WALTON, England and the World's most capped player
You've mentioned the early influences on your outdoor cricket.
Were there any similar influences in your early years of indoor?
There were. I became a better indoor cricketer after I met an
Australian, Paul Tyrell. Paul had played indoor for the State
of Victoria back in Australia, and he became our National League
side's coach. He taught me the fundamentals of indoor, then helped
develop my game further.
You've talked about how the basics of outdoor are easily adjusted
to suit indoor, and you say Paul Tyrell taught you the fundamentals
of indoor. What are those fundamentals?
Good question. To begin with, you need the basic cricket skills.
This doesn't mean you have to have played the outdoor game at
a high level, just that you have the basics. You then adjust those
basics to the indoor game. Those basic cricket skills are of course
batting, bowling and fielding. In indoor you also have to be able
to read the ball off the nets, and should have the agility and
anticipation required to field in close. Another skill that is
a feature of indoor is getting the ball back to the 'keeper or
back-stumper as quickly as possible. This is a different fielding
skill than what you would normally use in outdoor.
Okay, that covers the basics. So what do you have to do with those
basics to become a "very good" player? Just get better at them?
Yes . . . and no. You certainly need to get better at the basics.
But to be a "very good" player, you can't just be very good at
one or two of the basics. To be a very good player, you must be
able to do all the three basics of the indoor game very well.
In other words, the best players in the world are all-rounders.
They can all bat, bowl and field at the highest level. I have
seen many international players who can do two of these aspects
well but let themselves down on the third. For example, they can
bat and field well but their bowling is weak. Unfortunately, England
was one of those teams who lacked all-rounders. When we played
against top sides like the world champions, Australia, they would
pounce on those weaknesses. Hence, England has never won a world
cup. To master all three aspects well takes time and practice.
And to do all these aspects well you need co-ordination, balance,
agility and the ability to be able to read the game.
Let's look more closely at these skills and how they apply to
indoor cricket. Tell us more about fielding.
Some good fielders are agile and have good balance, but the world's
best fielders also have the ability to read where the ball is
going after the batter has hit the ball. By anticipating a batsman's
shot, the best fielders would already be in position to stop or
retrieve the ball to create a run out. These guys would read the
angles off the nets to perfection. The best in the world will
almost never miss hitting the stumps on an attempted run out.
These guys hit the stumps 99% of the time.
Well Andy, you've seen a few top fielders in your time. Who are
the best you've seen?
Some of the truly great fielders that spring to mind are Dion
Muir (Australia), Alan Wilson (Australia), Tim van Nort (South
Africa), Sanjeewa Jayaratne (Sri Lanka). There are many more of
course, but these guys are a good representative sample of the
And bowling. What's it all about, and who are some of the best
A really great bowler will quickly recognize a batsman's weakness
and adjust his bowling to exploit that weakness. The top bowlers
of the world mostly vary their bowling a great deal, making the
batsman think every ball. Enormous pressure can be exerted onto
a batsman by bowling well and restricting his scoring. This is
often when a batsman makes mistakes as he tries harder to score.
Restricting scoring shots also allows the front-half fielders
to get their hands on the ball more readily, and it's these fielders
who get the most run outs. Just a few of the great bowlers I've
seen are Cory Otto (Australia), Greg Mathews (Australia), Naheem
Sajjad (England), Michael Edmonds (England), Graham Murry (New
Zealand), Chris Harris (New Zealand), and Andrew Hall (South Africa).
Watching from the umpire's chair just a couple of weeks ago, I
can report to readers that a bloke by the name of Andy Walton
is still one of the better bowlers around. That's not a question
Andy, just say "thank you" and smile.
Last but not least, tell us about batting.
A very good batsman will read the bowler's delivery early and
will have good foot movement, to position himself for the shot.
And the best indoor cricket batsman have mastered the down-and-up
shot ("Kidunk"). The other important point that the Australians
in particular do so well is that they never give away their wicket.
This they do by good batting, good shot selection, and by good
calling and communication with their batting partner. This is
another part of what I mean by the ability to read and understand
the game. A few class batsman I've seen are Alan Wilson (Australia),
Robbie Kerr (New Zealand), Tim Coleman (England), Ian Walker (England),
John Mark (Australia), Greg Mathews (Australia), Greg Berger (Australia).
We do explain the down-and-up shot elsewhere on the site, but
give us your description Andy.
Sure. This is a shot performed by hitting the ball late, directing
the ball into the ground, so that it bounces over the front fielders
and into the net. Not only is it very hard for the fielders to
prevent the ball from hitting the net, but it also gives the batsmen
that little bit of extra time to cross for a run. This is not
an easy stroke, but the best make it look easy.
Cricket World's inteview with Andy Walton continues in Part 3,
in which we ask Andy why Australia has been so dominant internationally,
and why England hasn't. We ask him if his retirement from the
international scene is chiselled in stone, especially in view
of an Australia v England Test series coming up later this year.
And we ask him to give us his all-time world top 10 side.
1 | Part 2 | Part
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