Below, guest blogger and ACI Coach, Josh Nevett gives us his top 4 tips on the difference between a good and a great fast bowler.

As a player climbs the ranks of fast bowling, it becomes clear that the margin between a good and great fast bowler can be very small. This blog will look to help young fast bowlers bridge that gap and achieve their fast bowling goals.

 

1. YOUR BODY IS A TEMPLE

The harsh reality for any cricketer, but more specifically fast bowlers, is that progression is directly limited by the lack of a strong, healthy, and fit body. Skill with the ball is definitely vital, but the lack of a strong physical base to complement this will eventually result in a lesser ability to bowl long spells, more difficulty focusing over the course of a bowling day, longer required recovery periods for future training/matches and the more regular occurrence of injury. These inhibiting factors don’t even include the limits that poor physical condition places on increasing bowling speed, which is what most fast bowlers desperately pursue!

Some of the physical requirements of great fast bowlers are as follows:

  • Cardiovascular endurance
  • Muscular endurance
  • Muscular power and flexibility

Gains in these areas are made through consistent cardiovascular training (running, cycling, swimming), gym-based strength programs (weights), and flexibility training (yoga, stretching). In addition to such training, a balanced diet and healthy sleeping habits will maximise the results gained from sessions. 

2. BOWLING TO PLANS - MATCHING THE BRAIN WITH THE BRAWN

Having the ability to bowl 140km/h and swing the ball both ways is enviable, but without carefully formulated bowling plans often the most highly regarded bowling skills go to waste. All of the great fast bowlers have multiple specific plans that they can call upon to focus their bowling in a variety of different situations. 

For example, an express quick may seek to utilise their pace by integrating short balls into their overs with both close and deep catching fielders on the legside to support this. A swing bowler may look to construct an over so that they swing the ball away from the batter for the first few balls before delivering a ball that swings into the stumps to target a bowled or LBW dismissal. 

Bowling plans require an understanding of the balls you want to bowl, the shots you want a batter to play, the dismissals you are aiming for, and then matching up field placements to complement this. As previously mentioned, it is best to have multiple plans available in order to combat different styles of batting. These plans should play to your individual strengths.

When you ‘just run in and bowl’, you are more prone to emotions and external factors impacting your performance negatively, so plans are essential to narrowing your focus and creating a blueprint that you have full confidence in on matchday. 

3. EMBRACING CHALLENGES - WANT THE BALL

Bowlers will face the full spectrum of bowling conditions over the course of their playing days. There will be days where the pitch is green and skies are overcast, and others where the opposition are 0/200 on a flat pitch under the boiling sun. Regardless of this, truly great bowlers will consistently show the passion, confidence, and resilience to want the ball in all game situations, embracing challenges as a growth opportunity.

By shying away from tough scenarios where taking wickets or limiting runs is less than likely, bowlers cost themselves the learnings that are required to tackle the same situation when it inevitably reoccurs in the future. Hopefully, after reading this you put some consideration into developing bowling plans.  Tough, pressure-laden match situations are the perfect time to use these plans. 

Furthermore, many of the best bowlers are picked on their ability to execute in tough situations alone e.g. specialist death bowlers and specialist middle overs bowlers. Most of the time, these players don't receive much assistance from the conditions or opposition, but they play a vital role in the team sport that is cricket. 

In conclusion, approaching all bowling situations with a positive attitude and clear focus will ensure that you get the most out of yourself as a fast bowler. 

4. PREPARING TO PERFORM - TRAIN WITH PURPOSE

Training habits are a key area that contributes to the 5-10% difference between good and great fast bowlers. Let’s paint a picture of the key differences.

A good fast bowler will go to training on time, bowl a large load of overs, perhaps take some wickets in the nets, and bowl in good areas. But, they also may be bowling 2ft no-balls without considering proper routines. Perhaps they are going against the principle of avoiding ‘just run in and bowl’. If you were to sum it up, they train without purpose. The consequence of this is that training becomes a practice of maintaining rhythm and fitness rather than pursuing genuine improvement. 

