are struggling with your own programme. Many of your pre-season goals will be about repetition, so having a partner to help you will be a big help. Not only will they be there to throw or catch the balls for you, but they will ensure that you are repeating the skill as you want to perform it. Often when we think we are practicing something well we may actually not be. If you have spent all winter training your body and muscles to remember a certain movement, only to find that you have trained it to do something the wrong way, you are in for a tricky season!

Your goals can be anything you like, but make them measurable and achievable. For example, as a batter, you may have one weekly goal as simply repeating your backlift a set number of times. If you do not have someone to check you are doing it right, perform it in front of a tall mirror so you can see for yourself. The next week might be your pre-delivery feet movement. High repetition trains the muscle memory. Check that your feet are in the right place, and after moving, your head is where you want it to be in relation to off stump. Your next session might be the down swing of the bat, again repeating a high number of times to train the muscle memory and make sure that you are not coming across the ball and the bat is under your eyes. These small goals when put together over the winter and then used in conjunction with your school or club net sessions will be of huge benefit to your overall target. When you find yourself in the net in a live batting situation, make sure that someone is still looking out for you to help you spot if you are not doing what you have been practicing!

Good luck and start ticking off those small goals!

PL

A Leading Edge now have 3 books for sale on Amazon.co.uk. Cricket: A Leading Edge for Captains is available as a paperback (£12.99) and eBook (£3.99). Books are also from Walkers Bookshops in Oakham and Stamford, and from CM Cricket in Stoughton, Leicester. You can also buy The Ashes Illustrated and Dice Sports, fantastic books for sports fans!

Face your Fears

The summer is still a way off, but now is the time to begin to tackle those fears and worries you will face when the first game comes around.

Whether batter, bowler, keeper or fielder, many players have a fear of failure or worries about specific parts of their game. By beginning the process of tackling those fears now, you can do a lot of work to reduce or even begin to eliminate some of those fears over the winter months.

In this article, we look at ways in which you as a player can learn to fight back and face fears of failure, whatever they are. Is it the first ball you face as a batter? The fear of being out first ball? Possibly as a bowler, you fear being thrown the ball at the end of the innings, or having to bowl defending 10 off the final over? As a fielder, when the last over of the game comes and it is down to a few runs, do you hope that the ball goes anywhere other than to you? As wicket-keeper, do you have fears about taking that difficult half-volley return to complete the crucial run out? Whatever your own personal worry or worries are, we hope that in this article we can offer you some advice to allow you to assert your control over your cricketing fears.

Face Your Fear and Identify It.

Firstly, identify what it is that is at the heart of the fear. Is it that you have a lack of confidence in your own skill or ability?

Do you freeze at the thought of the spotlight falling on you in a critical moment? Is the fear you have based on the thought of letting your teammates down? Perhaps you have a fear of the sense of occasion and your anxieties are worse in ‘big’ games?

When you can work out where the roots of your fears lie, you can begin to put in place the necessary work to tackle it.

Preparation

There are those who walk among us that have the ability to do no work in the nets, turn up one week to the next and generally churn out performances. Those that fly by the seat of their pants successfully do exist, but for the majority of us mortals, we need to feel prepared. You know yourself and you know how much preparation you need to be at your best. You possibly could get by throwing caution to the wind and seeing what happens, but you will never get the best out of yourself and most importantly, you will have to work far harder to do to try to appease anxiety over your performance if you are underprepared.

Talk positively to yourself.

Fears lie to us and annoyingly they are really good at telling fibsl! Our fears are actually so good at lying that we believe them because we think they are reality. The good news is that because of the way our brain works, we can (to an extent) trick it into believing what we want it to by challenging our fears with positive thoughts. When negative thoughts on your performance arrive unwanted in your head, push back against them and chase them out with positivity. It is possible, with an ongoing drip feed of positive thoughts, to change how you think and what you believe about yourself over time.

Visualise Your Performance

You can visualise in two ways. One way will hold you back, whilst the other will push you forwards to improve performance and self-belief.

To visualise effectively, you need to be able to see very clearly in your head an image of you executing a skill to perfection. To visualise performance with anything less than pinpoint accuracy and minute detail will not affect performance positively. The picture you create needs to be all encompassing, not simply just the skill or action you want to improve.

