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Andrew White NCU Cricket Academy
Class of 2016-2017 - Beyond the Boundaries of Cricket

Richard White

The Andrew White NCU Cricket Academy has sought to utilise the skills and attributes of other sports to give the young cricketers tips that will enhance their game. Two sessions have been organised by Ciaran Chambers at the National Badminton Centre in Lisburn. Ciaran competed for Northern Ireland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. Badminton may not instantly conjure up thoughts of having transferrable skills for cricket, however the two sessions opened the minds of the Academy cricketers as to the benefits that can be gained outside the cricketing world.

It is not unheard of that cricket and badminton can be a successful sporting mix. The great English Cricket Captain Colin Cowdrey won a rackets blue at Oxford University in his first term. Philip Horne who played four test matches and four one day internationals in cricket for New Zealand, also represented his country at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Badminton, and locally Bruce and Mark Topping had successful club and interprovincial cricketing careers, whilst representing Ireland and Northern Ireland in badminton.

The sessions organised by Ciaran proved to be fun filled, energetic and informative and illustrated aspects that can be beneficial to cricketers for batting, bowling and fielding. He said, 'for the session with the NCU group we mainly focused on agility, using a variety of different competitive drills to enhance the athlete's deceleration, change of direction and acceleration. The athlete's embraced the sessions with an open mind and will hopefully use some of the drills in their own sporting careers to gain added benefits'.

  • Reflexes: Badminton is fast paced, requiring instinctive movements in response to an opponent's shot. Reflex movements are largely instinctive and to improve requires refining of the muscle memory and co-ordination. Ciaran used fun exercises to help sharpen the young cricketers' reflexes.
  • Footwork: This lays the foundation for every shot whether in badminton or cricket. Improper footwork leads to poor shot execution; whereas good footwork is all about efficiency of movement. The drills practised involved fast feet and directional change. For batsmen efficient and fast footwork can engineer split second timing that means effective shot execution or the ability to alter a shot in reaction to a change in the balls direction.
  • Agility: The ability to control and change the direction and position of the body whilst maintaining constant and rapid motion is crucial whilst fielding. This can save a run or create the situation to effect a run out. Or for a batsman the ability to turn and maintain speed can engineer an extra run. Small margins can be the difference between winning and losing a match.
  • Balance and Core: The ability to control and stabilise the body whilst moving or standing still is fundamental to any sport. Maintaining balance whilst batting, bowling and fielding is the cornerstone to effective cricket. The sessions run by Ciaran illustrated to the young cricketers the need to strengthen the core area of their bodies.
  • Speed: The pace of the badminton player was highlighted by the drills that Ciaran used. How quickly a cricketer can move over a distance will not only add positives to his or her game but put doubt in the opponents mind especially when fielding.
  • Co-ordination: Having an ability to use the body's senses alongside the body parts during movement. In cricket there is a need to judge distance and length especially when catching.

Academy cricketer James Metcalfe talking about the sessions stated that, 'they were unique and insightful, giving me a different perspective on movement which as a wicket keeper and batsman will give me new ideas to incorporate into practice sessions. I had never thought that using other sports could be so beneficial to improving us as cricketers. Ciaran provided fun but intense sessions that also proved to be a great fitness workout.'

Andrew White said, 'this year we again considered the transfer of skills from other sports and looked at how they were comparable to cricket. Ciaran's ability to teach the players the key principles of explosive movement over short distances was fantastic and he did so in a fun and competitive environment. I look forward to hopefully working with him again in the future'.

NB: The associated photographs show the Academy cricketers' in action during the sessions.

Ciaran Chambers   Ciaran Chambers   Ciaran Chambers