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Animated Fielding Drills Get Fit For Cricket


There is nothing we like more in cricket that a bit of creative thinking, and this week we have some fresh ideas for you to mull over.

It all starts with bowling around the wicket; a simple bowling variation that is scandalously overlooked. We also have an extract from a new book from one of cricket coaching's great thinkers; Bob Woolmer. Finally we ask, do you really need to throw like professionals?

Whether you agree or not, at least everyone is thinking, and that's what makes cricket such a good game.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Tactics you should be using: Bowl around the wicket

Bowlers please tell me; what is exactly so scary about bowling around the wicket?

I've played club cricket and kept wicket for over 20 summers. I've watched dozens if not hundreds of bowlers from the prime position behind the stumps yet only a few have bowled round the wicket.

And those that have are mostly left arm spinners.

Right arm around umpire?
No chance.

What causes this Around the Wicket Aversion Syndrome (AWAS for short)?

Maybe it's because it doesn't feel right to change what has always been done. If so, that's a shame because it's a brilliant way to slow down scoring and upset a batsman's rhythm.

It's harder to score runs

When a right arm bowler goes around the wicket to a right arm batsmen it becomes much harder to score runs.

Think about it from the point of view of an off spin bowler (although this also applies to in swing). The angle is much wider coming from way out away from the stumps. The ball then spins back and straightens ideally so the line is perfectly straight pitching on off, hitting off) when it gets to the batsman.

Like so:

And if the ball is pitched up on off stump there is only one place a proper batsman will try and hit it; straight.

And you can set a field to that.

And the batsman needs to take risks to score.

It upsets the batsman

Just as bowlers are not used to going around the wicket, most club and school batsmen will have less idea how to face it.

It's uncomfortable and upsets rhythm. And we like doing that.

Balls that he or she can usually work off the legs for easy runs become risky. Will they swing back in and hit the off stump or stay on the same line going across the batsman?

Many batsmen won't think to open their stance when you go around the wicket and are closed off when you deliver the ball, making them prone to LBW or hitting very square on the leg side.

It seems to me to be a no-brainer to go around the wicket as a variation if you want to either dry up runs or break a big partnership.

So how do you get over your fear of the other side?

How to get used to bowling around the wicket

It's pretty simple because there are no major technical changes to be made. You use the same action, you just do it from the other side of the wicket, so it's purely a 'feel' thing.

If you don't like the feel of bowling around the wicket, then practice it until you do.

Start by going down to the nets without a batsman and take out your run up, bowling from the 'set' or 'one step' position standing at the crease.

Start from 15 yards if you are really struggling.

Get the feel for how much more you have to get your body round to make the ball land in the right place.

Then gradually move back to 18, 20 then 22 yards before walking in and bowling, jogging in and finally running in.

How long should all this take?

You can probably get a feel for it in 1 or 2 sessions of half an hour or so. Most experienced bowlers can get good enough to use it in a match in 2-5 sessions.

Once you can do it well, always finish a net session with a few balls around the wicket so you don't lose the feel.

Try it. It opens up a whole new side to bowling. 

image credit: Gary_T_W

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What no one teaches about batting in Twenty20 cricket

Everyone knows that Twenty20 cricket is about scoring off as many balls as possible. But traditional coaching doesn't do much to teach players how to do that with the minimum of risk.

With little understanding of how to score quickly, it's no wonder you resort to high risk methods like swinging from the laces at any ball.

It might work for a while if you have a good eye, but in the end everyone gets found out by decent bowling.

What if there was another way?

What if you knew how to maintain proper batting technique yet still turn dot balls into ones, twos or even boundaries?

Doing it that way, rather than slogging, allows you to stay in for more balls, score more runs and be more successful in your 20 over matches.

All without sacrificing the technique that will allow you to play longer games too.

It's possible, but only by employing techniques and drills that are rarely seen outside the professional game. Techniques like:

  • The best way to align your body in the crease to score runs of good length balls
  • Ways to turn good balls into half volleys – and hit them for six
  • The key foot movement that allows you to score all round the ground no matter what the bowler is bowling
  • Safer ways to hit out when trying to clear the rope

And for the first time you can get hold of these drills online thanks to Gary Palmer.

Gary has coached this method of batting for years, at first using it to bat at the death of limited over games then adapting it to batting in Twenty20.

It's stuff you won't have been coached before, because coaches and coaching manuals still don't teach this kind of innovation in batting, but PitchVision Academy does because we know that short format cricket is played by cricketers all over the world, and has been for years.

Click here to buy the online coaching course "How to Bat in Twenty20 Cricket" an learn those drills through Gary's online videos.


Bob Woolmer on bowling swing

The following article is an extract from "Bob Woolmer on Bowling" a coaching book from the late Bob Woolmer; former Pakistan, South Africa and Warwickshire coach. Published with permission.

The perfectly plotted and executed in- or outswinger, curving late in its flight and taking the edge or ducking back into the pads, is one of the most exhilarating experience’s a bowler can ever hope for. When bowled well, with good control over line and length, it can be devastating, as the batsman is deceived into playing one line, only to have the ball swing off that line, leaving him groping.

