Scolls & ex international turned cricket commentator Mel Jones
“Most people would say I was see ball hit ball kind of person and then I went through a bit of a bad patch and that’s when I actually started thinking more about the game rather than just doing more about the game. You know there’s one thing to be able to hit a thousand cover drives in the nets, but, you don’t get a thousand balls in that area to hit in a game. So I’m practicing something that I get probably, one or two chances in a game to do, but outside of that, what else am I doing? And how am I getting myself ready for all those other deliveries?”
Welcome to this special episode of The Process of Success. One of the reasons I say it’s special is because of our guest, Melanie Jones who I’ll go more into in just a second.
The second reason this episode is special is because we were recording it in India. The Karnataka Institute of Cricket in Bangalore is a strange place for two Aussies to record a podcast but there’s no better setting to discuss the journey of one of Australian crickets true stars.
Mel and I were in Bangalore for different reasons – I was running a Cricket Mentoring Tour for young cricketers from Australia and the UK to experience India and train and play in sub continent conditions, while Mel was there to commentate on an IPL match a couple of nights after our chat but I didn’t want to miss to opportunity to hear the story of this legend…
Melanie or Mel Jones is a former Australian cricketer who, in recent years has turned herself into one of the best cricket commentators going around as she travels the world commentating on the major tournaments including the Big Bash, IPL and will soon be in the UK commentating on the World Cup.
Mel was an elite player. She played 5 Test matches and 61 One Day Internationals and is a member of the prestigious club of cricketers who have scored a century on Test debut – with 131 against England in the 1998 Ashes series.
Having played all her representative cricket when women’s cricket wasn’t professional, Mel has been a huge advocate for the women’s game and is incredibly happy to see the best cricketers in Australia and around the world become professionals in recent years.
Since retiring, Mel has done various things but in recent years has built her reputation in commentary boxes around the world. She not only brings a great deal of experience from playing at the highest level to the commentary box, but through her hard work and love of the game she also brings a real depth of knowledge about each and every player.
It was awesome to sit down with Mel and hear how a girl from the country has forged a very successful life in cricket both on and off the field.
In this episode we discussed:
How she began playing cricket at her grandparents place with her older male cousins and how the circumstances in those games, shaped the player she was in international cricket
How Peter Handscomb & Sam Harper’s fathers played a pivotal role in her cricket career
How she was never a ‘pro’ and had to manage working bits and pieces job with playing international and domestic cricket
How she was ‘stuffing her face with a prawn cocktail’ at the back of the room when her name was first read out as being a member of the Australian squad
How she took a big leap to leave her steady career to pursue a career as a freelance cricket commentator and how it’s paying off in spades
Plus a whole lot more.
When in India anything can happen, and on cue, the power went out half way through our interview… but as all true professionals do, Mel carried on as if nothing had happened.
No doubt you will pick up our mutual love for this beautiful country throughout the conversation.
Mel is cricketing royalty and it was a pleasure to spend a morning with her at KIOC. Her energy and passion for the game is obvious which I’m sure you’ll hear it in her voice so lets get into this epsiode…
Andrew celebrating with Melbourne CC – Victorian Premier Cricket One-day Premiers 2016/17
March heralds the arrival of finals inn the Southern Hemisphere. The slog of pre-season through the damp, dark and cold months of July and August seem so distant. Form and hope that fluctuates through a season reaches a point of new aspiration. Red ball. White ball. Short form. Long form. All is now able to be culminated at the pinnacle of the season where long-lasting memories that enrich the history of a club.
Reflecting upon the season behind, revisiting plans and strategy, is useful in reaffirming the value of reward in playing finals. By now, little (if any) improvement for skill and technique can be gained from more practice sessions. More so it is the focus on being in control of and comfortable with:
Accept that failure is ok and move on
Being emotionally level
Focus on process over result
Consistent mental routine
Practice as you play
These are some of the key elements that have been the foundation of the approach taken by Cricket Mentoring in all of the content, lessons, podcasts, blog posts and direct engagement with our audience. The finals provide that wonderful occasion to put it all into practice.
The depth of communication that we have with the Cricket Mentoring audience keeps us grounded in recognising the different methods which have a positive impact on the performance. Regular feedback we receive direct from players that have followed the 5-day challenge or player roadmaps is evidence of this.
For the purpose of sharing from experience, here we present and reflect upon a recent case study in 2017 with Melbourne Cricket Club.
The First XI had gone through a year of considerable restructure in leadership, personnel, game plan and preparation. A new captain, some senior players and a youthful group (more in the 17 to 19 year age bracket) had a mixed season, very good form in white ball matches that resulted in winning the One Day Final, yet the last three matches of the season were all losses or draws heading into the finals. We couldn’t bowl teams out, were unable to defend a score, had lost the ability to build meaningful partnerships with the bat.
