Tech support: Clarke’s former coach shows batsmen where to improve

One of Australia’s most successful coaches says fundamental flaws can be found in the techniques of our Test batsmen.
Nanjing Night Net

In the week that Michael Clarke was seen offering batting tips to the lbw-prone Shane Watson, the Test captain’s former personal coach, Neil D’Costa, shared his thoughts on how Australia’s struggling batsmen could achieve more consistency.

In addition to coaching Clarke for almost 20 years, D’Costa has worked extensively with Phillip Hughes and Mitchell Starc, coached in England and India, and holds development coaching roles with Sydney grade club Campbelltown Ghosts, and the Ghosts Cricket Academy.

D’Costa said there were ”non-negotiable basics” in the techniques of batsmen who scored more than 5000 Test runs, which were missing from the Australians’ games.

”Coaches, particularly in South Africa, India and England, are focusing on those basics in their junior elite programs,” D’Costa said. ”There is a more biomechanical approach and greater importance being placed on technical fundamentals, like grip, stance, kinetic flow, balance, and shot entry and exit points.”

D’Costa believes individual flaws have been ”picked apart and exploited time and time again” by opponents in recent series, and will continue to be until glaring errors are addressed.

”I don’t want to be critical of the players, who have all shown by reaching Test standard that they are very talented,” he said. ”Obviously, they’re trying their hardest. But their performance says that without some adjustments, the inconsistency will remain.”

On those he has worked with, D’Costa said Clarke had the fundamentals right but was restricted by back pain, while Hughes worked on flaws last season but some had returned to his game.

”These are all small things to do with technique that could add consistency to these batsmen’s game,” he said. ”Players like Ian Bell have worked extremely hard at the basics and the results are obvious.

”Over three years in India I saw that. At the elite junior level, they kept ensuring their players had these basics in place and, I believe, the county system is doing it well, too. I hope we start to educate our junior elite players like that so we can get back on top.”

D’Costa has analysed the batting techniques of a number of Australia’s batsmen.David Warner

‘‘Warner has what in swing mechanics is called a reverse swing. His weight is distributed as if he’s a right-handed batsman facing the wicketkeeper. The shoulder facing the bowler is high when, in fact, it should be lower at the time the ball is released. That would enable Warner to enter his shots with the correct weight shift and put his nose over the little toe on his front foot. What I see is Warner’s leaning back. That allows him to cut easily but, when he comes forward, his balance is off. Having too much weight leaning back also makes him susceptible to lbw when the ball is swinging. If you watch Kumar Sangakkara’s position when the ball is released, this will make sense.’’Shane Watson

‘‘Watson has a similar shoulder angle and alignment problem to Warner. He shifts his weight back when he sets up. Watson is a big build, so it’s worth comparing him to Kevin Pietersen or Jacques Kallis, who each get their front shoulders down and stand slightly open at release so they can lean into the ball, chin-forward. Watson’s weight is back, so he leads with his leg …  Lately, he’s been over-compensating by reaching with his bat and shifting his back hip around faster, which leads to edges.’’Usman Khawaja

‘‘Khawaja breaks rule No.1 – keep your head still. He’s tracking the ball by dropping his head. After his dismissal in the second innings of the fourth Test, Nasser Hussain asked ‘How did he miss that?’ The answer is, he dropped his head before the ball arrived and was looking at the ground instead of the ball. Until he changes that habit and is able to track the ball in and out with his head still, the rest doesn’t matter.’’Steve Smith

‘‘Smith stands too straight and is not engaging his quadriceps. If he crouched a little, he would bring in his quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and core, and his head would be lower. He would be better balanced. Smith also checks the swing on his cuts and pulls, and doesn’t rotate his left elbow over. He’s not using enough wrist. No player has been consistently successful with that sort of technique. Smith is a rare talent and a fighter, but on wickets with variable bounce or swing, he will keep struggling. He will still perform on occasion but will find consistency without adjustment challenging.’’Brad Haddin

‘‘You cannot recalibrate your judgment if you move your head and Haddin moves his head around, both when he’s batting and wicketkeeping. Like Khawaja, he drops head when batting and keeping, losing milliseconds of vision. M.S.Dhoni mis-gloves less balls than any keeper because he keeps his head still and drops his eyes when the ball comes into his gloves.’’

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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