Keep it Simple!


It’s a common problem, and one which, if left unchecked can lead to a dip in form or at the extreme, a player dropping out of the game completely.

The more cricket the better right? School, Club, District, County… possibly Regional or even National level too! Oh, and don’t forget mum, dad or another family member who is always willing to throw balls ad offer a bit of advice. It’s fantastic for a young person to play so much cricket with lots of different people at a range of standards. Isn’t it?

We sometimes come across young players who fit this category. Plenty talent, bags of potential, a love of the game, but all of a sudden that enjoyment fades. The fun stops, the runs or wickets dry up and the player starts to go backwards and the brain starts to fry. But they are getting coaching at school. Their club coach is so keen and loves to offer plenty advice at training. The county coach is an ex-first class player and knows his stuff. There has even been an outside chance of an England U15 place, so the enthusiastic father has paid for personal weekly one-to-one coaching with a Level 3 coach to give the best chance of getting in. So why has the player stopped scoring runs? Why has she seemed less fussed about playing and training? Aside from the tiredness from all the travelling to and from different coaching sessions, the messages received from all these coaches often conflicts, and causes such a muddle in the players mind that they completely forget what works for them and what they used to do that allowed them to score runs and take wickets.

If you are a player with potential, you will undoubtedly find the coaches start sniffing around, looking to offer you their advice. So how do you decide which is the best advice to take? Because after all, the chances of every coach you come across telling you the same thing is highly unlikely!

The best advice I was given was, ‘to listen to all advice no mater who from, accept it gracefully and say thank you’. Depending on your ability, you will have either come across that advice in the past or it will be new to you. It will either be complete nonsense, make complete sense or it will trigger a little spark of curiosity in your mind. If you find the spark is ignited and you are interested in investigating the advice, try it out in a net or with a few throw downs. Even better talk to the person who offered you the advice. Ask them questions about it. Think about what you are trying to do and make a decision whether this advice might work for you or not.

A net situation is perfect for trying out small adjustments to your technique, and you don’t really need a coach to experiment! With the ball, it might be gripping a little tighter, or more loosely; moving your fingers together slightly, or moving the ball so there is slightly more pressure exerted on the ball by one finger than the other. Angle the seam a little more or less.
With the bat, you might adjust your grip slightly, up or down the handle, move the top hand round the bat a little bit more and see what it does to the path your bat takes through the ball on playing your shot. Lift the bat higher, start with it on the ground on your foot or in a different position on the ground relative to your feet. Try things out. You never know when you might hit on some tiny change that really works for you.

The problem will come, though, where you have two or three coaches, all who are insisting that you try something different and each piece of advice conflicts with the other. It is in this situation that players get set back, ruined or in the worst case scenario finished. The further through the levels a player moves the coaches need to ensure that they communicate with each other, ensure that all are following the best interests of the individual and are being led by one entity. It is important that if you are the player, you are honest at the first sign of conflict between coaches and let them know there is a difference in the message. The coaches should then communicate and decide on the best way forward for the player that will then become a united effort, ensuring the coaches are all saying the same things to the player.

In terms of the best advice that comes from coaches, and you will find players at the very top saying the same thing, keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate things with novelty gimmicks, or coaching tips for coaching’s sake. Batters, stand still and watch the ball. Bowlers, bowl the ball with a strong wrist and fingers behind the ball, and get your body working and moving down a straight line towards the target. If your personal motto becomes ‘keep it simple’, you won’t find yourself far wrong. When it all starts getting complicated with advice from here, there and everywhere and the numerous coaches (who ultimately only want to help you) are scrambling your brain, the good news is that you have an identifiable starting point to go back to where you will be able to recognise yourself and what you were trying to do.

PL

Did you enjoy this article? If you would like to read more about cricket from A Leading Edge, our first book, A Leading Edge for Captains is out now in paperback and eBook on Amazon.co.uk

New Partnership with Tom Flowers Cricket Coaching

We have great pleasure in announcing a fantastic new partnership with local cricket coaching organisation, Tom Flowers Cricket Coaching.

Tom Flowers and his team run cricket camps and coaching clinics in clubs and schools as well as specialist one to one coaching in the East Midlands. From beginners to advanced player’s Tom Flowers Cricket Coaching deliver a personal and bespoke service designed to meet the needs of clubs, individuals, corporates and schools. Tom is passionate about enhancing the development of local cricket and works with some of the areas most promising players heading for County/Representative/Pathway/District & Top level club cricket.

