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'Apart from Kumara, no one stuck to a plan'

According to Cricinfo today, Sri Lanka assistant coach Rumesh Ratnayake was critical of his bowling attack's inability to stick to or deliver their agreed bowling plans in the current Test against Pakistan.

Can we learn something from this as amateur cricketers?

How often do we step on the field of play with an actual plan?

Do we fully understand our own strengths and weaknesses?

You don't need to be a professional to have a plan. Every cricketer from pre-teen age and up can go onto a pitch with a plan with bat or ball.

As bowlers, the trap we can all fall into is trying to bowl a "wonder ball" with every delivery. But is that the best way forward for you or the team?

Dot balls are vastly undervalued and, in this day and age of T20 and Hundred ball cricket, a dot ball can be as good as a wicket.

What happens if we strive to take a wicket with every ball? We get a scrambled mind and try to hard, bowl too fast, too short, try to turn it too much and we can easily bowl a bad ball. What does that do? It relieves pressure than can be built up by a series of good tight dot balls, perhaps from both ends.

When you walk onto the pitch as a bowler, you should know what you are looking to do.

For me, as a left arm spinner, I ought to be looking to bowl a good pace with drift and dip into a right-handed batsman's legs, pitching the ball around middle/middle and leg and, ideally, turning to off. If I do this every ball in an over and set the right field, six dot balls could ensue and then I am pressuring the batsman to take a risk and make a mistake.

I made need to slightly adapt if I spot a particular batsman having a strength, such as looking to sweep me on length or playing back as the pitch is a little slow, but the basic plan doesn't change.

What I need to avoid doing is trying too many varieties. It's tempting when you're not making in-roads to try something different but six dot balls are almost as good as it can get. It's important not to be tempted away from that.

At the top level plans are obviously more complex with individual plans for each opposition batsman but at club level we can keep it relatively simple.

Bowl to your strengths. Don't try too hard to do something different when it's going well and, perhaps most importantly, make sure you have the right field for your stock delivery.

Know your "A" plan and stick to it when it's going well.

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