Cricket as a sport, like any sport I’d guess, creates talking points- every failure or success or every controversial decision leads to us all sat around talking Cricket- and this is one of the many reasons we love it. Whether it be batting technique, coaching approaches or the structure of the world wide game we're we all a bit dramatic these days, maybe it’s the age of social media with instant judgement on everything that goes on.
Recently we’ve seen the bemoaning of Jonny Bairstow not being up to test Cricket after his 1st test performance against New Zealand… You've probably forgotten this given that just a few weeks later Jonny is now being hailed a hero of the modern game (and quite rightly so I should add!) We’ve had Michael Vaughan calling for 4-day test matches after a few 3-day finishes and lately Kevin Pietersen wanting the historic county championship to be franchised because England didn’t win one test series against the West Indies- we all love talking about Cricket but are these constant knee jerk reactions harmful to the development of the game? The invent of the Hundred tournament could be an example of this, and while some find it entertaining and the promo around it is great (aside for the childhood obesity inducing promo that is), as a sport you have to question if we're trying to solve a problem that didn't exist! If it was about a new audience then I'm scared to do the maths on how many school taster sessions and club cricket roadshows could have been delivered with the Hundred's budget- I digress - but it's an example of where this sort of dramatic over reacting leads.
Every failure the England team has there is a public inquest, during the early 2000s era where we were slow in white ball cricket and it seemed behind the rest of the world, the cry from the stands and the clickbait journalists was “we need to play with freedom, we’re scared of getting out! coaching is too old fashioned” So as an aspiring coach you’d follow the fashion… pretty soon after that in 2012 England had a dismal test series over in the UAE losing 3-0 to Pakistan- the inevitable inquest followed and now the problem is “we’re not coaching technique- the players are playing with too much freedom let’s get Sir Geoffrey in as coach!” So now as an aspiring coach in the game you could become quite confused!
And here we are again, after England’s disappointing performance over in the Caribbean last winter the same culprits were calling for heads and even complete restructure of the county system! And yes changes have been made at the helm with Ben Stokes and Brendan McCullum taking over as captain and coach respectively- but the actual team has been pretty similar during this recent and quite transformative series against New Zealand. Maybe after all that crazy talk it was as simple as a needing to play with a bit of freedom and the new guys have enabled that, maybe the team have benefitted from being at home after a tough few years as a pro cricketers with all the covid bubbles and tours etc... maybe the county system does work after all- sure it could be better with some developments being made rather than a complete re structure with no real evidence that this new way would actually work at all!
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Experience teaches you not to follow every fashion, learn from them maybe, but let’s get a formula that works and stick to it, occasionally tinkering, developing things and moving with the times, but please not drastic overhauling after an inevitable and usually quite temporary lull in form. This goes for the county structures feeding the national team, and for county age group pathways that are constantly being messed with and it also applies to your own technique- think about going back to basics and to what has worked for you in the past rather than copying the latest strangest trigger movement you’ve seen on TV in the IPL!
What do you think?