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The simple act of stringing up a net revolutionised the way cricketers practice. But despite being so commonplace, nets are abused and misused every day.

Read our lead article this week to find out how to avoid that fate as batsman, bowler, captain or coach.

Plus we looks at the benefits of indoor cricket to your outdoor game and discover the most underrated part of your batting armoury.

Have a great weekend, 

David Hinchliffe

The ABC of Nets

Whether it’s once or twice a week, indoors or outdoors, on turf or synthetic, nets are the bedrock of every cricketer - from local club player to international superstar.

So if cricketers have to go to nets, why not make them work for you?

You can – and it’s as easy as ABC:
A is attitude

As a mate of mine (and a Cricket Australia Level 3 coach) says, you should turn up at nets with purpose, for a purpose. What’s the point in being there if there’s no point in being there?

Have a purpose for making the trip. If you have a purpose, you should have a plan and that way you’ll get more out of your net.

B is for batting and bowling

Batsmen can be their own worst enemies in the nets. Too often there’s a whinge about the deck, the light, the bowling. But how often do we play in perfect conditions?

Next time you march purposefully into the nets try:

  • Setting goals – “I’m not hitting the ball into the nets on the full”, “I’m not going to be bowled today”.
  • Play each delivery with the respect it deserves – Good balls are played defensively, bad balls dispatched
  • Ask someone to watch you bat – What do they see:  strengths and weaknesses?
And bowlers – why not try:

C is for captains and coaches

I think captains and coaches can be the most under-utilized personnel at a net session. Both are invaluable resources – if used correctly.

Captains, when next you go to nets, how about:

  • Be the most enthusiastic participant there. Leading by example will set a great tone for your team and the club.
  • Watch what’s happening in the nets. If you want to know who’ll bat or bowl as though their life depends on it, see how they train.
  • Communicate with other captains, the coach and selectors. If you want the best team, it’s worth knowing what your colleagues are thinking.

And coaches? You are the hub around which everything else happens: not always shouting and clapping hands but maybe quiet and one-on-one but the coach is pivotal in how a net session runs.

Why not:
  • Establish the culture. Nets are a serious place for hard work and development. Socialising starts on the other side of the boundary.
  • Have a plan. What skills do you want developed? What drills will focus on them? What are the Captains complaining about?
  • Work with players to learn their game. By all means, impart the knowledge of skills that you have but out in the middle, the player has to know his own game to deal with what comes his way. Equip him with the tools to be independent and he can adapt to whatever the game throws his way.
It’s all as easy as ABC!

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Cricket Show 131: How to Win at Twenty20

Ealing CC won the national club Twenty20 competition in the UK in 2011. Player-coach Chris Peploe talks us through the winning formula that also saw his team get to a cup semi-final and win their local Premier League.

Inspiring stuff for all club cricketers.

We also answer your questions on the role of strength and conditioning in fast bowling, and what to look for in a cricket academy for young players. 


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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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Is Playing Indoor Cricket Worthless?

Most people groan at the thought of a game of indoor cricket and regard it as a waste of time; the runt sibling of the traditional game.

Where is the fun in getting up early on cold Sunday mornings to dodge cricket balls bouncing off the walls of a humid leisure centre sports hall?

It’s not even a standard game, with regional rules and differing facilities.

It’s a far cry from warm summer days and the momentum of outdoor cricket. You may as well be a starving dog with a rubber bone.

Here’s How to Use the Most Underrated Part of Your Batting Armoury

This is a guest post from regular contributor and club cricketer, AB.

There is something that so often makes the difference when keeping out a difficult delivery.

Yet it is a subject only rarely discussed or coached.

But using it in the right way, at the right time will give you a second; safe line of defence.


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: 170
Date: 2011-09-30