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Tactics from Mike Brearley, batting from Gary Palmer and umpiring from the IICUS; you can safely say this week's newsletter is packed with expert advice.

We look at how captains can make the same mistakes over 40 years apart, what the common elements are to good batting, the death of core training and why bowler's just don't bowl fast any more.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

No regrets: How attacking captaincy breeds confident cricket

Someone once said the only things you regret are the things you didn't do.

That's certainly true when it comes to captaincy, as Mike Brearley told PitchVision Academy when he noticed a mistake the Bangladesh captain would go on to regret.

"In the England against Bangladesh Test at Old Trafford, with England struggling a bit at 83-3, Ian Bell came in to face Bangladesh captain and slow left arm spinner, Shakib al Hasan. He pushed forward to his first ball, which took the inside edge, went onto the knee, and ballooned up to where short square leg should have been. Shakib then put in a short square leg, but it was too late. Bell scored 128, England reached 419, and Bangladesh lost by an innings and 80 runs."

Have you seen slow captaincy let the game slip away in your matches?

I'm willing to bet you have, considering even the most shrewd captains call recall such mistakes with "a shudder of regret".

It was January 1967. Pakistan were batting first against England and were also wobbling at 62-2. As Mike revealed; "I failed to put a short leg in to Mushtaq Mohammed, who scored 120, when he should have been out to Pat Pocock for 0. Such mistakes can be costly."

What stands out is how clearly that mistake is remembered.

 If the case had been the other way around and a short leg had been in and a couple of boundaries had been hit through the gap, it would barely have registered a comment.

Attack in haste, defend at leisure

So the moral of those stories is a simple one: If you have an idea to attack, do it right away.

If it pays off you will look like a confident tactical genius.

Imagine what that will do to the emotional state of the team. They will brim with confidence. They will feel like a team, working together under insightful leadership.

And if you are hit for a boundary instead?
You can always put the man back again. No harm done.

Just ground your ideas in common sense.

On the other hand, if you have a defensive idea, be less hasty and think it through a bit more. You don't want to take that short leg out and see the ball loop slowly into the space you left do you?

Take your time. You can almost always afford another boundary (at worst).

As Mike says: "Captaincy and management makes a huge difference both tactically and emotionally; in how the team feel about themselves, how much a collection of individuals is helped to become a team."

And the better you work as a team, the more likely you are to be more than the sum of your parts.

If you want to know more about how to improve your tactical awareness and your man-management skills as captain, get the online coaching course Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley on PitchVision Academy.

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Driving technique is a simple as ABC

This is a free sample of the kind of content you will find in Gary Palmer's exclusive online coaching course: How To Play the Perfect On, Off and Straight Drive.

To be a successful batter it is essential to be efficient in your ABCs:

  • Alignment
  • Balance
  • Completion of shot

Alignment, Balance and Completion of stroke are the 3 main areas of technique to develop and work on. Within these areas you need to refine the details of technique to hasten the development of your own or others performance.


Alignment is the bat path from its position at the top of the back swing to the top of the shot. If the bat swings in a straight line to the target area your shots become more consistent.

You must get your alignment correct in your set up to be able to maintain it throughout the shot. From the top of the back swing through to the completion of a stroke rhythm, or a controlled flowing swing of the bat, is paramount.

To allow the bat to swing in a straight line to the ball effectively the feet and body must be well aligned. Without this feet and body can literally block the path of the bat towards to the ball. This is what coaches mean when they refer to 'being blocked off'.

Being blocked off inhibits the full face of the bat and path towards the line if the ball. Good alignment of feet and shoulders stops this from taking place.


Being balanced is controlling you body position and posture before, during and after a stroke. In simple terms: keeping the head directly over the line of the body throughout the shot.

Balance is achieved by looking to 'play in the v' so your head remains in a neutral position.

From this position you can hit the ball through mid on, mid off and straight. Often balance is compromised because players are all so eager to play on the off side therefore their weight often tips that way.