It is important you see yourself in the image you create with as many positive traits attached to it as possible. See a supremely confident person, someone with energy and strength, someone who is calm and relaxed, someone who is comfortable in the environment you are creating, someone who owns the stage and is standing front and centre of it.

Your brain has no eyes, so as far as it is concerned, the thoughts you are putting into it could be reality. The more realistic you can make your thoughts; real time, colours, details, noises you might hear, even your breathing patterns, particularly your routines, the more you will fool your brain into believing this is reality. Do not forget that the coup de grace, the execution of the skill, needs to be perfect. The perfect position, balance, timing and end result all need to be as perfect as you can make them.

Creating Comforting Familiarity Outside your Comfort Zone

Often our fears are borne out of the unknown, the ‘what ifs?’ The more you can experience of the unknown the more known it will become and the less frightening it will be. Venturing into the unknown to breed familiarity will not come tomorrow or even next week, it will take a journey over a number of weeks or months, but start now and you will get there sooner.

Take facing fast short pitched bowling for example. Whoever you are, against the real fast stuff there are very few batters in the world who are not the tiniest bit squeaky about it. Use your net sessions to take small steps to build up to it. Start by someone throwing balls from a short distance on the full to practice watching the ball and developing confidence in sound defensive and attacking shots, focusing on watching the ball. Progress to using these skills against tennis balls thrown into the ground to further develop your confidence.

Return to the cricket balls thrown on the full harder, increasing the speed and pushing the limits of your courage. If you have access to a bowling machine, set this up to test out your technique (using your positive thought processes!) but if not, ask someone to use the dog stick of simply throw balls bouncing into uncomfortable areas. Over time, pushing yourself steadily further out of your comfort zone, you will begin to find the short pitched bowling less fearsome and more manageable.

At the risk of going down a slightly hippy road with this, meditation can help. In the right calm and quiet environment where you can concentrate wholly on your thoughts in your own space, without disturbance to spend time going through this positive thought process can bring noticeable rewards come the summer.

Good luck!
PL

A Leading Edge now have 3 books for sale on Amazon.co.uk. Cricket: A Leading Edge for Captains is available as a paperback (£12.99) and eBook (£3.99). Books are also from Walkers Bookshops in Oakham and Stamford, and from CM Cricket in Stoughton, Leicester. You can also buy The Ashes Illustrated and Dice Sports, fantastic books for sports fans!

The Run Up & 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

A Leading Edge now have 3 books for sale on Amazon.co.uk. Cricket: A Leading Edge for Captains is available as a paperback (£12.99) and eBook (£3.99). Books are also from Walkers Bookshops in Oakham and Stamford, and from CM Cricket in Stoughton, Leicester. You can also buy The Ashes Illustrated and Dice Sports, fantastic books for sports fans!

The Geometry of Cricket, Part 1: Setting The Straight Field

There are times at school when you wonder what the point in learning the thing you are learning is. Whenever will you put this geometric information to good use again after your GCSE maths exam?

Unless you graduate and enter into the sphere of architecture, the times you will need to resort to geometry will be fairly limited. If you play cricket, however, the understanding of angles, grasping the concept of where the ball is likely to go given the way the ball is moving, is critical in setting effective fields.

In the first of this short series in field placings, we look at the straight field between cover and midwicket. Getting these fielders in the correct positions will lead to catching opportunities, singles saved, and boundaries cut off. All fantastic ingredients for a happy bowler!

In the coaching of field setting, I will ask the bowler to consider a 90°arc. It is in this arc that the bowler is trying to get the batter to play and therefore expecting the ball to go. When dealing with younger players, when the ball is being bowled with a lack of pace, the aim I set for them is to try to get the batter playing all their shots back down the ground in the 90°arc between midwicket and cover. If the bowler can concentrate on pitching the ball full and straight, unless the batter is lucky and has a hoik across the line or edges the ball fine the ball will generally be played back down the ground.

