Pitchvision Academy


How often to you get a chance to examine up-close the tactics of a successful international captain?

It’s a rare privilege but this week that’s exactly what we do by studying the blueprint of a club match between Watsonian CC and Grange CC. Watsonian captain is ex-Scotland skipper Craig Wright and the lead article goes in depth. Read on the find out more.

Plus we get coaching tips, batting tips and look at how playing bad cricket can make you a better cricketer.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Secrets of One Day Cricket Tactics from a Former International

Craig Wright, Scotland’s most capped player, captained over 100 times for his country. He is still captaining today with Watsonian CC.

When I was in Scotland I took the chance to examine his tactics and methods in the field and learn from someone with unrivalled experience as a skipper.

This is the blueprint of the limited over game against Grange CC.

How would you have managed the game as captain?


The game was a 50-over-a-side match played at Grange. The Scottish National Premier League rules dictated:

  • 15 over powerplay with field restrictions of 2 outside the circle
  • Duckworth-Lewis rain rules
  • Free hits for front foot no balls
  • 10 overs per bowler

The day was changeable with the sun out early but predictions of rain later. Locals told me a par score on the well-covered pitch was 250, although overnight rain caused a slow outfield.

After about 40 minutes of warm-up, Watsonian won the toss and chose to bowl for a 1pm start.

The decision made perfect sense to me. Statistically it’s easier to chase in limited over matches. Also, overnight rain usually gets the ball swinging and seaming early in the match. With 4 front-line seamers at their disposal ‘Sonians would hunt for early wickets.

First 15 overs (Powerplay)

Watsonian started with quick bowlers. 2 catchers were behind the bat as the new ball dictated plenty of bounce and carry. The keeper had no thoughts of standing up:

The bowlers looked to keep it slightly back of a length and - other than a few over pitched balls - Watsonian kept control early on. That meant the field was relatively unchanged with a couple of small variations:

  • 2nd Slip went to gully
  • Midwicket made it 2 slips and a gully when a wicket fell, with fine leg moving round almost at backward square leg.
The fielders were energetic, with plenty of vocal support for each other. Standards were generally high. Notably:
  • Throws were returned to the keeper regularly (although not every ball like in professional cricket).
  • Fielders appeared a tight unit: they were backing each other up, chasing together and knew how each other operated. This gave an overall feeling of “squeezing”.
  • Nobody was afraid to put in a dive, even the big fast bowlers.

Controlling the game in the field

The openers bowled all but 1 of the first 15 and you can understand why with the score on just 48-1.

It was a strong start, but the bat was being beaten regularly and Grange were lucky to be just a single wicket down.

It would be difficult to argue for any other tactic in the circumstances. Watsonians were in control with the Grange batsmen looking to hit over the top and tip-and-run to keep the scoreboard ticking.

To control the game fielding you have to balance competing aims. You are trying to bowl the opposition out for a low score, but you also need to protect key scoring areas. As the ball was coming though, a fine leg and third man with a ring field made sense.

At least 2 close catchers were kept in throughout the restrictions, with 3 for a couple of overs after the first wicket fell.

Towards the end of the field restrictions it was clear the bowlers were feeling the frustration of bowling well without getting wickets. Wright kept the team focused with a call of “Patience” from his position at slip. It reflected his previously stated aim of being the calming factor in a side of young, keen and occasionally excitable cricketers.

To give you a feel for the day, the standard and the opening overs, here’s a short video of the opening bowlers:

In part two we look at the tactics of the flexible middle overs Click here to go to part two now.

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Do You Make These 4 Mistakes When You Coach Kids Cricket?

Today’s article is a guest post from Darren Talbot; Professional coach, Managing Director of Darren Talbot Cricket Coaching and founder committee member of the Surrey ECB Coaches Association.

It’s a moment we have all faced, and dreaded, as a cricket coach.

Standing in front of you is a group of 25 kids, all itching to get going. All you have is your own knowledge and perhaps – if you are lucky – the help of an unqualified parent.

Having been one of those very coaches for 5 years myself I feel your pain.

I went on to coach professionally for 10-15 hours per week all year round subsequently. I can see an enormous difference in knowledge and experience which makes a vast difference to club coaching sessions and the overall development of club colts.

In an ideal world, once you have more than 16 you split the group into 2 with a coach looking after one group and one the other in the same general area of the ground.

1. Using unqualified helpers

An unqualified coach has insufficient knowledge of coaching to be able to run a session themselves, even with some guidance.

