In our book, ‘A Leading Edge for Captains’, we look at the issues associated with entering a new dressing room and how a new player to a club or even a team within a club will need welcoming in and made to feel part of that team.
At this time of year, there will be a large number of cricketers starting out on the next part of their cricketing career having moved clubs, stepping up from junior cricket to adult cricket or even from 2nd XI to make much anticipated debuts in 1st XI teams. Whatever level of cricket you play, when you are new to a dressing room there is plenty to consider! In this week’s article, we bring these thoughts to everyone’s attention in an attempt to help make the transition into a new dressing room as smooth and as easy as possible for the player, which in turn will make the team perform more efficiently both on and off the field.
However confident you are as a person, entering a new dressing room for the first time can be nerve-wracking stuff. By their nature, dressing rooms are full of lots of different personalities; it is part of the beauty of our sport. People from all walks of life will be in there from different situations and age ranges, all meeting up with (at least) one common interest: cricket. There will be the loud, brash in your face ones; the quiet, smiley never say boo to a goose ones; bad tempered ones and the jovial prankster ones. There will be those who are trying to make it somewhere in their cricketing careers and are constantly looking to impress and be noticed. This person may be changing next to someone who is perfectly comfortable with the level of cricket they have achieved and are content in themselves with where they are. Everyone is in there for their own reasons with their own personal aims, competencies, shortcomings, confidences and insecurities as well as the common aim of hoping to help the team succeed on any given day and over the course of the season.
In their personalities, some people are simply far more welcoming than others and will go out of their way for a new player, bringing them in, showing them around and making introductions to the team. It is important to remember as a new player that some people in the dressing room, who may appear aloof or cold on a first meeting may just be shy or lacking in confidence in these situations. The likelihood of them actually being as unwelcoming as they first appear is slim, so give them some time, don’t write them off and above all don’t think that you have done something wrong and let it prey on your mind. Conversely, as an established player in the dressing room, the biggest confidence boost you can give to a new player is to go out of your way to say hello and help to show them around. After all, the new player’s very first task is fraught with danger – where do they put their kit! Cricketers, being superstitious creatures, will normally have their own space in which they like to change. Some may even have been in residence in a particular corner of the dressing room for decades. The last thing you want to do as a new player is to dump your stuff in the old stalwart’s corner, thereby upsetting the applecart at the first hurdle!
In any team, there run ongoing in-house jokes, which may revolve around nicknames, antics over the off-season or arising from a recent team night out. With such a large amount of down time, confined to the pavilion balcony, tea table or dressing room for much of the day, the cricketing environment is perfect for in jokes to take root, grow and evolve. Trying to tune into and work out in jokes as a new player is almost impossible. Try not to worry though, as these jokes move apace and there will be much material to work with even after the first session in the field! The informality of cricket clubs means that there will be some established players amongst the team who have only ever known fellow players by their nickname, having no clue of what someone’s actual name is. On some level, therefore, you are as up to speed with things as a new team member as some of the regulars!
It is important as a new player that you get your feet under the table as quickly as possible. As you progress through the levels, you will find that some teams will be able to exploit newcomers to their own gains. By attracting attention to a new player in front of the opposition you are potentially giving them the upper hand when it comes to the new player’s turn to perform with bat or ball. Your efforts in making new players feel part of the team, treating them as an established player or simply making sure they have a team shirt, for example, will go a long way to giving that player every chance of contributing to the team’s performance.
It is a very exciting time as we head into the first league games, having been able to see and draw inspiration from the first round of Championship matches. All club and school players will be looking forward to that first opportunity to get out with bat or ball and put all their hard winter work into practice in the middle. It is a time to consider the new players, make them feel part of their new side, give them an opportunity to find their place in that side and encourage them as a regular member of the team. You can guarantee that they will be trying their level best to impress and perform, so the more you can do to put them at ease to relax them in the dressing room and on the pitch, the more chance they will have to succeed for you.
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