Fielders in younger age group cricket tend to wander around and can move out of position fairly easily. It is understandable; in a big open field, it is quite easy to lose track of where you are supposed to be. If you can get the fielders to use the stumps as a reference point, this will help them set themselves accurately and give them a marker should the feel they are out of position. If they imagine the return crease extends across the ground, they should position themselves on that, in line with the stumps. The direct lines the individual cover and midwicket fielders make to the stumps at the strikers end should roughly make a right angle. This is where the wicket keeper can help these players by keeping an eye on their angles, making sure they are neither too wide, nor too straight. Mid-on and mid-off can also help them into position making sure they know that they are not overlapping the ground covered.

Typically the mid-on and mid-off fielders in junior cricket can creep ever closer, and end up almost in line with the stumps at the bowlers end. The beauty of having the cover and midwicket fielders set in the right place is that they have the potential to move across to stop a straight drive and prevent a single. Even if the midwicket or cover fielder do not get across to stop the ball, the act of moving with intent towards the ball is often enough to prevent the non-striker from leaving their ground to take a single in case the ball is stopped. In this case, by the time the ball has passed the stumps at the bowlers end, there is no time for the batters to run, as the ball will be too close to the mid-on or mid-off fielder. With the cover and midwicket fielder in place accurately, this allows the mid-on and mid-off fielders the luxury of sitting slightly deeper, which in turn allows them more time to react and move further to cut off the harder hit straight drive.

As suggested, the wicket keeper can have a huge influence on positioning the fielders, as they have the view of the angles from the batters position. If, for example, midwicket is too wide, the wicket keeper will be able to notice the gap between mid-on and midwicket and move the midwicket straighter. Conversely, should midwicket be too straight, meaning that the ground the mid-on and midwicket can protect overlaps, the midwicket can be moved wider.

If you, as captain or bowler, can get your fielders well positioned straight down the ground, and effectively cover the 90° between cover and midwicket and ensure your bowler bowls full and straight, you will find the majority of deliveries are hit in the desired arc. The result will be frustration for the batter as runs dry up forcing them to try to hit across the line of the ball, try and play inside out to hit gaps squarer of the wicket, hit over the top or try something magic like a ramp or scoop shot. Forcing the batter to take greater risks may bring them a few runs, but more chances will be created and you will ultimately win the individual battles.

Good luck,

PL

A Leading Edge now have 3 books for sale on Amazon.co.uk. Cricket: A Leading Edge for Captains is available as a paperback (£12.99) and eBook (£3.99). Books are also from Walkers Bookshops in Oakham and Stamford, and from CM Cricket in Stoughton, Leicester. You can also buy The Ashes Illustrated and Dice Sports, fantastic books for sports fans!

Have The Confidence to Accept Your Limitations

England maybe did not live up to expectations at the Bay Oval in New Zealand. An innings defeat on a lifeless pitch was not supposed to happen. Looking at the firepower and experience on show, on paper, England should have done a whole lot better. One should never downplay the opposition, and there can be no place for arrogance or complacency, but a batting order coming up against the likes of Broad, Archer, Curran and Stokes should not really be outperforming a batting order facing against de Grandhomme, Wagner, Boult and Southee. So how did New Zealand outplay England to such a degree at Mount Maunganui?

We have seen it before, a bowler of limited pace absolutely dominating the England batters. At Lord’s last summer, Ireland and Middlesex medium pacer, Tim Murtagh bowled England out with figures of 5/13 in the first innings. Yes, England went on to dominate the test overall, but Murtagh showed the damage a bowler of no more than mid 70mph can do against the best in the world. Similarly in New Zealand, Colin de Grandhomme, arguably a bowler of limited ability made the England batters struggle. Who can forget the Eddo Brandes episode in Zimbabwe in 1997 when the chicken farmer took 5/28!! Darren Stevens’ gentle medium paced ability to trouble batters on the county circuit in 2019 was evident with his 10/92 against Nottinghamshire earned him a contract extension.

Even Neil Wager does not possess the express pace usually required to cause the best batters real problems, and yet he did. What all these bowlers possess is an acceptance of their limitations. All of them know and accept who they are and what they can do and are comfortable and confident with that. They are not trying to be anything else, they know their game inside out and they play to their strengths. Whilst not possessing express pace, it is still possible to display confidence and even aggression. To see Neil Wagner run in puffing his chest out shows huge belief in his own ability and crucially in his game plan. He knows that if he can get the ball where he wants it and, crucially, he has his fielders in the right place for the batter and conditions, he knows he will create chances, despite his lack of high pace. In exactly the same way, Colin de Grandhomme, whilst being met with a big grin from Joe Root as a bouncer sailed harmlessly over his head, knew that he was in control of the situation. It was the very next ball that de Grandhomme wore the smile as Root was only able to steer a short pitched, but well-directed ball to gully.

