Coaches Blog - 3rd Edition

Five top domestic coaches will bring you regular updates throughout the year. 

Mike Hesson

Coach - Otago Volts

At the half way stage of the One-Day competition we ended up being too far behind having won only one of our first five games before the HRV Cup. However we finished with two strong wins to show what we were capable of but overall a disappointing campaign. Having played in the previous three finals not making the play offs this season was certainly a reflection of how we started the campaign and we will need to switch on quicker to the change in format for next season.
We did have some good performances however during the competition with Neil Broom being a standout with the bat. Having been promoted to number three this season Neil certainly grabbed his opportunity and forced his way back into the BLACKCAPS through a volume of runs. It’s good to have Nathan McCullum in the side who adds intensity in the field along with his strength with both the bat and ball. Shaun Haig also finished strong and has shown he has moved forward in his career. Nick Beard gained valuable experience and improved throughout the campaign.
Our focus now turns to the Plunket Shield. Having won the last two games before the break and almost won a third we had momentum prior to the break. With only one win between the top three teams every game is vitally important.
Our batting line up for the four-day format is very strong with three of our top four batsman having played for the BLACKCAPS and that gives us a lot of confidence. With our bowling, we have eight bowlers vying for only four spots, so selection was tough but we are pleased with the balance we have in our side.
The four-day game takes a lot of patience and it is based around creating sustained pressure. In the shorter forms you might wait just three balls for something to happen. In the four-day game you could be waiting overs and sometimes spells before you are able to build up the pressure.

Coach’s Tip – Fielding

From a fielding point of view it can be long period of time between balls coming to you at times however, you need to assume every ball is coming to you and every fielder needs to have that attitude so when the ball does go in their direction there is no surprise.  Anticipation is the key to any good fielder.

Bob Carter

Coach - Canterbury Wizards

Coming into the last three rounds of the One-Day competition we were well placed and we fought hard to make it to the semi finals, however we were trumped by the Stags in the last rounds and the likes of Mathew Sinclair took the game away from us. There were some good lessons to be learnt from the One-Day competition and we can close a number of times.

The Plunket Shield is now our number one priority, and last week we were involved with a record-breaking game with the Northern Knight with over 1200 runs scored. We had some excellent performances from the likes of Dean Brownlee who scored his debut century; Shanan Stewart scored his highest first class score and Rob Nicol made his maiden first class century for Canterbury. Lots of good things came out of that game for us, however a lot of credit has to go to the Knights batsman for chasing down the runs.

Coming into the last five rounds of the Plunket Shield we were one win away from the Knights who led the table and leading into the second round it is important we can get a positive result.

Coach’s tip – rest and recovery

The message I’m trying to get through to my players at the moment is mixing the right amount of practice with the right amount of rest and recovery.  At this time of the season it’s easy to pick up an injury, whether that’s a hamstring, calf or groin strain. You have to make sure you have done your work and making sure you have your rest and recovery, from doing hot and colds to making sure you get the right food inside of you.

Grant Bradburn

Coach - Northern Knights

I’m really proud of the whole Knights squad and staff. To win the One-Day competition in consecutive years so convincingly was really satisfying. We were all well aware that we needed to go and win the final rather than defend a title we won last season. We saved our best performances till when it counted; in finals week and that's all we can ask as coaches.
We didn’t play very well on the same Colin Maiden Park pitch the week before the final against the Aces, but we put that behind us when we went up to Whangarei for the semi final. Perhaps we were lacking the edge of desperation in the first major final and after the worst performance of the season there were some hard conversations and we had a good look at our attitude for the last two games.

The most pleasing factor was our fielding. The Knights have simply been outstanding this season in the field. It’s no accident that the boys have fielded so well. We have trained hard and the brilliance shone brightly during the final.

We were also blown away with the amount of supporters we had at the final. It was probably equal to Auckland supporters! We’ve also loved our second home in Whangarei and the support we get there is very humbling.

We now look forward to the Plunket Shield competition, and although we currently lead there is no room for complacency. We’ve got four games left, which is still a lot of cricket, and we are desperate to go out and win games instead of sitting on a lead that’s not big enough yet.