The physics of the swing can and the reverse swing are discussed in detail in the section on the science of the swing on pp. 69-84, but it is important at this stage to have a basic understanding of why a cricket ball veers off its original line under certain conditions.

The ball is made of four quarters, separated into two halves by a proud (protruding) seam. Coaches who explain swing often refer to the seam as a rudder, but it is far more like the prow of a boat, ‘splitting’ the air in front of the ball on its flight; and the two streams of air passing over the two sides of the ball travel at slightly different speeds. The side that is smooth and shiny will present less resistance to the air than the rough side: the resulting low pressure on that side of the ball will pull it in that direction and away from the high pressure. This manifests itself as a swing.

This is why bowlers – and fielders – endlessly polish the same side of the ball. Indeed, it is the entire team’s responsibility to ‘groom’ the ball in this way whenever it comes their way, dusting off bits of grass or mud that might be clinging to the smooth side, and shining it as vigorously as possible. (Before lashing on the spit and sweat, remember that seamers prefer not to let the smooth side get too damp. Swing bowler, on the other hand, need moisture to clean it and keep it shiny. Check what the bowler and the captain want in terms of ‘ball-grooming’ before you over-enthusiastically soak the ball!)

A prominent seam and a polished hemisphere only go so far. To swing the ball consistently and well you need:

  • A good basic action, with the ability to vary it slightly, depending on the delivery you want to bowl.
  • A good wrist position
  • Subtle differences in grip
  • Subtle variations on when you release the ball.

Dennis Lillee, who could swing the ball with the best of them when the situation demanded it, was adamant about what a good swing should do, and his explanation is an excellent starting point:


The most critical part of swing bowling is the way you let go of the ball from the hand. If this is not done with a high degree of precision, the ball will not swing at all or will swing only a little and too early in its flight to be any great danger to the batsman. It starts with the grip of the ball, which should be made by contact of the index and middle fingers on the top of the ball and the thumb at the bottom. This contact should be towards the tips of the fingers and the thumb (what we call ‘fingering’ the ball), because if the ball is gripped too deeply in the hand, the critical control needed to send the ball away correctly may be lost. The hand should be directed behind the ball at the point of delivery and must not undercut on either side. The ball is sent away with a natural under-spin, and I believe the more under-spin imparted on the ball the later it will swing. The seam should remain vertical throughout the flight down the wicket (1982).


His view that under-spin or back-spin is crucial to swing bowling was illustrated by Australian swing bowler Bob Massie, who took 16 wickets in his first Test at Lord’s in 1972. Lillee points out that when bowling, Massie managed to keep the seam absolutely steady for its flight, in no small part due to the large amounts of back-spin he put on the ball with a very whippy wrist action.

The Outswinger

There is simply no better ball to bowl at a new batsman than a fast outswinging Yorker, or perhaps an outswinging half-volley on off-stump. This is a delivery that should be mastered by any bowler who wants to succeed in the game.

Tactically, the outswinger is intended to drag the batsman wide of his comfortable hitting zone, and to have him caught in the slips or at gully. However many young or inexperienced bowlers make the mistake of getting carried away by the swing, and effectively bowling at the slips! This gives the batsman a pleasant over or two of being able to leave the ball and get settled. The ideal outswinger should be hitting off-stump or just curving away past it. The straighter you start it, the more chance you have of pinning the batsman in front with an LBW shout, especially if he thinks it’s a straight ball and tries to work if off his pads.

The grip

For a right-arm bowler facing a right-arm batsman, the seam is angled towards first slip, while the fingers point down the wicket. Remember that the ball will swing towards its rough half, so in this case, the rough side faces cover. The wrist is angled in towards the body and cocked backwards, while the side of the thumb rests on the seam of the ball.

The action

Outswing starts from ‘behind’ you. It takes some time to get the right feel of when to release the ball for maximum effect, but basically the ball needs to be released from fractionally behind the ear. The hand and body must stay on line – driving through towards the target – and follow –through must be full and complete.

This extract has been taken from Bob Woolmer on Bowling published by New Holland, ISBN: 9781847737502. If you are in the UK you can qualify for a 20% discount by clicking the above link and entering the code "Woolmer10"

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Why you shouldn't copy professional cricket throwing

This is a guest article by Laurie Ward from The Complete Cricketer Academy in Cape Town, South Africa.

In a recent ODI, England lost their 100% record against minnows Bangladesh, losing by 5 runs.

During that match they “threw away” at least 4 overthrows with unnecessary shies at the stumps when batsmen had clearly made their ground.

How to develop team spirit

This is a guest article by Daniel Maddocks of T20Kids.com: Promoting Cricket for Kids. Daniel is an ECB Coach with experience in coaching young cricketers in the North West of England.

When the bowler runs in and the batsman is ready to face the ball they are on their own. So why should cricketers worry about team spirit?


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: 109
Date: 2010-07-30