Are bowlers only invited to cricket training so they can give practise to batsmen?
It appears to be the case. There is an almost unspoken understanding that bowlers are to be seen and not heard.
“Look mate, just rock up on time, run in for 2 hours, and don’t send one down the leg-side because the top order needs to find some form.”
Bowling is arguably more technical than batting, but rarely do you see a coach take someone from the nets to work on their run up, gather, release or follow-through.
As stated in our last post Everything Wrong With Cricket Training – Batting, conventional cricket training seeks to pack as much volume into as little time as possible, which comes at the expense of any meaningful or beneficial practise. This method results in bowlers working at a lower intensity for an extended time, rather than replicating the short-intense bursts, with rest in between, that is required on match day.
Looking at your typical net session, the first batting group is effectively a warm-up, the bowlers find their run-ups and shake off the stiffness of 8 hours sitting in the office. The intensity then builds for the second and third batting groups, before the bowlers get fatigued, bored, and hungry… causing the decline into the ugly scenes of the last 30 minutes. (Not forgetting the big quick who arrives at this time to send down thunderbolts from 18 yards in the dark)
I’ve often stated that ‘bowlers drive the standard of training’. The suggestions below will keep your training intensity higher for longer, and provide more match-specific and beneficial training for bowlers.
Warm Up Without Bowling to Batsmen
Raise the initial standard of your training by allowing bowlers to warm up before starting the ‘Bat v Ball’ competition in the nets. Here are two simple ways to introduce bowling warm ups into your training:
- While the first batting group pads up, set up a target hitting challenge for the bowlers in the nets (see video below)
- Take the bowlers out onto the ground just off the centre wicket and have them bowl to wicketkeepers. The batters can take this time for throw-downs in the nets.
Not only will letting your bowlers warm up start your net session at a higher intensity, it provides an opportunity for the bowlers to work on their actions without have to think about what the batsmen is doing at the other end.
Bowl 6 Balls In a Pair
You don’t bowl one ball and have 90 seconds rest in a game, so why do this at training? Replicate the physical and mental demands of bowling in a match with this simple adjustment.
- Split the four bowlers assigned to a net into pairs. Each bowler in the first pair bowls six balls before swapping with the other group and resting for this time.
Through bowling multiple balls in a shorter period, bowlers train their ability to execute repeated efforts in sets of six. Further, bowlers can work on specific plans and tactics against batsmen and easily track the number of overs they bowl in a session. An added benefit is using the resting pair to umpire and call out those front foot no-balls that are so costly in a game.
Give Bowlers a Rest Between Batting Groups
There’s a view that players should never be standing around at training. Well, there appears to be a fair bit of standing around in a cricket game to me.
When swapping over batting groups call in your players and use this time to gather feedback on the session, review aspects of your last game or set a match scenario and for the next group. Providing bowlers with this rest period helps players stay engaged and keep the intensity constant over the entire session, rather than building up and falling away dramatically.
While there is no other sport in the world where the training is so different from how the game is played, these simple changes can ensure your sessions better replicate the physical demands of bowling a match while also providing the opportunity to develop tactically and technically.
Be the voice that makes the difference.