On the other hand, great fast bowlers approach every session with a clear focus. Whether it's trialing a new bowling plan, honing in the accuracy of a new variation ball, or addressing a delivery stride technical flaw, there is always a goal that is geared towards improvement. In order to achieve this, great fast bowlers also aren’t afraid of asking their coaches and teammates questions, a habit that reaps the benefits of multiple experienced opinions. 

 

Article Author: Josh Nevett

ACI Academy Coach

I’ve always been fascinated by the way people are so quick to discourage their abilities and automatically neglect the important elements of their game outside the technical side of cricket.

I see and hear so many cricketers talk the talk, “I want to play at this level” or “I’m going to have a big pre-season”, but when it comes to the crunch with another year completed and no changes made, the player wonders why they’re not getting what they want out of their game.

 

I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with many professional cricketers, either in work, play or friendships, and have seen the amount of time, blood, sweat, and tears that goes into their development to ensure that they give themselves every possible chance they can to make it at the top level.

I’m sure you’ve read all the quotes and memes plastered all over the internet that relate to excellence, performance, etc. They’re great but get kind of old when you see or hear them repeatedly and no real action gets taken from them.

Below, I’ve plucked out what I see as the '5 most powerful traits of professional cricketers' and how anyone can adopt them. If you do, I can tell you right now, your game is going to improve and funnily enough, it’s nothing to do with the skills of cricket!

Players need to realise that just because you aren’t at that elite level doesn’t mean you can’t adopt these traits and hold yourself accountable to them. This alone is a major reason why elite players have gotten to the level they have, and very likely that if you adopt these traits, you too will start to see a massive improvement in your game.

 

1. COMMITMENT

An easy one to start off with but very hard for many to follow through on. The best cricketers aren’t flaking on a session, they are getting up when their alarm goes off to had to their early morning gym session/run/pilates. The better players are forgoing that burger and soft drink or going out to a party the night before their game/training. They do this because they have made a commitment to get better and perform to their best and this is one of the very easiest and earliest traits to control. It’s a matter of choice!

 

2. ATTENTION TO DETAIL

Elite cricketers have great attention to detail.  Whether it be in their training, their preparation, reviewing with their coaches, or general routine. Just simply showing up and doing it to tick the box isn’t going to change a thing. As a cricketer striving to get better, really try to pay attention to how you do things and the level at which you do them.

 

3. SELF BELIEF

The best players have a belief that their best is good enough. Don’t get me wrong, they still suffer from performance anxiety or negative self-talk from time to time, but an overarching belief in their own game and confidence to perform is a very important factor in producing a high level of performance consistently. Some of this comes down to preparation. The more prepared players are before the big day, the more confident they'll be at achieving their goals on game day.

 

4. BE ANALYTICAL

Not all players are great when it comes to analysing their own game. I guarantee you that every player who at least tries to see what has gone well and what hasn’t will improve going forward. No player of quality who performs at a high level on a consistent basis packs their gear up, gets in the car, and doesn’t think about what they’ve done ever again. Having a structured review process provides players the ability to identify areas of strength, where they may have gone wrong, and what needs to happen to prepare for next week. It also helps their mental state if they have had a bad day and gives them a chance to close that chapter quickly without stewing over it for the week. Instead, they move on quickly, ready for that next chance to progress.

 

5. OWNERSHIP & MATURITY

Probably one of the toughest ones I see players being able to grasp. This is a genuine, look yourself in the mirror component and stop blaming others for non-selection / lack of success, etc. It's important to own your actions, be accountable, and mature about how you react to certain situations that don’t go your way.  Use it as a learning curve. The best players in the world are honest with themselves and don’t point fingers. You can easily do this too and once you do, don’t be surprised to see some serious growth and who knows, maybe some line calls going your way as well!

 

All in all, I think the biggest advice that I would give to players (and I have numerous times) is just because you aren’t a professional/elite cricketer doesn’t mean you can’t think, train and prepare like one. If you are improving your standards, then the only way is up!

