I played for Barlaston Cricket Club as a young teenager in the late 70s and they were very good to me. Back then there was little coaching available, no junior set up, and certainly no mentoring, but I received a warm welcome, encouragement, was made to feel involved, and enjoyed a few moments of glory on the pitch.
Fast forward 40 years and things have certainly changed! Both Penkridge and Barlaston have multiple teams for all ages, abilities and sexes. Penkridge have a well established Fourth Team which is made up of men, woman, boys and girls. Barlaston has introduced a Fourth team this year which will provide youngsters with an introduction to the adult game.
Penkridge play on a Saturday, Barlaston on a Sunday. They are in different parts of the county and different leagues so there is no conflict (confirmed by the leagues).
Penkridge train on a Monday, Barlaston on a Tuesday (which is handy as it’s a day I usually spend at my parents and when necessary MERIT PRU).
I will be more involved with Penkridge given the Geography and games being on a Saturday, but I will help coach and mentor at Barlaston on a Tuesday and will play a few games for them if required. I am doing my ECB Level One Coaching Badge, and will do my Level Two as soon as possible, and I am registered on icoachcricket.
I do not see my role as that of a coach though. Growing up an area that I subsequently realised was lacking was someone to help me understand my game, how to build an innings, how to set a field. People return to and stay involved in Cricket when it is fun, and fun comes through a variety of sources: winning, competing, personal performance, a team mates performance, getting better, enjoying teammates company, forging memories that last forever.
I think a combination of my coaching and mentoring experience, my own cricket experiences (past and present) will make me a good sounding board, and ear, a wise old man …..
Playing wise I think my role at best will be to try and open the batting and hang around as long as possible providing some stability and support, or lower down the order ‘protecting’ the order a little. Subject to fitness, ability and selection of course!!
The reason for this pre season note though is to record my initial thoughts on how I think I would approach match day in Development Cricket.
Based on an “ideal world” start point, accepting weekly availability and individual abilities will vary.
“Fun” comes from both participation and winning, so aim is to get the balance between all participating at a level they are comfortable with, whilst competing.
A huge element of cricket is the team approach, which requires individual performances, and in players knowing and developing their roles. Confidence comes from knowing what you are going to be doing and preparing well.
If selection allows a mix of 6 senior and 5 development then from a batting line up I would aim for:
A senior player is an adult that has played the game before with some success and has a notably skill set i.e batting, bowling, wicket keeper, fielding.
Harsh as it sounds wickets are likely to fall early to better opening bowlers so need to consider that with the two high order Development, but from a team perspective some Senior strength mid order should generate runs and protect the tail. If the first wicket to fail is the Senior then number 4 bats i.e. you flex the order based on match circumstances.
Bowling 45 overs with a maximum of 9 per over, less from Development players, means a plan based on 6 bowlers is prudent, and to protect confidence in Development players having a Senior bowler or two to take the heat is not a bad plan i.e. if a Development bowler is struggling bowl me as I will not get disheartened if belted all round the ground!
Senior 1 – 6 overs ……………….. Development 1 – 4 overs
Development 2 – 4 overs ………Senior 2 – 6 overs
Senior 3 – 5 overs …………………Development 3/4 – 5 overs
Development 2 – 3 overs ………Senior 2 – 3 overs
Senior 1 – 3 overs ……………….. Development 1 – 3 overs
Senior 3 – 2 overs ……………….. Development 3 – 1 over
Senior 1 bowls 9 overs
Development 1 bowls 7 overs
Senior 2 bowls 9 overs
Development 2 bowls 7 overs
Senior 3 bowls 7 overs
Development 3 bowls 3 overs
Development 4 bowls 3 overs
Fielding will always be an issue as in general mobility, speed and strength an issue for both Senior and Development with catching always going to be a work in progress.
Setting a proper bowling field though to expose bowlers to the need to bowl to that field is important, and letting the batters know is a proper field in place will make them think about shot selection.
At this level stopping boundaries is more important than taking the high catch, and a ball stopped on the boundary will often only result in one run. Throwing will pretty much always require a relay thrower.
I would always have a slip to keep the batsmen honest with their presence, and to show confidence in the bowler.
I would then have a 4, 2, 2 field:
4 on boundary at Square Leg, Very Fine Leg, Point and Long On.
A regular mid wicket and mid off.
A short cover and mid wicket.
I would always aim to bowl first. Will ensure a longer game, help set the batting strategy, and being pragmatic development players are more likely to get wickets than runs.