Yorkshire's stylish left-handed opening batsman turned his cricket game around... on the practice putting green
Yorkshire opening batsman Adam Lyth will make his England test cricket debut on Thursday at Lord’s having turned his cricket game around… on the practice putting green.
Twenty-seven year old Lyth has always had ability. Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale has long believed that Lyth has more natural ability than Joe Root and Gary Balance.
But while Root and Balance embarked on, what so far, have been highly successful England test careers, Lyth remained back in Yorkshire.
Adam Lyth has long been marked out as someone of rare batting talent. Dickie Bird, watching Lyth as a youngster, compared him to David Gower in the elegance of his stroke play.
Only trouble was, much like Gower he tended to get himself out in daft ways when he was going well. Lyth looked great at the crease.. he just did not spend enough time there.
By the end of 2013, 40 times in his first-class career thus far had he got to 50. But only seven of these times had he gone on to make a century. His problem was lapses in concentration.
So in the off season of 2013/14, sports psychologist Simon Hartley came up with an idea to improve Lyth’s powers of concentration.
Hartley was a golfer and he took 8-handicapper Lyth to a practice putting green and told him to hole 2ft putts until he missed one.
“There’s no skill in sinking a two-foot putt,” says Lyth. ‘It’s just about concentration. It’s a bit like batting and not giving your wicket away. You try not to do something silly.”
Lyth carried on knocking in putt after putt until, after an hour and half and 213 putts, he missed one.
So golf turned Adam Lyth into a test cricketer? Quite possibly. Just look at how well he has done since this exercise.
Last season Lyth was the highest scoring batsmen in the county championship. Now was substance to go with style. His new-found power of concentration, were shown in innings of 230 against Northamptonshire and one of 251 against Lancashire, only two runs short of the highest innings score in Roses matches.
At the end of the season he was named the Professional Cricketers’ Association Player of the Year and also the Cricket Writers’ Player of the Year.
At Lord’s he will become England’s 666th test cricketer – and at Lord’s will hope for plenty of cries of “four” from those watching.