Pitchvision Academy


“Academy” may be an overused term in cricket, but it still means a lot to get into one. So this week we focus on what goes into becoming an Academy cricketer with articles on fitness and selection.

Plus Mark Garaway looks at some key questions and we find out how to field like Suresh Raina.

Have a great weekend, 

David Hinchliffe

Chance to Play: How to Join a Cricket Academy

You have heard the advice about how to become a cricketer: Get into a good Academy and the top quality coaching will send your game to the next level.

Whether you are in Delhi, Manchester or Sydney, the word “Academy” is shorthand for “excellence” and “success”. So, how do you get in there in the first place?

Have the confidence to ask

Many young cricketers feel frustrated by the lack of a chance to prove themselves to Academy coaches. We get many emails a week here begging for "just one chance". The truth is that there will always be more players than places at high-class Academies. You need to stand out.

So do the simple thing and just ask.

Find the best local Academy in your area and ask the coaching staff there what it takes to be selected.

Different places have different selection criteria so the most powerful thing you can do to take control of the situation is to find out exactly what they want.

You may have to go to a trial, or you might just need to prove yourself in club games. Maybe it’s both. Once you have your mission in place then set some goals and go about ticking every box. No one can ignore you then.

One thing to avoid is being unspecific or unrealistic.

For example, this article gets many posts asking for one chance, but it's not realistic to expect a reply. Why? Read about it here then find a local Academy rather than hoping.

Be realistic

At PitchVision Academy we believe everyone has the potential to improve their cricket. We also know not everyone will make it into an elite Academy so even when dreaming you need to keep your feet on the ground.

The older you get the less likely you are to play Academy cricket. In fact, most top-level Academies (such as those tied to English counties) have an age restriction. Even at 18 or 19 you are going to have to work very hard to get in. Beyond that you need to reset your aims as the routes start to close.

Many good Academies also charge fees and there are limited chances for scholarships. You also have to ask yourself if you can afford to go to an Academy. Financial restrictions may have nothing to do with cricketing talent but the way the world works means you have to take it into account.

Train yourself

Whether you can get into an Academy or not, the really good cricketers don’t rely on a coach to get what they want: they seek out advice, they work on methods, and they train and play as much as they can.

They are students of the game rather than blindly listening to advice or hoping something magic will happen.

It’s all about taking personal responsibility for your own success and you can do that with the online coaching courses on PitchVision Academy. You can become fitter, improve your mental strength and emulate Test stars. All elements that a well-rounded player must have to succeed these days.

This will further allow you to stand out as a dedicated cricketer and perform under the pressure of a trial match, or when an Academy selector comes to your club game. 

Want a chance from PitchVision Academy? click here.

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Asking Questions: Using Other Peoples Experience to Become a Better Coach

I have been lucky enough to spend a significant amount of time around some incredible people and cricketers over the years. Yet that time would have been wasted if I hadn't learnt the benefit of asking questions.

Questions allowed me to gain and develop my understanding of cricket, coaching and life skills essential for peak performance.

We all have brilliant people around us at our cricket clubs - and in opposition teams - from whom we can gleam information. This helps us either with our own game or for us to help others get the most from their cricket. Here are a few of my favourite questions that led to some really good options that I have since used with numerous cricketers over the years.

Question 1

To Malcolm Sketchley (1st change bowler for Ventnor CC circa 1989); "Sketch, why do you bowl cross seam deliveries at times during certain spells?"

Answer. "Garas, I bowl cross seam on flat pitches when the ball is not offering any swing. The ball either hits the seam and stands up causing extra bounce or hits the leather and skids through. The ball ends up at the batter at different times off the pitch which disrupts his timing of the ball"

This simple piece of advice was passed on to Stuart Broad when he came into the England set up as a teenager in 2006. Stuart has since mastered the cross seam delivery and uses it fantastically in both subcontinent conditions and on flat pitches.

Question 2

To another Malcolm, this time Malcolm Marshall in 1993; "Macco, What can fast bowlers do when the ball isn't swinging yet we need to pick up wickets?"

Answer: "I have had success in the past when the ball has stopped swinging by bowling around the wicket to right handed batter and creating an angle across the blade of the bat that allows me to retain my slip fielders and gully in place. The outside edge of the bat is then bought into play"  

Question 3

To Glenn McGrath during his County stint at Worcestershire. "Can you give me an example of your bowling plans to top batters in Test matches?"

Answer: "My plan is as simple as it comes, I aim to hit the pitch on a good length as hard as possible and get the ball to reach the stumps around the top of off stick, if it swings it's a bonus". I then said "and then?" and Glenn repeated......"I aim to hit the pitch on a good length as hard as possible and get the ball to reach the stumps around the top of off stick, if it swings it's a bonus"

I use this story when I see a talented bowler hitting a variety of lengths and as a result lose the ability to build pressure and win the war of patient and attrition.

Question 4

 To Kevin Pietersen: "What enables you to play in the way you do?"

Answer: "I don't fear getting out, it rarely comes into my mind at all. When I walk to the wicket as a number 3 or 4 batter I have a 90% chance of being dismissed. It's going to happen so why should I fear that? It’s all about what I do before I get dismissed so my focus is on having fun and scoring runs!"

Now that simple piece of advice would have helped my batting so much.  How many of your players could KP's mantra help?

Question 5

To Richard Ellison; Australia's tormentor in the 1985 Ashes and now Master of Cricket at Millfield School. "You encourage fast bowlers to bowl bouncers in the 1st few balls of a warm up. What is the theory behind this approach?"

Answer: "Garas, it ensures that a bowler gets through her action and as a result means a full range of movement through the whole bowling system. This fast tracks the loosening up of a bowler and then they can adjust to hit length with a loose body rather than a stiff one"

This is a great tip for bowlers in their initial bowl-throughs before a game. Otis Gibson, the West Indies Coach and ex fast bowler, always bowled a bouncer 1st ball of a spell to help him loosen up as well. In practice, it doesn't matter if the ball bounces 3 times to the MIT man or keeper as it loosens up the bowling system perfectly.

There is no such thing as a stupid question, be brave and ask away! 

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Cricket Show 159: Lessons from Yusuf Pathan and Research from Karl Stevenson

The team get back together to discuss Irfan Pathan’s poor IPL form, and how to manage impact players (or in lower level cricket; the slogger).

Karl Stevenson, a sports psychologist who specialises in skill development, joins the show on the phone to talk about modern, practical ways to use cutting-edge research at your next net session. Plus your questions are answered on getting noticed by selectors and the importance of technique compared to tactical nous, fitness and mental strength.

Finally, listen to the end for Burner’s Tailender!



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How to Field like Suresh Raina

How many runs could you save for your team if you have the reactions and technique of Suresh Raina?

Many people will write of an ambition like this as far-fetched. They will say he has a God-given talent that few can emulate. But in reality the truth is that Raina’s “talent” is the result of hard work and passion for the most selfless cricket skill; fielding.

So if you want to get the edge over your peers, use these tips to become the best fielder in your team. It will give you a clear advantage.

How Fit are Academy Cricketers?

Cricket is a game of inches. Imagine playing in an Academy trial game when you push a ball to cover and set off on a risky single.

It’s on, but only if you can get up to top speed in a couple of strides.

You have worked on your power, speed and acceleration all winter and you fly out of the blocks, you are in by the smallest margin and go on to make a huge score, get that Academy place and on into the cricket stratosphere.

Had you been half a second slower - as the old pre-training you was - then you would have been run out and missed your chance.


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: 200
Date: 2012-04-27