A top-level position was eroded to just scraping in. The advantages of home ground and needing only to draw to advance were not achieved. The only way ahead was to find a way to win. To complete the picture, the ongoing success of the Victorian team meant that first class players in Tremain, White, Gotch and Harper were unavailable with Pucovski still recovering from concussion.
During the last round, the coaching staff openly reviewed the position with the players, focused on the things that we were good at with confidence and control. A few minor changes to player roles were considered and activated. Agreement was made on the way we would play. Our intent to be bold and committed that we were going all the way (even though we had just made it).
We then documented this is into a short handbook with an individual copy for each player who was able to possibly play in the finals to use as needed. We created for the Demons – The Plan To Win The Championship
At the start of the season, when the club plan, strategy and values were presented to players, management and support staff there was a direct focus upon a specific theme. This had been borrowed from Ric Charlesworth, one of the greatest ever coaches and strategists in Australian Sport:
“What might seem impossible but would make a big difference if we did it?”
Now before a season starts, this question opens the mind to dreaming about club championships, premierships, massive partnerships, great performances and plenty more. Unencumbered by reality, the mind openly wanders and good thoughts around success easily enter.
Now being at the pointy end of the season, this question was revisited and allowed the boldness to be more easily accepted. The question had been asked once. We now had a different context where it applied. Nobody was expecting us to do much. Our focus internally had been refined and sharpened. We were together as Demons with a plan.
To set the right tone, a simple message of congratulations opened the document.
Then a reminder of the Philosophy and Strategy that we had followed together:
Philosophy = To create and continually develop a trusted learning environment where our players at MCC can become better in their performance and as people to the club and each other.
Strategy = Think Correctly, Plan, Do
The Philosophy and Strategy were supported by the Pillars of Preparation:
And Actions aligned to the Strategy (as noted below).
The Team Plan had been refined to suit the position that now faced us ahead in the finals series that contained a focus on roles where each player, every Demon, was able to contribute in some way and create a greater sense of togetherness as a team.
Rounding it all off was the foundation of the Team Plan that had been followed all season:
Walk off intact
Take the 10
The unbeatable equation that delivers victory.
Shifting then to a more personal focus, a continuation upon the Player Roadmap exercise that many had completed and followed during the season, was an invitation to record any meaningful aspect that was present when the player was going well and feeling good. This can then be used as either personal affirmation or to reinforce in discussion with the coaching staff to assist focus.
With the plan as a team and individual in order, belief to play with a winning mindset was established.
As a lower ranked team, the only choice and path available was to bowl teams out, take the ten!
The Demons embraced a Bowling Plan that every player understood, believed in and committed to.
The balance of the team provided an opportunity to attack with the new ball, find the right balance of aggression and control. Get ourselves into the contest and have clear communication with bowling partner and captain.
Once the ball condition deteriorated, the plan was around creating maximum wicket taking opportunities and applying tactical pressure with the keeper and fielders in support. Remove defensive reliance upon a fine leg, keep fielders in the eyeline of the batsman. Subtle in creating the feeling of restriction.
The outcome was the majority of wickets were taken of the top order bats being dismissed bowled, leg before or nicking behind. A momentum was created that surged through the bowlers and fielders keeping the energy and intent levels high. The Demons were hunting. The batting team core had crumbled.
The last page in the book was for any notes to be captured around the games, with our path to play in the Grand Final openly stated. These are a copy of the performance moments that directly related back to where our plans had been well executed. Moments where having things in order provide the outcome. Moments where the Demons took control of the match momentum with skill and emotion.
These formed the key points for the coaches to apply in reviews with the players during breaks, post-match and at practice.
However, with hurtful honesty, we were unable to sustain the flow of good play all the way to win the Grand Final. Fitzroy Doncaster, an admirable and deeply respected opponent, batted first and scored 309 after being 5/286 in 110 overs. A score that we felt was well within our capability, the suspected winning range being 340.
The Demons found it hard to get ahead of the game, losing a wicket at a challenging time and finished short at 266, the match going deep into the third day with Matthew Brown making a majestic 134 not out.
It had been many years since a Grand Final had been in the balance beyond the first day. A testament to all players involved with so many finding it within themselves an ability and spirit to rise to the occasion.
If we are able to help yourself or club further, or if you would like a copy of the blank template of “The Plan To Win The Championship” please feel free to send us an email to either:
Enjoy March, embrace the opportunity, hold the moment and enrich your history.
About the writer: Andrew Walton has a unique depth of experience from a coaching career that has involvements across the spectrum of cricket in Australia, India and England.
Currently in the Cricket Australia Level 3 HP Program, Andrew has been the Head Coach in Premier Cricket Men’s clubs Melbourne (3), Prahran (4), Fitzroy Doncaster (2) and Hawthorn Monash University (2), and a season of Premier Cricket Women’s with Plenty Valley. International experience has been gained from regular visits (6) to the Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC) in Bangalore and involvement at Middlesex County Cricket Club as a guest coach in 2014. In 2018, Andrew was appointed by Cricket Victoria as Head Coach of the Blind Cricket team for the NCIC and has since been appointed by Cricket Australia as the Assistant Coach of the National Blind Cricket team.
