Starting a career in cricket is a daunting prospect for many people who are new to the sport. It can often seem like you’re stood at the foot of a mountain, with an incredibly steep climb towards cricketing success in front of you! If that is what you feel like right now, then I can tell you that I’ve definitely been in that same position. Also, trust me when I tell you that it’s a lot easier to start your cricket career in the right way if you have an experienced person to guide you through the process. That’s what I’ll be aiming to provide in this post!
I’ve used my own cricketing experience to put together a guide that should help you get off to a good start in your cricket career. To compile this guide, I tried to think of all of the things that I did early in my cricket journey that helped me, and I also tried to think of the things I feel that I missed out on. Hopefully this will be a useful resource for you!
Here is my step by step guide to starting a career in cricket:
- Make Sure You Enjoy The Game
- Think About Which Part Of Cricket You Want To Take Part In
- Try To Watch Plenty Of Cricket
- Buy All The Equipment You’ll Need
- Try To Establish Good Habits And Techniques Early
- Join A Local Cricket Club
- Practice Hard & Regularly
- Build Up Your Physical Fitness And Maintain It
- Set Yourself Short Term & Long Term Goals
- Be Confident That You Have What It Takes To Succeed
- Always Push Yourself To Move To The Next Level Of Cricket
Read on below if you want a bit more detail about each step!
Make Sure You Enjoy The Game
The first step is a simple one – make sure you really enjoy the game of cricket before you decide to pursue a serious cricket career.
It is much easier to have a successful career in a particular sport or area of work if you enjoy doing what is required of you. For example, someone who really enjoys working with numbers and performing calculations may find that a career in accountancy is particularly suited to them. A creative person with a passion for clothing may find that they are suited to a career as a fashion designer! Someone who has a high level of interest in the career they pursue will find it much easier to motivate themselves to work on their skills.
So, if you really enjoy watching and taking part in cricket you’ll find that it’s much easier to motivate yourself to practice regularly and commit a lot of time to practicing your skills. This is why a lot of the most successful cricketers are obsessed with the sport – like Steve Smith! If you don’t enjoy the game at all, then maybe it’s not a sport that you should be continuing to play. This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many young cricketers participate in the sport because they feel under pressure from their parents, or just because they happen to have a bit of natural cricketing talent.
I’d recommend having a long think about this one. If you mull it over and decide that cricket is something you really enjoy and want to take part in, then that’s great news for you and for me!
Think About Which Part Of Cricket You Want To Take Part In
Believe it or not, not everyone enters the cricketing world with hopes of becoming a professional cricket player! Although that is the most common dream of people who love the game, there are also multiple other aspects of cricket that people can get involved in. For example, some individuals may have a particular passion for teaching others about the game, and this might lead to them wanting to become a cricket coach. Some people may have dreams of becoming a top-level umpire! And some may even want to become a groundsman!
Whatever your goals are, it’s best to have a good long think about them early so that you can begin getting the practice and the exposure that you need to excel in your chosen field. Most people will begin as cricket players and then branch out into other areas of the game like coaching or umpiring once they decide to finish with their playing career, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Someone who is incredibly passionate about cricket coaching or umpiring could give themselves a nice head start on the rest of their competition if they identify this early and begin working towards it.
Once you settle on a part of cricket that you love, stick with it and work hard. Identify what it will take for you to succeed in that area of the sport, and set your sights on achieving those things. Someone who has a clear vision of what they want to achieve early on in their career is more likely to succeed than someone who is unsure about what route they should be taking!
Try To Watch Plenty Of Cricket
I think a great way to get some inspiration for your cricket career is by watching a ton of professional cricket. Let’s face it, most of us get involved in the game because we want to emulate the feats of our favourite players like Virat Kohli, Jos Buttler or Mitchell Starc – so by watching them and trying to copy the things that they do we can provide ourselves with a vision of cricketing perfection to strive towards! There’s no better way to learn than by watching the best players perform in high stakes cricket matches!