 

 

Joel Hamilton

 

 

 

 

 

Article Author: Joel Hamilton

ACI Owner & Managing Director 

Whether you’re a captain or not, you CAN be a leader in any team you play in.

This article is not going to teach you how to set fields, plan tactics or anything like that. I’ve taken 11 principles of great leadership from one of my favourite personal development books (Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill) and applied them to cricket.

If you take them and apply them to your life, training and game - you’ll set a great example at your club.

I’m going to insert the principle as written in the book and then discuss how this principle applies to cricket and offer some examples;

1. UNWAVERING COURAGE

“Based upon knowledge of self, and of one’s job. No follower wishes to be dominated by a leader who lacks self-confidence and courage. No intelligent follower will be dominated by such a leader very long.”

Application To Cricket;

This principle means that you put your hand up in good times & bad, you do the jobs that others don’t want to do. 

An example of this might be batting higher in the order on a tough wicket, continuing to get in behind the ball against a fast bowler after being hit or putting your hand up to bowl the last over.

2. SELF CONTROL

“The man/woman who cannot control themselves, can never control others. Self-control sets a mighty example for one’s followers, which the more intelligent will emulate.”

Application To Cricket

Self control in cricket is essential. Being able to battle the little inner demon that’s saying “hit this bowler for 6” when your team needs you to bat time or “try to get this batter out” when your team really needs you to focus on bowling dots or not reacting negatively to at an umpire after a poor decision.  

Self control can also be show off the field by leaders. Leaders choose to train when they don’t feel like it, they choose to eat the right food and they choose self control over going out with friends the night before a game.

3. A KEEN SENSE OF JUSTICE

“Without a sense of fairness and justice, no leader can command and retain the respect of their followers.”

Application To Cricket

A great leader in cricket does not pick sides and they don’t have ‘favourites’. They don’t  bat or bowl someone higher because they’re friends, it’s a neutral playing field and they make the right decisions for the team. They also take the time to understand both sides in team disputes.

 

4. DEFINITENESS OF DECISION

“The leader who wavers in their decisions, shows that they are not sure of themselves. They cannot lead others successfully.”

Application To Cricket

This principle means that you assess the information you have at hand, make a clear and decisive decision and then completely own your decision whether it works out or not. 

An example of this could be deciding wether to bat or bowl, deciding what bowlers to bowl in a tough situation, setting fields. In any situation, leaders a clear and definite with their decisions.

5. DEFINITENESS OF PLAN

“The successful leader must plan their work, and work their plan. A leader who moves by guesswork, without practical, definite plans, is comparable to a ship without a rudder. Sooner or later they will land on the rocks.”

Application To Cricket

All great leaders in cricket have a clear plan for every situation. They’re students of the game.

Captains know their players and their roles and they have a plan for them. Captains know their bowlers and what fields to set for them. They also know their opposition.

Batters have a plan against every type of bowler they’re going to face and plans for different pitch conditions.

Bowlers have clear plans for different batters, different conditions and different stages of the game.

Remember - you don’t have to be a captain to be a leader or to have a definite plan.

6. THE HABIT OF DOING MORE THAN PAID FOR

“One of the penalties of leadership is the necessity of willingness, upon the part of the leader, to do more than they require of their followers.”

Application To Cricket

This is obviously a metaphor (most aren’t getting paid to play cricket) but a very important one if you want to be or act as a leader.

All great leaders do more than they ask of their players and more than what’s expected of them.

  • They’re the first to arrive at training to help the coach set up
  • They’re first to arrive at the game on match day to prepare
  • They’re last to leave the dressing room because they were cleaning up 
  • They score, run drinks or whatever’s needed on match day
  • They go out of their way during the week to do things the team or club require.

A great leader is doing extras when no-one is watching.

7. A PLEASING PERSONALITY

“No rude, untidy or careless person can become a successful leader. Leadership calls for respect. Followers will not respect a leader who does not grade high on all of the factors of a Pleasing Personality.”

