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Picking up quick singles
Michael Clarke
Australia international

One of the most important tactics in cricket is picking up singles.

You have to be constantly keeping the scoreboard ticking over so you don't create too much pressure for your team at the end of the innings.

Michael John Clarke factfile
Michael Clarke runs for a quick single
Born: 2 April 1981
Birthplace: Liverpool, New South Wales
Teams: Australia, New South Wales, Hampshire
Batting: Right-hand
Bowling: Left-arm spin
One-day debut: v England, Adelaide, January 2003
Test debut: v India, Bangalore, October 2004

The hardest part of an innings is the start and getting yourself in.

It's good to get off the mark straight away and get down to the other end.

You can get a look at the bowler to see what the ball is doing without having to face them, especially at the start of your innings.

For me, the key to picking up singles is playing the ball with soft hands.

This means you can drop the ball at your feet with as little pace as possible to give yourself more time to run to the other end.

If you hit the ball with pace at a fielder, they'll have more time to take aim and attempt to run you out.

You'll also keep the pressure off your own shoulders if you pick up as many singles as you possibly can.

You can start to play a few more shots once you get yourself in.

Running quick singles all the time can be tiring, but that's why we do so much fitness work so we don't get too tired.

Even when it's really hot, you usually have a few seconds where you can catch your breath back in between deliveries.

ASSESSING THE GAME

I like to talk when I'm out in the middle, I think it's good to encourage each other, especially when you know you're not playing as well as you can.

I'll often talk to my batting partner about the game's situation.

Things like what the ball is doing, what's the pitch like, whether you're not comfortable about facing a certain bowler, that kind of thing.

It's more positive than negative.

Andrew Symonds in action for Australia
Andrew Symonds scores his runs quickly in the middle order

And I'm pretty loud too, so the opposition will often hear what I'm saying.

You have people that you tend to bat well with who you're comfortable running between the wickets with.

I bat well with my Australian team-mate Andrew Symonds.

I think the reason for that is because we both have a similar game, we're both very positive batsmen looking to score runs.

And because we've batted together on a number of occasions, we've developed a good understanding of each other's game.

When you're out in the middle, the way you play your innings depends on your team's situation.

It may sound like a real cliche, but play every ball on its merits

So you need to ask yourself: "What's a good score on this ground and pitch? How many wickets are left?"

Once you reach a certain stage of an innings, you usually start to open up and play your big shots.

You tend to have certain areas where you know you're strong, so I try to hit my big shots in those areas.

I try not to premeditate my shots - when you've made your mind up before the ball is bowled - but it's difficult not to sometimes.

I've given my wicket away in the past playing a shot that I really shouldn't have.

It may sound like a real cliche, but play every ball on its merits.

Some players prefer facing fast bowlers to spinners, but it doesn't really bother me.

I like to move my feet to the spinners, to get my feet right to the pitch of the ball.

This makes it easier for me to score runs off them.

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