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Animated Fielding Drills Get Fit For Cricket


Let’s be honest, the world of professional cricket is a long way from most club and school teams. We can’t prepare as well, the fielding isn’t as good and sometimes we even have to do our own umpiring and scoring.

But we can still do our best in the circumstances. So this week we dedicate the newsletter to some of the challenges the non-professional players have to face. From tips on fielding in the gully to fitness training and why some teams succeed where others fail.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Spin bowling tips: Bowling with a poor fielding team

We don’t all play in a team where we have great fielders to support us. A great wicket keeper to take a leg side stumping, a short leg that snatches a half-chance and a pair of good hands in the deep that you know will always take it. Unlike fast bowlers who take a lot more wickets by hitting the stumps or LBWs, spin bowlers rely much more on a good fielding team.

So, what do you do when you bowl spin a not-so-good fielding team. Here are a few tips:

  1. Know your fielders. Even in a poor fielding team some guys are better at some things than others. Get your sharp reflex guys up close and your safe hands out in the deep.
  2. Watch you team at practise and at warm ups before the game. This way you can identify your fielders’ strengths.
  3. If you really do not have good close catchers, do not waste them by putting them close. It might be the correct field but it’s no use if they will never take a catch. Be realistic and put them where they will be worth something.
  4. Bowl a straight line with the aim of hitting the stumps or getting LBWs.
  5. Make sure you practise your own fielding from your bowling at every practise and that you lead by example.

Remember to never get angry at team mates when they miss-field or drop a catch! No one does that on purpose and all it will do is alienate you in the team and make you lose your own temper and control.

For more tips on how to deal with realistic cricket situation, check out my book Spin Bowling Tips right here on PitchVision Academy.


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How to survive your stint as umpire

This exclusive newsletter article was written in conjunction with The Umpiring Survival Guide for Players, Coaches and Non-Umpires on PitchVision Academy.

Are you a player or coach who is asked to umpire?

Perhaps you have to do it in your league when your team has a bye. Maybe there are no appointed umpires and you have to do the job during your team's batting innings. Perhaps you are the team coach and there is no umpire on the day.

Whatever the reason, you are standing with the white coat on.

And desperate not to make a mistake.

Like any skill, good umpiring needs practice, but you can get away with doing well if you learn how to do the basics well. Perhaps surprisingly, these basics are not about knowing the laws

What's the Law got to do with it?

As long as you have a basic understanding of what constitutes a wide, no-ball and LBW you can use fairness and common-sense to run the game.

Because that is the main job of any umpire: To let the players play and only intervene when totally necessary.

Umpires who are respected take the time and effort to allow players to play. Mainly this is by simple things like:

  • Answering appeals, even with "not out" and calling "over" at the end of the over.
  • Offering to take a bowler's cap and jumper before he asks.
  • Mentioning to a bowler when his foot is getting close to the line
  • Responding to reasonable questions about your decisions without justifying yourself.
Be consistent

The other key survival skill as an umpire is to remain consistent as possible. Players are happier with a bad umpire who is bad with everyone than an inconsistent umpire who could be suspected of cheating!

You can be consistent by making decisions one by one. Don't every try and make up for a mistake by giving another poor decision. The players will soon realise you are looking out for them and not taking favourites.

Finally it helps with your consistency to have a basic understanding of the laws and running the game.

You can find out how to do that in more detail in the exclusive on-line course: The Umpiring Survival Guide for Players, Coaches and Non-Umpires; Available now at PitchVision Academy.


Specialist fielding: Gully

This is part of the specialist fielding series of articles, for the full list of fielding positions covered click here.

Fielding at gully is like being a goalkeeper saving a penalty.   

A lot of close catchers prefer this position as, unlike the slips, it’s a matter of reactions. You either pull off a brilliant catch or it whistles past you and you can’t be blamed for missing it.

So although the gully is often lumped in with the slips there are specialist skills needed.

Why have a gully?

Like slip, gully is an attacking fielding position behind the wicket on the off side. He stands squarer and deeper than the slips.

The position is in place to both take catches and save runs. Gully is in the game is when a batsman is cutting off the back foot. If the ball is mishit a catch is on. If it is played down the gully is there to save the boundary with a reaction stop, often requiring a dive.

Shared skills with slips

Slip and gulley have a lot of similarities so there is some interchange between the positions. The stance and catching techniques are identical.

Concentration is also a crucial shared skill, although unlike slips the gully usually has more warning that the ball is coming as the batsman shapes to play a cut early and the fielder can ready himself.

For this reason you watch the bat and the batsman as the bowler is delivering the ball.

Where to stand

The ball comes off the face of the bat when hit through gully meaning it travels faster than it typically does to the slips. This means that the orthodox gulley can afford to be deeper than the slips.

On slow wickets the ball will not travel in the air as high or as far so you have to show bravery and get closer than you feel is comfortable. On fast wickets you can be a long way back safe in the knowledge that the ball will carry.

How square you are will depend on where the batsman is likely to hit the ball. A good rule of thumb for the position is to stand in line with the on-side corner of batter's popping crease to middle stump towards the slip cordon. Like this:

Ways to practice

Don’t use this as an excuse but as a reactive position you can get away with less practice as gully than in other close catching positions.

That’s something handy to know for captains with players not keen on fielding practice. You may have found your specialist gully.

But like any fielding position, the more you practice the better you get, so having a specialist who practices gully catches at every practice will help your side.

Simply getting someone to hit throws off the face of the bat to you is an excellent way to practice the position.

Then double up with slip practice as you may be required to move into 2nd or 3rd slip in certain situations.

Finally, general work on improving your reactions will help you get into position earlier.

image credit: sheldonmarlboroughcc

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Here’s why your cricket team is failing

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but most cricket teams fail to reach their expectations. Yours included.

It’s not because you want to fail, or that the side is untalented. It’s certainly not bad luck. These are handy excuses. Ways we use to justify our failure after the event.

What’s better for cricket: Bodyweight or weight training?

Everyone knows you need to be fit to play cricket at your best.

Where the disagreements start is on the best way to do it.

Because fitness is cricket new (and still not fully accepted in many quarters) players who are keen to train have had to take lessons from other sports that have been faster to embrace the benefits of strength training: Rugby, American Football, Track and Field.

And in turn these sports have taken their cue from the original gymnastics and strongman training that dates back as far as the Ancient Greeks.


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: 114
Date: 2010-09-03