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Animated Fielding Drills Get Fit For Cricket


Playing in the club first team is a great ambition for a lot of players. At the least it’s a stepping stone to greater things, but it’s also the pinnacle of any club meaning you are one of the best.

That’s why this week we look at how to get into the firsts with the essential traits of first team players, a way to improve your practice and a guest post that looks at how to analyse your weaknesses rather than just following the cliché and ‘take the positives’.

Plus the podcast has the usual interview and we ask for your thoughts on where the spirit of cricket is these days.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

The 6 traits of first team cricketers

Cricket club selection meetings always bring up controversy.

In every club that puts out more than one team, there is bound to be the fringe player who splits the committee. In my club this is especially true of young players looking to break into the first XI.

I’ve sat on selection committee all this season and one of the qualifiers for whether a player is given a chance or not is if he ‘looks like a first team player’.

I’ve heard it a few times this season, and while all the selectors all know what it means, I thought it was time to reveal what we are looking for in a player when selecting them for the firsts.

The idea being that it will inspire you to fit the template and move up a level.

1. Runs or wickets

As a selector, nothing talks to me more than bundles of runs or wickets in the 2nd XI.

You could have all the other qualities in spades, but if you can’t hit the ball off the square and get 0-70 off 10 every week you are never going to get picked, let alone stay in the side.

Conversely, you could have nothing else going for you except a batting average of 60 and a bowling average of 16.

Welcome to the firsts son.

Of course, to stay in the side you are going to need more. You are going to have to look and act the part too. You won’t last long in the team if you don’t have a few other qualities too.

2. Technique

At club and school level you can get away with a certain amount of bad technique as long as you have a method for scoring runs or taking wickets nobody really cares.

But look most selectors in the eye and they will grudgingly admit that the good technique player will get a better chance than the ugly one. It’s common sense; if you have a good technique you are improve your chances of performing well.

I’ve seen it in my own team where a young batsman was picked a put straight in the side up the order. This was despite at least 2 other players already in the side with a case for batting in his position, but he just looked better with his easy style.

You want him to succeed purely for the beauty of the game. That’s the power of good cricket technique. So take every chance to get yours as close to perfection as possible.

3. Commitment

Nothing gets a selectors goat up more than a talented player who can’t commit to their cricket. They may say they want to do well, but then when a game is on they suddenly are not available.

Now, we all have busy lives and none of us are full time professionals, but to be considered as a serious player you have to be able to show some commitment.

Nobody is expecting players to come to every net session and be available for every game, but players who make the effort will always get a better chance. Ways you can do this are:

  • Plan around game days: Avoid making arrangements for other things when games are on.
  • Adjust your work: If you have to work on game or practice days, try and book them off.
  • Tell your captain you want to move up a level and show him you are keen by coming to practice as often as you can.
  • Find friends or team mates to have extra practice with.
  • Ask the coach/captain for specific weaknesses in your game to work on.
4. Desire

There are two talented young seamers in my club: Both around the same age with decent pace and able to move the ball in the air or off the pitch.

One is a regular in the first team, the other spends most of his time in the seconds with the odd appearance at the top level.

The difference is mainly desire.

The regular first teamer wanted to make it. He cared. The guy stuck in the stiffs just likes playing cricket and doesn’t mind if it’s first, second or third eleven.

As a selector you are always going to prefer guys who want to be in the team with a passion. You know they want to cement a place in the side, that when they are there they will sweat blood and work their fingers to the bone, even when things are going wrong.

The impression of the guy who doesn’t care is that he will give up when the going gets tough. He won’t be bothered enough to try and make things happen for the team. He’s not the man you want to ‘go over the top’ with.

So if you really do want to play cricket, make sure your desire is known. Be frustrated with being stuck in the 2nd XI and don’t be afraid to tell people you are. It’s better to ruffle feathers with over-eagerness than to stay quiet and be overlooked.

5. Fielding

As long as I can remember (and probably far longer than that), the better fielders have always got the selection nod first.

This is because a team always needs good fielders and so even if you fail at your main skill you can make up for it by fielding well. It also means you can be picked as an extra batsman or bowler and given a chance when you would have been overlooked otherwise.

The good news is that even if you are a poor fielder you can make big improvements.

Mainly this is through practice. The harder and longer you drill the better you get.

But it also means working on being an aware fielder.

6. Fitness

The higher the level you play, the fitter you have to be.  

You may say skill is more important and you would be right. There are plenty of relatively unfit players doing well in club and school cricket (even some in the professional game).