So what does this mean for you, the promoted club bowler thinking about bowling at Premier League batters for the first time next season? Are you a school bowler about to debut in your school 1st XI excited about the step up in challenge? Perhaps you are a young county bowler about to break into the 1st team in 2020? You will undoubtedly feel nervous about the prospect of bowling at established batters, possibly those you have watched on tv, or live on the county circuit. Maybe they will be school boys or girls who on your circuit you have heard ‘can bat a bit’. Your thoughts will inevitably turn inward. Will you make an impact? With acceptance of your limitations, with an understanding of your strengths, with belief in your plan and an ability to assess the situation and play the game accordingly, you will find the same success that the likes of de Grandhomme, Murtagh and Brandes enjoyed against batters who, on paper, you should not really trouble. This is a game that is largely played in the mind, and if you can control yours to believe in your own ability, accept that you are likely playing where you are through your own efforts and successes, you will make your impact.

Use the time over the winter to work on finding out exactly what it is you can do with the ball, find a way that, in bowling to your strengths, you can cause problems. When you have an understanding of these elements you can, with help from your senior bowlers and coaches, begin to form a plan that you and your team can get behind and believe in. When you have a group of players behind you that buy into your strengths, and you have the confidence and courage to believe in it too, you will enjoy success on the field next season.

Good luck!

PL

A Leading Edge now have 3 books for sale on Amazon.co.uk. Cricket: A Leading Edge for Captains is available as a paperback (£12.99) and eBook (£3.99). Books are also from Walkers Bookshops in Oakham and Stamford, and from CM Cricket in Stoughton, Leicester. You can also buy The Ashes Illustrated and Dice Sports, two fantastic stocking fillers

New Book Announcement: Dice Sports

In a world dominated by screens, this book of wholesome, fun and easy to play sports games allows young people to explore some of the excitement of a variety of individual and team sports using a single dice away from the tablet and mobile phone.

In this book you will find rules for dice games for a selection of popular sports. Each game is accompanied by a brief explanation of the sport, where you can go to play it and some information on the governing bodies, making this selection of sports more accessible for the young players that we aim to inspire!

Where did the idea come from?
On a summer holiday in France with my family a few years ago, the weather was awful. With a housebound young sports mad child with none of the creature comforts of home, we needed to think a little bit outside the box. He wanted to play football and cricket and hockey and netball, but there was no chance the weather was going to allow us outside to play anything.

I remembered my grandfather drawing the numbers 1-6 on the sides of a pencil and teaching me how to play cricket by rolling the pencil. Using the number showing face up on the pencil, we were able to play a form of cricket. This time, we had a dice at least, so it didn’t take long to work out how we could play a form of cricket on this rainy day.

That night, I got to thinking about how the concept could be applied to other sports. As it happened, some were much better suited than others, but after a while the list of sports and various rules for the dice sports began to grow. Over the holiday, my son got to play most of the sports he was hoping to as well as a few that we were able to introduce him to thanks to the growing list of sports we recreated.

An active interest in sport has been a huge influence in my life, and as an ex-director of sport, head of cricket and PE & Games teacher in various schools throughout my career as a schoolmaster, the benefits of an active and healthy lifestyle has been one of my main messages to the children in my care. These dice games allow children to find out where they can play sport, a few of the basic rules and act as a great introduction to a variety of team sports for young people. The fact that they help build confidence in numeracy as well as keeping children entertained on long journeys or wet summer days is rather a bonus!

The book is due to be released in time for Christmas 2019, making this a fantastic stocking filler for any young person who wants to find out about the joys of sport and give them to opportunity to play versions of them whatever the weather outside!

Patrick Latham

 

The Ashes Illustrated

Exciting News… The new book, ‘The Ashes Illustrated’, will be available from Amazon from Friday 27th September!

