Christmas for a cricketer is one of the best times of the year! 

Australia’s favourite summer pastime mixed in with the holiday season enables your cricket-mad person a host of hours of fun outside, in front of the TV or anywhere in between at Christmas time. 

Here at the Century Cricket Group, we’ve put together the ultimate Christmas list for a cricket-mad person in case you’re struggling for inspo when it comes to buying them a Christmas gift.

Century Cricket Group (CCG) and Outside the Locker Room (OTLR) are thrilled to announce a new partnership in 2023.  

The partnership will see OTLR align with CCG to support and educate their network of members, as well as the six Century Cricket Competition Melbourne teams.   

This partnership will reach all members of the centre with a vision to Change The Game For Mental Health In Sport by offering access to the OTLR Welfare Support App, as well as offering the Mental Health and Wellbeing education sessions to the members and an opportunity to take this education back to their grassroots clubs.   

 “This is a great opportunity for OTLR to offer support to a wide range of people. As local cricket clubs shut down over the Christmas break, our support and education can assist any members who are facing a Mental Health Challenge whilst being isolated from their supportive community during this time.  

We are Changing the game for Mental Health in Sport and this partnership will assist OTLR in achieving that,” said Tim Cook OTLR National Program Manager.  

We are extremely excited to be partnering with Outside The Locker Room. Having been an admirer from afar and seeing the work they've been doing with sporting communities, it was an absolute no-brainer for us to strike up an official partnership to make OTLR our official charity partner of Century Cricket Group. We cannot wait to be able to provide opportunities to further educate and support cricketers in our Centres, Competitions and Coaching arms of the business“, said Joel Hamilton, Regional Executive Director, Century Cricket Group.   

To launch the partnership OTLR will be delivering a Mental Health session during October to Century Cricket Centre Blackburn.

For any enquiries please contact OTLR’s National Program Manager Tim Cook (



After running coach and club inductions for the past 6 months - it got me thinking about how a volunteer coach can really make a difference with their team and what key habits lead to success. 

Below are 4 skills that have helped me transition from a junior cricket volunteer into a professional junior coach over the past 8 years. Even if it’s something you’ve heard before - putting these into action will ensure you’re creating the best environment possible for the team's success and your own as a coach and leader. 



{The ability to work through a plan with others}

The first step is making sure you have a thorough session plan to run with at training. Outline your drills, timings, and coaching points clearly and cohesively with you and your team prior to kicking off. It will make life a lot less stressful when you arrive and also give you the clarity to focus when it comes to delivering a quality session. 


Mapping out an outline for the season and overall goals (team and player), outcomes and individual targets you and your team are looking to achieve is vital to take care of the long-term direction. Lay the ground rules to begin with and make sure everyone is on the same page about basic expectations as well as what you’re willing to do to help them. 


Planning needs to be consistent in your approach e.g. for each week, each session, each program. The best way to make sure it doesn’t become a burden is to keep it simple wherever possible. Even if it’s just 5-10 minutes the morning of / night before a session it will make a world of difference for everyone’s clarity as well as your own.


{Communicating in a variety of situations and settings}

Above all - you need to be sure you’re communicating with your players directly. I like to put myself in their shoes wherever possible so I can speak with them as honestly as possible - as well as giving my view on things. Try and avoid being instructive - the old-school authoritarian method. Sure, you’ll need it some days if things aren’t right or if players are struggling. However, to encourage proper development and learning, it’s always best to help others find the answer themselves or for them to put it in their own words. 


The use of question-based discussion, diaries, handouts, video feedback, and group discussions are some ways you can keep communicating messages across with different tips - for them to digest and put into action. 


Secondly, it’s how you coordinate with other coaches, volunteers & parents involved. A team brief prior to training or once a month can help you discuss plans and incorporate new ideas too. 


During drills and training - your voice and feedback are where you can start to make further inroads with your side. It’s important to avoid standing at the back of the net and overseeing things. Get involved as much as possible, having one on one chats to the side, taking a small group for a quick demonstration, and talking to them about what you’re seeing. These are the conversations and coaching points that will stick with a player most of all. From experience, you will always get better engagement with someone when speaking to them rather than at a whole group/collective unit. 



{Progressing and challenging your players/coaches to their respective levels}

Avoid doing the same thing each week. Monotonous net sessions and one fielding drill for the year won’t lead to progress. Instead, look to spice things up where you can and make sure you’re training a variety of skills and keeping plans fresh to keep the team on their toes each time they rock up for training. 


Increase the difficulty as you go and initiate group challenges and team-based activities. This will help create a pressure environment and make sure anything the players are doing is always match-specific in their preparation. 