We are excited to announce that Cricket Mentoring has partnered with Kent Street Senior High School for 2019. Kent Street runs one of the leading cricket programs in WA, and Cricket Mentoring will be helping to further this program through coaching and mentoring students in all areas of the game, including batting, bowling, fielding, fitness and mindset. Students in the program will also gain access to the CM digital academy, which contains hours of video tutorials, where they can continue to enhance their learning anytime, anywhere.
Established in 1988, the Kent Street cricket program has produced 3 Australian Test cricketers in Marcus North, Luke Ronchi and Marcus Harris, as well as many other first class and first grade players. Students at Kent Street are fortunate to have cricket as part of their high school curriculum, with the program also providing them with the opportunity to travel overseas, in which they can experience different cricket conditions and further develop their skills.
Mentor Blake Reed was a student at Kent Street and speaks very highly of what the program has to offer.
“My time in the Kent Street cricket program was amazing. Highlights include travelling around the UK for a month, as well as playing in (and winning!) the Five Highs Cricket Carnival against other public schools around Australia, all while spending time with my best mates. Having the opportunity to practice my cricket skills and learn more about the game during the school day really helped fast track me as a player. I’m now looking forward to going back to Kent Street as a coach, to help develop the next generation of cricketers.”
Blake Reed and the Kent Street team winning the ‘5 Highs’ tournament in Melbourne in 2010
Blake Reed batting for Melville CC against University of Queensland CC
Our mentor Blake Reed has recently returned from Adelaide where he had a successful National Premier T20 Competition with Melville CC.
Along with Melville, the tournament featured the two finalists from from the NSW (Sutherland & Sydney University) and Victorian (Dandenong and Carlton) competitions as well as the winners from Queensland (University of Queensland), ACT (Tuggeranong Valley), South Australia (East Torrens), Darwin (City Cyclones) & Tasmania (North Hobart).
The draw was done randomly on the evening before day one with Melville drawn against the City Cyclones & Tuggeranong Valley on day one.
Reedy, who was a big part of Melville CC’s winning campaign in the WACA Premier T20 competition, opened the batting for Melville in all three of their matches in Adelaide and was instrumental in their success with scores of 58 off 41 and 15 off 20. Melville comfortably won both of their games to finish on top of the table at the end of the two ’rounds’. This meant they had a semi-final against the University of Queensland (who were fourth after the rounds) with a winner to play in the final. Unfortunately for Reedy and the Melville boys, they went down to UQ by 4 wickets with one ball to spare.
Reedy helped get Melville off to a flyer as they raced to 0/58 before he was caught on the boundary for 17 off 22.
Blake Reed batting for Melville CC in the nets at Adelaide Oval
Scolls & Author/ cricket historian & journalist Gideon Haigh
“I think the other thing we haven’t done particularly well in coaching in Australia is we haven’t taught players how to learn. We’re very obsessed with teaching but we’re not so cognisant of learning. How is a player meant to approach the profusion of coaching advice that they nowadays receive? Because a young elite player will go through multiple multiple hands in the course of their career, even over the course of a season. What messages are they meant to take on? What messages are they simply meant to consider? what messages should they feel free to reject?”
Welcome to this episode of The Process of Success. This episode is with someone who has a very interesting insight on the game of cricket.
Gideon Haigh is without a doubt one of the most intelligent humans that I’ve ever spoken to and I was fascinated listening to his insight and views on the game. As one of the chief cricket writers for The Australian newspaper, Gideon watches international and domestic matches closely and combined with his background in things outside of cricket is regarded as one of the best cricket pundits in the country.
He is also frequently talking about the game on TV and is currently giving his expert views on channel 7 during the Test series between Australia and India.
At 52 years old he is also still playing for his beloved South Yarra cricket club in the Victorian Grade Competition and therefore truly understands the game and struggles that come with it as a player.
As someone who has read and followed Gideon’s insights for a while I was very excited to chat to him and hear his views on the game.
In this episode we discussed:
How he got into playing cricket and how he’s reinvented himself throughout his career
Why he travels over an hour twice a week to play at his cricket club
Why club cricket is important to the development of players
How some young players in the Australian system are burning out due to their workload
How technology has changed the game over the past 10 years
The qualities needed to perform at the highest level
What traits the best leaders he’s seen posses
What his advice is for any youngster wanting to pursue a career as a cricket journalist
Plus a whole lot more.
This was truly a fascinating chat with someone who looks at the game differently to most others. I’m sure you’ll be enthralled, just as I was by Gideon’s articulate answers and depth of knowledge of Australian cricket.
