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Animated Fielding Drills Get Fit For Cricket


This week’s newsletter has loads of talking points around playing and coaching cricket, so it’s a great time to join the conversation.

We want your indoor cricket tips and some ways to sledge your own bowlers. Plus we discuss why some drills can do more harm than good.

What do you think?
Don’t be shy, come leave a comment, there is a link at the bottom of every article.

David Hinchliffe

How to wind up your fast bowler

Fast bowlers are a temperamental lot, especially if it’s not ‘coming out right’.

 The same guy who last week was scaring batsmen and knocking over stumps with fury in his eyes has this week become a warm cuddly friend to the batsmen bowling gentle medium pace.

You know who you are.
It sets a trend.

Without realising the whole side are going through the motions. Fielders are listless, the captain is letting the game drift and no one is having fun – except the opposition.

We can’t have that, so the only solution is to sledge your own team-mate, just to try and fire him back up again.

Here are some of my favourites:
  • “Take off the handbrake”
  • “Stop bowling spin”
  • “It would help if you unhooked the caravan”
  • “I always thought <insert name of rival bowler> had more pace”
  • “Everything OK yeah? Then stop bowling like a idiot ”
  • “Great tactic; a slower ball followed by 5 slower balls”

Mike Brearley used to call Ian Botham an old tart. It worked because it played on the ego of the great all-rounder.

Of course, not all bowler’s need a kick up the behind. Some prefer a quiet word of encouragement, but it tends to be the nature of the quickie that the more fired up you get them, the better they bowl.

Fast bowling needs fire in the belly as well as a good technique.

Some might say this approach is overly critical and rather than getting the bowler going it will stress him out.

I say rubbish.

Sure, if these comments are designed to be nasty and win some internal battle in the side you are not going to help a bowler by being sarcastic.

But as long as your comments are bedded in the context of a supportive team atmosphere where players are working hard together in the field then you have nothing to fear.

At the very least, it’s more fun than just shouting a mindless “come on lads” every other ball. That gets boring pretty quick and everyone switches off to it.

What about in your team, what do your players say to get the quickie seeing red?

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Fielding Drills: Winner takes all

Purpose: To practice the one hand pickup and underarm throw under pressure in a competitive situation.

Description: Players stand in pairs opposite each other about 20m apart with one ball per pair. On cue, players roll the ball slowly towards their partner. As soon as the ball is released the partner runs in picks up the ball one handed and underarms it back.

Once the ball has been thrown, the player runs back to the start. This is repeated 3 times per player. The first pair to finish wins the round. Swap players and repeat. 


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What Makes a Cricketer Built for Fast Bowling?

Andrew Flintoff, it was often said, was not built for fast bowling. The stresses of the action eventually forced him to retire through injury.

But anyone who can send a series of cricket balls crashing down at 90mph onto the same handkerchief sized bit of pitch must have some kind of build for it.

Flintoff was both blessed and cursed; built for fast bowling with a built in obsolescence.

So what are the traits a fast bowler really needs to be quick and injury free?



Not all good fast bowlers are tall but it helps if you are.

It's just physics: the longer your levers the more force you can generate. It's why medieval catapults were so massive. They had to be to get over the castle walls.

Then there is the extra benefit of bounce; something all tall bowlers benefit from and no batsman is truly comfortable playing.

But there is not much you can do about height, you got it or you aint, so let's move on swiftly.


But strength is no good without being able to access the force you generate. And that's where coordination of your action comes into play.

As you know, the bowling action is a combination of movements, all of which need to fire in perfect sequence to get to most pace.

Any slip up in the sequence costs you. So good fast bowler also have brilliant coordination of their movements in their action.

Good coaching is crucial to this of course, but the real key is to learn coordination as a young person through other activities than bowling: Learning and doing basic things like running, jumping, throwing, catching, keeping your balance and the like. The more well-rounded you can be as a young player, the better you will be as a cricketer.

That's a fact that has been shown up in research that demonstrates the more sports a young player plays, the better he or she does when specialising later on.


We often talk about a fast bowler being strong and it's true, to be quick you need strength, but it's a certain kind of strength.

Olympic weightlifters have to move a big weight from a dead start and get it over their head. Bowlers have a tiny weight that they have to propel as fast as possible. Both require a combination of strength and speed. However, the bowler needs a bit more speed than strength, hence speed-strength.

Genetics dictates how much speed-strength you have naturally and how much you can improve it.

The good thing is that unlike height, anyone can improve it with fitness work. The trick is to do the stuff that gives you the best crossover onto the pitch.

Indestructible shoulders, ankles, back and knees

Of course all these traits are useless without a bit of resistance to the forces that bowling puts on your body.

Using your front legs as a brace while you twist your body round it takes a toll on the joints over time, especially if you are a Flintoff-like “big unit”.

On Flintoff's retirement we were sold that his injuries were inevitable because of this. But it's hard to say for sure. For example, had Freddie had a more friendly action he might have escaped the worst.

We can't know for sure in that case, but what we can say is if we work on the stability and mobility of our joints, they are less likely to get hurt whatever exercise we do.

Or to put it another way, if we focus on getting fit to play rather than playing to get fit we are increasing our chances of staying on the park.

So it seems being built for fast bowling is a a mix of genetics, early development and continued hard work throughout your bowling career.

What would you say the important elements of being a fast bowler are? 

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Ask the readers: What are your indoor cricket tips?

Being an outdoor sport on a big field, cricket doesn’t lend itself well to being indoors. But there is a thriving indoor game, especially in the UK and Australia during the winter months.

It’s fast, furious and the ‘five-a-side football’ version of cricket.

I must admit I’ve never played a proper game, only ever netting indoors. The idea has never appealed much.

Why hitting the gaps is about more than a quick drill

It’s a heartbreaking moment as a batsman. The bowler serves up a half-volley, the ball pings from the middle of the bat.

Only to go straight to a fielder.

The ‘keeper probably compounds your pain with a quick “you missed out there, I thought that was a gimmie” perhaps you let the frustration get to you and end up playing an injudicious shot (let’s be honest, we all have had an ugly heave under pressure), miss it and get out.

All because you hit the fielder and not the gap.


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: 121
Date: 2010-10-22