Tom Flowers Cricket Coaching is currently taking bookings for Christmas coaching courses as well as Half term and Easter clinics. Don’t miss out, visit the web site today and book your place!

www.tomflowerscricketcoaching.com

PL

When Do We Learn ‘The Game’?

As young people and new players to the game, we are taught the basic skills to allow them to play the game in it’s simplest form. We coach batting technique and shots, bowling skills and fielding skills (& positions if we are lucky!). We also get to learn some of the laws of the game, and some of the basic principles – one team bats and the other team fields. The bowler bowls to try and take wickets, while the batters try to score runs.. etc..

Who then teaches the game itself, and in particular, the finer and more subtle parts of the game? It is one of the main reasons we wrote this book, to solve a problem that we as coaches and school masters identify in the youth cricket that we see on a regular basis. Sometimes the young captain might go out into the field armed with a piece of paper in his or her pocket with a list of bowling changes on it, other times the coach/umpire will take on the role of captain the game for the young player. This will involve giving the team talk, organising the bowlers, setting the field, encouraging the players to move around the field and then setting the batting order. A deeper understanding of the game is something that a few young (and old) players are fortunate to have.

Where can they get their greater understanding from? For me, I learned from a young age, by osmosis. I am from a cricketing family, and the summer timetable was focussed around the events of the village cricket club. If dad wasn’t playing in a match, he was playing with me in the yard, in the nets, hitting catches and, probably most importantly of all, watching with me on tv and talking with me about the game. Being around the men as a young boy and taking an interest in the game gave me the opportunity to see how the game was played. Hearing the stories in the bar after the game when I was a bit older, hearing players talking about the game, using salt and pepper pots, torn up beer mats and ketchup bottles to map out fields and game situations to help explain the game are particularly vivid memories from my childhood. I fear this doesn’t happen as much as to used to. Alternatively, maybe I was just  one of the very lucky ones and it never really happened that much at all in the past either.

Our new book, A Leading Edge for Captains looks to fill that gap in general coaching. It raises questions and promotes a greater thinking about the game of cricket. Our hope as authors is that the reader will not only gain a wider understanding of the game, but possibly even have more questions as a result of reading it. Those questons, we hope, will promote more discussion around games of cricket in the pavilion or the changing rooms.

Included in the pages are fantastic contributions from some of the wonderful characters we have been fortunate to play with and against as well as current and past county and first class players from around the world. Their insight into the game is invaluable for players young and old, experienced and novice.

We are very much looking forward to our upcoming first public event, the late night shopping in Oakham on Monday 10th December. If you are attending, you can find us in the Victoria Hall where we will be signing copies of the book  will make great stocking fillers for any cricket lover. Whether you are looking for a book for a young cricketer starting out or developing a greater understanding of the game, or if you are looking for a great gift for a hard to buy for cricket mum or dad, this book is perfect for you and should be on your Christmas shopping list!

PL

Jonny Bairstow: Celebrations

Since Jonny Bairstow injured himself in a pre match warm up, the result of which saw him sit out the 3rd ODI, T20 and first two test matches in Sri Lanka, he will have been agonising over his decision that day to participate in the fun pre-game football kickabout.

Football plays a big part in England’s warm up sessions, and the current players seem to get rather competitive in these games. They feel it goes beyond a warm up and is a fruitful source of ‘in jokes’, so important in the building of the team in the dressing room. To date, injuries sustained in pre match football which have prevented players from participating in matches have been rare. The ligament damage Bairstow sustained on this occasion set in motion a sequence of events that otherwise may have ended a career at the very moment it was looking likely to continue taking off on its staggering upward trajectory.

In the 3rd Test in Colombo, Jonny Bairstow scored his 6th Test hundred and celebrated in an interesting way. Interesting, in that his celebration was commented on in a host of different ways on radio, tv, and on social media. Was he angry, relieved, emotional, joyous or petulant? One journalist even used ‘gurning’ as a way of describing his facial expression after sweeping that single to bring up his remarkable hundred. So why the reaction that we saw on this occasion?

Consider the player. After the summer, his career was heading in a very positive direction. He had secured the role of England first choice wicket keeper and as one of the top ten batsmen in the world. His future was looking rosy, even though a number of exciting new understudy players had been included in this test squad. Then an injury sustained in an ODI warm up put him out of contention and opened the door for a young player to have an unscheduled opportunity. Very quickly, from being sure of his future in the side, a debut hundred from ‘keeper/batsman Ben Foakes and an impressive performance behind the stumps meant that literally overnight all attention had turned to the replacement Foakes as the exciting future behind the English stumps and in the middle order. A direct replacement for Bairstow, and he can play! How quickly fortunes change!