“The summer of 2019 brought cricket fever to the nation. Not since the incredible 2005 Ashes summer have we witnessed scenes like these.. What a fantastically memorable season it has been – A nail biting World Cup win at Lord’s over New Zealand in a super over, and the showpiece Ashes Series in the second half of the summer.

This book, ‘The Ashes Illustrated’, is a collection of cartoons, illustrations and caricatures of the characters of the Ashes summer by Patrick Latham. This collection of daily pencil sketches, covering every day between the first day at Edgbaston to the last day at the Oval, was completed with the aim of recording the main events of the series from a slightly different perspective.

The collection serves as a collection of memories from an incredible summer and series. It is the perfect gift for anyone whose imagination was captured by the players and events of English cricket in 2019!”

After completing a similar challenge for the last Ashes Series in Australia, (‘Ashes by Candlelight’), we wanted to bring you an illustrated daily diary recording the events of every day’s play, as well as those days in between tests, with an alternative and occasionally mildly amusing view of the characters of the series. In this book, you will find over 50 original cricket cartoons, caricatures and illustrations which detail how the story of the 2019 Ashes unfolded, from the first ball at Edgbaston to the final wicket at The Oval with every day in between having its own image lovingly drawn in pencil by Patrick Latham.

To find out more about the book, and to purchase your own copy, please visit Amazon.co.uk

#aLeadingEdge

Bowling: A Visual Check on Your Rhythm

For a bowler it is crucial to have rhythm and to bowl with a consistent and repeatable action. For consistency with your accuracy, you need to ensure you have the consistency with your run up and bowling action.

You may feel good, but a confidence booster I always looked for after a bowling spell was something like the image (left), which shows repeated and consistent foot marks in the run up. How quickly these marks appear in the grass will depend on the underfoot conditions and the consistency of your run up, but a few overs should show whether you are running in consistently with your feet repeatedly falling in the same footmarks. When I bowled, I always found huge security and comfort in standing at the top of my mark and seeing the familiar pattern of footprints leading up to the wicket, like my own bespoke run way! I know that when I see this my run up is spot on, which in turn gives me the confidence to not think about it and concentrate on what I am trying to achieve at the other end.

In our book, ‘A Leading Edge for Bowlers’, due out later this year, we are including a chapter on how to build your run up. We look at ways in which you can develop a consistent and reliable approach where you can move away from a stuttering run up with a different number of strides each time, landing consistently on the popping crease with confidence and reducing the dreaded no-balls.

Keep up to date with @aleadingedge1 on Twitter and visit www.aleadingedge.co.uk to find out more about our thought provoking articles and publications. You can also read our weekly column on www.cricketworld.com.

Good luck!

PL & WD

#AshesIllustrated – What’s this?

Over the course of the 2017/18 Ashes Series in Australia, I started drawing daily 10-15 minute cartoons with the subject relating to something that had happened during the day. As I began to share these cartoons on social media, there was an increased interest and the pressure rose to continue to complete the daily cartoons of the series both on and off the field. That set of 50-60 cartoons were compiled in book form and given the title, ‘The Ashes by Candlelight’, on account that whilst the matches were being played overnight in UK, I was up scribbling away listining to events unfold on the radio. Sadly, this was not such a memorable series for the England team. I had hopes of documenting a nailbiting series that swung back and forth, culminating in a tense decider in the 5th test in which England chased down an unlikely target on a raging up and down turner, 9 down in the last over with Jimmy Anderson hitting Mitchell Johnson back over his head for 4 to win the Ashes. Sadly The Ashes went to Australia all too quickly in the series, however for prosperity’s sake, the book is still available on Amazon which features a cartoon and caption every day from the first ball of the 1st Test to the last ball of the 5th Test, including that ugly presentation ceremony….

So to the current Ashes Series in England, and I’m scribbling again. With one Test down, and thoughts turning to Lord’s, the cartoons are published daily on our ‘A Leading Edge’ Instagram account (@aleadingedge). The humorous cartoons are again reflective of events of the day, and are a mixture of cartoon illustrations and caricatures of Ashes players and characters involved. All finished in pencil, and this time all included in a sketch book, the images take between 10 – 30 minutes to complete. At the end of the series, the illustrations will all be compiled into a book that will again be available on Amazon. Hopefully this time, the outcome of the series will be slightly more favourable to England! Please do follow the cartoons on Instagram and if you like them, please share them with your cricketing friends! Enjoy, and in a most impartial way, ‘COME ON ENGLAND!’