In my case, when I started watching cricket I was immediately fascinated by bowlers like Andrew Flintoff and Brett Lee, and I wanted to learn to bat like Kevin Pietersen and Ricky Ponting. I would even copy KP’s stance and the way he adjusted his shirt sleeves before every ball! The way all of these players performed inspired me, and a lot of my resultant love of cricket was due to those guys.
If you’re someone who is just getting in to cricket, pick some players that you particularly like, and pick some teams that you’re going to follow. Once you have them, make sure you tune in regularly and get yourself absorbed in the games. Then, try to replicate some of the things you’ve seen on TV in your practice sessions!
I always make sure that I watch all of the England international matches, and I support Yorkshire in English county cricket. In recent years I’ve supported the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, and the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash. This means that there’s a lot of cricket for me to watch – but it’s a great way to keep up to date with all the new things that are happening in the sport!
Buy All The Equipment You’ll Need
Cricket equipment can be quite expensive, so it’s definitely good to know that you’re going to stick with cricket for a while before you pull the trigger and buy all the gear! No one likes to waste money!
Once you are sure you want to start buying equipment, you need to think about a few key things:
- What type of cricket are you going to play?
- What sizes do you (or the person you are buying equipment for) need?
- How much do you want to spend?
The type of cricket you play is going to be the biggest determining factor in which equipment you need to buy. For example, a child who is starting off playing cricket with a tennis ball or a rubber ball won’t need all the protective equipment like a helmet and a chest guard etc. Similarly, if you’re playing cricket on concrete, astro-turf or indoors you won’t need spikes on your shoes – you’ll just need trainers instead! Cricketers who are playing proper cricket with a hard red ball on a proper cricket field will need all of the correct protective equipment – you can find a list of everything that you’ll need in one of my other posts here!
Obviously, when you buy your equipment, it’s incredibly important that you buy it in the correct size! Equipment that is the wrong size can hamper your inability to play your natural game. For example, playing with a bat that is too big and heavy can lead to a cricketer really struggling to play their shots accurately and effectively! Many sizes are easy to work out, but for bats, helmets, gloves and pads you may need to do a bit of research!
I’ve put together a few guides which should help you to decide what size bat, gloves and helmet you’ll need. For my cricket bat buyers guide – click here! If you want my cricket gloves recommendations – click here. And lastly, if you want to know how to choose the correct size helmet for batting – click here!
The budget aspect is a lot simpler – if you’re tight on money, buy equipment that you can afford comfortably! Thankfully, there is a wide range of options for almost all cricket equipment, and this comes with a variety of price ranges in which you can shop. Choose wisely!
Try To Establish Good Habits & Techniques Early
I think one of the most important things to do early in your cricket career is to try to develop good habits and good cricket techniques that will serve you well in the future. I realise that sometimes this is a lot easier to say than it is to do, but that shouldn’t stop you trying to achieve it!
So, what do I mean when I say ‘good habits’? I’m talking about some of the cricketing basics that all of us should be aiming to get to grips with from our first practice session. In this section I’ll walk you through the disciplines of batting, bowling and fielding and try to explain some basic things you should be trying to achieve in each!
Good Batting Habits
There are a few things you can do at the outset of your career that can make batting a little easier for you! Here are some of them:
- Learn how to hold the cricket bat correctly – click here if you’d like to find out more about this!
- Make sure your batting stance helps you get into good positions – I have a post covering this which you can read here.
- Teach yourself to watch the ball – this is the most important part of batting, and believe it or not it’s a tough skill to master! Read my guide on how to watch the ball more effectively by clicking here.
I’ve also written a post with plenty of tips that newcomers to the game of cricket can use to improve their batting skills. If you’re interested in reading those tips – here’s the link!
