Pitchvision Academy


If you were to ask me for one cricket tip above anything else I would not hesitiate in my answer.

There is one thing that is more important than every other aspect. Without it you are drastically improving your chances of failure.

I wouldn't tell you to get fit. I wouldn't give you a fielding drill and I wouldn't tell you to eat your greens.

I'd tell you to build up your fans: Those people who support, pressure and cajole you into getting the best of yourself. It's so important that's what this week's lead article is all about.

But that's not all. We also have tips on batting for tail enders, bowling practice for spinners and some cricket fitness tips not to be missed.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

Double you chance of cricketing success by finding your fans
How many fans do you have?

If you are Kevin Pietersen, Brett Lee or MS Dhoni you might answer with a five (or maybe six) figure number. Which is nice for them, but what has it got to do with making you a better cricketer?

Scientists have worked away to find out the factors that contribute to whether someone succeeds or fails at their goals. The biggest determining factor is your social network.

Put simply if your friends play a lot of cricket, you are more likely to play more. If your family eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise, guess what? You probably will too.

That means one of the most important things you can do if you want to do well as a cricketer is surround yourself with people who support your goals.

Your very own set of fans if you like.

This can sometimes be tough. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you spend every day with people who are fit and healthy (play sport, eat a balanced diet, exercise, etc.)?
  2. Do you have people you can turn to if you want to practice or workout?
  3. Do you belong to any groups who meet at least twice a week to train, play sport or workout?
  4. Do the people you live and/or work with ever bring food that is considered healthy?
  5. Do your friends and family ever talk to you about your cricket in a positive way?
  6. Do the people in your life make a point of avoiding activities that interfere with your cricket practice or training?

If you can answer yes to all or most of those questions, you have a great support network. Congratulations your fans are working for you.

If you see a lot of answers of no, you might need to do some work to get to where you want to be, and I'm not talking about more nets either.

You need to get some fans.

How to get social support when you don't have it

Getting the support of your friends, family and peers can be tricky, especially if there is a negative attitude. I have seen it myself even within cricket sides themselves.

However the answer is simple. Dump everyone negative in your life, get a new job (or go to a new school) and only make acquaintance with supportive people.

OK so that might be a bit too difficult.

But, you can take some positive action with being so drastic.

Start by planning to spend more time with your fans and less time with the others. You don't have to cut people off, just focus on the people who can help you (and possibly you can help in return).

That might mean finding some new friends with similar interests or hiring a coach.

It might also mean seeking out like minded folks on the web. The miCoach forum is a good place to start.

In the coming weeks I am planning a brand new addition to the site that will make getting the support you need even easier. Subscribe to the newsletter for news on that when it happens.

Whatever way you choose to go though, make sure you've got some help in your corner. It could double your chances of success. Isn't it time you did that?

Image credit: CC Chapman


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Showing the show ponies up: The art of tail end batting

Batsmen eh?

All they do is stand in the outfield looking pretty then when it comes to the crunch they get out leaving it up to the tail to win or save the close games.

Where is the justice?

There's none. If you bat in the tail you just have to suck it up and consider yourself an all rounder. Even number 11 has a job to do in the batting order: At best it's to swipe a single off the last ball, at worst it's to bat out for the draw in an epic last wicket stand.

Let's take a look at some common tail end batting situations and see what skills you need to work on (when the batsman have finished of course).

1. Attack, attack, attack: Winning the game (or hitting out for a declaration)

This situation is generally known as 'the fun part'. You are not racked with the same mental pain as a top order batsman but you still have a job to do: Score runs quickly.

You don't need every shot in the book to pull this off. However, you need at least one decent shot you can rely on to get you runs. Whether it's a stylish cover drive or aiming everything at cow corner is purely a matter of personal choice.

In fact, an unorthodox style can work to your advantage as you regularly put the ball in unexpected places.

Either way, you still need to consider your innings. It's not always a slog. You probably won't have time to build an innings properly, but you may still have some time to play yourself in. That means practicing your batting in different game situations as much as you can. It teaches you the psychology of building a late innings.

Even if you are hitting out the basics of batting still apply: watch the ball, keep your head still, select the right shot and lead with your shoulder/hands.

The main thing is to enjoy it, you are probably not expected to win the match so you have little to lose in going for it.

2. Holding up an end: Staying with an established batsman

This situation is more common in longer 4 innings games, but still can happen in other formats. Your job here is to spend as much time as possible at the non strikers end watching the well set player get some runs.

That usually means scampering quick singles at the start of an over and being ready to do the same towards the end. Anything off the pads is usually an easy single if you are desperate. It helps to work on placing the ball into the gaps in practice.

Being able to leave the ball is also an important skill. Many tail enders leave partners stranded because they are not a good judge of what to hit and what to leave. There is usually no need to play at balls outside off stump as it increases your chances of getting out. The exception would be if you are trying to score rapidly as we discussed above.

3. Bored to death: Saving a game

In matches that can end in a draw you need intense concentration to be able to bat it out.

Imagine the situation. You are in with twelve overs to go and there are a couple of spinners on: One chucking it up in the air, one flatter and quicker. There is bound to be a moment at some point in those 72 balls where your eyes light up and you feel a certain boundary coming.

