Friday, August 3, 2007

Training to Win

For the Kiama Cricket Club, the 2007-08 season starts this Sunday with the commencement of pre-season training. It will be the first indication as to which of the budding youngsters, unknown newcomers, seasoned regulars and veteran die-hards will be showing up to play in the Cavalier Blue and Gold this summer. It is also the beginning of two months that will shape what we as a Club can hope for during a season of change.

It's no secret that Dale Scifleet, Steve Holz, Dan Reilly and I nominated as a group for the position of Selection Panel because we believe we are the best people for the job of pushing our Club forward to the next level. We believe we will work well as a panel, because we have the same ideal, but not necessarily the same ideas. It is unlikely that we will agree on all selections each week, but the teams we choose will be chosen by the Panel, and not by an Individual, and the fact that we will no doubt have different opinions on certain selections will mean we will retain the integrity of the process and hopefully the confidence of the playing personnel.
It's also no secret that the four of us will be looking for two like-minded people to take control of Third Grade and Fourth Grade this season. Nothing that we achieve as the Selection Panel will work unless we have the whole Club moving in the same direction, and that cannot be said to have occurred in recent seasons. We will be nominating to the Executive the people we think can do the best job with the interests of the Club at heart.
With the other three Selectors being engaged in on-field activity every week, my role on the Panel will be as a roving observer. A few years ago John Watts took on this role, and put his heart and soul into the job. What he got in return was a lot of heartache, and a resolve not to take on a similar role again the following season. As such, we lost a valuable person, whose knowledge was a great loss to the process.
Will I be as vigilant as John was? No, I can't promise that. I won't be at every training, but I will be there at least twice a month. In October I have my 20 Year Reunion of Year 12, and my brother-in-law's Bucks Day and Wedding, which will affect all of those Saturdays. In November our third child will arrive (the long-feted successor to the Cavalier crown?), which will have precedence on everything. These events will somewhat hinder my 100% participation in my role as Selector.
What I can promise is this. I can promise that lower Grade cricketers will be watched by a member of the Selection Panel this season, both at training and at matches on Saturdays. I can promise that this will lead to more regulated team selections, with a Panel selecting teams and not individuals. I can promise that if someone wants help with their cricket, they will only have to ask and they will get it. I can promise that if you haven't paid your fees, you won't be selected until you do.

As a Selection Panel though, we can't score the runs or take the wickets or catches for you. In this respect, it would probably be a good thing for you all to get to training. And this is where we get to the crux of today's article.

We cannot move forward as a Club if we as individuals know what it takes to improve and succeed, and not do it. Anyone who believes they can perform at their best if they don't train is fooling themselves. Not only that, it harms the collective if the majority of players are missing training. Club Training will only benefit everyone if the majority are there. It's like hunting in a pack, you can't expect to project confidence if you have only 10% of your numbers present. Or like the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation – the Collective can only survive if they are one.

I am not in charge of training or how it will be run. I am also fully aware of the differences in attitude of the players in our Club when it comes to how much and how long and how varied training should be.
Training should be fun, not a chore. It should be hard work, but enjoyable. Everyone has different ideas as to how training should run to make it this way, and trying to please 50-80 people is a difficult thing to do.
What I would like to see this season is this – if something about our training regime doesn't sit well with you, talk to someone about it! The coach (that's Dale Scifleet for those who don't know), your captain, a selector, or a member of the Executive. But don't just stop showing up because you don't think training is either fun or is not working for you. Things won't necessarily change just to suit you, but they can't be bent a little to help if you don't tell anyone how you feel about it. You have to feel as an individual that you have gotten the most out of your training, and are not just going through aimless hours of catching and throwing.

Probably our biggest challenge as a Club this season is to get people to training for the entire season. For years, attendance at training, especially after Christmas, has been appalling – and anyone stupid enough not to see the relevance in the lack of training and the abysmal record of all our Grade teams from January to March better start looking harder.
Again – and I want to stress this in the most positive way I can – it is up to the individual as to how the Club performs. If your attitude as an individual cricketer to your own cricket doesn't measure up, then the Club will also suffer.

I've said it before and I'll say it again here – we have a real opportunity this season to make some basic changes to our Club structure to facilitate a resurgence in our fortunes on the field in all Grades. More than anything else, a move for a more positive and focused player base will help achieve that. Hopefully, at training this weekend, we can begin that process.