Create the most fun and engaging environment possible. At the end of the day, everyone is there to enjoy themselves and have as much fun as possible. You play your best cricket when you’re enjoying yourself, not worrying about performance or results, and freezing up. When players are eager for each session, it also helps them drive training standards. Developing genuine rapport and relationships with those around you will make sure the squad is tight-knit and ready for any challenge thrown their way. 


{Utilising feedback and advice to the best of your advantage}

Specificity is the key here - when giving and passing on feedback. We want to make sure there are always actionable points or things to work on and tangible ways you can take that conversation and make a difference next time. 


For each individual - try and give them some points they can keep working away at outside of training. An hour and a half each week isn’t a lot, if you can begin to pass that learning and progression into their hands they’ll be able to stay on task even outside of your sessions. 


For yourself, don’t underestimate what reaching out to others can bring to you. Whether it’s insights on something you’re unsure about or helping you reaffirm something you’re working towards. Always seek advice and feedback from others on your performance and use it to gauge where a player is at and how they’re developing. 


Constantly review and ask questions to make sure you're going in the right direction and tailoring your approach wherever possible. 

What is working well for us? 

What do we need to keep improving on? 

How can we start to make that happen next week / what can I do to make sure players can improve in this area? 


These are just a couple of quick questions I'll think about to myself in the car ride on the way home and something you should definitely add to your process. It’s a great way to keep moving forward!

Thanks for reading! 

Seb Contos








Article Author: Seb Contos

National Programs Manager

Australian Cricket Institute

One of my favourite parts of working with coaches and players right around the country is discussing and discovering different ideas, viewpoints and mentalities towards success through leadership. Here are some of the most valuable and attainable lessons I’ve learnt through the game and the amazing people I’ve encountered along the way. 


Impacting others around you in a positive way only brings benefits

  • Leaders help shape the direction or path that others can follow through
  • Be selfless, show initiative and put your hand up to do things that others might be hesitant to do
  • Engage, encourage and affirm your peers, it goes a long way to gaining respect 
  • Learn to listen and understand - show empathy to someone else's situation. This will grow your emotional intelligence through all sorts of situations and challenges


Decision making is the key to tapping into your potential

  • Making critical decisions under pressure is a major skill you can develop on and off the field, whether it be about bowling changes, team selection or thinking about how to train and prepare
  • If you’re in a tough spot - put yourself through the ‘TV Test’. Does your decision hold up if you had to explain it to a national audience live? 
  • Being ethical and having reasoning behind everything you do will grow your confidence when at a crossroads
  • Take on feedback - it’s not a knock on you personally. Take your time to have your decisions assessed by others, reach out when you are unsure. Using those around you is a sure way to get the most out of a group, as well as expand your influence and skills. There are always people willing to help, you just have to ask for it!


Developing tactics, strategy & plans will help you become as prepared as possible and keep you calm in the heat of the moment

  • Knowing your teammates, coaches and plans inside out is essential to developing rapport and relationships
  • Adapting when things aren’t going your way is all part of it, don’t be afraid to look at plan B or C - have that ready to go before you take the field 
  • Be a student of the game, good leaders are able to read momentum, anticipate what’s ahead and pivot to give your side the best chance of winning the next contest/phase
  • Setting team values and expectations early engages all to be team first. Set the standard

Body language & demeanour portrays how much you care

  • Show you are a leader with how you hold yourself - you are who people look to!
  • Ensure you are doing the 1%ers e.g. chasing the ball hard, wearing the correct clothing, positive chat… it all counts!
  • Have a growth mindset, personal development is the key to continuously meeting your goals and staying motivated


Understanding your role will help you stay focused when it's your turn to stand up

  • At the end of the day, coming back to your own strengths and weaknesses is key
  • When the time comes for you to perform and take ownership of the contest, leaders don't make excuses. Get in there are give your best for the team in the position that you know you can do well
  • Avoiding distractions and keeping your mind clear and focusing on the task at hand is imperative to make sure you’re contributing with bat/ball/gloves first and foremost


Here’s what the ACI team came up with as our definition of leadership, what’s your mantra?

  • Josh – “A person who is respected and heard by their peers” 
  • Joel – “A leader is someone you look to in situations you aren’t confident in yourself”
  • Seb - “A leader always helps others and shows the ability to help engage and get the best out of the environment they’re in without making excuses”
  • Ray – “A Leader has an innate ability to step up when others don’t or won’t” 
  • Nick “A leader paves the way, they set the example in familiar territory and they’re the first to take a step into the unknown while others watch on to see what happens”

Just a hint… you don’t need to be captain to be a leader! Have a go, give your best and your side will be better for it!


Seb Contos








Article Author: Seb Contos

National Programs Manager

Australian Cricket Institute

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. 


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.


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.


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