Application To Cricket

Great leaders in cricket and sport get along with everyone. This doesn’t mean you have to be best mates with everyone but you do have to treat everyone with respect, empathy & kindness. Take the time to get to know teammates, coaches & club people.

 

8. SYMPATHY & UNDERSTANDING

“The successful leader must be in sympathy with his followers. Moreover, they must understand them and their problems.”

Application To Cricket

Rolling on from my last point above - a great captain or leader knows their teammates well. They don’t create ‘clicks’ in the team. They’re inclusive.

They also make the effort to understand and sympathise with teammates who are having a hard time.

An example of this might be - your teammate turns up to training or a game in a foul mood, is being short and quiet. Rather than write them off for being a grumpy person and ignoring them, or worse, fuelling the fire, you take the time to chat and understand their problem and find out they’re having issues at home.

9. MASTERY OF DETAIL

“Successful leadership calls for mastery of details of the leader’s position.”

Application To Cricket

This means that you know your position inside and out.

As a captain, you know your players, you know their roles, you know your opposition, you have plans for different situations and conditions and you’re reliable, punctual and organised.

As a batter or bowler - you know your strengths, you know your weaknesses, you know your physical capabilities and how to get the most out of them and you know the opposition you’re coming up against.

All of this doesn’t just happen - it takes time, it takes study, it takes constantly reviewing your game and it takes planning. Great leaders put the time and effort in.

10. WILLINGNESS TO ASSUME FULL RESPONSIBILITY

"The successful leader must be willing to assume responsibility for the mistakes and shortcomings of their followers. If they try to shift this responsibility, they will not remain the leader. If one of their followers makes a mistake, and shows themselves incompetent, the leader must consider that it is they who failed.”

Application To Cricket

Great captains and leaders take full responsibility for everything that happens out on the cricket field.

They don’t point fingers at the end of the days play. A simple ‘tell tale’ sign of whether a player is a great team player and leader or a selfish individual & dictator is they use the word “we” more often that the word “I”.

If there’s a batting collapse instead of saying “I scored 50 but the rest of you did nothing”, they say “We didn’t do the the job out there collectively today guys, what do we need to improve on”

11. COOPERATION

“The successful leader must understand, and apply the principle of cooperative effort and be able to induce his followers to do the same. Leadership calls for POWER, and power calls for COOPERATION. There are two forms of Leadership. The first, and by far the most effective, is LEADERSHIP BY CONSENT of, and with the sympathy of the followers. The second is LEADER- SHIP BY FORCE, without the consent and sympathy of the followers.”

Application To Cricket

If you’re a captain or leader of your team, you need to get buy in from the rest of your teammates. Otherwise you won’t go very far. To gut buy in, you need to include them in the decision making process.

Instead of standing up the front barking orders - “I want us to do this”, “I think we should do that”, “You did this wrong”, “You need to work on that”.

Sit with your group and ask questions like - “”How do WE want to play today?”, “What’s OUR plan?”, “What did WE do wrong that we need to improve?”.

At the end of the day the final decision comes down to the captain or the leader but if the captain includes players in the decision making, they’re get a lot better buy in and cohesion.

 

 

                                           

Article Author: Nick Fitzpatrick

Co Founder of Australian Cricket Institute & Brisbane Premier League

Below, guest blogger and ACI Coach, Josh Nevett gives us his 3 main reasons to seek professional coaching for your child.

Every parent wants the best for their child, and this is no different when it comes to helping them pursue their cricketing dreams! Whilst local club and school cricket can expose young players to highly experienced and skilled coaches, it is very difficult for these coaches to fully invest themselves in individual players in this setting. 

So, where do we turn for that personal touch? The professionals of course! Here are some of the reasons that professional coaching makes for a great addition to the holistic development of a junior cricketer. 

1. SMALLER GROUPS ALLOW FOR PERSONAL, OBJECTIVE FEEDBACK

Every player is unique, and it is pivotal that they are treated as such through targeted analysis and coaching. 