Gideon Haigh on The Process of Success Podcast - YouTube
Tim Paine raises his bat for a half-century (photo: @icc twitter)
Tim Paine should bat at number three for Australia in the Sydney Test match as a favourable result a critical step towards recovery. The time for an exceptional and extraordinary form of leadership to begin calming the chaos has arrived. A bold statement, an unexpected tactic, a plan with a root in history between the leaders would throw an energy into the contest from action and intent. Elite honesty is already so 2018.
As our captain, who has just presided over another defeat with a team that delivered more frustrations than hope, a methodical dismantling by India has ruthlessly exposed deeper issues amongst the mindset.
An opportunity has arrived to allow a remarkable stand of defiant determination. An opportunity to demonstrate hope and inspiration, to bring along a team, the fans, unify the community and repair the damage done to the role of being captain of the Australian Test Cricket team.
The Boxing Day Test always draws an avalanche of media attention. This weight has become even heavier as “exclusive interviews” from the suspended players have been scrutinised, adding further layers of content to the multiple layers of networks across all mediums.
Combine this with the underwhelming performance of a batting top order that are still to establish enough of a platform to deliver an innings of true substance, yet alone a century, giving us 6-102 in 43 overs and then 6-157 in 50 overs at the MCG (more club cricket like than elite), the murky darkness thickens.
To pick up on the missing players element, how about if they were suffering injury or some other mishap and be unavailable. Let us rest the blame upon the circumstance and look for a solution. Paine has the ability to properly take control in the remaining match in Sydney and build hope.
The regular open display of internal emotions by Langer is to be applauded, yet could be viewed as an exposure that is profoundly draining upon himself and those he is required to lead, guide, nurture and develop in an environment where “everyone is working hard.”
The “predictable dilemmas” and failings being brutally scrutinised a voracious news cycle fuelled by the considerable media (professional and social) are at a high watermark in a singular direction. There are many larger issues to be sorted in the game ahead. The retirement and removal of management has been substantial, time will be required to put in place the strategies around an improved future balance from where the expected quality of players and performances are duly bestowed.
A perplexing aspect is that this score of 215 remains the only score by Paine of this magnitude to the current date as we conclude 2018. However, in 2010 during the tour of India, a 92 in a Mohali classic and 59 in Bengaluru suggested that something was building. A base of evidence was starting to sprout promisingly.
The shifting state of order that our team has become trapped within, unassisted by a schedule in urgent need of review to achieve a sustainable flow, needs a foundation to build some hope around. There is still time remaining this summer for reparation to occur without wholesale and disruptive change.
Of all the batsmen awarded the responsibility this home summer, the despair at the mode of dismissals has been overwhelming with most of the reasoning centred around flaws in decision making and technique.
Andrew Walton in a selection meeting with assistant coaches during a Victoria blind cricket match
In favour of Paine is that his batting fundamentals are at a high level and standard. This is comparable to those with the sorts of records and performances that have succeeded in the Test arena who we would have learnt from in his formative years.
Balance and back lift are well-weighted. The bat swing is straight, good rhythm and solid in defence. A willingness to leave the ball that is tempting to the outside edge. An adherence early to being straight “in the V” allowing movement to capture the inside edge and deflect into the leg side for singles. A natural instinct to attack the short ball with care and caution, a focus on placement rather that brute power. A solid shape after contact, devoid of the extravagant flourish or “whip” to leg that invites error. Paine watches the ball with intent, placing it into spaces of safety or scoring possibilities.
Qualities that are not far removed from a previous number three bat for Australia (who also came from Tasmania) becoming the bedrock and a cult hero for our team when success was more regular and expected after he plied his trademark determination and grit.
The raw numbers and method suggest that Paine is indeed capable of setting an example of true and unique leadership for the remainder of the summer while all else can unfold.
Since returning to the baggy green against England in Brisbane 2017, a summary of batting performances as follows with the runs, balls and minutes by innings in the match and any significant partnership or more than 50 noted:
57 / 11
102 / 27
110 / 42
25 / 14
72 / 29
103 / 37
36 / 28*
68 / 50
99 / 92
34* / 9*
84 / 27
148 / 58
62 / 7
96 / 28
161 / 40
7 / 61*
27 / 194
35 / 220
3 / 0
11 / 3
5 / 41
20 / 73
26 / 124
38 / 37
89 / 116
135 / 156
59 / 72
22 / 26
85 / 67
115 / 85
647 @ 35.9
1483 @ 62
2142 @ 97
The overall Test average of 35 during this period, as good as any of the others ahead of him in the order now, with an innings average composition of 62 balls and 97 minutes.
If we use the benchmark that batting for an hour is regarded as “being in” then Paine has achieved this in 15 innings, or 62% of those involved, not including others against England and South Africa that loomed into this zone.
There is a glimmer of consistency in what is regarded as essential for a number three.
An ability to get in, absorb balls, bat for time, to build a partnership and to bring calmness to the establishment of the innings.