It’s also a change of mindset. The four day game is a true battle and the guys understand it’s not three and a half hours of intense work that they are used to in the One-Dayers. Discipline is required in the four day game and the change of mindset is something we’ve talked about and made sure we flip over quickly so we can start well in the back half of this competition.

Coach’s tip - Spin bowling

This time of year we will see the spinners coming into their own. If you look back at the early rounds of the Plunket Shield the vast majority of wickets were taken by pace bowlers, we will find that figure will flip around this time of year. The wickets are drier and spin a lot more. Feb and March will be months the spinners are looking forward to.

Paul Strang

Coach - Auckland Aces

It’s not great coming second in the finals, but there are two sides to every story. We did well for making it to the final, but disappointed for not finishing it off and doing ourselves justice.

I’m very please with the good run in the One-Day competition and pleased to be in two finals this season (HRV Cup and One-Day), it’s not a bad result but it would have been nice to win at least one.

The Likes of Ravi Bopara was an excellent signing for us, however what was good was that different people were doing their bit at different times and we didn’t have to rely on just one or two people. It was a good team effort through out, and all our batsmen produced match winning performances throughout the competition then backing it up with solid bowling.

It was nice having our BLACKCAPS during the HRV Cup because they bring quality skills and background, but we pride ourselves on depth in Auckland and it was nice to go down to the second tier and find quality players. We are very lucky to have that depth.

One example is James Neesham who came into the side after representing New Zealand at the Under19 World Cup. He’s had the opportunity and played well. He’s around the sides at the moment and we are looking at him for the future. It is important to bring young players through at the right pace and don’t rush. You have to lay the foundation properly.

Our attention now moves to the Plunket Shield. We are at the bottom, and our own admission is we didn’t play good enough cricket to start with, we didn’t play to our potential. But the good thing with the four dayers is you get another bite at the cherry. Mathematically we don’t have a chance of making the finals but it gives us an opportunity to push pressure on the other teams.

Coach’s tip - batting

The message I’ve been getting across to our four day batsmen is about the basic skills and the mental shift. Batting is about good fundamentals and technique no matter what the format.

Anthony Stuart

Coach - Wellington Firebirds

Heading into the last three rounds of the One-Day campaign we were in with a chance of making the top four. However we didn’t play well enough and got beaten twice at home, and then in the final round, Canterbury paced their innings well to chase down our score of 299 in Christchurch. Unfortunately that loss meant we finished the one day campaign in last place.

Our focus now turns to the four-day competition, the Plunket Shield. There are still four games to go and we are currently 12 points behind Northern Knights. We’ve still got to play every team once and we are continuing to make sure we are focused. The guys understand their roles and now just have to execute them when required.

The wickets all around the country are playing very well and at the business end of the competition we are looking for a number of players to step up and win games for us. With the ball, we are hoping leg spinner Robbie Schaw can be one of those. He is tall, so he gets good bounce, particularly if he is looking to spin the ball hard. He could be one to watch.

With the bat Cameron Merchant could be another match winner for us. He started the Plunket Shield well early in the season; however he needs to continue to strive for spending as much time at the crease as possible and the runs will take care of themselves later in the innings. Unfortunately we may have lost Josh Brodie for the season due to a broken finger, sustained while batting in the nets recently. He will be a big loss due to his recent run of form and the cool head he provides at the top of the order.

From a Firebirds perspective, it’s also a huge positive to have Jeetan Patel back with team. Although the Black Caps remain his highest priority, he is passionate about playing for Wellington and he will do everything he can to ensure we play well when he is with us.

Coach’s tip – fast bowling

First of all, fast bowlers must WANT to bowl fast, regardless of the pitch conditions and the weather conditions. If the answer is no, then more often than not, you become a first or second change medium pacer.
Regardless, of your pace you still want to look to hit the top of off stump with the new ball. This will create doubt in the batters mind as to the type of shot he should play. Obviously the quicker the bowler, the less time the batter has to make that decision.
Keeping the seam as upright as possible will give it a greater chance of swinging and also gain some possible movement of the seam. If the wicket is flatter the margin for error becomes smaller so greater control must be kept, especially with an older ball. This is where fast bowlers must have some variation to their game such as a slower ball, a cutter, or be able to bowl around the wicket, etc…
We must encourage our young fast bowlers to run in and hit the pitch hard. It’s a tough job but it can be very rewarding.


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