Good Bowling Habits
For bowlers, doing things properly at the beginning of your career can have a huge impact. Many bowlers suffer injury problems later in their career as a result of bad habits and bad body positions they began using when they were younger. Here are a few points that should help you out:
- Learn how to hold the ball correctly – how you hold the ball will depend on what type of bowler you are, as well as what delivery you are trying to bowl. If you want the basics of the fast bowling grip – click here. Click here for the off spin bowling grip, and here for the leg spin grip.
- Make sure your hips and shoulders are aligned throughout the bowling process – If you want to read more about this – click here. It’s very important and will help you to avoid injury!
- Start to mark out your run up – developing a consistent, repeatable run up that gets you to the crease with plenty of momentum behind you is a key part of bowling. Measuring and marking out your run up helps you to make sure that it is the same length every time, which can add consistency to your bowling. To get started with developing a run up that works for you, I’d recommend reading this post!
If any of you are budding fast bowlers, I’ve written a post that covers all of the basics of fast bowling for beginners. It walks you through the different stages of the bowling action and also gives you tips on how to improve accuracy. If you’d like to browse that post then click here!
Good Fielding Habits
There’s many simple things you can do from the very start of your career that will help you become a more effective fielder. Here are a few:
- Use the long barrier technique to stop the ball – this is an essential, simple technique that all new cricketers should learn. Check my post here for more details.
- Use the orthodox and reverse cup catching method – learning to catch using these methods will improve your ability to hang on to the ball when it is hit in the air. If you want to find out what they are – everything you need to know can be found in the post linked here.
- Throw the ball with proper technique – some people find it quite difficult to throw a ball long distances accurately. Using the proper throwing motion should help you to do this! I have a post with lots of tips that should help your throwing – click here if you fancy reading it!
If you want some more general information relating to fielding – then head over to my 10 top fielding tips post linked here!
Join A Local Cricket Club
If you want to start your cricket career properly, you’ll need to join a cricket club! Joining a club allows you to get regular practice sessions where you can compete against other cricketers in your age group, and it also allows you to play proper cricket matches, where you test your skills in a truly competitive environment.
Newcomers to cricket should ideally be aiming to join a club that is local to them, so that they don’t have to travel too far to get to the ground. They should also be aiming to join a cricket club that caters to their age group and skill level. Most clubs will have this kind of information publicly available on the internet, but failing that, turning up at a practice session to ask the coach some questions may be a good option!
If you’re not sure which club to join, I’d recommend searching ‘cricket clubs near me’ on google, and seeing what results come up. Alternatively, if you have any friends that already play for a cricket club nearby, you may want to ask them if you can tag along! That was exactly how I first got involved with a club.
Once you have joined the club, you can usually expect the coaches to run an organised practice session at least once a week, followed by a competitive match later in the week (often on weekends). Attending all practice sessions and matches and really taking note of what your coaches are teaching you should get you off to a solid start in your cricket career.
Practice Hard & Regularly
In order to start your cricket career in a positive way, you’re going to have to get plenty of practice. The more practice you can get early in your career – the better! It’s simply the most important thing you can do.
I worked on my cricket skills a lot before I joined a cricket club, and looking back this was a great move as it helped me to not be as embarrassed about potentially making mistakes in front of other kids who had been playing cricket for years. So, if that’s something you’re worried about, you should probably use your practice time to build up some confidence before you take the plunge and join a club.
If you’re already member of a cricket club, then they should run at least 1 weekly practice session which will often last 1-2 hours. However, if you really want to get ahead of your competition you should be trying to find more time to practice than that. When I was growing up, 2 hours of practice with my club just never seemed like enough. As a result, I had to find ways to practice at home too! The hours I put in at home really helped my game, and set me on my way to becoming a much more consistent performer for my team. I thought some of the drills and practice methods I used would be able to help you out too so I put together two separate guides that you can read by clicking the links below:
If you’re a batsman, basically you should be trying to face as much bowling as you possibly can. Preferably these deliveries should be coming from real bowlers, but if not, try to get a parent/friend/coach to give you some throw downs. Alternatively, you can face deliveries from a bowling machine if you have one available. Spending 2-3 hours a week batting like this outside your club practice sessions will stand you in good stead and will help to prepare your mind and body for batting during real cricket matches.