Paine has proven he has the temperament of a player who values his wicket highly. Evidence established in Dubai from a classic “backs against the wall” resistance partnering Usman Khawaja that consumed 36 overs and then another 14 overs with the tail to the safety of a highly respected draw.
Is it not fair for the question to be asked that if these traits are apparent, that they are put to use at the top of the order, where his career started, to let it be released and provide a source of inspiration from actions?
How does this impact the rest of the team?
It provides a settling effect of faith in having a chance to sort things out. Bringing in another player that is apparently capable of doing a bit of everything, stretches belief a little too far.
It would allow a rightful order of sorts to be established with Khawaja starting off with Harris.
Shaun Marsh remains at number four. Finch to be positioned at number five, where he was originally selected for the Pakistan tour before Renshaw fell ill, creating fairness with role and responsibility. Head resumes at number six where he has looked in good order for the conditions here. Mitchell Marsh follows at number seven with a more balanced responsibility as an all-rounder to permit his natural ability to flow.
The batting order structure with regards to right and left hand has a separation in place, giving cause to the opposition in altering their line should the wickets fall in that order.
All well organised teams, whether it be sport or industry, allow themselves time to have planning sessions that revolve around “dark space” issues. Dark spaces can be considered as the unforeseen, the accidental, the tragic and the highly unexpected. A planning session where the mind and voices are encouraged to roam with freedom, without inhibition or snap judgement, as it may occur that action is urgently needed to establish a position of control to build upon.
Since the incident in Cape Town, the subsequent actions, reviews and departures, the haemorrhaging has been seemingly constant without respite. Apparent is that either little thought had gone into “dark space” or resources required to handle.
Yet we have newly appointed leaders in Paine and Langer, the “magic potion” may lie within reflection of a Shield match from October 2006, where both men can draw upon extensive involvement. Elite honesty should not be remiss of elite reflection, particularly when the bond between those responsible is based on true experience.
Paine has deservedly earned admiration for his leadership style and good-natured character that has been brought to the fore with a willingness to be examined. Around him there is a sense of fairness afforded to a promising career, cruelly cut short by accidental injury, with a window fast closing that has enough space for him to impact profoundly. Leaving an imprint of how Australia can rebound with a substance built upon traditional skills and new age values.
As 2019 has dawned, a fresh start in Sydney is possible without dramatic over reach. Having Tim Paine, our Australian captain, throw down the gauntlet to Virat Kohli and India with the chance to still draw the series possible, boldly stepping onto the SCG batting at number three sends a brave signal of courage, defiance and strength in leadership that would resonate across the country.
Some of the most uplifting moments in sport are where the whole is unified behind the actions of one. Here we have arrived for our leader, Timothy David Paine, who has the ultimate responsibility in the middle under the baggy green, to begin calming the chaos.
About the writer: Andrew Walton has a unique depth of experience from a coaching career that has involvements across the spectrum of cricket in Australia, India and England.
Currently in the Cricket Australia Level 3 HP Program, Andrew has been the Head Coach in Premier Cricket Men’s clubs Melbourne (3), Prahran (4), Fitzroy Doncaster (2) and Hawthorn Monash University (2), and a season of Premier Cricket Women’s with Plenty Valley.
International experience has been gained from regular visits (6) to the Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC) in Bangalore and involvement at Middlesex County Cricket Club as a guest coach in 2014. In 2018, Andrew was appointed by Cricket Victoria as Head Coach of the Blind Cricket team for the NCIC and has since been appointed by Cricket Australia as the Assistant Coach of the National Blind Cricket team.
Josh Philippe’s Instagram post – proud to be supporting Cricket Mentoring
We’re really excited to have Josh Phillipe on board as a Cricket Mentoring ambassador. Throughout the Big Bash (BBL08) while Josh plays for the Sydney Sixers, he will be supporting our brand with a Cricket Mentoring sticker on the back of his bats.
Josh broke onto the scene in stunning fashion a little over a year ago when he scored 88 in the first session of a tour match against the England Test team that featured the likes of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad. Since then he has made his First-class & List A debuts for Western Australia, Scored a Sheffield Shield Century and made his Big Bash debut for the Perth Scorchers and is currently representing the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash. He also scored a better than a run a ball 57 for the Prime Ministers XI against a South Africa side that featured Dale Steyn & Kagiso Rabada in a man of the match performance in October this year.
When asked about the partnership with Cricket Mentoring Philippe said, “I’m happy to be an ambassador for Cricket Mentoring. I have been following their content for a while and have been very impressed with the message they share. I hope other young cricketers can learn from them so that they can improve and one day achieve their dreams.”
Tom Scollay, the founder and director of Cricket Mentoring said, “At just 21 years of age, Josh is one of the brightest prospects in Australian cricket and we’re really excited to be partnered with Josh to help him on his journey.
