Pitchvision Academy


There is a limited overs flavour this week as we discuss slower balls and innovative batting.

We also look at choosing the right cricket club and announce another legend of the game joining our coaching panel (see below for details) 

Have a great weekend, 

David Hinchliffe

Which Type of Slower Ball Works Best for You?

At club cricket the slower ball is Marmite. 

People either love it or hate because there’s a thin line between bravery and stupidity. Deciding when to use a slower ball is subjective and relative to the situation.

I see most people (and I myself am guilty of this too) bowl a slower ball after they have been hit for a boundary as a comeback ball.

This is pointless.

The element of surprise is key in delivering an effective slower ball. After hitting a boundary the batsman is in a more defensive mode to face the next ball. He’s looking to take the single.

So your first thought should be to ask if the batsman in the right mindset to be surprised by a slower ball. Let’s face it; some are easier to deceive than others.

But once you have avoided this trap, how do you decided what type of ball to bowl and – perhaps more importantly – how to bowl it?

1. Cutters

A cutter is a great place to start whether you are new to slower balls or a Jade Dernbach bowling chameleon.

As you know the trick of cutting deliveries is to put spin on the ball so it cuts around his defence or to pop a catch up.

That means fielding positions like cover and midwicket see the benefit of this turn and change of pace in creating a chance.

Either way, the length of this ball is vital: look to bring the batsman forward as a short cutter is much easier to play.

The easiest slower ball to master is the off-cutter, as this is the least adjustment from a standard delivery wrist position. You roll your fingers down the ball.

A leg-cutter - a delivery bowled out the back of the hand - requires much more practice. A great practitioner of this was Ian Harvey, a man who quite possibly mastered the art of variation in pace to great success.

2. Grip position slower balls

Your other option is to bowl slower balls that are bowled with the same action but a change in grip allowing it to loop out of the hand. These are all about the change of pace rather than movement off the pitch.

They bowl the batsman through pure deception.

Or they create lofted chances to mid-on and mid-off; so the field should be set as a trap for this delivery.

The most popular grip position delivery is the split finger technique used by Glen McGrath; where the index and middle fingers are split very wide around the ball to create and anti-grip of the ball.

However there are a great many that you can try; you can get instant access to videos the explain 5 of them from Ian Pont here.

These techniques take a lot of practice but create some of the best slower balls I have used and seen.

Get it right and prepare to receive a massive pat on the back.

Get it wrong and prepare for a massive clip around the ear.

So which slower ball are you?

Leave a comment and let us know your slower ball thought process. 

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Des Haynes Masterclass on PitchVision Academy

When you think of legendary opening batsmen, you don’t have to make a long list before you get to Desmond Leo Haynes.

The West Indies opener forged the most successful opening partnership of all time with Gordon Greenidge and picked up a thing or two about batting over the course of 26,000 first-class runs.

And now he is revealing his batting methods in Batting Lion; the online Masterclass on PitchVision Academy.

To celebrate this announcement, we are running a series of free videos previewing the video section of the course.

So over the next few days, PitchVision Academy will be taken over by Des Haynes’ advice.

All you need to do is check back here and watch the videos to get all the Caribbean cricket advice you have ever wanted (you can also get it in the free newsletter if you don’t want to check back).

Click here to enrol on the entire online course.

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4 Ways to Bowl When it’s Not Swinging

“The ball isn’t swinging. What do I do now?”

It’s the dread statement of fast bowlers at all levels. Your main weapon - lateral movement - goes out of the ball.

Even at International level, especially in the sub-continent, post-match interviews are littered with statements about the ball not swinging and excuses about how impossible it is to get wickets.

But it’s far from impossible.

In simply a case of having strategy and plans to use when the ball goes “flat”. After all, it happens at some stage in most 40+ over games.

Here are 4 plans I have seen work for bowlers at all levels.

1.  Designated shiner

Marcus Trescothick was the designated Shiner of the ball during the 2005 Ashes (with his infamous mints) and he worked on the ball hard, threw it direct to mid off who gave it to the bowler.