To achieve balance in front foot shots the head should always be forward of and directly above the front foot. Think leaning rather than falling.

This position is much easier to maintain with a controlled, rhythmical, flowing swing of the bat.


Completion is often referred to as 'holding the shot for the cameras'. The great players emphasise and over exaggerate this with a high elbow and high hands.

Completion prolongs the full face of the bat towards the ball, thus making the hitting zone longer. The longer the bat swings in a straight line with a full blade towards the ball the more consistent the stroke becomes.

Batting is about good lines and correct refined shapes. These three elements are crucial to becoming consistent, more versatile in your stroke making and also help you to survive testing spells of bowling.

Within these elements detailed components of technique need to be fine-tuned.

To get access to the rest of this course, including video demonstrations, worksheets, drills and detailed analysis then click here to buy How To Play the Perfect On, Off and Straight Drive by Gary Palmer.


Up the anti: Why you need to forget core training for cricket
Core training is dead.

Ask any power lifter. They don't bother training the core.

Why would you when squatting and deadlifting movements give you abs like iron anyway?

And cricketers can learn from this idea.

The fact is that lower back injuries in cricket happen because the spine is moving too much. The fast bowler with a mixed action has a lot of rotation at the spine and over time this leads to pain and stress fractures.

Why then, would you train the core to flex, extend and rotate even more?

Wouldn't it make more sense to go the other way and learn to do it less?

You might call this anti-core training.
So how do you learn to do less?

For me there are three ways that broadly link back to the three movements you are trying to prevent.

And to make sure your core is stopping you getting injured you need to be doing some variation of all three:

1. Lift up heavy stuff

If you have ever tried to pick a heavy box off the floor you know that you have to brace your stomach muscles. If you didn't your spine would rip itself right out of your back. Uncomfortable at the very least.

This is the anti-core version of doing crunches. Instead of flexing your spine you are preventing it flexing (and it's why those power lifters are so strong in the abs).

So, get in the gym and start working on those big anti-flexion movements.

Squat and deadlift. It's not as meat headed as you think (click here to find out why).

Also, to train the anti-extension part of the core, you can add standing overhead pressing. May as well while you are in the gym, right?

2. Throw a medicine ball

Chucking a big ball against a wall or the floor is just plain good fun. It gets all that aggression out.

And it also trains your core to resist extension (overhead throwing) and rotation (side throwing). They key points to remember are:

  • Use a ball of suitable weight. 1-2kg for overhead and 2-4kg for side throws is plenty.
  • Do 3 sets of 10 reps and progress by throwing the ball harder, not adding reps (this is not cardio work).
  • Throw and catch the ball. Use a 'bouncy' med ball rather than the old fashioned sand filled ones and catch the ball off the wall or floor between reps.
3. Resistance aint futile

Finally, you can fill in the gaps of anti-core training with a few exercises some might consider 'basic' but really do a smashing job.

Press ups and their variations don't just train the chest, when done right they force your core to stabilise your body (like a plank with benefits).

The pallof press is just awesome. Need I say more?

And finally, if you have access to a cable machine, chop and lift movements are always parts of any decent cricketers warm up before strength training.

So yes, core training is so last century.

But that doesn't give you a free pass if you want to prevent injury.

Get on the anti-core train instead.

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Why are bowlers not getting faster?
Fast bowling is the only area in sport that is not getting better.
Usain Bold smashed the world 100m record and while waving and almost moonwalking across the line. Marathon runners are closing in on a sub-two hour mark. 
We are faster, higher and stronger.
But where are the truly fast bowlers?
Despite obvious improvements in batting and fielding, fast bowling lags behind.

Laws of cricket: Run out with an elbow?

This edition of Laws of Cricket, in association with the International Institute of Cricket Umpiring and Scoring, covers some more tricky questions of the Laws.


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: 106
Date: 2010-07-09