Firstly, let me say there are many ways of planning an innings! This is just one. You have to adopt a planning process that works for you – that is, one that is successful and you can easily replicate every week. It should be a way of approaching each innings and one that you feel comfortable implementing.
So here are my thoughts on “Batting Plans”. They are GENERAL and they presuppose you are CONTINUALLY trying to be “Game Aware”. This means staying in the moment and looking for opportunities to take advantages of increased stress levels, lapses in concentration and poor decision-making by your opponents.
Planning must take place BEFORE YOU GET TO THE MIDDLE! You must be assessing the conditions while you are waiting to bat. You should always be paying attention to the course of the match, but – if, for instance, you are a number 5 batsman, you probably need to be developing your plan from the moment your Number 3 gets to the wicket. Plan as if you will be batting in 2 balls time, then keep reassessing your plan every 4 overs. Before you get to the middle – in fact before you even get to the ground! – you should have some elements of your plan already worked out. You may have eliminated some shots from your game (the one’s that have been getting you out!) and you may have decided on focusing extra attention on specific aspects of your game (eg. Making your initial movement lighter and trying to get further forward)
APPROACH THE GAME/YOUR INNINGS IN 4 OVER SECTIONS
Keep asking the question “If things continue like this for the next 4 overs, where will I be and where will the game be?” If the answer in both cases is “I/we will be moving closer to success/winning the contest!”, CONTINUE DOING WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN DOING!” If the answer to either question is “I will be out and/or the game will be slipping away from us” YOU MUST CHANGE WHAT YOU ARE DOING!! When changing your plan, be DISCIPLINED, PATIENT AND UNDERSTAND THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR DECISIONS!
Assess who is bowling what. Decide where they are most likely to bowl a loose ball. Establish what shots you are going to play when they ball these loose balls. Limit yourself to a couple of options – back foot and front foot. Also establish what deliveries to be watchful for.
THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU PREMEDITATE YOUR SHOTS!
It just means you simplify your thoughts regarding each bowler in an effort to speed your response and move your side towards victory! When deciding what shots to play, be mindful of the field set, the quality of individual fielders and your personal strengths and weaknesses. Mentally rehearse HOW you should play these preferred shots. Always stay positive! – Keep reminding yourself what you are doing well. Don’t just focus on what needs improving.
REHEARSE, REHEARSE, REHEARSE – DON’T PREMEDITATE!!!
Remember! The first part of ANY plan is to WATCH THE BALL AND MOVE! The more closely you watch the ball, the quicker and more instinctive your movements will be.
Also remember – keep assessing the effectiveness of your plan in the context of what is actually happening in the game. If the bowler changes his line and/or length, that will probably mean you will need to change your plan. But be disciplined and patient when assessing these changes and REMEMBER THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR DECISIONS.
You should also remember that two heads are better than one (possible why Tasmania are Pura Cup Champions!) so share your thoughts with your teammates. Make them aware of your plans. This will have many effects. Firstly, it will make them think about the game more closely. Secondly it will encourage them to formulate their own plans. Thirdly, players can start to develop complimentary plans, which should increase the pressure on opposition bowlers and fielders. Fourthly, they can give you advice about their assessment of the situation and the appropriateness of your plan, and provide alternative approaches thus making your plans better. In short – planning becomes a team exercise! And finally, it is easier to commit to a plan once you have stated your intentions! The plan becomes real – not just something in your head.
One last word – planning becomes easier when we have many options available to us. So keep developing new strengths and eliminating your weaknesses through hard, disciplined and thoughtful training.