But if you are in the balance for selection and you are not as fast, agile or strong as the player in possession then you are going to find it all the harder to get in.

Similarly, if you are in the first team and have a bad run of form then a fitter player will breathe down your neck far more quickly.

So, get fit. You don’t need to become a bodybuilder, but a couple of sessions a week will improve your strength and power as well as reducing your chance of injury.

Have you got a good enough reason to not train?

In my view, most players can give themselves a run at playing first team cricket. The trick is to commit your body and mind enough to the task. It doesn’t have to dominate your life, but if you can be more committed, more passionate and fitter then you will be hard to ignore when you start putting in performances. 

image credit: ufopilot

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Ask the Readers: Do you play in the Spirit of Cricket

An incident in the 2010 England-Pakistan Test series got me wondering how you play your games. Do you play in the Spirit of Cricket?

Leave a comment and let me know how hard you play.

Despite being miles ahead in the match, Stuart Broad threw a ball at Zulqarnain Haider in frustration at being unable to get him out.

Critics said it wasn’t cricket. Fans said it showed the aggression needed to win modern matches.

But right or wrong, it shows how the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ is an idea that belongs in the hearts of the purists rather than the actions of the players.

There certainly is little room for spirit in the league club cricket that I play.

The general attitude is to win by doing as much as you can get away with. There is little time for maintaining the unique character of the game.

Maybe you have seen some of the things I have in games over the years:

  • Batsmen not walking when they know they have hit it
  • Appealing when there is no chance the batsman is out
  • Batsmen getting sent from the field with a volley of abuse from the bowler
  • A little extra being applied to the ball to help it swing
  • Open disrespect for umpire’s decisions and opposition players
  • Sledging batsmen to put them off
  • Appealing for a catch that was taken close to the ground and bounced

If the game was really played in the proper spirit this pushing of legality wouldn’t happen.

All shaking hands at the end and having a quick drink in the bar together under the banner of Playing Hard But Fair doesn’t cut it. Everyone plays Hard But As Unfair As They Can Get Away With.

Which brings me back to the original question.

Do you play your games as the MCC intended?

Or is winning more important and, as long as you don’t get caught, there is nothing that is too far?

Leave a comment and tell us what you think.

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Why your nets are stopping you improving

 When a side are doing badly it’s inevitable that extra nets are put on.

The logic is clear: If you practice you get better. Practice, as they say, makes perfect.

But if you were designing a way to practice to get better based on what we know about skill development, traditional nets are about as useful as bat with a hole in the middle.

Nets don’t work to get you better because they don’t fill the fundamentals of improving.

To get better you need to:
  1. Practice a specific skill
  2. Get feedback on that skill
  3. Go back to 1.
Something like this:
Batting, bowling and throwing are complex skills. They need a combination of movements that need to be timed in the correct order.
Take the on drive as the perfect example.

The shot needs your head and body position to be perfectly aligned so you can swing the bat with the full face through the line of the ball. Nobody can do that first time and every time, even the best players in the world.

To learn it well a player needs to hit the shot over and over again until the feel of the right position and swing is ingrained on the mind. A coaching or batting buddy needs to be on hand to advise where it’s going wrong.

It’s a proven method that works with any sports skill.

Yet we expect player to perfect an on drive in nets where even the best bowlers could never bowl the required leg stump half volleys even if they wanted to.

It’s not going to happen.
Which means you are not going to improve.
So are nets good for nothing at all?
Not quite.

They are handy for recreating pressure situations. They are also useful for batsmen learning how to pick up length early from a bowlers action.

But as a method for improving skill you would be far better with:

  • Throwdowns
  • A bowling machine
  • Tennis ball feeds
  • Bowling at a target, not a batsman

Because each of these methods allows you to practice a specific skill and get instant feedback before practicing it again.

And that’s something nets can never do.

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Why you shouldn’t ‘take the positives’ from a loss

This is a guest article from Laurie Ward

In modern cricket-speak, losing captains are quick to say “we will take the positives from this game” when they have been played off the park.

But do they really? Or is it just fluff for the media?

In reality the team and coach will look at what went wrong in the cold light of day and then work hard to put things right.

Cricket Show 92: The secrets of batting technique

PitchVision Academy Cricket Show

Gary Palmer is the guest on this week’s show as we look at the technique of ailing Englishman Alastair Cook. Find out what Gary’s advice is to the young opener and pick up some of your own tips.


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: 112
Date: 2010-08-20