The injury Bairstow sustained might have been bad enough to keep him out of the game for months, but intensely hard work and access to the best rehabilitation meant that after just two test matches he was fit enough to be in contention for the third test match in Colombo. Over the course of the first two test matches, Bairstow had no choice but to sit and watch, helpless, as Foakes took his opportunities and impressed everyone. It is a ruthless cut-throat game at the top level, and Bairstow was now facing the reality that his career as England wicket keeper could possibly be being taken away from him right in front of his eyes. Fortunately, there has been a spot at number 3 going in the England test side. In this test, with injury to Sam Curran offering the fit again Bairstow the chance to come back into the side, he took his opportunity under great pressure, to score a magnificent hundred batting at 3.

Take into account the recent tragic loss of two of Bairstow’s friends, the relief that he had proven to himself, his teammates, the media and the wider cricketing public that England had just solved the long-running problem of a number 3. Throw in that he had just restarted his own career in a brand new role in the team. Undoubtedly, as Bairstow looked to the skies and let that roar of pure emotion pour out of him, his father and friends will have come firmly to mind. Under that pressure, after all that rehabilitation work, all that uncertainty over his future in the side, the scrutiny by the media over his ‘avoidable’ injury, the intense relief at proving himself, it is hardly surprising that the reaction we saw was as intense as it was. 

Dealing with batting for hours in the searing heat of Colombo, it showed someone who cares deeply, someone who had fought his demons, someone who was responsible for single-handedly rescuing his own career. Bairstow has, in a very short period of time, managed to alter his mindset at the highest possible level from ‘keeper/batsman to number 3 batsman. What a feat that is. Just how much mental and physical strength the last few weeks must have taken out of Bairstow we can only imagine. Well, actually, we can imagine – his celebration showed it all. Good on him.

A Leading Edge for Captains is now available from Amazon

Decisions Decisions #YouDecide

So there we have it, a week of captaincy decisions on A Leading Edge. We very much hope that you enjoyed thinking about what you might have done in these situations and come up with some solutions!

The aim of A Leading Edge is to encourage thinking about the game, to see a problem and to think about the different potential solutions for that problem. When you have the solutions, you can start thinking about the potential aftereffects of altering your plan and therefore weigh up the best decision to make.

Thank you very much for your comments and involvement in this week’s decision making. We are looking forward to studying the results over the coming week and it will be interesting to see what the decisions you made were.

If you would like to get involved, the posts are all still available on Twitter: @aleadingedge1, so please do have a look and make your decision!  The individual #YouDecide graphics are shown below.. Good luck!

We are putting our heads together to come up with the next initiative in interactive weeks of cricket captaincy! Watch this space!

A Week of Cricketing Decisions Ahead!

We thought it would be a good idea to put out a few cricketing scenarios and give you the opportunity to see what you might chose to do as captain. Throughout next week, from Monday 22nd October, we will be posing two scenarios a day on our Twitter page (@ALeadingEdge1). We will be asking you to make your decision on the best option in your opinion by either ‘sharing’ or liking the post to show which way you would chose to go as captain.

If you don’t already, follow us on Twitter at @AleadingEdge1  and join in the fun! There will be ten scenarios over the course of the week, two a day at 5:30pm and 9:30pm, with the first one coming up on Monday 22nd October.

Good luck!!

 #YouDecide

Announcement of Foreword Author – Caroline Atkins

Caroline Atkins

We are delighted to announce that former England cricketer Caroline Atkins has kindly agreed to write the foreword to A Leading Edge for Captains.

Caroline was part of the generation of England cricketers who did an enormous amount of work in developing the female sport and put the foundations in place for the growing success it has become today.

Caroline was a member of the successful England touring side who retained the Ashes in Australia in 2008. In the same year, Caroline broke a world record in scoring the highest ever women’s ODI partnership for any wicket of 268 with Sarah Taylor at Lord’s, contributing 145 runs. In the following year, Caroline was a member of the World Cup and the T20 World Championship winning England sides.

Caroline is currently employed by The Cricket Foundation as a Chance to Shine ambassador and coach.

We would like to thank Caroline for her time and encouragement in contributing to our book, and hope that you find her words as insightful and inspirational as we do.