But your judgement of the ball needs to be perfect. Are you really that good a batsman?

If we are talking about a rank ball to your strongest shot with little risk then the answer is probably yes. However long hops still require you to play cross bat shots, wide half volleys can get you playing away from your body and that fielder who seems to have wandered out of position might just be the one put there by the opposition skipper after seeing that you hit it in the air there.

The biggest compliment you can get in these situations is the opposition sledging you for being boring or 'playing for his average'. In actuality you are doing the opposite: cutting out shots for the good of the team.

Lower order skills

In summary then, what does a tail ender need to be able to do to be effective in the lower order?

  • Have a sound defensive technique built on the basics of a still head, your eye on the ball and judgement which shot to play (even if that shot is a leave).
  • Have at least one banker shot that can get you out of trouble and bring you boundaries.
  • Be able to read the game situation and talk to your partner.
  • Be confident in your ability to play the ball into gaps and sprint quick singles (Even after a long spell in the field).
  • Have the concentration to be able to play out a number of overs scoring at a very slow rate without getting tempted.

This is most of what a top order batsman has to be able to do (albeit in a slightly different way and with less time). That means nobody in the team should shirk batting practice, especially using simulated matches to give you experience in these situations.

Even if you don't enjoy batting, you owe it to your team's success to do the minimum required. It will win and save you more games than you think.

Image credit: cupra

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2 Simple Drills to Improve Your Spin Bowling Flight and Guile

"He approaches the wicket and releases the ball. I'm about to find out what it's really like to face a top class bowler.

It hangs there in the air.

If someone bowled a ball like this to me in a Baldwin match, I'd probably stop it with my glove, sling it back to the bowler and tell him, 'Never mind, have another go...' In fact, I might say it anyway, once it's been retrieved from the far stands.

Perhaps age has caught up with the Indian master. Or perhaps he was never quite as good as we all thought. Perhaps none of them are.

But then something inexplicable occurs. The ball, having seemed suspended in the air from some invisible string with the words 'Hit Me' on it, suddenly dips and loops at the last second. It pitches just short of a length, spits like a cobra and climbs at a scientifically unfeasible angle. Striking the outside edge of my bat it balloons gently into the air and is caught with pathetic ease by the wicketkeeper."

Michael Simkins – Fatty Batter.

 You won't find many better descriptions of a master spinner totally deceiving a batsman than that. The great Bishan Bedi at work.

Can you do the same?

Mastery of flight or loop can take many years. However you can speed up the process with some simple practice methods that can be done alone.

What is flight?

To understand how to deceive the batsman in the flight we need to know what it is.

A ball with flight is about more than 'tossing it up', it needs to be spun with force above the eyeline of the batsman giving it that effect of hanging in the air.

The intention, like Michael Simkins found out, is to make the ball seem like doing one thing when in fact it does something different enough to deceive: The mythical combination of flight and guile.

Bob Woolmer and Tim Noakes identify several different ways of achieving this:

  • Top spin. Where the ball hangs in the air before dropping sharply.
  • Back spin. Where the ball skids through lower and fuller than expected, like Shane Warne's flipper.
  • Side spin. Where the ball drifts in the air laterally more akin to swing bowling.

You may find one type of flight easier than another, depending on both your bowling style (finger or wrist) and your own technique.

Adjusting the way you spin the ball, how much you spin it, how fast you bowl it and how high above the eye line you make it go will all make a difference to how the batsman plays the ball. This decreases his or her chances of settling in and getting used to your style.

What must remain despite these tiny changes is your accuracy. Without putting the ball in the right place often enough the batsman can just wait for the bad ball.

Practicing flight and guile

Once you can confidently bowl your stock ball accurately you can work on your loop.

There are two simple methods to doing this. Neither requires a batsman so get yourself a bag of balls, find a net and get to work.

  1. The String Method: The simplest way to flight the ball is to hang some string across the net and to try to bowl the ball over it. Combine the string with a target on the ground like a bit of cardboard or some cones to land the ball.
  2. The Stumps Method: You can still use a target such as cones, but in this case you get an additional set of stumps and place them in front of the target as a barrier. The idea is to drop the ball over the stumps and still land it in the target.

With both methods you learn how to make the ball dip.

It makes sense to record your success rate. You will find the more you practice the higher percentage of balls you will land on the target.

The trick is to really spin the ball and let physics do the rest.

Give it a rip, get practicing and let me know the results.

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Fielding Drills: Double slip cordon
Purpose: To practice close catching continuously.

Description: Players from two slip cordons around 10m from the coach (c). The coach then hits alternately to each group with either a pull or cut shot. Players return the ball after catching it to make it easy for the coach to hit.

Variation: To make this easier for the coach a Fusion Skyer or 2 Katchets can be used instead.

8 Secrets of cricket fitness that I learned for $1
I'll let you into a secret.

I got access to one of the best sport strength and conditioning sites in the world. It's a members only site that contains the expertise of some of the finest strength coaches out there.

As it only cost me a dollar, I'm prepared to reveal all the secrets that lie behind the username and password box to you for nothing.


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: 13
Date: 2008-09-19