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It's been said by wise cricketing sages that you can't win a match in the first hour, but you can lose it.

So how do you avoid the pitfalls of losing the first hour and setting yourself up for a bad game? Read the two part series in this newsletter to find out more.

Plus we look at the art of avoiding boring draws and Gary Palmer examines 10 reasons why you are not as good a batsman as you should be (and none of them are to do with your trigger move).

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to win the first hour with the bat

This is the first part of a two part series by Laurie Ward from The Complete Cricketer Academy in Cape Town, South Africa.

The start of a match dictates how it will develop. Getting a flyer or taking early wickets puts pressure on the opposition. As a team you should look to dominate from ball one.

And that means winning the first hour of the game whether you are batting or bowling.

There are a number of ways to do that, and it all starts with preparation.

Practice the specific skills required for each discipline to maximize your impact at the start of the game. Don’t expect just to turn up on the day and perform.

On the day, arrive early as a team and judge and understand the wicket and conditions. Plan accordingly, discuss roles and be warmed up and organized ready to go from the off.

Winning the first hour with the bat

The top three, particularly the openers, have a defined role in all formats of the game.

Know your role and your style of play. A golden rule is to not get out in your first 12 balls. By the time that you have received these you should have been in long enough to judge conditions and to have got your innings moving.

For the early part of the innings:
  • Keep it simple: Know your strengths and play to these. Know areas where you are not as strong and avoid these.
  • Know where your off-stump is: Practice drills reading line and length in the nets. Learn how to leave well.
  • Get your feet moving: Incorporate the “Hayden Shuffle” or similar to get you thinking about your footwork.
  • Respect the conditions and the bowling but always look to be positive: Don’t take on the conditions if they are difficult up front or don’t give it away with over-confidence or risky/flashy shots if the conditions suit batting.
  • Be patient where necessary: Bide your time if the game situation allows. Do not attack the good ball out of frustration. The bad ball will come. You cannot score sitting in the pavilion.
  • Build your partnership: Set small achievable targets. Rotate the strike, punish the bad ball. Pressure the fielders with positive calling and running. Be aware of the gaps and weaker fielders and play to these. This will soon undermine the teamwork of the opposition.

Click here to go to part 2 on bowling and fielding.

image credit: SarahCanterbury


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Captain: Are you really getting the best from your team?

Nobody can dispute the influence a captain has over the results of his or her team. By motivating players and deciding the right tactics, good captains win matches.

Click here to buy to Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley and start learning the captaincy techniques of one of the best.

But it's not easy to be the type of captain who has a positive influence on games.

Most captains are happy to set the batting order, change the bowling and make the odd adjustment to the field.

If you have a consistent, self-motivated, talented and experienced team at your fingertips that may work.

But it probably won't, and be honest; you don't have that type of team.

What if your star opening batsmen is prone to lapses in concentration when he feels the bowling is poor and not much of a challenge?

What if you need to be able to set the field to the inexperienced leg spinner who is bowling to a cross-batted slogger when the opposition only need 15 to win?

What if you are captaining a mixed ability side in a friendly game and you need to give everyone a go so they all have fun and come back next week?

Average captains let these situations control them.

Ideas like "motivating players" become short hand for clapping hands and shouting ineffectually. Tactics are based more on hope or tradition than logic.

You feel lost in a sea of advice from your team at one moment, and alone in total silence from the same players when the score is 150-0 and your spinner has just pulled a hamstring chasing a boundary.

It's easy to see why this happens in club and school cricket.

Player's are never taught how to be captains.

Junior players get little, if any, coaching on tactics and man-management. Senior players often fall into the job because they are the best in the team, or good at collecting tea money.

You could learn on the job but it's de-motivating while your team get beaten thanks to a tactical errors. Everybody expects you to know what to do but if nobody teaches you, how can you learn?

But just imagine how much better things could be if you did know the answers.

When you buy Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley you get a step-by-step guide to all aspects of captaincy at every level of the game.

With a sound tactical knowledge you can control the game. You can set fields and choose bowlers with a calm confidence, knowing that your choices are based on sound cricket knowledge and have been successful in the past.

With the ability to know how your players 'tick' you can decide whether to give them a public roasting about their lack of effort or put a quiet arm around the shoulder after the game.

These are skills that can be learned like any other cricket skill.

And with these skills come results.

Players are happy to play for you and put in more consistent, better performances. Your tactics match the game situation.

So whether you are skipper of a Sunday friendly side just wanting to make a good game of your afternoon out, or you are playing serious league games where results matter, you need to be a good captain.

Don't wait to learn the hard way, pick up the methods of England's finest ever captain; Mike Brearley.

