In a recent post I discussed the Edgbaston Indoor Nets and what a great insight they had provided as to how the pros train, and given me some thoughts not only for my own off season training, but for a future idea I have to combine mentoring, coaching and fitness for juniors as they embark on their senior cricket years
I am currently on a two week Christmas and New Year break from my Off Season Rehab and Training programme which seemed a good opportunity to take a look back at last season, explain what I have been working on during the off season and will be working on in the pre season, and share some objectives and aims for the 2022 season.
In addition to working on my fitness these last three months I have also been taking stock, both figuratively and physically. Fair to say that I have had a lot of time to think as I have stretched, rehabbed and sweated my way through the off season.
Last Year it is fair to say that the two areas that impacted the most on my performance where my level of fitness and overthinking pretty much everything. The fitness was a shock to be honest as although overweight and with a long list of old surgeries and injuries I was actually pretty fit, but my body was just not prepared for what cricket would require from it. Rupturing my lower abs in the first month did not help at all, but my groins, lower back, thigh and hamstring all suffered as did my general mobility – I had not had much cause to do the Long Barrier too many times over the proceeding 33 years. These issues had less to do with my batting performances that overall poor technique and over thinking, but it did not help that running between the wickets was an issue which placed more pressure on my batting, and my fielding was a long way off where it should have been, although I demonstrated on many occasions that I could still catch – even with a broken finger.
My batting suffered because of poor technique – head not level, no consistency with stance and trigger, not leaning towards the ball with my head/shoulders and not standing upright. My legs were not strong enough, especially the stabilising muscles and my range of movement, or more accurately lack of, limited my shot options. Mentally the problem was that in addition to thinking about all of the these factors I was also trying to work out how to score and what my best batting position should be.
Off Season no surprise that I have been working hard on all of the above issues. The majority of my time has been spent rehabbing old injuries and the issues they have caused along with general stretching and core strength, and so far the results have been really good. I have had four weeks of running once a week on grass working on match type scenarios (running between wickets, turning and chasing, running and getting down to field a ball) and my body has responded well. Four weeks isn’t much but if the season started next week I would be around 50% of my target fitness and about 100% better than I was last year. I have joined a gym and have been working for a month on my general cardio, leg strength and a little on my upper body. Again no issues and some improvements so in the New Year (Pre Season) I will take the plunge and will focus less on rehab and more on actual cricket related fitness.
I mentioned Chris the coach at the Edgbaston Nets that I have been spending time with and he has been excellent and made such a difference: Trigger across slightly rather than back and across. Lighter grip with bottom hand. More upright throughout shot and lead with shoulder to make body and head follow. Better balance. Get further across on off side shots. In addition to the nets I am spending a lot of time at home just working on stance, grip, trigger, shot making to get my mind and body to the point where they are second nature.
These net sessions are available to all members, but in reality they are attended by the senior team players – Over 50, Over 60 and Over 70 and this has generated an unexpected bonus or two: I am practising with people who have been playing for years and who play at a level I aspire to reach and they are seeing me “as I am”. I am not out of my depth and have been a tad chuffed that I have been approached about playing Senior Cricket next year. There is an issue of course, and as ever, with how much cricket I can realistically play next year and with the County qualification rules, but for me the main thing is that after seeing me in the nets they think I could contribute as a mid order attacking batter and as an off spinner with the ball.
No real surprise that I have added to my totally OTT kit list over the winter, all of which I have reviewed and I have spent many a cold afternoon refurbishing more cricket bats and sorting out some stuff to sell.
Pre Season then starts for me at the beginning of January. The Edgbaston Nets continue until Easter so that gives me fourteen sessions, possibly more as they will be starting Senior County Nets on Wednesday’s and I may be able to go to those as well. Barlaston has Pre Season Indoor nets starting on the 27th March for Six weeks although I can only attend five as I have my Stage 2 ACO Umpire Course in early March.
I will continue with my weekly running up at Barlaston but will have to move this from Sundays for 4 weeks in January and February as I have my ECB Core Coach (the old Level 2 Course). I am also going to start doing a 5k run each week, in addition to the 3 2km runs I do at the gym. I would like to try and find time (and energy) to do a second running session at the club each week if possible.
So one, sometimes two, maybe three indoor net sessions a week. 3 Gym sessions, two (hopefully three) running sessions, waking the dogs, core strength and mobility each day. My ECB Coaching Course and ACO Umpire Course. Think that is enough to be going on with ……
Next Season then, what are my thoughts and plans? Given the situation with my parents my priority is to play on a Sunday at Barlaston as they can come and watch (home and away) and it also gives them an opportunity to see old friends. I can call and see them before or after if required. I would prefer to bat mid order and bowl each week, not least because I aim to get into the Senior County set up and it would be useful to be able to bat and bowl. To that end I would also like to play some Saturday Cricket next year, but I will not be able to commit to that as a) not sure my body will cope with too many two game weekends and b) I need to keep time free for family. On Sunday’s my objective is to post a couple of 50’s, maybe ‘go big’ once and average late 20s/early 30s.
I become eligible for Over 60 County on my 59th birthday at the end of July so I wont have many games this year if I prove to be good enough but it will be a good introduction and is a key objective for this year.
I want (and need) to play some T20 Cricket this year to get some use from the Black Legend Batting Pads, Powerbow Inferno Bating Gloves, and funky Paytnr Cricket Shoes, and so am really pleased that the Heaven Help Us Cricket Club are already looking at scheduling some T20 Charity games next year. Of course this will require more clothing to be purchased!
These are generally mid week games as are Senior County games (League on Monday, Cup and Friendly on Thursday) which would be a nice rhythm to the week and maybe even leave sone time to play some golf!
Sounds a lot, and it is, but I have a lot of catching up to do!
Continued thanks for their support go to Masuri , Gray-Nicolls and Williamson-Boucher who between them more than fulfil my match day, training and casual requirements. Both on and off the field I am the equivalent of a modern day walking A Board, even on the Golf Course as I have started playing again! They are all great companies and people who helped with my return to cricket in 2021 and I am delighted to have their continued support.