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Animated Fielding Drills Get Fit For Cricket


When a game changes after a brilliant bit of fielding the whole team is lifted more than any other time. Imagine the power of a brilliant diving catch or one hand pick up and run out on the atmosphere of the team.

And it’s always the covers who seem to be involved in these things. So this week we are looking at what it takes to be a better cover (and midwicket) fielder.

Plus, there are articles on understanding how your personality influences your bowling style and what it takes to bat well against left arm inswing bowlers.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

4 reasons why Mike Selvey is wrong about running. (Or why Steven Finn won’t be like Bob Willis.)

Mike Selvey, cricket writer, commentator and England international knows a thing or two about fast bowling. He took over 1000 wickets.

But he’s perpetuating a myth will harm upcoming young bowlers if they follow his advice.

So it’s time for a rebuttal; long, slow distance running is not the way to get fit for bowling.

In this article Selvey eloquently outlines his arguement for England bowling talent Steven Finn. Rightly he points out that Finn is young. He has not developed the strength and stamina for ardous bowling tasks. He risks injury because he has not bowled enough.

The answer appears simple, follow what Bob Willis did:

“A German, Ernst van Aaken, who having studied the great Czech runner Emil Zatopek, became a proponent of stamina being built by long, slow distance running: LSD. It was at a barbecue in Australia in the mid-70s that Bob met another doctor, a hypnotherapist and disciple of Van Aaken called Arthur Jackson, who gave him the book on the subject that was to alter his career. He did his laps and roadwork, mile after plodding mile, and went on until 1984, taking 325 Test wickets with hardly a breakdown. It was a remarkable transformation.”

If it worked for Bob (and Selvs too) then why wouldn’t it work for Finn, or you?

Here are 4 reasons why:

1. Distance running doesn’t prevent imbalance injuries

Running may strengthen joints but it does nothing for some of the big causes in injuries in bowlers: imbalances.

Because you only bowl with one hand, over time problems creep in. Typically a bowler, even with a good action, can find tightness in their front leg muscles and bowling arm shoulder. The greater the tightness the more likely you are to be injured.

In short, jogging makes no difference to your chance of getting injured in this way.

2. Distance running reduces your mobility

We all know how important it is for a bowler’s pace to have mobile hips. Good hip health also means less chance of injury, so we love hip mobility.

The problem with distance running here is that at best it makes no difference, at worst it reduces mobility. This is because it is repetitively making your hips move through a small range of motion. Certain muscles work hard (rectus femoris) while others do nothing (psoas). Over time your body adapts and your hips get stiff.

Or to put it another way: You end up with an ouchie.

3.  Distance running reduces your power

Bowling fast is like pinging a rubber band. 

To get maximum effect you need to stretch it before it fires (contracts). All really fast bowlers have a fearsome ‘pre-stretch’ in their action. The fast you can stretch-contract the quicker the ball goes.

And guess what exercise is the opposite of a fast, quick action? Can we all say “long slow distance” running?

4. Distance running is boring

Finally, let’s be honest. Running is dull for cricketers. To run you need a certain mindset that is different from playing competitive team sport.

Young players don’t want to spend their time running round the outfield. Heck, old players don’t either. Fitness should be as much of a challenge as playing, so don’t waste time plugged into your ipod, so something engaging and interesting.

It’s better for you any way.

Of course, Finn’s strength coaches already know this and won’t be programming much road work for the young man.

But now you know why too, and can work on other ways to get fit that give you more bang for your buck.

For a training guide that focuses on reducing injury risk and increasing performance based on the latest research and proven methods of success check out Strength and Conditioning for Cricket at all Levels by county strength coach Rob Ahmun.

image credit: SarahCanterbury

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Specialist fielding: Covers and midwicket

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

If I asked you to name a great fielder who would you name?

Jonty Rhodes? Paul Collingwood? Ricky Ponting?

Chances are you would name someone who fields in the covers, the fielding position that requires the widest range of skills and the most dramatic and athletic performances.

These are the fielders that patrol an area on either side of the wicket known loosely as the ‘inner ring’: Point, cover, extra cover, midwicket and square leg:

These guys, especially on the off side, pull off the most dramatic diving catches and stops that impress everyone (except the batter).

Why have ring fielders?

Batsmen know the percentages. If they play straight in attack and defence they far are more likely to succeed. They are looking to it the ball in the V between mid on and mid off.

But not every ball goes there, even from straight bat shots and that’s where the covers come into play. Your role there is twofold:

  1. Stop the cover drive, square drive and flick off the legs going for a boundary.
  2. Prevent quick singles being taken from defensive shots.

It’s not all defence though.

You are also expected to take catches and hit the stumps with run out chances.

So the skills required are many: safe hands catching both high and flat chances, speed over long and short distances, accurate and strong throws and the full range of stops including diving, sliding and the good old long barrier.

How to field in the ring

After the basic skills, which I show you how to practice a little further down, fielding in the ring is really about being open and able to anticipate what will happen.

The quicker you can work out what the batsman is trying to do, the faster you can get into position to play your part.

For example, if you are fielding at point and you see the batsman step back and across, shaping to play a cut you know the ball has a high chance of coming your way quickly. You can set yourself early for the catch or diving stop and be ready to chase if it goes past you.

