Pitchvision Academy


Milking the bowling against spinners is a skill that is often overlooked because it’s not as dramatic as hitting boundaries.

But it’s a “steath” skill that good batsmen have to force mistakes from bowlers, and its one coaches’ should always look to develop as part of an overall plan for making players with streetwise game-plans.

Take a look at this week’s lead article to find out more.

Plus we examine the power of momentum and look at the negative influence of overseas players in club cricket.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Use “Pairing Up” to Score More Runs Against Spin

In the last few years modern innovative shots have become far more common.

But without tactics, all those dil-scoops, switch-hits, fine sweeps and charges down the wicket are ineffective.

How many times have you seen a sweep into vacant fine-leg, only then to be stifled by a man moved to short fine leg? The results are nice looking shots, no runs and a build up of pressure on the batter and the team.

How do you help players make it all work together?

At Somerset in 2005 we had that exact problem.

Despite their clear talent, we needed to build some structure and strategy to make each player more effective in limited over and Twenty20 cricket.

We started to work on pairing up.

Pairing up is simply using two shots in combination to control the field and keep the scoring rate up. Brian Lara was exceptional at this.

The net result is that the bowler can’t keep batters quiet and bowls some big scoring balls as a result of frustration and the pressure that you apply on him.

Let’s look at some real world examples.

The sweep and roll pair

Remember our sweep example?

Using pairing up, the first shot is swept into the gap to move a fielder from another position.

Then on the next ball, when there is another gap – say at square leg – the player rolls the ball into the new gap for a low risk single.

The best way to do this is taking a more offside guard; you can then take balls from off stump into that vacant square leg position.

People have asked me “isn’t that risky?” And I reply that if you respect the fundamentals of batting then you reduce the risk factor:

  • Starting in a balanced position
  • Being balanced at contact
  • Hitting the ball late
  • Watching the ball as hard as you can

Ian Bell is a magnificent exponent of this, making it difficult for a spin bowler to build up pressure on him.

The drive boundary and single pair

Kevin Pietersen and MS Dhoni are especially good at taking the pressure out of the game with this pair. They use their feet to clear both men back to the fence and then milk easy singles down the ground.

Lots of players find it easy to ease the ball up and over mid off and mid on from spinners which then causes the captain to put one or two men back.

I’m amazed at how many players can then not hit the ball for an easy one along the ground by beating the bowler on either side.

Does this sound familiar to you?

The trick is first create awareness of the tactic then teach it by bringing use of feet into practice so players get used to meeting the ball on the half volley or full toss.

How to practice paring up

Before you work on the game plan elements, make sure you players are good enough at each shot in the pair.

  • Fine sweep, back foot maneuver to square leg and front foot maneuver to square leg.
  • Lofted on drive, lofted off drive, on drive and off drive.

Use throw downs and under arm feeds to increase player’s flow and efficiency in the movement patterns that you are honing.

In their own time players can also use mirror work and visualisation to further improve body awareness.

Measure and track success by hitting sets of 6 and noting down the success rate.

This will monitor progress, build awareness and provide confidence to players that that their skills are developing.

Then once you feel the players are consistent, you can test it in a match situation.

Play a game in the nets with spinners bowling to an imaginary field.

The batsman’s aim is to make the spinner swap his square leg for short fine leg or vice versa in as short a time as possible and then see how long it takes for him to have to move him back again because of pairing of shots.

Do the same with mid-off and mid on and seeing how many times in a session batters can force a change.

Once the player is confident they can take the tactic into a match, knowing that it works with the evidence to prove it.

Pairing up became an effective tactic for the Somerset players, and it will become one for your team too when you create the right training environment for the batters to work on their game plans. 

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How to Use Momentum to Win Cricket Matches

They say that winning is a habit. Unfortunately so is losing. But you can use momentum to carry your team into winning ways; one innings at a time.

So, momentum is a very real thing that we focus on during our games.

Imagine it, you win the toss and choose to bat.

After 30 overs you are restricted to 60-3 and your side are deflated by the prospect of setting just 130 to win.

With a few wickets in hand the batsmen stage a comeback and score a quick 150 off the next 20 overs.

Suddenly you have set a formidable 210 after a slow start which looked ominous.

The momentum is swinging your way.

Your slow start has turned into your team being upbeat and eagerly awaiting the start of your innings knowing the momentum is with you.

You can see it’s not just a cliché. Momentum is a very real part of the psychological part of the game.

When batting first, scoring quickly at the later stages of the innings mentally piles more runs in the minds of the fielding side.

A paced par score of 200 is more imposing  if for the final 10 overs the fielders were under pressure, chasing the ball to all parts of the ground and the return of the strike bowlers were useless.

Batting momentum is won by recovering from a poor previous stage. Whether it’s a bad start or a good start gone badly, finishing the innings on a high is crucial in gaining momentum.

Now it’s your turn to bowl.

With your team lifted after winning the final stage you find your bowlers running in quicker, your fielders seem bigger and more agile and your opponents are up against it.

If the batting side don’t win back that momentum within the first stages of their innings, their task of winning the game becomes even harder in their minds.

Bowling momentum is the same as batting; recovering from a poor session.

But unlike batting - where runs are the main factor in momentum - bowling momentum is gained by taking quick wickets or by starving the batsman of runs.

Making the rate climb creates that magic term of scoreboard pressure, even if you got a below par score when you were batting.

The more of these small moments of momentum you win with bat or ball, the more likely your success. 

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Cricket Show 134: Selection Committee

The team’s attention turns to selection this week as we examine how modern sides decide on teams and succession planning (in the context of Australia taking on South Africa).

Gary Palmer also returns to the show to continue his revealing interview on coaching batters at all levels.

And we answer your questions on captaincy while wicketkeeping and how to stop playing everything off the front foot when you bat.

How to Get in Touch With the Show

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Is Your Club Being Short Changed By An Overseas Player?

We’ve all been there as local league cricketers.

You turn up at the opposition ground to be greeted by the sight of the 9ft 9 overseas player sitting listening to his iPod all on his own.

I’ve found this influences team mentality two ways.

You can either resign yourself to the fact that their superstar will open the batting and score a double ton, then after tea decide he wants to open the bowling and hospitalise your top  4.

Respect is dead
Disrespect is part of cricket nowadays.
And that's a good thing.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about swearing at batsmen and arguing with the umpire. But respect is too often fear in disguise.


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: 173
Date: 2011-10-21