The best solution to this problem is to run a coach and coach “helper” training day at the start of each season to run through some games and ideas which will be used during the season. 

By this stage the season's coaching plan for all groups should be known and distributed so there's no reason why this can't be done. This sort of session need only take a couple of hours but will really help the coaches with their delivery during the season.

If the club doesn't have anyone internally who is confident to run a training session there are usually nearby coaching companies who could help. It's well worth it.

Once you have trained and organised coaches you then have to get the coaching right.

2. Sticking to the book

At many clubs I see excellent examples of what I call "coaching course coaching". Here coaches stick rigidly to the guideline coaching plans and methods without consideration of whether it's working.

You can self-test on this. Ask yourself these questions, and answer honestly.

  • Is your warm up cricket specific and fun?
  • Is it the right length relative to your overall session time, or does it maybe go on a little long?
  • Are your skills sessions overly descriptive?
  • When you are demonstrating skills what percentage of your group are watching intently and what percentage are talking/fighting, etc?
  • How long is your group sitting around inactive in an average session?
  • How many times do you stop the activity once it gets going to go over coaching points?
  • If you asked your group each week what their favourite part of the session was, how many would say the game at the end?

3. Not playing games

For me, games and competition is how colts learn best.

If they are focusing on beating their peers in the other team, they will naturally be striving to play the game properly as that will be their best chance of winning.

There are a number of “games” that can be played during a coaching session which can be used to coach skills but in a competitive format and the beauty is the colts will pester you every week to play them again.

The games I use are:
  • Hand Hockey
  • King of the Hill
  • Number High Catch game
  • Squares (or Boxes)
  • Hit the Stumps
  • Target Bowling
  • Non-stop Continuous Cricket
  • Diamond Cricket
  • Three Tee Game

You can use and adapt all of those games for groups right up to and including under 11s - and potentially beyond - to help them learn the basic skills of cricket and enjoy playing the game.

As the groups start to play matches there will undoubtedly be match specific work to be done (for example Pairs Cricket, match scenarios), ideally on a square, but in terms of skills and techniques there is a game for everything!

4. Last minute preparation

Many coaches, due to the nature of the volunteer network which underpins them, organise their sessions at the last minute. If you’re lucky then sessions might be organised for the whole summer in advance. 

But how often are sessions organised for the summer bearing in mind the pathway these players are going on?

What young cricketers need is a programme for them all the way from under 8s through to under 13s and beyond to ensure that every aspect of the game is covered in their cricketing development. 

Individual group annual plans rarely consider this.

That’s why the Club Colts Training Programme was created – to use my experience of the pace of developing players to apply to your own club. Instantly download your own copy here

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Cricket Show 114: How to Analyse Video and Data to Make Classy Club Cricketers

Frankston Peninsula is a Melbourne-based cricket club playing in Victorian Premier Cricket, the highest level of club cricket in the state.

The club’s progressive attitude has warmed PitchVision Academy to the team, especially their creative approach to video and data analysis: ideas which have previously been reserved for the professional game.

So this week on the show we talk to coach Chris Hall of Saxon Sport Frankston about how he is using video and data to make club cricketers better.

At the other end of the scale we talk to Watsonian stalwart James ‘Ducky’ Easton. Ducky tells us all about what it’s like to be the old head who takes things less seriously. Every club has one and it’s a job to balance being the joker with getting results for the team.

He also reveals how things have changed at Watsonian in the 10 years since he broke into the first team.

Has your club got equally well balanced?

Finally this week Burner’s and I answer your coaching questions on fast bowling technique and how to bowl on wet wickets. 

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11 Ways to Improve Your Attacking Batting

Scoring runs is at the very heart of winning cricket matches. How do the professionals do it?

PitchVision Academy and 3 times World Cup coach Ian Pont shares with you the secrets of how to score more runs aggressively while keeping the percentages in your favour.

You can put these tips into action right away:

1. Pick your bat up high with your hands

Why Playing Bad Cricket Makes You a Better Cricketer

 If I’m being very kind, the standard of midweek league cricket in this part of the world is “mixed”. Despite that, my experience in a recent game showed me that playing bad cricket in poor conditions will help you improve.

It was the first game of the new season; a twenty over slog squeezed in before the sun went down; no umpires, no sightscreens. I was playing for a new team and two guys turned up in shorts and black trainers.

Black trainers are a solid indicator that general standards will be poor.


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: 151
Date: 2011-05-20