The same goes for bowling! The more we bowl the more comfortable we become with our action, and as a result we will become much more consistent with our release and our speeds. The aim as a fast bowler should be to bowl accurately and with good pace. The aim as a spin bowler should be to bowl accurately and to get the ball to turn aggressively once it hits the pitch. The only way to get better at these things is to groove your bowling action through hours of practice. If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend spending a couple of hours practicing your bowling 3 days a week, with a rest day in between each day.
Build Up Your Physical Fitness and Maintain It
Being physically fit is important if you want to be to be able to perform to your full potential. It offers multiple advantages, such as allowing you to play longer innings’, being able to hit the ball further, being able to bowl faster and more accurately for longer periods, and can help you cover a lot of ground quicker when fielding.
If you’re just starting your cricket career, you don’t want to put yourself at a bid disadvantage by not being physically fit enough to compete. To ensure this, I’d try to get as much exercise as possible outside of cricket. At a base level, I would recommend trying to make sure that you’re getting at least 3-4 hours of high intensity exercise per week. Playing other sports like football or rugby at home or at school is great for this, but going for a long distance run regularly or attending a gym (if you’re old enough) are also great ways to keep up your fitness levels too.
It’s also important to maintain your fitness throughout the off season. Many of us have been guilty of letting this slip over the years, because it’s always easy to forget about exercise during those winter months when it’s cold and wet! Let’s face it, no one wants to be going for a run in the driving rain! However, pushing yourself to go for that run, or doing that home workout can be a massive benefit and can put you in a much better position when the start of the cricket season rolls around. Trust me when I tell you that it’s much easier to ensure that you’re fit enough for a cricket season if you maintain a good level of physical activity during the winter.
Players at the beginning of their career don’t need to focus too hard on physical fitness as long as they’ve got a decent baseline level. But, if you want to excel at the highest level of the sport it’s a good idea to get yourself into the best physical shape that you can. Cricketers like Ben Stokes, Virat Kohli and David Warner are amazing athletes, and as we move through the years professional cricket is really starting to place more and more emphasis on this side of the game. In my opinion, this is making the players and the sport a lot better!
Set Yourself Short Term & Long Term Goals
I find that when I do anything in life, I’m more motivated if I have some goals or ideal scenarios to strive towards. By setting some short, medium and long term goals for myself, it means I can set out action plans as to how I’m going to achieve them, and it allows me to track my progress over time. When I achieve one of my goals, it gives me a sense of pride and a feeling that I’ve accomplished something. These are things that all people in sport want to feel!
So, for someone who is just starting out in cricket – what goals should you be setting yourself? Every cricketer is different and will have different versions of what ‘success’ is, so which goals you set is entirely up to you. However, it may be helpful for me to give you some ideas in order to provide a bit of inspiration!
If you’re a batsman, you could set yourself a goal of scoring your first half century, or your first century. You could also set yourself goals like making sure you bat for an hour every week, or to bat all the way through an innings whether your team is chasing or batting first. For short term goals, you could try to perfect an innovative shot in practice like the reverse sweep or the uppercut. By achieving this short term goal, you’ll be a stronger, more effective batsman for your team!
If you’re a bowler, you could set yourself a goal like having an economy rate under 6 runs per over for the entire season. You could also have a goal of getting 3 or 5 wickets in a match. Other useful goals would be ones like making sure you practice a few hours per week, and trying to perfect a new delivery like the off cutter (click here if you’d like to learn how to bowl that).
Goals I have set myself in the past include being the highest run scorer for my team over the course of the season, and also aiming to get myself promoted to the 1st team rather than the 2nd team. Basically, any goal that you think is realistically within your reach and is likely to motivate you to perform better will be a good one to set!
Be Confident That You Have What It Takes To Succeed
The attitude you have towards the game is going to be massively important in your cricket career. The players that exude confidence and have faith in their abilities are much more likely to be successful than those players who are timid and afraid of expressing themselves.