Here are a couple of the images from the early part of the series to give you an idea…

Patrick Latham is co-author and illustrator of the book ‘Cricket A Leading Edge for Captains’. (www.aleadingedge.co.uk) This book is an insightful and thought provoking look at the art of captaincy full of ideas and thoughts from the authors, both of whom have played county cricket and also wonderful contributions from current and past players and captains from the mens and womens game. The book is ideal for anyone playing any standard of cricket, but for the young captain who is looking for that Leading Edge, this book is a must have in the kit bag. You can find A Leading Edge for Captains, written by Patrick Latham and Wesley Durston on www.amazon.co.uk

Follow A Leading Edge
Twitter: @aleadingedge1
Instagram: @aleadingedge
#aleadingedge

Use The Front Arm Well to Give Consistency and Pace

Pull Yourself a Pint on us…

Condoning drinking in an article that is aimed at increasing the performance of young and impressionable cricketers..? Well, it sounds like it, and indeed the connotations are there, however, this is intended as a visual representation to assist with performance, so don’t panic parents!

The sight of a row of bar pumps takes me right back to my very early days with my first cricket club and in particular the post-match visit to the village pub with my dad. The old wooden bar with the tall pumps and the beautifully illustrated ale labels fascinated me as a nine year old. My association with these strange handles that the cricketers gathered around discussing the days play were intrinsically linked to cricket, as it was always the way that the pub followed the cricket.

What can these pump handles possibly have to do with coaching cricket? It is a visualisation technique that I use with selected age groups to give the bowlers an idea of the front arm action. In the England v Australia 2nd Ladies Ashes ODI at Leicester on 4th July 2019, Dominic Cork identified a slight issue with Elise Perry’s front arm in delivery and I immediately thought of the bar pump! Cork noticed that Perry’s front arm was not pulling straight down the line of off stump and as a result, she was slightly falling away in her delivery. Therefore, there was enough loss of control of the ball to lose pace and any swing with the ever so slightly poor position at the point of delivery.

As we discussed in an earlier coaching article (still available on www.aleadingedge.co.uk) bowling is about straight lines, and getting the movement of all of the body parts, as near as possible, moving up and down a straight line towards the intended target. As soon as one part of the action deviates from this straight line, other parts of the action need to compensate, and quickly there is a loss of control of the ball, making consistency almost impossible.

Thinking about cricket – Wesley Durston and Patrick Latham

www.aleadingedge.co.uk

It was with regret that neither of us were able to attend HQ last Saturday (25 th May) for the Royal London One Day Cup Final between Somerset and Hampshire. With Somerset playing such a large part in our lives it would have been fantastic to be able to be there to watch this talented group of players lift the last One Day Cup trophy at Lord’s.

 

To give yourself a good chance as a bowler, if you can get the front arm working correctly, as with the head in batting, everything else pretty much follows suit and works down the same line. With young bowlers, I am very interested in what they do with their front arm, and how much they pull back past the hip, which is where the beer pump imagery comes in.

I ask the bowler to imagine that the off stump is the pump handle, and as the front arm bursts out from under the nose towards the target, imagine grabbing this handle and pulling back on it hard, bringing the elbow back past the hip, straight down the line as if the bowler is pulling a pint. The effect of the front arm working efficiently, and with effort, has a positive effect on the speed and direction at which the bowling arm comes over the top. The bowlers head is also very important here, working down the same line of the stumps, but with a good front arm action, the head position will be assisted. If the bowling arm is high and the fingers are strong behind the ball, the seam will stay upright which in turn will give the ball the best chance of swinging. When you have mastered this and you have worked out how much the ball is swinging in or out, you will need to adjust where your imaginary bar pump is at the batters end in order to set the ball off on a suitable line that it will end up hitting off stump at the far end.

Although this mental imagery is aimed at seam bowlers, it can also be useful for the spinners who, from time to time forget that a good pull back with the front arm can assist rotation and therefore help to impart more spin on the ball.

Good luck!

PL & WD

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.