Follow Caroline Atkins on Twitter: @cazatkins13

Press Release: Cricket – A Leading Edge for Captains

Wesley Durston & Patrick Latham are very pleased to share their press release for our book, Cricket: A Leading Edge for Captains (12.10.18)

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Cricket: A Leading Edge for Captains

by Wesley Durston & Patrick Latham with foreword by Caroline Atkins (England)

Release date: Friday 12th October 2018

Pages: 156

Finish: Paperback

Size: A5

Pubisher: Amazon (Print on Demand)

Price: £9.99

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Two former county cricketers turned cricket coaches have collaborated to write and illustrate their first book, in a brand new series under the title, ‘A Leading Edge’. Wesley Durston, (Millfield School, Somerset CCC and Derbyshire CCC) and Patrick Latham (Kimbolton School, Somerset 2nd XI & Cambridgeshire CCC), coach hockey and cricket at Oakham School in Rutland. Both still play club cricket for rival clubs in the smallest county in England, Oakham Town CC and Uppingham Town CC respectively.

The pair have worked throughout 2018 on their first book, which will be released through Amazon and as an eBook on 12th October. The book is a thought provoking look at the role of the captain and draws on the career experiences of the two authors, supported by written contributions from a range of current and past cricket captains, coaches and umpires which appear throughout the book. ‘A Leading Edge for Captains’ will be officially launched on Saturday 13th October at Compton Dundon Cricket Club’s 60th anniversary dinner, where Wesley has been invited to talk about his life after professional cricket.

This exciting new book is aimed at younger players who want to learn more about the finer points of the game, but there is plenty inside for the club player or young professional looking to improve their understanding of cricket, learning from the professional’s point of view.

“We have been fortunate to be helped by some experienced cricketers, including foreword by Caroline Atkins (Durham MCCU & England), and quotes from Tom Abell (Somerset), Rob Bailey (Northamptonshire), Ed Young (Gloucestershire), Wayne Madsen (Derbyshire), Dean Hodgson (Gloucestershire) and Alec Swann (Northamptonshire/Lancashire) amongst others, who have all been kind enough to contribute their personal thoughts and stories on cricket captaincy”. PL

Including illustrations by Patrick and running to over 150 pages, this paperback is the first in a series of ‘A Leading Edge’ books. With writing already underway for the second book, ‘Cricket: A Leading Edge for Bowlers’, and plans for similar books for batters and fielders in the pipeline, Wesley and Patrick have found a niche for a new type of cricket book which explains the previously unwritten side of the coaching of the ‘game’ rather than just cricketing skills. Touching on topics such as formulating a plan, setting a field for different bowlers/situations/conditions, making tough decisions, spotting clues from the batter to inform your plan and communication with players on and off the field, this book is a must read, not just for aspiring leaders, but anyone who wants to develop their understanding of the game of cricket.

www.aleadingedge.co.uk   e: aleadingedge@hotmail.com

Twitter: @aleadingedge1   #aleadingedge

Book Release: Date Announced

After 7 months of writing, editing, re-writing, reconnecting with old friends, printing, red pen, photography, illustration, re-editing, drafts, versions 1-100 and plenty of tinkering.. We are ready to go!

Cricket: A Leading Edge for Captains will be released on Friday 12th August as an ebook and officially lanuched at Compton Dundon Cricket Club when Wes talks at the club’s 60th anniversary dinner on 13th October.

The whole process of getting a book from a pile of pieces of blank paper has been very enjoyable and Wes and Patrick would like to offer their many thanks to the people who have kindly taken the time to make their wonderful contributions to the book, which we know will make all the difference to the readers, allowing young players an insight into the mind of 1st class, minor county, club, district and school captains from all over the world! To all of our contributors, thank you very much indeed.

We have one final annoucement to make regarding the foreword, but that can wait a few days! One can’t have everything at once!!

www.aleadingedge.co.uk          @aleadingedge1          #aleadingedge

The Finishing Touches

After a couple of weeks of red ink, changes, more ink of various colours and more changes, additions and improvements, we find ourselves on the brink of being able to bring you our new book, Cricket – A Leading Edge for Captains.

We have been collecting wonderful contributions from current and past captains, umpires and coaches which help us to illustrate some of the aspects of the job of captaincy that we cover in the book. For these contributions we are hugely grateful. It has been a great experience for us to read through these comments and get an insight into the minds of some of the best captains we have played with and against over our careers. We are very excited about bringing them to you inside this book.

We are very nearly in a position to give you a release date, so keep watching on social media (Facebook & Twitter) and on our web site here, for more information.

P&W