Professional coaches bring a weight of experience and knowledge that allows them to recognise certain characteristics within players that may not be noticed in a local cricket club setting. For example, elements of technique and personality traits can be acknowledged and, therefore, the coach is able to help a player within their own personal nature. As the Australian run-machine, Steve Smith has shown, being unconventional is not something to discourage! 

Rather than pressuring young players into conforming with the batting ‘textbook’, top-level coaches look to harness difference when it can contribute to overall development, shaping juniors into players who are confident in their personal set of skills. After all, new competitions and formats such as the IPL and ‘The Hundred’ have created an environment where the innovators of world cricket are able to thrive and are often the most successful!

Further, feedback from leading coaches always revolves around the goal of developing the best cricketer possible. There is no danger of coaches playing favourites in this setting; each individual is provided with information that has the players best interests at heart.

This is evident in the ACI’s implementation of video analysis into its programs, the camera never lies! How can you best demonstrate to a player the areas of strength or weakness in their game? By allowing them to see it with their own eyes. It is this level of attention to detail that serves as a contributor to efficient coaching sessions and in turn, (the outcome we’re always after) better matchday performance.

2. THERE IS MORE TO CRICKET THAN SKILLS

Whilst cricket can essentially be reduced down to taking wickets and scoring runs, it is an understanding of the complexities of the game that can boost a developing players achievement and enjoyment within the sport to the next level. 

In the setting of club cricket, there is only a relatively small window of time available for teams to train and therefore key aspects of cricket such as tactical awareness, mental preparation and physical conditioning are neglected in favour of net-based skills training. This net training is useful for maximising the volume of practice in a large group, however, it doesn’t prepare players for match scenarios. 

Tactical awareness is about establishing specific plans which can produce desired results on a regular basis. Tactics are needed to provide clear purpose and direction on the field; clarity of the mind is crucial to the execution of fundamental skills such as bowling the desired areas and selecting the appropriate shots to play as a batsman.

Professional coaches are able to prepare players mentally by determining their personal areas of fear, anxiety or stress surrounding the game and providing strategies to combat these inhibiting states. Creating an optimal headspace also involves boosting positive thoughts and emotions, so aspects of mindset such as confidence, achievement and calmness are also explored.

Thirdly, physical conditioning is essential to any successful cricket training regime as the modern player needs to be able to perform at high intensities, recover quickly and prevent injury. Specialised coaches are aware of this and make sure growing athletes are well equipped with fitness programs that are not just effective, but also fun!

From this it is clear that the environment created within a professional coaching setting allows for these not so well covered elements of cricket to be explored and, therefore, young players are able to get the maximum value out of the skills they already have.

3. DEVELOPMENT IS A 24/7 PROCESS

Professional coaches understand this and, therefore, are creative in forming training programs that players can undertake anywhere and at any time. The learning never stops.

This is contrary to the common status quo in local cricket, which is to train for a couple of hours, one night per week leading into matches. Whether its batting drills for the backyard or learning resources that teach key elements of technique and mindset, professional coaches are able to meet the demand of hungry young players who simply can’t get enough of this great game! 

This also ensures that the hard work undertaken during in-person coaching is not lost or forgotten between sessions, fostering a process of continuous growth. A consistent approach allows each session to become a progression on the last which is the ideal environment for improvement to take place and learning to be maximised. 

The ACI also incorporates a strong emphasis on reflection into its programs, encouraging players to look back on their time spent engaged in cricket in all settings to better understand how to get the most out of themselves.  

The culmination of this is young cricketers who are driven, consistent and self-aware, a combination of traits which can be seen in the greats of the modern game.

Registration for the ACI's 2020/21 - Foundation (8 to 10 year-olds), Junior (11 to 14 year-olds), and Youth (15 to 17 year-olds) Academy Programs are now open. For more information please register your interest here

As apart of the ACI’s free 4-week Junior Wellbeing & Activity Program, recently we were lucky enough to have current Australian international fast bowler, Jason Behrendorff join us for a Q & A session. 

