Friday, 29 January 2010

Thinking about my batting

As I've already set out, I haven't played cricket since leaving school nine years ago, and back then my batting was pretty one-dimensional. If it's on target I block, if not I leave. Block or leave. Occasionally duck, but that counts as a leave.

Now I don't have any shame about how I batted at school. I was in the team for my ability with the scorebook rather than the bat, so when it came to my turn to pad up no-one was expecting anything. However, if I'm going to expect a team to let me play with them, sooner or later they're going to expect me to show up on the score sheet with a respectable number next to my name. Fair's fair after all. I'm not a wicket-keeper and can't bowl for toffee so I'm going to have to justify my place through solid batting and above all RUNS. For is it not written in A Boy's Own Book of Outdoor Sports that:
"The score is the real criterion of a batsman, and if he be not competent to make runs, however difficult it may be to get his wicket, I must at once pronounce him no cricketer - mere poking around the block-hole is not cricket - it is a mere waste of time."
Well that's me told.

I need to give my shot selection some serious thought, something I never did previously. I need to sub-divide my classifications: Split balls that are on target into run-getters and defensive strokes, and split off-target deliveries into hittable balls and ones I'd be best advised to leave. I am encouraged, in some weird way, that my leaves were always good ones, so I won't have any great preoccupation about that most humiliating of dismissals: clean bowled playing no stroke.

Problem is, I haven't even got a bat... So I've had to use a roll of cardboard to practice my strokes with so far. I have got a camera that can record video, so I can take a look at my strokes and get my technique pretty good, but that's only useful up to a point. Even the most beautifully Compton-esque strokeplay won't help me if I can't watch the ball onto the bat and learn how to time my shots. And God knows how I'm ever going to learn to play spin...

Well as I always say, if you haven't got the clay you can't make the pot. Hopefully though, thinking it all through will mean that when the clay arrives the pot turns out better than it would otherwise have been. I've already found one flaw in my action - as I stand at the crease, knees bent, and perform my backlift I have a very strong urge to stand up so that I'm making my decisions on straight legs. This means if I want to move about the crease I have to waste time re-bending my knees, and that's time I can ill-afford. I'm going to try out starting from straight legs on the thinking that when I lift the bat up my knees will think they're supposed to be doing something, and have no option but to bend, giving me the right stance at the critical moment where I decide what shot to play.

All good food for thought as I approach the first net session of the season on Sunday afternoon...

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