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