Early in my cricket career, I would often walk out to bat expecting myself to fail – especially when I was up against a particularly difficult bowler or playing against a top team. This is a terrible situation to put yourself in, but going through that allowed me to develop a few techniques that I used to give myself a boost of confidence. Of course, a lot of your confidence is going to come from practicing hard and performing well in matches. However, if you’re new to the game and don’t have that experience yet, feel free to use these simple techniques below:
- Adjust Your Posture – Make sure that you’re standing confidently when you walk out to bat, when you’re in the field, and when you’re about to bowl. To do this, stand up straight with your weight equally spread across both legs. Push your chest out slightly and keep your shoulders back. It helps to imagine a string is pulling your head up towards the sky whilst you do this. This is an assertive posture that helps you exude confidence, and I know that when I do it, it has an immediate positive impact on my mindset. If I’m feeling really nervous, moving my body into a more powerful position like this one can help to lessen the nerves.
- Use Positive Affirmations – When you’re feeling nervous, your mind can focus on negative thoughts rather than positive ones. To avoid negative thoughts taking over, we can repeat positive things to ourselves. This can be done in your head or out loud, with the goal being to calm you down as well as remind yourself that you are good enough to take on the challenges you’re facing. You could repeat things like:
- I am a good player and I am perfectly prepared to bat/bowl in this game.
- Cricket is the game I love and I’m lucky I get the chance to play it.
- I have faced bigger challenges in life than this cricket match
- I have the skills to help my team win
- This isn’t the last cricket match I’m ever going to play. This performance isn’t the only chance to shine that I have.
Repetitions like this may seem a bit silly at first, but trust me, they make a difference. If you’re ever feeling low on confidence or incredibly nervous, try them out!
Always Push Yourself To Move To The Next Level Of Cricket
If you want to make it as a cricketer, you need to make sure that you’re always pushing yourself to be the best you can be. This is a useful thing to think about at the start of your career because once you get started, there will be periods where you can allow your skills to stagnate! To make it to the top of the sport, you should be guarding against this.
To make serious improvements you should always be trying to engage in the highest level of competition available to you. I’ve seen many talented young players over my time being involved with the game, and there are so many of them that never try to move up through the ranks to the first team, or try to attend trials for their local county. Because they never push themselves to this next level, they never face tougher competition and as a result they delay their development.
If you’re a junior cricketer that’s around 15-17 years of age, I would recommend trying to get a taste of senior cricket whenever you can. If your club has a senior 2nd team, or a 3rd team, this could be the perfect place for you to try out a higher standard of cricket that isn’t too competitive. By moving up a level in this way, you can test yourself against faster bowlers, and bowl to better batsmen. This experience will serve you well when you return to your junior team. If you’re younger than 15 but you’re very talented, you may also want to think about making the same move. Alternatively, jumping up an age group is a great way to get an extra bit of competition. When I was 12/13 I would regularly fill in for the under 15’s team if they were short on players. Exposure to this higher standard helped me to become a better player.
Also, don’t overlook the importance of trying out for your county/state side! Many county/state teams will offer trials where young players can go to showcase their skills. Coaches will be circulating trying to spot any talent on show, and if you perform well in one of those sessions they could become interested in you. County/state trials are another great way for you to get a taste of what elite talent looks like within your age group! Doing well against these players can boost your confidence massively!
Like with most tasks or goals that individuals have – starting is the hardest part! That’s certainly true when it comes to cricket, but trust me, once you get into the swing of things and get settled playing for a club, you’ll realise what a truly awesome game this is to be a part of. If you can work hard enough from the moment you get involved in the sport, you’ll have a chance to be very successful. There are plenty of other posts here on Cricketers Hub that will be helpful for newcomers to the game, so I’d recommend checking some of them out if you’re interested. I have something for everyone! I hope you can use some of my information to start you on the correct path in your cricket career.