Zurich Crickets Junior Coaching Sessions with Hampshire County Cricket Club Coaches
report by Stephen and Callum Hirst
We have just completed our fourth annual junior professional coaching sessions with John Cook & Chris Wheeler from Hampshire County Cricket Club between Saturday 28th April and Tuesday 1st May 2012. This is John's fourth year with us and Chris was returning for his second year. While John is Hampshire's Cricket Coach Development Manager focussing on coach education and adult participation, Chris is a Level 3 coach and has been a top player (current Hampshire over 50s batsmen) in the local premier league for some years. He is also heavily involved with Hampshire age group cricket as the county Under 12s manager.
John and Chris organised four full days of cricket coaching starting at 9.00am each morning and finishing at 3.00pm each afternoon for our younger players (Under 9s and 11s) and at 5.00pm for the Under 13s to 17s. There were approximately 30 players taking part in most of the sessions.
The various days’ activities were broken down into sections relating to opening the innings, the middle overs, and finally how to finish off an innings. The drills and exercises organised by the coaches were designed to maximise the team’s performance in each of these different aspects of an innings.
On Saturday morning we were drilled in the various skills we needed to open an innings. We paid particular attention to how we could score quick singles in the early overs. To help us with this task John and Chris had us play a game called ‘Catchy – Shubby’ in which the batsman had to run if he hit the ball, thereby encouraging him to place the ball away from the fielder so he could successfully complete a quick single. In the afternoon session at Winterthur these newly acquired skills were put into practice in a match situation. The batsman was rewarded with a score of 10 runs if he could score a quick single within the inner fielding circle.
On Sunday morning at Winterthur we had a practice match in which we were able to further develop the skills we learnt the previous afternoon. In this match situation the batsman was still rewarded for taking a quick single within the inner fielding circle. However, at the same time the bowlers were rewarded for bowling a good line and length. Back in the gym at Hottingen in the afternoon we were shown how to play different types of sweep shots i.e. normal, slog, paddle and reverse sweep.
Monday morning’s session was all about how fast you could bowl, throw a ball, run a single or run a two. Each player’s bowling and throwing speeds were measured and their times to run a single and a two were recorded. It only takes 2.75 seconds to run a single and therefore John and Chris showed us the various techniques we could use to improve our chances of completing a quick single. In the afternoon session each player was given individual coaching on the bowling machines. After an hour batting under these conditions each batsman was physically and mentally drained! However, they all received valuable coaching tips which enabled them to improve their batting technique.
Tuesday’s sessions were all about the skills we need to finish off an innings. In the Hottingen gyms we practised various drills to help the bowlers bowl line and length. In the afternoon we returned to Winterthur and each batting pair were given different batting scenarios at the end of an innings, for example 20 needed off the last four overs with 4 wickets left, or 10 runs required off the last two overs with one wicket etc. The idea of these exercises was to make the batsmen aware that they may have to adapt their batting style depending upon the situation of the match.
It is a marvel to watch both John and Chris pass on their vast cricketing knowledge to each and every one of the boys and girls taking part in the sessions. Watching from the side lines one could tell that every one of them was enjoying their time with the coaches, as they all had a smile on their faces and enthusiastically took part in each and every session.
Having reflected on the four day programme it is clear that without exception everyone who took part in the programme was a much better cricketer at the end of the final session on Tuesday afternoon than the one that had arrived on Saturday morning. It is now up to the individual coaches of each age group to build on the excellent work of John and Chris over the coming months.
Finally, on behalf of Zurich Crickets Cricket Club and everyone who took part in the various cricket sessions, we would like to thank John and Chris for their excellent work and we all hope they will be able to come back later in the year to coach us some more.
As one young player commented, ‘I thought that the Hampshire cricket camp was really good. It was great that we had whole day sessions with indoor and outdoor cricket. It was intensive and tough but I learned loads of new techniques. The coaches said that they could only show us different ways to play cricket and that we have to choose which way we play. I had loads of fun and the chance to play cricket for four full days in a row was very special.’