New year, new you? Or more playing around a straight one and getting sad? Adam Hopkins makes a few promises for the season ahead.
MASTER THE NURDLE
If the ball is straight you have no answers. Sure, you have your expansive cover-drive, your flashing cut shot and the agricultural swipe through wide mid-on; but if it’s at your body it’s going nowhere. What you’d give to be able to clip it off your hip or drop it into the off-side. Rotating the strike is as foreign to you as the South Korean pop music scene and, to be fair, you probably know more about that since your impressive rendition of Gangnam Style at your club’s last karaoke night. However, this year, after some ‘nurdlable’ throw-downs in winter nets you’ll be picking up more singles than Shane Warne.
BAT ON TWO
You’ve been marking middle-stump as your guard for the past 15 years and when you think about it, you have no idea why. Whenever a batsman comes in and asks for “two” or “two legs” you automatically assume he can play. Sure, he may be batting at No.9 in the 3rd XI but he has your respect and attention without even having faced a ball. You’ve heard that batting on middle-and-leg opens up the off-side. You’re good at that bit, the off-side, you tell yourself: that’s exactly what you need. You mark up, you feel good – you feel open. Yeah, this feels good, you’re bound to score a ton this year.
MAKE ‘EM LAUGH
There are some genuinely funny blokes in your team who never miss a beat. They have everyone on the field in stitches and have even been known to make the odd umpire crack up. Yes, you’ve had your moments. Who can forget “Strap your seatbelts on, boys, he can’t drive!” However, this was in the under 13s back in 2001. You need to move on and write some new material.
STOP WEARING YOUR OLD COUNTY GEAR
Everyone knows you played a couple of games for the Nottinghamshire under 15 B team. You still remember every ball of your 28 not out against Lincolnshire, especially that one that wasn’t even that short. But that was eight years ago and you need to stop trying to squeeze into your old training top and should really consider throwing away that jumper. Not to mention that when you wear the shorts you look like a 1970s footballer…
LEARN THE BACK-OF-THE-HAND SLOWER BALL
James Faulkner bowls them in the Big Bash, so it can’t be that difficult, right? You had to discard your incredibly poorly disguised off-cutter after that South African overseas hit it into a different postcode during last season’s cup semi-final – the one game that your Bev, your now ex-girlfriend, came to watch. You need something harder to pick. Sure, it’ll go wrong and you’ll go the distance on a couple of occasions but when you get it right you’ll be on top of the world. Who’s laughing now, Bev?