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This week I reveal one of my all time favourite fielding practices. It combines batting, ground fielding, backing up and a little bit of conditioning too. It can get very competitive so everyone loves it. Take a look below for details (but be careful when the balls start flying).

I also discuss the need for technical perfection in batting, or the lack of it if you are a Greg Chappell fan.

Plus, Alexander Technique teacher Roy Palmer reveals in an interview how to achieve more by doing less. Yes, really!

So put your feet up and listen in. It's allowed.

As always, please give me your feedback on any article we come up with. The more you tell me the better we get.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

How technically perfect do good cricketers have to be?

Widely considered to be the greatest one day batsman ever, Michael Bevan seemed to have two or three shots to every delivery. If he had stuck with the recognised wisdom he would not have been half as effective.

Nowadays he is not alone. Twenty20 is breeding batsmen and bowlers who are doing things that the authors of the MCC coaching book would baulk at.

So is it time to throw out the copy book and just play with natural flair and freedom?

Greg Chappell, in his book on coaching, argues that many coaches and players are very focussed on the technical details of playing: Positions of feet, elbows and wrists. This causes paralysis by analysis as the brain does not work in that way.

He prefers letting players learn for themselves: Tell bowlers to run up and bowl at targets, batters to hit the ball into certain areas and let them work out the best way to do it.

This teaches players to develop their own techniques and also to play with great freedom. Modern coaching is often accused of 'over-coaching' players in this way.

On the other hand do we really want to disregard years of best practices so quickly?

The reason the coaching books and courses were created was to pass on information of what worked to the next generation. For example, the commonly coached grip is the perfect way to have your hands in position to play every shot. Changing the grip changes almost every other aspect of batting.

As Bob Woolmer said the higher level you play, the more technically perfect you have to become because the better the technique is of everyone else.

What is essential?

What I feel it boils down to is this simple question: What are the essential elements to batting, bowling and fielding?

In the old days there was one way: the copybook way. Every movement and position had to be exactly as in the pictures. Anything else was just plain wrong.

Over the years we have slowly come to learn that different people can do the same thing in different ways. There are many batting stances, backlifts, bowling actions, grips and fielding methods. Some techniques previously deemed incorrect have been used with success at the highest level.

Not everything works for everyone, but some things remain in the essential category. It's just a lot less than we used to think it was.

Greg Chappell looked at great players and found despite massive differences in technique all the players did just 4 things the same: unweighted, coiled, used levers and had timing. If you have all those then you are perfect, even if you are not perfect in the technical sense.

Knowing this gives you freedom to work on your cricket skills without the fear of failing because you have a bad technique.

You can work out your own best method without interfering with the real basics.

Great coaches are better at doing this than average coaches, who default back to the copybook or the cliché when they don't know what else to say. It's well meaning but ill informed.

So you don't have to be a gifted technician to make it even to the highest level. You can even do some stuff 'wrong'. However if you are going to make it, you do need to understand why something works, not just what is supposed to work.

That's the real sign of mastery of your art and if you can do that, the sky is the limit.

Image credit: anandham

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5 Simple rules to build trust and responsibility in your team
A close knit cricket team can't be faked.

You can have as many team nights out, boot camps or bonding sessions as you like. If there is no basic trust and understanding of responsibilities then the team will not gel, at least not in my experience.

Expertise from captains, coaches and senior players is required if a team does not come together naturally. Most players are cynical to traditional 'team building' techniques, even if they really want it to work.

One simple approach to doing this is to build a series of team rules based around working together.

  1. Bat in pairs. It's easy to get caught up in your own game, but you have a batting partner who you can help too. Talk between overs about tactics and doubts. Rotate the strike by talking about weak fielders or scoring areas. Before play set partnership run targets rather than individual ones.
  2. Field as a unit. Fielders are there to help bowlers bowl maidens and take wickets. Talk to fielders close to you between balls as to what the batsman are looking for. Aim to save as many runs as possible; perhaps setting a target of saves per innings. Be aware of the ball until it is dead and think 360 degree fielding all the time.
  3. Bowl 'focus balls'. When the captain or bowler calls 'focus ball' the team focus on making the ball a dot at all costs. Fielders up their body language and noise and tune back in if they have drifted off. The bowler aims to put the ball in the right place. This works well on the last ball of an over (especially a bad one).
  4. Bowl 'team maidens'. Two consecutive maidens count as a team maiden. This focuses bowlers and fielders on the effort of bowling twelve dot balls instead of just six. Fielders can encourage bowlers to bowl a team maiden while bowlers will feel more likely to bowl for the team rather than their own figures.
  5. Buddy up. Players who are friends off the field can carry their support of each other to the on field performance. If you see your buddies head drop or drift out of the game take responsibility to refocus them back on the game.

Of course, it's never as simple as it seems. Real trust only starts with written rules. There are too many unwritten factors that can disrupt the process: Difficult individuals, unfair treatment of players, lack of clarity of team roles, blame and a lack of recognition of success.

But at least this is a start, and something that most people can accept easily because it is cricket focused.

A sneaky but simple way to start building trust.

Photo credit: Holster


Want to be a better captain? Learn from the best with the interactive online course Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley.



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Fielding Drills: Run out chance

Purpose: To practice ground fielding, backing up and throwing under pressure.

Description: The wicketkeeper (WK) rolls the ball out to position 1. At the same time the batter sets of for a quick single. The fielder must throw down the non striker stumps to run the batsman out. He or she then runs to back of the queue at position 2.

The fielder at position 2 backs up and fields the ball while the batter is turning to complete a second run. The fielder must return the ball to the keeper to run the batter out. He or she then runs to the back of the queue at position 1.

Batters take turns running until everyone has had a go, then teams change over.

Safety point: It may be beneficial for the batter to turn and run down the opposite side for the second run to avoid being hit.





If you want even more fielding techniques, tactics and animated drills from one of the best fielders in the world, check out Fielding: The Derek Randall Way on PitchVision Academy. Now with live video versions!



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Cricket bestseller list

Every now and again I reveal what books are selling fastest through the Amazon store we have here on miCoach.

As you may already know, I get a small commission (about 4%) every time you buy a book, DVD or anything else through this site. I use the vouchers Amazon sends me to buy more books and help make miCoach better (and to keep it free).

So here are the latest bestselling cricket books through miCoach, in order of popularity:

Cricket Show 6: Roy Palmer, the Zone and Alexander Technique

Roy Palmer is a coach, Alexander Technique teacher and author. This week I interviewed him about his unique approach to training for cricket.

We discuss how to improve performance by focusing on the fundamentals of movement and body awareness, something usually overlooked by coaches. The three books that we recommended during out chat were:


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: 15
Date: 2008-10-03