Scolls & WA Young Gun, Josh Philippe
Listen to Josh’s story on The Process of Success Podcast…
Western Australian Batter Josh Philippe on The Process of Success Podcast - YouTube
A group of keen young cricketers at Karnataka Institute of Cricket during our visit in May 2018
As an Aussie fan and general cricket lover I was enthralled watching the first Test between Australia and India at the Adelaide Oval.
Leading into the series, it shaped up to be an intriguing and potentially close Test series. Australia, although missing their two best and most experienced batters, are playing at home which is a massive advantage. Winning away from home is one of the hardest things for any nation to do, especially for India when they come to Australia and vice versa. Up against the world’s number 1 ranked Test side, under the leadership by a man who is almost unstoppable in recent years. The Aussies are trying to rebuild and win respect both on and off the field while India will never get a better chance to beat Australia in Australia.
The first Test didn’t disappoint! The contest see-sawed in the first few days before India took control of the match. While Australia regularly had hope on a very exciting final day, India eventually won by 31 runs.
PUJARA JUST LOVES BATTING
In my opinion, the difference between the two sides was Pujara’s first innings hundred. It was an exceptional display of Test match batting with his 123 (off 246 balls) the major contribution in India’s first innings of 250. Not content with that significant innings, his appetite for runs and to bat for long periods was on show again in the second innings as he batted for another 204 balls for his 71 before finally being dismissed by a bowler for the first time in the match.
Now having played 65 Test matches, the “veteran” Pujara has now scored 16 Test centuries, 3 of which he turned into double hundreds. He has a knack of turning starts into ‘daddy hundreds’ as England’s former batting coach, Graham Gooch described them. Pujara has scored the most double centuries in first-class cricket ever by an Indian batsman (12) with two of them being triple centuries scored for his state Saurashtra in the Ranji trophy – India’s first-class competition.
Having spent time in India earlier in the year, Pujara’s innings’ in the first Test and a deeper look at his first-class career doesn’t surprise me. I got my first taste of cricket in India and how much they really love the game when I spent 10 days as a guest coach at the Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC), in Bangalore in May this year. What stood out for me during my time in there was the passion and love of the game and how many hours, the young cricketers tirelessly worked at honing their skills.
INDIA’S NEXT PUJARA?
At the conclusion of day 4 of the Test, with India in a commanding position, I received the following photo from Irfan Sait, who is the Director and Founder of KOIC.
Sweeping – although it was my downfall in my debut, it’s a good scoring option against an accurate spinner
Irfan is a proud mentor of his cricketers and regularly sends me screenshots of the boys and girls in his academy that have had success. This particular photo stood out to me for a couple of reasons. The first was that I know the boy in the photo, Shivam M B, from spending time with him during the visit. KIOC has around 1,500 students attend their summer camps, who are part of the 2,500 players that regularly attend, and while I did meet a lot of them when I was at KIOC I spent some time with 13 year old Shivam and was amazed at some of his numbers (you can view our meeting in May in this episode of my vlog – 7:36min). The second thing that stood out was that it was his 32nd century. 32 centuries at the age of 13!!
Reverse the numbers of his age (31) and you get my age and having played a fair bit of cricket myself, I reckon I’d only just have him covered for centuries in my whole life (juniors, school, junior rep, grade, league cricket etc). Imagine how many centuries he’s going to have under his belt by the time he’s 21 and pushing for state or national selection.
Now for all you “doubters and sceptics” reading this, let me note here that I can’t vouch for the standard that he’s playing all the time. He does play representative cricket and is playing above his age group so I’m sure most of the time it’s decent but regardless a 100 is a 100 and as the famous saying goes, “you’ve still got to get em”. Run scoring is a habit and when you learn how to score big runs you can do it over and over again.
The other factor that must be noted when putting Shivam’s centuries in context is the number of matches he plays. When I asked Irfan to give me some more context he couldn’t tell me the exact number of matches but he said he would play in excess of 75 matches a year. These matches are a combination of T20’s, 50 over, two and even three day matches but predominantly 50 over matches.
Let’s compare that to some of the best young players that I mentor here in Perth.
Teague (who turned 14 in April) and Douwtjie (who turned 14 in June) are both in the Western Australian Under 15 squad. They are two of the best young batters that I coach/ mentor and I’m very excited about what’s possible for them in the future. Yet between them in all levels of cricket they’ve scored 3 centuries. Both are playing Under 15s and 4th grade for their district clubs and are having good seasons.
In Under 15s, Teague has scored 273 runs in 5 innings at an average of 91 in under 15s with three half-centuries. In 4th grade he has scored two half centuries in 4 innings with a highest score of 65 not out.
In Under 15s, Douwtjie has scored 215 runs in 6 innings at an average of 35.83 with 2 half centuries. In 4th grade Douwtjie has scored 2 half-centuries in 7 innings with a highest-score of 82.
