ANDY WALTON, England and the World's most capped player

Part 2

ICW: You've mentioned the early influences on your outdoor cricket. Were there any similar influences in your early years of indoor?

Andy: 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.

ICW: 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?

Andy: 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.

ICW: 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?

Andy: 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.

ICW: Let's look more closely at these skills and how they apply to indoor cricket. Tell us more about fielding.

Andy: 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.

ICW: Well Andy, you've seen a few top fielders in your time. Who are the best you've seen?

Andy: 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 best around.

ICW: And bowling. What's it all about, and who are some of the best you've seen?

Andy: 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).

ICW: 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.

Andy: Thank you

ICW: Last but not least, tell us about batting.

Andy: 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).

ICW: We do explain the down-and-up shot elsewhere on the site, but give us your description Andy.

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.

Indoor 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.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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