The online coaching course contains videos, worksheets, articles and interactive content designed by Mike Brearley to teach you to become a better captain. The course includes:

  • How to assign the right roles to the right players
  • How to develop players individually
  • The 6 keys to gaining respect
  • 5 Ways to be influential without manipulating
  • Pacing a team innings
  • The carrot and the whip methods of declarations
  • Analysing the batsmen for weaknesses
  • How to calmly set the field in any situation

When you enrol on the course you get instant lifetime access to all the resources and all future updates.

Simply click here to buy Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley now, and start becoming a better captain.


How to win the first hour of a match with the ball

This is part two of a two part series by Laurie Ward from The Complete Cricketer Academy in Cape Town, South Africa. To go to part one click here.

The best opening bowlers work in tandem and to apply as much pressure up front on the new batsmen, even if conditions favour the batting side.

  • Be ready to bowl from ball one: Bowlers must use the conditions and new ball. Be warmed up and focused so you can extract as much from the new ball as possible. Do not give the batsmen the momentum and confidence.
  • Know your target areas: Recognise what the conditions require and your role within the game. If bowling on a belter of a track aim to frustrate the batsmen with consistency, stringing the dot balls together. Frustration may lead to mistakes, particularly if they feel the ball coming on to the bat but are not scoring.
  • Don’t experiment: Your full armoury of deliveries should have been perfected in the nets. Do not try a big in-swinging yorker if you haven’t mastered it in practice. You should be looking to build pressure and this may be a release ball if you are fractionally off target.
  • Don’t try too hard: This may sound a strange comment but not every ball can be a wicket-taking delivery. You need to work on building the pressure and creating a mistake, especially on a good track. There is no need to try all the tricks if conditions are in your favour. Stick to the game plan. Make it as hard for the batsman as possible.
  • Bowl to your plan/field: Spraying the new ball both sides of the wicket only helps the batsman settle and adjust to the pace and bounce of the wicket. It also offers opportunities to score and hands over momentum. It is difficult for the captain to set a field and heads may drop from your team mates. 

Winning the first hour as a fielding unit

Let's not forget that if you are bowling, fielding is vital in the first hour.

  • Set the tone: Back up your bowlers. If the batsman does play a shot make sure to stop it. Nothing gets past, and if it should, chase hard and commit to saving runs. Anticipate every ball coming to you. Back up throws and other fielders when they are fielding. As they say; "make every run a prisoner."
  • Take your chances: When opportunities arise, you must be ready and able to take them. All fielders should be alive and concentrating from the start and specialist fielders should be in the right positions, having practiced the necessary skills in the warm-up.
  • Work as a unit: Ring fielders should be co-ordinated and primed, walking in to make the batsman feel if he is being squeezed in. Chase the ball in pairs and get the ball in quickly to stop extra runs.
  • Recognise conditions: If the ball is coming on and the outfield is fast ring fielders can give themselves a few extra metres but still should walk in, allowing a bigger ring to cut off angles for boundaries but still cutting off quick singles. Close fielders should take their lead from the keeper, setting themselves in the correct positions to take edged chances.
  • Promote positive talk, vibe and teamwork: Keep on-field talk positive and directed to boost teamwork. Work hard on body language being strong. There is often no need to bring a batsman into it if you are squeezing the pressure on. This may have the counter-effect of making him more determined and will also detract from your positive words. Let your fielding do the talking and subconsciously undermine the batsman.

Whichever you are doing, taking first knock or in the field, use these tactics and skills to take advantage of the first hour and aim to dictate the game from there. 

For more bowling, batting and fielding tactics at club level look at the online cricket coaching course: The Game Plan: How to Build A Winning Cricket Team by former Glamorgan player and coach Adrian Shaw.

image credit: SarahCanterbury

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How to save yourself from boring draws

I recently played in an afternoon declaration club cricket game where the scores were:

  • Team A: 237-5 (50 overs)
  • Team B: 170-6 (50 overs)

I'm sure you have played in games with similar scores, and were similarly fed up by the end of the match.

So what went wrong?

You might say that Team B's bowlers were just not good enough to roll a half decent batting side over.

10 reasons why you are not a better batsman

Last week Gary Palmer gave us an article on how great batsman play. This week he looks at the common mistakes seen in lesser players.

Great batsmen are technically excellent.

The correct technique means that batting is made easier and the process of development is speeded up. In other words; you will maximize your potential and enjoy improved performances.


About PitchVision Academy

Welcome to this week's guide to playing and coaching better cricket.

I'm David Hinchliffe and I'm Director of the PitchVision Academy team. With this newsletter you are benefitting directly from over 25 Academy coaches. Our skills include international runs and wickets, first-class coaching, cutting-edge research and real-life playing experience.


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Issue: 104
Date: 2010-06-25