Cutting Edge Cricket
Author: Frank Pyke and Ken Davis
Publisher: Human Kinetics
Rating: 3.5 Stars
By David Taylor
21 Jun 2010
From Australia comes this title, that aims to teach us all how to be just as successful as the Australian players pictured on the front cover and frequently inside. Nobody could disagree that Australia have been by some distance the outstanding international side of the last twenty years, so clearly their players and coaches have something worthwhile to say on how they've achieved that. This is not, though, another 'how to play' book. If you want to learn how to bowl a leg-cutter or play a leg glance, you'd be better off getting a more conventional playing manual because this is much more about how to train, how to get the most out of yourself and how to approach the game in the right way.
It's serious stuff, aimed at serious cricketers. Pub team players whose idea of serious pre-match preparation is to have just the two pints before the game will find it all rather foreign and bewildering. The emphasis at all times in on the need for optimum physical fitness. The rewards for top players are now very considerable, as long as they maintain fitness and form; the message is clear, the higher the level you want to play at, the more work you have to put in. Anyone who genuinely wants to play the game for a living should read this book, but it's not aimed just at those select few - the tips here could be used by anyone playing at a decent level in club or grade cricket.
Some of the ideas seem so obvious you wonder why they haven't been suggested before - at least in print. A spinner bowls with a hurdle on the pitch to ensure he gets the right degree of flight. A batsman is pictured tapping the ball up on a hockey stick to refine hand-eye co-ordination (Don Bradman's famous drill with the stump and golf ball, which this calls to mind, is also mentioned). We see Adam Gilchrist's squash ball, an idea which doesn't seem to have gained wide currency. A bowling coach asks the bowler to nominate in advance what type of ball he's aiming to bowl, so he can see for himself how close he comes to achieving it. And Merv Hughes tells of going for a run before a practice session, to simulate the condition of bowling at the end of the day.
Replicating conditions is an idea which crops up at other points - apparently the Sri Lankans practised on dewy early mornings to try and recreate the conditions they would encounter in England. And injury prevention is another important aspect dealt with here, as well as captaincy, teamwork and man-management.
As I said, the more serious you are about your cricket, the more useful you'll find this book. That's not to say that even a 3rd XI player wouldn't find some of the ideas helpful. At times it seems rather like a lot of hard work, and you may wonder if the professional cricketers of today have as much fun playing the game as say, Compton and Miller used to. The short answer is probably that the more you win, the more enjoyable it is ... this book will tell you how to reap the rewards, if you have the dedication.