Going from strength to strength
Just as the Club itself has consolidated and grown, the past year was been a real turning point in terms of coaching and the development of the players with in the Club.
With a number of parents participating in coaching courses and an influx of new and keen parents we were able to make giant strides in terms of commitment from parents to get involved with the coaching which has made a huge difference to the standard of our players and the enjoyment they have playing the game. As the coaching has be- come more consistent and structured so have the skills and abilities of the boys.
One of the biggest challenges we faced was to find appropriate facilities to train and play on. The move to Rankhof was a very good first step. With enough space for all the players to train in the one area on a surface that was safe and forgiving provided the opportunity to begin to put some structure around the training ses- sions. Also being able to set up makeshift nets was very helpful in getting the boys to practice their batting and bowling in a more realistic cricket setting.
The move to the ISB in the colder months did provide a useful and cost-effective solution which was particularly important at the stage the Club was at. But moving to the ISB and encouraging ISB families to participate meant an increase in players which pushed the facilities to the limit. Having to train the boys on alternate weeks was workable but far from optimal, particularly in terms of preparing for matches against other clubs. Following the intake of many new players from the ISB the numbers of younger players swelled requiring some creative thinking to cater for the broad range of abilities. It was decided to split the indoor training sessions into separate U9’s and U11’s. The U9’s training sessions consisted of up to a dozen players who were the least experienced of the total group. They were mostly 8 or under, but included a couple of boys who had already played for the U11’s and a couple of older players who were just starting up.
Having a more homogeneous group allowed the coaches to focus on the basics: bowling with a straight arm, batting and throwing and catching. Huge progress was made with the bowling as nearly everyone has moved on from throwing and we have some good batsmen in the making. However the fielding and running between wickets is slow to progress and this is certainly an area that can only improve with practice and match situa- tions and something that we will need to continue to focus on.
The highlight for the U9’s was their first match against a far more experienced Zurich Crickets team.
So although we were outplayed, most of our players stepped up to the pressure of a match and performed well with either the bat and or ball and the gelling and team spirit of our group of 8 and 9 year olds into a team so quickly was quite inspiring.
At an Under 11 and Under 13 level the value of training became very clear to both coaches and players. While many of the younger and new players still had to be taught the very basic fundamentals some of the bet- ter and older ones need to be coached in some more technical aspects. We were able to meet this challenge to some degree as the coaches course in 2010 provided structure and confidence in running sessions.
Both age groups had players ranging in abilities but throughout the year players did make big improvements in fielding technique, bowling and running between wickets as demonstrated in matches played.
While most of the players have a good foundation of the basic skills, we need to further hone in on and focus on individual skills. We need to find ways to further develop and consolidate batting technique and there are a number of players that do have different talents namely spin bowling and wicket keeping and we need to find ways of developing skills in these areas. During the course of the year the structure and content of training sessions continued to improve and this was reflected in the level of enjoyment for both players and coaches. The coaching sessions worked particularly well when split between drills and actual game like situations.
The Under 15 group probably proved the most challenging in terms of providing the most appropriate coaching and highlighted our deficiency in being able to give the necessary technical coaching. There are some very talented players in this group – reflected in the fact that four players were involved with the Swiss team in vari- ous overseas tours – and it is vital that we look to address the needs of these players moving forward
Also the fact that the number of players in this group is very small it is difficult to pull together a team and give them match practice against other clubs. And while the training at ISB did attract some new players in this age bracket no new permanent Under 15 players resulted
It has proven very beneficial for some of our Under 15 players to travel to Zurich on Saturday mornings to train as this has not only given them a chance to train regularly but has also been helpful in keeping them enthused. To help bolster the Under 15 ranks we will need to focus and develop those older Under 13 players who will be U15s next year.
Overall, moving forward, finding the most suitable facilities to cater for the number and range of ability of the players and providing consistent and more technical coaching for the older boys will be our biggest hurdle.
As well as the week-to-week coaching we need to be playing more matches and need to be committed to this. We have been able to build good relationships with coaches from other clubs and need to work with them to co-ordinate regular games outside of organised tournaments.
Overseas club tours are a good aspiration but we are not there yet. A first step towards that would be to bring in more qualified coaches and conduct weekend camps for our players here in Basel. This would provide more intense training and experience which would better prepare them for tournaments within Switzerland and lay the ground work for possible tours overseas.
But as a Club that is only a year old we can be very proud of the progress we have made. The improvement in the children is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of many people and I would like to thank everyone one who has been involved.
We must always remember that as well as teaching the players the obvious skills of cricket – batting, bowling and fielding – we need to also focus on promoting good sportsmanship and a love of the game that they can enjoy whether they win or lose and that they can carry into later life as they play at a more senior level.
Pete Bayliss (Coaching coordinator) and Coaches James Harper and Nick Creba-Wright