Hundreds of young cricketers were glued to their computers, phones & tablets interacting and listening to the insights of his journey through cricket and his tips on how to become a consistent young fast bowler.

After our discussion, we thought it would be handy to jot down the 5 key takeaways that Jason spoke about for young developing fast bowlers.

1. Your Stock Ball is Key

You need to be aware of what your best ball is, after which you'll need to be able to execute it time after time!

Your ability to be consistent and take wickets or to build pressure for long periods of time comes down to this.

Jason's advice;

“100% the best thing for me is nailing a stock ball. For me, it’s an inswinger to the right-hander so that’s the ball I work on 90% of the time because that’s my banker. That’s the one I know 9/10 times, I’ll execute and whatever I need to do if I’m in a pressure situation that’s what I’ll go back to”.

2. Find Your Niche in the Swing vs Pace Balance

This tip is often highly debated about and can make or break players confidence. At the end of the day, is there a trade-off?

Should players be sacrificing swing to bowl quicker? Or can players play at a good level while still pulling back your pace and have the ball seam around?

Jason's advice;

“A few years ago people were sort of saying unless you bowl 140kph+ you won’t play international cricket. If you look around the international game, yes there are a few that do bowl 145kph or 150kph but there's only a handful who bowl super fast. Everyone else is doing something with the ball".

He continues.....

"That’s the thing for me that stands out - really try and hone YOUR craft, whether it’s seam bowling, swing bowling or an absolute out and out fast bowler. Again I go back to executing your skills, if you can execute your skills, being able to hit those lengths when you need to, all those things make a difference. If you are trying to bowl as fast as you possibly can and have no control over where the balls going that’s not really going to be good to anyone. You need to find your niche and once you have found it you need to do everything you can to own it”.

3. Variations - Don't Get Left Behind!

While it's important to make sure you can hit your stock ball whenever you need to, the game has changed a lot in the last decade especially with all the different formats now, players know it’s crucial to have variations in your arsenal that you can use.

Jason's advice;

“As a bowler nowadays, with all the inventive shots that batters play, the way that there is no fear in the game with that respect - it's important to have variations! Execution is everything, make sure you practice your yorkers, bouncers and slower balls. Anything you can do to be a little bit inventive. Try your own thing to get an advantage over the batters”.

4. Mindset & Body Language is Key

Cricket is as much, if not more mental than it is technical. If you can keep your thoughts, feelings and emotions in check, it will go a long way to you becoming more consistent as a bowler.

How players deal with having a bad day or spell is crucial and Jason believes it's integral as a bowler to keep these in check.

Jason's advice;

“It’s something that I definitely struggled with a lot with early in my cricket career. I would generally slump over if I had a bad spell or over, whatever it might have been. You would have seen me down at fine leg and I probably had my head down a bit not paying much attention and just sort of thinking way too much about what I was trying to do as opposed to staying in the contest and doing what I could to get better and get back”.

He continues...

“The biggest thing for me is not letting one ball, one spell or one over affect my day. The way I tend to do that is to try to stay up in the contest. Whether that be in the field, keeping the chat up to your mates, that’s one of the best things about being in the field is you’ve always got someone to chat to when you are fielding or bowling”.

5. Bowl the Ball, Don't Place it!

When players start to try to swing the ball, they tend to get into a habit of trying to place the ball and not “hit the deck”. Jason speaks about his issues with this in the past and how he overcame it to be able to continuously swing the ball.

Jason's advice;

“I was looking to bowl the ball not just to place it there. That’s something I fell into the trap of early days, I was trying to bowl it down there and swing it as opposed to actually bowling it and ripping down the back of the ball and letting the ball do the work”.

So there you have it, from the mouth of a current Australian International!  It’s critical to ensure that there are a host of areas that can contribute to your success as a bowler.

When you are planning your next training session, make sure that you factor some of these aspects into it rather than just bowling to a batter aimlessly.

For the full interview head to our Facebook page by clicking here

IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFO ABOUT THE 4-WEEK JUNIOR CRICKET WELLBEING & ACTIVITY PROGRAM - CLICK HERE