I write this at the beginning of my first week without any nets planned since I started the winter Members Nets at Edgbaston on 18th November (and I could have started those earlier but I was on a post season break!). In total I have attended 16 net sessions at Edgbaston, 5 sessions with my club and 4 sessions with Staffordshire Seniors.
That amounts to a LOT of bowling and a fair amount of batting, so may come as a surprise when I say I don’t like nets! Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy them, as after all I am playing cricket and have met some great people, and the coaching at Edgbaston has been really helpful, but I don’t like the fact they don’t help much with actual game preparation:
- facing a spinner, a non bowler then an opening bowler gives no opportunity to establish a rhythm and plan against a bowler.
- the rush to get through the allocated time means there is little time between shots to work on set up, reflect on previous shots.
- nets are still primarily seen as a slog fest.
- I often struggle to concentrate on the bowler when there are a bunch of other bowlers hanging around at the back.
Of course much of this is solved by using the bowling machine which I have come to like a lot BUT I still struggle with the natural trigger movement which I have when the bowler is in their delivery stride. No bowler. No stride.
So what am I going to do about it?
The plan this year is to have two outdoor net sessions a week at the club. Tuesday is the regular seniors night with the 1s and 2s in one net and the 3s and 4s in another. I am also going to be introducing and coaching a development net session on a Thursday night.
My personal plan on a Tuesday is to try and focus solely on technique which for me means concentrating on my trigger movement (to ensure I have the bat in a more powerful position – cocked wrists and a bit higher), a wider stance and shorter stride – for balance and to keep head over the ball, keeping my posture tall (especially on the on side), and following through more on my drives as I have a tendency to punch the ball.
On Thursday the overall plan is to try and emulate match type scenarios so as I hope to be batting in the middle order this year there are broadly two scenarios I will face: a need to ‘dig in’ a rebuild the innings or to ‘push on’ and get some runs on the board. So I am going to ask the last person I pass on my way into the nets to select A (dig in) or B (push on) and that will determine how I approach the net: dig in – no attacking shot for 2 overs, push on – 3 balls to get eye in and then tee off. For the usual ‘last 6’ I am going to ask the next bowler to pick C (15 to win) or D (hold out for a drawer). Am hoping with this that I will get used to reacting to a situation and having to change approach within an innings.
With luck this will give me two different type of sessions: one that concentrates on technique and one that concentrates on batting.
If possible I am going to try and find a bowler or two who want to develop their own game i.e. get used to bowling six in a row and setting a better up so can have a one on one style session each week.