Less hands on the ball is better as you reduce the likelihood of fielders inadvertently getting sweat/moisture on the wrong side of the ball or - even worse - balance the ball by working on the wrong side!

The ball is your best ally as a bowling unit so look after it. The swing will come back if the ball is protected and worked on effectively.

2.  Keep hitting the right length

Kevin Pietersen mentioned to me this summer that he loved it when the ball stopped swinging in Test Matches as he knew that this England bowling attack had the discipline to build pressure by denying the batsman any loose balls.

All the bowlers would hammer length for long periods of time, constant probing. KP felt that England was as likely to pick up wickets in this period as at times where the ball was darting around.

What is this probing length?

Its 6-8 metres from the batters middle stump at Test/First Class level and 5-7 metres from middle stump in the club game.

Statistically this is the most economical length and induces the highest percentage of false shots off of fast bowlers.

Developing control of length through measurable practice (Using PitchVision or targets/cones) will give Fast bowlers confidence to hold onto length and create pressure whilst the ball is flat.

This also creates time for your designated “Shiner” to shine life back into that ball.

3. Bowl around the wicket

Malcolm Marshall was an incredible bowler with pace and swing and didn’t usually struggle to get the ball to do what he wanted it too.

Yet on the odd occasion where the ball went flat (assuming that the ball/pitch had enough pace to carry to slip/keeper) Malcolm would go around the wicket and slant the ball across the right handed batter, with excellent results.

When he was coaching he would encourage Hampshire’s bowlers to do exactly the same and this again gave the bowlers confidence that they could pick up a wicket when the ball wasn’t hooping round corners by bringing the keeper and slips into play.

4. Subtle changes in pace

This is something I worked out and coached in Sri Lanka during an ODI series in 2007 when the ball didn’t move off the straight for the whole series.

England lost the 1st ODI by 110 runs (Sri Lanka amassed 269/7) so I analysed their bowlers approach and the England bowlers learnt a coping strategy for occasions when the ball didn’t swing.

Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ryan Sidebottom concentrated on mixing the pace up very subtly through an over with the ball still being delivered in a seam up fashion.

Ryan Sidebottom (a guy who was a swing bowler in English conditions), would change his pace through a range of 133-140kph throughout the over and often send in his top pace ball, arrow straight at the stumps, for the last ball of the over.

This meant that the batters were constantly making contact with the ball at different points. This unsettles the batsman’s control and their ability to attack with confidence. It also increases the opportunity for a chance to be created. 

As a result Sri Lankans were dismissed for 169, 164 and 211 in the next 3 games and England won the Series 3-2 (in Sri Lanka) without the ball swinging one little bit throughout the series.

5. What about you?

Now I want to know what you do to help your bowling unit.

As a coach at club level you know more than anyone how often the ball just doesn’t swing. Maybe it’s the bowler’s skill, maybe it’s the ball or maybe it’s something else.

But whatever it is, what do you do to get wickets at this time?

Leave a comment and let’s talk about it before the batsmen realise they are getting a raw deal... 

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2 Simple Ways to Innovate Without Switch Hit or Helicopter Shot

KP has the switch-hit, Dilshan has the Dil-scoop and Dhoni has the Helicopter shot. As club cricketers we can't use any of these high risk shots without looking foolish.

Our success rate is minimal.

But this doesn’t mean us mere mortals can’t play any innovative shots to aid run rates.

While some of the more extreme shots are beyond us, we can all play shots outside the batting manual to implement lower risk shots that are still innovative. 

How to Choose the Right Cricket Club (and Get a Head Start Once You Do)

Sushma has a young son who is keen on cricket. The boy wants to play for a club. Trouble is, Shushma doesn’t know where to start when looking for a local team.

So he emailed PitchVision Academy.
He knew it was a big choice.

Pick the right one and a player will flourish.

Pick the wrong one and his career is over before it begins. We have all seen youngsters fall by the wayside.

Where do you start?

Wherever you live in the world, there are some things that remain constant.


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: 178
Date: 2011-11-25