It’s a warm afternoon at Hove, as Andrew Flintoff, comes out to bat, for his county Lancashire. At the other end, Stuart Law, has been offering a masterclass on how to pace a Championship innings, after the mayhem of the twenty over circus.
Twelve balls later, Andrew is back in the pavilion, after holing out to Sussex’s young spinner Ollie Rayner. It’s easy to see why, he would want to play a big shot.
When you are short of runs, it is tempting, when you possess the natural power that Andrew Flintoff has, to hit your way out of trouble. A few big shots, to get the confidence back. But, when you have been out of the game for a while, it takes time, to reconnect to your natural shot-making timing and rhythm.
Stuart Law had been at the crease for the best part of a day, before he trusted himself, to try to force the pace. Ideally, Flintoff, could have played himself in for an hour, before showing his array of shots.
But, when you are short of confidence, a batsman, can have doubts at the back of their mind. Doubts, that they may get an unplayable delivery. Doubts, that someone may pull off a world-class catch. Doubts, that they may get a bad decision, from the umpire.
In the presence of these doubts, the batman tries to blast through them, with a big shot. But, when the big shot is played from a sense of doubt, natural timing and rhythm will be awry.
The only way Andrew Flintoff, will be able to rebuild this sense of trust, is through patience. It may mean, playing to a straight bat, to balls he would normally be tempted to put out of the ground. It will mean exercising restraint and discipline for a time. Until he senses his feel for bold shot-making returning.
The best stroke play, is when the shot plays the player. Not the player, trying to play the shot. Its when the batsman is seeing the ball well. And when they can read the bowlers line and length, like a book. They find themselves with time to spare at the crease. Everything seems effortless.
Andrew Flintoff, can rediscover his batting brilliance of 2005. But he must be prepared to bide his time and not rush. The harder he tries, and the more he wants it, the longer it will take.