Paul Farbrace has criticised the coaching of batting in England as the fallout from the men’s Test side’s Ashes series defeat continues.
In an article for the Daily Mail, Farbrace, England’s assistant coach from 2014 to 2019, said that “lessons had not been learned” from the 4-0 Ashes loss to Australia in 2017/18 before arguing that “coaching in England has become lazy” in regards to batting.
England’s Test batting has come under heavy criticism after a difficult 2021 – while captain Joe Root broke the record for the most runs hit by an Englishman in a calendar year, his teammates struggled, with Dawid Malan the only other batter to average more than 30 in the calendar year.
Now director of cricket at Warwickshire – he oversaw the Edgbaston-based side’s County Championship-winning campaign this year – Farbrace said: “We have gone away from the basics in our coaching. We have moved away from grooving technique. Coaching in England has become lazy. I don’t mean people are not bothered, but they are encouraging batters to play big shots and hit it round the ground. They want to be the batsman’s friend and I’ve been as guilty of that as anyone.
“It is easy to say ‘well played’ as a coach when that happens in practice instead of saying, ‘Come on, the best players in the world have got the best techniques which means you’ve got to keep your bat as straight as you can when you pick it up’. Coaches should be saying, ‘Rather than whack every ball, let’s have a session where you defend every one’.”
Farbrace gave insight into his own experiences in the England set-up, revealing his frustration at the approach to training of batters ahead of Test matches.
“Even in the England set-up I saw too many batsmen the day before a Test when it was doing a bit trying to play too many shots or walking out of the net and saying, ‘I don’t want to face our bowlers today. It’s doing too much. I just want some under-arms.’ It used to frustrate us. How are they going to get better if they do that?
“[Former England batting coach] Mark Ramprakash used to have a saying: Practise hard, play easy. He was someone who would throw balls for hours on end at batsmen, but he was also very tough on them. He knew they needed to have a sound technique to play at the highest level and would stress that. Perhaps some players didn’t like to hear it.
“The hard work starts with young players. All the money in coaching is at the top end of the game. It’s in the wrong place. It should be invested in instilling good technique and practices into our best young players.”