Cricket requires a variety of skills that are commonly used in a number of sports. Hand-eye coordination, throwing or catching a ball, balance and intense, long-term concentration are just a few. Through consistent practice and by applying these skills to the elements of cricket, such as a batsman watching the ball at all times, you will see a dramatic improvement in your game.
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Bob Woolmer, former head coach of the South African cricket team, wrote in "The Art and Science of Cricket," that batting has five basic principles: "Watch the ball, keep your head still on release of the ball, judge length accurately, allow your hands to lead your body and feet into the correct position and select the correct shot."
Your grip on the bat should feel natural, using the same tension as when you pick the bat up from the ground. Try to relax at the crease since tension will restrict your movement and have a negative impact on your technique. Lift the bat up as the bowler approaches, keep your head still, focus on the ball and commit fully to the shot you select.
Whether you're a fast bowler, medium-paced bowler who swings the ball in the air or spin bowler who gets the ball to move dramatically off the pitch, bowling has a foundation of skills that each player must learn. Woolmer wrote that by focusing on "momentum, balance and timing" within the context of the run-up, the set-up, the unfold, the delivery and the follow through, bowlers will become consistent and accurate and will be able to take wickets.
Bowlers should start off slowly and gain speed and momentum as the run-up progresses into the set-up. Point your left arm -- if you're a right-handed bowler -- in the direction you want the ball to land. As your action begins to unfold, your bowling arm will begin a 360-degree rotation. Fix your eyes on the target and place your left foot on the popping crease to begin the delivery. Your momentum will naturally bring your arm through to release the ball. Always complete your follow by continuing until you naturally come to a stop. Do not stop quickly or you'll increase the risk of injury.
Catching requires five basic skills: Excellent reflexes to get the ball, good hand-eye coordination, anticipation and alertness to react to the ball quickly, and a still head to keep the technique together.
As the ball comes toward you, try to use two hands, keep still and keep your eye on the ball. Point your fingers away from your body to create a large surface area by spreading your fingers wide. When the ball enters your hands, try to cushion the ball by moving your hands back toward you. This "give," as Woolmer calls it, will reduce the chances of the ball bouncing back out of your hands.
Other Fielding Skills
Picking the ball up quickly and efficiently and throwing the ball at the wickets are the other skills required to be a good fielder.
A quick pickup requires short steps as you approach the ball. Bend your knees, place your strongest foot alongside the ball and pick it up with one hand.
Woolmer explains that "the ideal throw is the one used in baseball," where you draw the ball back over the shoulder "so it faces backward" before unwinding the arm and throwing it straight over the shoulder at the target.