Food for thought

IN 1995, the year we finally beat the West Indies in Test cricket, we were having problem with our one-day approach. In a bid to get input from the team, I asked the players to answer two simple questions.

a) Why haven't we been playing as well as we can?

b) What can you do to improve performances?

I had a wonderful response which I think will be of interest to our readers.

These answers still form the basis of how the Aussies approach one-day cricket today.

For any side struggling to consistently come up with a successful strategy I thought our thoughts would be of interest. As you will see, like most solutions, they are simple but have much common sense.

Question 1. Why haven't we been playing as well as we can?

Batting: No forward thinking. Not concentrating enough on each ball. Too many wickets being lost together. Inconsistent batting. Not adapting to local wickets.

Not tough enough — satisfied with 20s and 30s.

Not building partnerships. Not capitalising on good starts. Basics not being adhered to. Batsmen thinking too much of themselves. Bowling: Not accurate enough. Bowling both sides of the wicket. Not thinking enough about each ball. Poor concentration. Not communicating with team-mates. Lack of aggression and intensity. Little enjoyment.

Fielding: Little communication with team-mates.

Not aggressive enough. Not confident. Not attacking the ball. Lack of enjoyment.

Question 2: What can you do to improve performance?

Ensure every aspect of the game is addressed. Pull together — encourage team work. Give 105% to the team. Be more positive. Better body language. Concentrate better. More concentration on and off the field. Lift intensity. Put myself under more pressure at practice. Enjoy the challenge of series.

Stick rigidly to my focus statement & routines.

Assist others to enjoy tour. Involve myself more in fielding drills.

Encourage others to stop whinging and enjoy all aspects of training.

Ensure I make all practice sessions quality. New fielding routines.

Question 3: What sacrifices am I prepared to make?

Get plenty of rest. Put cricket before anything else. Spend more social time with team-mates. Spend more time on my physical training. Use more of my time to help team-mates. One-day batting Play straight with full face of bat. Look at `gaps' not fielders.

When working ball full face, turn bat when ball hits. Not across line.

Build partnerships. Change of pace. Drop ball short at fielders. Must go on if you get a start. Almost every ball that hits the pad is a run. On side, always get bat or pad on ball.

Hitting over the top. Come straight at ball, don't back away.

Running between wickets. Look for singles and try to convert every run for extras.

Being mentally aggressive at all times. Have confidence in partner. Back up at bowlers end. Don't stop.

Almost impossible to run out if both batsmen go.

Never assume no run or extra run, push fieldsmen at all time.

Take on fielders — push them into errors.

Energy — Pressure — Enthusiasm. One-day fielding

Want every ball to come to you. Plenty of encouragement — chat.

Concentration, reduce peak concentration to minimum time.

Relax between deliveries. Learn your position and options. Don't circle, direct line to ball. In field don't walk straight at batsman. Short distances use underarm throw.

Look at the keeper, be positive but don't `burn' in throws when not necessary.

Stay on feet if possible — only dive when no other option.

Back up at all times.

Outfielders, back up and come in to stop overthrow singles.

Encourage each other at all times. Never leave it to others. One-day bowling

Work out game plan and stick to it when possible.

Don't rush when under pressure, make the batsman wait if necessary.

Forget bad ball, the only important ball is the one you are about to deliver.

Never start to run in if you haven't decided what to bowl.

Keep cool. Change of pace.