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Animated Fielding Drills Get Fit For Cricket


With Twenty20 driving the popularity of limited overs cricket, a fielding position has come back into vogue: the drive fielder.

It’s a flexible position and with the increasing number of games featuring fielders there its time we showed you how it’s done.

Plus we look more at match day preparation, find the truth about resistance bands and ask; how important is coordination in cricket?

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Specialist Fielding: Catching on the drive

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

Go to any professional level one day game and you’ll see one position that has become ubiquitous: Short midwicket.

But it’s not just pyjama cricket where the fielder ‘on the drive’ is useful and it’s seen more at every level of the game anywhere from mid on to midwicket and mid off to extra cover.

What’s the inside track on these positions?

Why have a fielder on the drive?

Fielders on the drive have two key roles.

The first is to catch and stop balls that are driven by the batsman the same way a goalkeeper would try and save a penalty.

The second is to act as a distraction and prevention of tip-and-run tactics by a batsman who is tied down and needs to keep the scoreboard ticking.

Run out chances may also come along if the batsman misjudges. One thing this position is not for is the bad-pad catch. You will never be close enough to take those.

A good drive fielder then needs sharp reflexes, safe hands and an accurate throw from a quick pickup or even following a diving stop.

There are many similarities with gully in this respect and it’s often the case that a good gully fielder makes an excellent drive fielder (and vice versa).

The position is especially useful on pitches that are slow as the ball will not carry to traditional slips. It’s also a handy position on true pitches against batsmen who like to drive ‘on the up’ and are more likely to drive in the air.

How to field on the drive

The drive position covers a relatively wide area. You could find yourself anywhere from just next to the cut strip to a extra cover or midwicket.

How deep you stand depends on the pace of the wicket and the power of the batsman but you will be closer than an orthodox ring fielder but not as close as a ‘silly’ close catcher or short leg. Usually this will be 10-15m from the stumps.

The rule of thumb is to get as close as you can but still be able to stop a drive off the middle of the bat. As you field more in this position you will get a feel for how close you can get.

Technically this position is most like slips and gully. Your stance should be similar; body relaxed but ready to move quickly and eyes concentrating.

Watch the batsman as he will shape early to play the shot that will bring the ball your way (a front or back foot drive). When you see him moving, focus your attention on the bat, then when he hits it try and pick up the ball as early as possible. This tactic gives you the best chance of taking the catch.

Disrupting the batsman

You also have a key role to play as a distraction to the batsman, disrupting his concentration.

Simply by being there is usually enough. You are in the batsman’s eye line and his mind. But if you can also chip in with a few choice comments to the wicketkeeper you can add to the overall feeling of ‘surrounding’ the batsman.

Don’t fall into the ineffective trap of continual swearing or insulting the batsman. Apart from being against the spirit of the game it rarely works. Good sledging is about picking the right moment, saying the right thing and being as original as you can be.

A great example was in a game I played recently when the batsman was playing a slow innings and not looking to rotate the strike or score boundaries. He was blocking everything basically. I was keeping wicket and the short extra cover called my attention:

“I thought bats came pre-knocked in these days.” He said loud enough to be heard.

A few balls later the batsman tried a big drive and hit it straight into the hands of the same fielder. Game, set and match.

How to practice fielding at short midwicket/short extra cover

Being on the drive is not like being in the slips; it tends to be a less used position. For this reason it’s best to double up your practice with gully and slips so you can perform any of the three.

Make sure you are doing this drill at every practice as it is especially good for close catching on the drive. Work on your reactions and concentration every day, even if you are not practicing.

The drive fielder on either side is not a position for the faint-hearted. You are staring down the barrel of a gun. To be effective you have to stand firm and be confident through lots of practice.

image credit: SarahCanterbury

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How to bowl like Andy Caddick

Despite playing his home games on one of the world's flattest pitches at Taunton, Andy Caddick took over 1,500 wickets, consistently topping the English averages.

Would you like to know how he did it?
He had just one secret.

And if you can master it, you are on the road to more wickets.

The secret was consistency.

Caddick knew that if he had an action that allowed him to bowl the ball in the same spot 5-6 times an over with enough pace he could reduce the chance of the batsman scoring and increase the chance of getting wickets through the ball swinging and seaming enough to get the batsman out caught behind, bowled or LBW.

But nobody is born with great consistency.

Even players like Caddick and Australian legend Glen McGrath had to work hard at being so accurate.

There were plenty of problems along the way and the road was never smooth.

But they keep practicing and bowling until they became metronomic and reliable with decent pace to boot.

But getting a consistent action is hard work. It's a complicated sequence of movements. Any technical or mental issues can upset the delicate balance.

Which is why, if you are serious about becoming a consistent bowler, you need the drills and advice found in Andy Caddick's online coaching course Consistency and Rhythm: Fast Bowling Technique.

In the course you will learn via videos, interactive content, articles and interviews the secret methods used by first class bowlers. This includes:

  • A detailed breakdown of the run-up for coaches and advanced players.
  • How to use your action to transfer pace onto the ball.
  • Little-known ways to correct poor technique in the action.
  • A series of first-class bowling drills to get the body in the right position for pace and accuracy.
  • Personal tips on the professional life, attitude, preparation and self-confidence.