On the other hand, if the batsman shapes to play a defensive shot then you can start to move forward early in anticipation of the tip-and-run tactic.

And speaking of tactics, it’s also important to know what the team tactics are at the time to decide how you will field. You may have to be defensive or aggressive depending on the score, batsman on strike and philosophy of the captain.

Where to field

Cover and midwicket fielders need to stand close enough to discourage sharp single but far enough away to give yourself a chance to stop the ball that comes off the middle. This is somewhere between 15-25m from the bat.

Line yourself up in the covers with mid off and third man so you form a line that is the opposite of the batsman’s V. Don’t let mid on or mid off creep too close to the batsman as you will be forced to either close in or leave a welcoming gap for the batsman to exploit.

In certain situations you may drop deeper. For example if you want to subtly give a single to an established batsman to get a tail-ender on strike.

You might also drop to the edge of a 30 yard fielding circle when restrictions are in place. This might give away a single but give you more chance of stopping the boundary.

Keep an eye on the batsman’s style and technical weaknesses. That way you can adjust your position depending on how he or she plays.


Fitness is crucial to fielding in the ring. You need to be fast, agile, strong, powerful and have enough stamina to keep your energy up from first ball to last (even if that is 90 overs in a day).

Great ring fielders are always fit.

But this isn’t about long hours jogging or bodybuilding. It’s about being able to move in a smooth coordinated way; being an athlete.

You can learn how to do that easily on this online coaching course from county coach Rob Ahmun.

Ways to practice

But it’s not good being an athlete without becoming world class at the basic fielding skills.

And that means regular, intense and short practices that focus on developing technique first and technique under pressure second.

The skills you need to have to perfection are:

  • One hand pickup and underarm throw
  • Two hand pickup and overarm throw
  • Chase, slide, pickup and return throw from the deep
  • Diving stops
  • Catching: High, over the shoulder, flat and diving

You might consider these basic skills but you would be surprised how even senior players make technical errors.

For example, next time you do an underarm pickup and throw drill look how many people turn their back foot sideways rather than keeping it point forwards. It’s only a tiny change but it can make a difference to the outcome and as it’s a run out it could cost you a wicket!

So practice these skills until you are perfect, even when the pressure is on.

The best way to do that is to put aside time at every practice session and pre-match warm up to do your drills. Look to be perfect every time.

If you can practice fielding skills every day you are in an ideal position. Most can’t but search out as much practice as you can.

You don’t need to spend too long on the skills. 20 minutes at most is enough to cover the skills you need. If you go on too long you lose technique and the practice becomes pointless.

A typical fielding session might be:

  1. 5 minutes warm up game
  2. 10 minutes working on a specific skill i.e. Flat catching
  3. 5 minutes team drill involving as many skills as possible. For example this one.

If you are a specialist cover fielder, or aiming to become one, how do you hone your skills?

Leave a comment and let us know.

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What goes into 10,000 hours of practice?

Research has shown that it takes around 10 years of daily practice (2-3 hours a day) to reach the pinnacle of any discipline.

It’s where the famous 10,000 hour rule comes from. It’s a rule so powerful it can make anyone a decent cricketer no matter how much natural talent they have (or lack).

But while 10,000 hours is a nice headline, what’s not so clear is what you do during those hours.

Because how you practice is as important as how much you practice.

Feedback loop

You see, we only improve when we practice in a certain way. This practice is different to the way most practice sessions are run. The process is:

  1. Set up a practice with a specific goal
  2. Get instant feedback on your success or failure
  3. Make an adjustment and try again
A feedback loop, if you will. A bit like the picture above.

A simple example of this would be bowling taget practice. Here the practice is to set a target on the pitch and try to bowl in it. The instant feedback is whether you hit it or not. You can adjust and repeat as many times as you like and slowly watch your accuracy improve.

What you may have noticed is how different this is from playing cricket.

It may seem strange to say this, but that’s because playing matches is not a good way to improve. Playing simply tests your current abilities, but without an instant feedback loop and repetition you can’t improve.

Consider the batsman who is weak against short bowling. In a game he may get none at all, or worse, get out early to a bouncer. He may have plenty of time in the pavilion to think about the adjustment, but with no way to repeat the ball he can’t learn.

Nets are similar. Even the best run nets don’t give you the chance to adjust in controlled conditions. Bowlers are not going to give batsmen a leg stump half volley to practice the on drive repeatedly. It’s slightly easier for bowlers who can ignore the batsman and practice accuracy or pace, but often a batsman’s reaction (especially slogging) is highly distracting.

So keep games and non-feedback training out of your 10,000 hours and start racking up the feedback based practice.

How do you do it?

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Duellist or surgeon: What type of pace bowler are you?

Imagine standing at the top of your mark on a warm summer day. The batsman is ready, the keeper and slips are way back in the distance.

You are the one with the ball; all the batsman can do is respond to what you deliver. What happens next is up to you.

But it’s how you view the batsman that is all important to your personality (and success) as a bowler.

Why you struggle against left arm bowling

This is part 1 of a 2 part series by Gary Palmer about batting against left arm over bowlers.

The most successful batsmen have efficient techniques against all angles and types of bowler.

Lesser players struggle against left arm over pace bowling, especially the ones who swing the ball back in to the batter. This problem is apparent with all ages and standards of cricketers.


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: 116
Date: 2010-09-17