They have one more district match before the Christmas break and have both played in 8 other matches outside of district cricket (school, rep trial games etc.). They will both also play three 50 over matches before Christmas in the state Under 15 talent carnival where the squad will be selected for the national carnival in February 2019. So at roughly the halfway stage of the Australia season, Teague would have had had 20 innings and Douwtjie 23 innings. Looking at their fixtures after the Christmas break, there is another seven under 15s matches and seven 4th grade matches (not including finals). Providing they get into the state squad (let’s assume they do) they will play three scratch matches leading into the tournament then six matches at the tournament in February. Throw in another five or so school games (they said that’s the absolute max they’d play) and it totals 28 matches after Christmas. There are three finals for under 15s and three for 4th grade so presuming both those sides make it to the grand final, there’s another 6 games. Adding it all together the absolute maximum number of games they will play 57 matches. In reality they are more likely to play somewhere in the mid to high forties
This number has actually surprised me as I thought it would be less than that but about 7 or 8 of them are practice matches. They both also go to schools that have a cricket program and are in the state system so play a fair bit more cricket than most other kids in Perth. I can’t comment on what other state’s are like but assume it would be similar but either way it’s still a considerable amount less than the number of matches that Shivam plays in India.
Another reason that Douwtjie and Teague’s number of matches is high is because they are playing two matches on a Saturday (Under 15s in the morning and 4th grade in the afternoon). As they progress up the grades (I’d expect them both to be playing second grade by the end of the season) they won’t be able to play Under 15s as well, which will cut out a significant amount of their matches.
Getting back to Shivam, there’s no doubt that he is a very good young player and I’m sure there’s many other 13 year old boys and girls all around India who are doing great things like Shivam. However it wasn’t his level of skill that stood out for me. He wasn’t head and shoulders better than Teague or Douwtjie or any of the young batters I work with in Perth. What stood out for me was his work ethic and amount of practice and playing he did.
Let me paint the picture of Shivam’s work ethic a little more for you. When I was at KIOC in May, it was the summer school holidays. This meant that there were matches on almost every day. Shivam was regularly the captain of his team and his team bus would leave KIOC at around 9:00am to go to where they were playing that day. They would play a 50 over a side match and the bus would return them to KIOC around 5:30pm. Nothing too different to what a young kid in Australia would do.
What was different was what Shivam would do before and after the matches. He would get to KIOC a few hours before the bus was due to depart and begin practicing with his mates. It was never too structured but always competitive. After a couple of hours in the nets he’d go off with his team for the match. Once the match was finished and the bus had returned to KIOC, regardless whether he’d scored runs or missed out, Shivam would do the 7:00-9:30pm training session under lights that was for KIOC’s better cricketers.
I’m not suggesting this is what everyone needs to do. In fact it’s probably not healthy for most people. But Shivam knows no other way and is happy when he’s got a bat in his hands and when I see Pujara’s two innings in Adelaide and his level of concentration, I have a better understanding of how he’s able to do it.
Although it was a close first Test, the current gap between India and Australia is sizeable. India are ranked 1st in Tests, 2nd in ODI’s & 2nd in T20I’s while Australia are ranked 5th in Tests, 6th in ODI’s & 4th in T20I’s. According to my good mate, Chris ‘Buck’ Rogers the gap is even bigger at Under 19 level. Buck was coach of the Australian team at the Under 19 World Cup in New Zealand in January this year, which the Indian team won. He was so impressed by them and told me afterwards that they were miles ahead of everyone else. Buck made a point of telling me how further advanced both the Indian boys understanding of the game and level of skill was ahead of Aussie boys and every other country.
India has a population of 1.34 billion people (according to Google) compared to Australia’s 24.6 million, hence giving them many, many more people to choose from. However, the competition is much more fierce and conditions often nowhere near as good for many of them. It takes a desire and level of commitment like nowhere else to make it to the top.
Again, after spending my short period of time in India and having lived between Australia and the UK my whole life I’m not surprised by this at all…
THE MIDDLE IS THE BEST PLACE TO LEARN
Any good cricketer or coach will tell you that the best place to learn is out in the middle. Scoring big runs is an art form. There are so many elements that you have to get right to consistently score big runs. Firstly you have to get through the start of your innings. Then you have to know how to build an innings. You have to know when to attack and when to defend. You have to be able to handle pace and spin. You have to be able to switch on and switch off. And that’s just a few of the things needed to score big runs. As I mentioned previously, run scoring is a habit and scoring big runs is a habit that young Indian batters are learning at a young age and becoming very good at as they progress through the ranks.
I would encourage any young aspiring cricketer reading this, no matter where in the world you live, to play as much cricket as you can. Challenge yourself in as many conditions and circumstances as possible. The other positive of playing all the time is that you don’t put as much emphasis on one particular innings which means you don’t put yourself under as much pressure to succeed every time you walk to the crease. This allows you to play with more freedom which, combined with the experience you gain from playing regularly, is where your success lies.
