Sunday, 9 October 2011

No more Brigadier Block

If there's one aspect of my game that has disappointed me this season, it's my batting. I did manage 8 not outs in 17 innings, which was satisfying, but ultimately I only scored 18 runs in total, my highest score was a paltry 5* and my only real contribution was to help the other guy score.

Now I'm not totally disregarding the value of that role, but having thought about it a bit more, I think I need to be honest with myself and admit that it's a bit of a cop-out by me. Hang on in there, block everything, help the other guy score and then I can protect myself from ever finding out just how ineffective my own batting is. It's safe, and it's weak.

It's got to be said, my batting isn't very good. I don't pick up the length of the ball very well, my footwork is poor in so far as it exists at all, and my execution of shots is technically very unsound. Looking back at the videos of my batting I filmed earlier this season I routinely left a foot's gap under my bat while playing the forward defensive, and it got me out time and again during the season.

But it's the mindset that bothers me. It's so timid. The balls I was happiest to face were the ones I could safely leave, and perhaps my reluctance to attack the less dangerous balls actually ended up giving the bowler less pressure and more time to figure me out, with the counter-productive consequence that I got out relatively quickly. I never got to the point where I felt "in", but why wait until it gets to that point before getting on with things?

Danny Mac told me similar things at one point this year. I'd volunteered to bat 10 or 11 and he said "what's the matter boy, don't you like batting?" and I suppose the truth revealed by that exchange is that I see my batting as a weakness to be got out of the way with the least damage done, rather than an opportunity to relax and enjoy myself in the heat of competition. I do enjoy batting, but perhaps I have to actively give myself permission to shoot from the hip.

Obviously, I need to do more than just beat myself up about it - I need to encourage myself to think and act differently in future. Here's a few things I'm going to try and remember when I bat next season:
  • I will discuss my batting role with the captain and get his backing to attack more.
  • I will walk in to bat thinking about scoring runs first and protecting my wicket second.
  • I will think of each ball as an opportunity rather than a threat.
  • I will put pressure on the bowler, rather than allow him to put pressure on me.
  • I will look to get off the mark quickly.
  • I will call my own runs more positively.
  • I will think less about helping my partner to score runs and more about my own contribution.
  • I will not allow my partner to hog the strike unless there's a clear reason to.
  • I will try to turn defensive shots into run-scoring opportunities.
  • I will work on several shots so it's harder to close off all my run-scoring options.
Obviously I'm not going to turn into the next Sir Viv Richards, but lets have less of the Nightwatchman mentality and a bit more tail-end slog. It seems to work for Stuart Broad. If it doesn't work for me, and I realise I am genuinely more suited to batting slowly, at least I'll have conclusive proof.

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