England coach Peter Moores has promised to review England’s death bowling, after they conceded a massive 105 runs in the final ten overs of Australia’s innings in Melbourne last week. England bowled to plans in allowing the Aussies to build an unreachable total. And plans are very much a part of contemporary cricket strategizing.
But the down-side of plans, is that it means that experienced cricketers simply follow pre-set orders. We have a plan. We follow it. There appears to be little room in the modern game for players to simply work things out for themselves.
Smart experienced players don’t need a lot of information to work out opponents. Bowlers can normally detect batsmen’s strengths and weaknesses in an over or less. And the major cricketing nations play against each other so often, there are very few surprises out there.
Why not jettison plans all together? Give players licence to work out and solve problems for themselves. Bowlers can set their own fields and bowl what they think is the right line and pace for any batsman. Batters given freedom to attack whichever bowler they choose, with no conseqeunces for getting it wrong. Only learning and wisdom.
That way you will have a group of players who take individual ownership for their outcomes. Their cricketing intelligence will be exercised and their game reading ability will allow them to make in the moment instinctive decisions. As the game should be played.
Video analysis has meant that coaches want to leave no stone un-turned in their preparations. Which is fine. But not if it leads to scenarios witnessed at Melbourne whereby England bowlers simply bowled to Australian batsmen’s strengths. If the plan isn’t working, there appears to be no allowance to abandon it!
It will take a daring coach to give unconditional trust to their players. But to win a World Cup requires fresh bold thinking. It means giving players a licence to play without fear; trusting in their game reading skills; taking responsibility for their outcomes. A team of automatons who simply follow orders have no chance of holding their nerve under-pressure in the big matches. As England demonstrated so successfully in Melbourne!