While Australia and other countries are struggling to find long term successful Test batsman, I have no doubt that India will continue to do so for a long time yet! Maybe Shivam M B will be one of them one day and do it on Australian soil just as Pujara has done.
Tom Scollay batting for Middlesex
About the writer: I founded Cricket Mentoring in August 2016 with the goal of helping cricketers all over the world become the best they can be – on and off the field. As a former professional cricketer with Middlesex CCC (2010-2012) I’ve played with and against some of the world’s best players and worked with some elite coaches. I’m a Cricket Australia Level 2 coach and through my own personal experiences, practice and a hunger to always learn, I’ve developed and continue to refine my principles and philosophies on the great game. I believe there’s 6 pillars to peak performance (Technical, Tactical, Mental, Emotional, Physical, Lifestyle) and most athletes only focus on one or a few things. All of our content (articles, videos, podcast) covers the 6 pillars and has been created to assist cricketers understand what it takes to achieve great things in the game.
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Do you want an insight into the life of a player/ coach/ someone plugging away to get better every day? Check out my Vlog (Video Blog) where I take you behind the scenes of Cricket Mentoring and my life. See me train, play & coach plus a whole lot more… It is raw and real as I aim to help you with your own game in a fun and interesting way. [Bonus: Get access to the insights of International players]
“I think the biggest thing for me is to play like I don’t care. Obviously I really care but I like to play with that approach because it takes away all the nervousness and you do all the work during the week so you should be able to go out there and relax and enjoy it.”
Welcome to this episode of The Process of Success with WA batsman, Josh Phillipe.
Josh broke onto the scene in stunning fashion a little over a year ago when he scored 88 in the first session of a tour match against the England Test team that featured the likes of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad. Since then he has made his First-class & List A debuts for Western Australia, Scored a Sheffield Shield Century and made his Big Bash debut for the Perth Scorchers and last week it was announced that he is joining the Sydney Sixers for this year’s Big Bash.
Josh also scored a better than a run a ball 57 for the Prime Ministers XI against a South Africa side that featured Dale Steyn & Kagiso Rabada in a man of the match performance in October this year.
At just 21 years of age, Josh is one of the brightest prospects in Australian cricket and has recently come on board as a Cricket Mentoring ambassador which we’re really excited to be partnered with Josh to help him on his journey.
In this episode we discussed:
How he got into cricket after both his mum and dad represented WA
How he was selected as a wicket-keeping more than a batter in his junior and when his batting took over from his keeping
How having a season in England helped him not only become the batter he is today but also find his love for the game again
How he batted number 9 in a WA trial match and was spewing when Mitch Marsh and Marcus Stoinis got a second hit ahead of him
How he wishes England had bowled their overs a bit quicker in the tour match so he could have scored a 100
How he spent the winter in Brisbane at the National Performance Centre working with former Aussie opener Chris Rogers
How being told a week before the first Big Bash game that he was playing hindered his performance
Plus a whole lot more.
We have no doubt Josh Phillippe will become a household name around the world in the future and are excited to bring you his journey thus far in today’s episode.
Western Australian Batter Josh Philippe on The Process of Success Podcast - YouTube
Scolls & The Founder Of ‘Opening Up Cricket’, Mark Boyns
“It’s not weak to speak if you’ve got a problem or if there is something that’s bothering you but also, the best people in sport communicate well so we are trying to tap into that and say that it’s good to talk on a number of different levels.”
Mark started Opening Up in 2014 after his cricket club was hit with tragedy with the passing of his good mate, Alex, who took his own life.
Since then, Mark has been on a campaign to raise awareness for mental health issues and suicide prevention and travels around the world teaching people how every single person can improve their ‘mental fitness’, which is something that aligns with our message as coaches and mentors to our athletes.
As the name suggests, Mark and his now team of speakers, travel around the UK and more recently Australia and New Zealand encouraging and supporting cricketers to Open Up and talk to someone if they are struggling with their mental health.
Opening Up has won the support of many of England’s best cricketers who love the message it shares.
In this episode we discussed:
How the best teams and people in sport communicate well and why it’s important to do that on a number of levels
How mental health exists on a continuum with good mental health on one end and bad mental health on the other
What people can do to improve their mental conditioning to improve their performance
How to notice a decline of your own mental health or someone else around you
How to be a good listener to someone who has confided in you
How Mark suffered his own mental health issues and how he’s worked to overcome them
What gratitude is and how you can practice it and how it rewires your brain to look for the positive in things…
Plus a whole lot more.
This is a different chat to many of the others we’ve published previously but there are so many great things that you can learn from it and implement into your life and help with others around you.
Mark is a very clever guy who is changing peoples lives around the world so I’m thrilled to have sat down with him and heard more about his story.
'Opening Up Cricket' Mark Boyns on Mental Health & Suicide Prevention on The Process of Success - YouTube