To get instant access to Andy Caddick's online coaching course Consistency and Rhythm: Fast Bowling Technique click here.


The Formula 1 guide to cricket match day preparation (part 2)

In part 1 we looked at the mental and nutritional parts of your match day. Today we get to the nuts and bolts of how to warm up, including the best drills for your needs.

Warming up: Preparing the body and mind together

After getting your routine in order and eating right, it’s finally time to start your final countdown to the match. The qualifying laps of cricket.

That begins with the general part of your warm up, which is a warm up for both body and mind.

Traditionally a warm up is used in sport to get your heart rate up to game level. This works well in team games like football where you know you will be running around for a set time period.

This is fine if you are fielding, opening the bowling or batting. But what if you are a bowler whose side are batting first?

The warm up is still crucial to your preparation because it’s more than just getting your muscles warm. It’s also about getting your game head on. That is to say, you are psychologically prepared for the match, even if you have nothing to do immediately at the start of play.

So how does a good warm-up ramp up the body and mind?

The outmoded approach is to slog round the oval a couple of times and do a couple of static stretches; it doesn’t take an expert to realise that this is hardly perfect preparation for running a quick single or throwing down the stumps.

A more progressive approach is to think about the way you are going to move during the game and get those muscles warm, stretched and ready to fire.

These are split into:
  • Mobility drills: dynamic movements that stretch the muscles to improve the mobility around your ankle, hip, thoracic spine and shoulder.
  • Activation drills: movements that ‘wake up’ muscles by moving them in ways they are going to move when you are playing. The important ones are glutes (for running), core anti-rotation and the trapezius, serratus anterior, rotator cuff and rhomboid muscles involved in shoulder movements (for bowling, batting and throwing).

Some movements combine the drills to get a bit of both.

You can get examples of mobility and activation drills in this article and this one. There are literally hundreds more movements. You can get an in-depth look at it in this product.

There is no need to do all of them, just a few to make sure your body is ready at a physical level.

Some coaches still advocate a ‘general’ warm up before these drills; 5-10 minutes of general activity that gets the blood pumping. Personally I’m not a fan because it’s hard to control how to do this. For example, a game of football or touch rugby can quickly get competitive juices flowing and everyone is gassed before movement preparation has even begun.

These drills would be enough before moving to the last part of the warm up.

However, to really ramp up the intensity you could finish this section with some sprint drills. This makes sense because if you sprint during a game to chase a ball you want to have at least practiced it a couple of times. 4-6 10m sprints with about a minute’s rest should do it.Make it competitive to really get people sprinting hard.

Blow away the technical cobwebs

Now you get more cricket-skill specific.

This part can be done a number of ways but as a coach I like to split it up like this:

  • General fielding skills work. Fielding drills that cover; one hand pickup and underarm, chasing, throwing, high and flat catching. As much as possible do this as a team. Keep them short and sharp to avoid boredom and fatigue.
  • Batsman’s throwdowns/nets. The batsmen can then move to having throwdowns or a full net if time permits. Pair up non-batters with top order players as batting buddies. It’s important to avoid confusing yourself with technical adjustments. Save that for practice sessions and work within your limits for this match.
  • Bowlers target practice and close catchers. Bowlers who want to get loose should mark out a pitch and bowl at a marker on the ground as a target. At the same time, the specialist close catchers can do their work (there is rarely a clash). Again, avoid any technical stuff; stick to ‘just bowling’ or ‘just catching’ and save the error correction for practice.
  • Team game. Finish with a team based fielding drill that is high energy and gets everyone involved. This is a great example so is this.

The order is not fixed, but finishing on the high of a team game is a good way to get the energy up before individuals vanish off to have some final reflections before the game starts.

Wicketkeeper’s can be tricky as they need at least 1 person to help with drills if not 2. Plus the keeper is usually required by the bowlers who are doing target practice and the fielders during drills. One solution is for the keeper to do his drills with his batting buddy. Otherwise he may just have to bite the bullet and come out 5 minutes early to get through his warm ups first.

Take a moment to reflect

Finally you head back to the mental side before play starts.

You will already know what the team is doing, and what your role is. Reflect on this as much as you need to. For example if you are about to open the batting, take some time aside to visualise your innings and calm yourself down. Opening bowlers on the other hand might try hyping themselves up to get more pace.

For some people, finishing with a general positive statement helps keep them in the right frame of mind.

And then you will be physically and mentally ready for play to begin:  A finely tuned F1 car on the grid and ready to go racing.

If you enjoyed this series, get the free PitchVision Academy cricket coaching newsletter delivered to your inbox every week.

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The truth about resistance bands and cricket

Can a little bit of rubber tubing really make you a better player?

There is no doubt in my mind that resistance bands have an important place in cricket training, and you don’t need a personal trainer to get the best from one.

But like any tool, you have to use it right to get results.

How to improve your coordination for cricket

You only have to look at a great fast bowler like Brett Lee to see how important coordination is to cricket skill.

When Lee bowls, his muscles fire in a perfectly synchronised order to propel the ball towards the batsman at 90mph (145kph) or more. He is balanced and in rhythm.

A terrifying sight.

It’s no different for batting and bowling either. The skills of coordination underpin everything we do on the pitch.


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: 119
Date: 2010-10-08