Pitchvision Academy


There’s an eclectic line up this week featuring an Analyst from Chennai, a Mum with a cricket academy in her backyard, Mark Garaway and head of RMCSE, Ryan Maron.

It all comes together to give you practical tips, thoughts, ideas and challenges that you can put into action right away.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Trickling Down: How to Benefit from an Analyst like Professional Cricket Coaches

All professional cricket teams are now equipped with a mysterious figure hunched over a laptop during matches; the analyst. But what does an analyst really do that is different from the coach?


To delve more into this growing area of cricket, PitchVision Academy caught up with Venu; an experienced analyst who has worked with an IPL team, Maharashtra Premier League, and several Academies in India.

Venu has had 2 main roles as an analyst:

1. Match Data

This is the most common job of the analyst and the one you see the top guys doing during International matches. They capture data from each ball such as bowler’s line/length and batsman’s scoring areas.

At everything below international level this is done by manually entering the information into specially designed software. The feed is taken from cameras placed as close to right behind the bowler’s arm as possible. Then after the game the analyst produces reports that show the tactics, strengths and weaknesses of players.

This can be done over a number of games to try and spot trends. For example, England noticed Tendulkar has a tendency to score runs on the leg side early in his Test innings, so when they came up against him they bowled outside his off stump; a simple solution to a trend that, in the past, would have been missed by all but the canniest skipper.

2. Practice Data

In an Academy, there is a growing trend to using an analyst to capture data in practice.

Here the analyst becomes more of the link between the coach and the student. He or she can provide technical feedback from the video and tie it in to the data (such as if the ball was stuck well or if the bowler hit his length).

The type of analysis varies greatly. Younger players still learning basic techniques need far less analysis and far more coaching. Older players with a more developed technique have more of a balance, but in both cases it’s the coach that makes the final decision based on skill experience and the data presented by the analyst.

PitchVision data capture also allows coaches to set scenarios and the analyst to track the way players deal with those situations either batting or bowling.

The benefit of an analyst

By now you are seeing how an analyst can provide insights that complement the coach and make coaching better. While an analyst may be a stretch for many outside the professional game, it’s no longer an impossible dream for everyone.

As Venu says, it’s a competitive environment, so even Academies that specialise in coaching young players can improve their reputations by making better players.

And that starts with data and an analyst.

Factual data has never been more available to coaches at every level, but the sheer amount is overwhelming. Without someone there to filter out the noise and report conclusions that are most interesting and important.

The analyst - and the data they analyse - will never be able to replace the coach. However, with affordable technology like PitchVision and low cost video cameras it is becoming increasingly easy to add analysis to the coaching team at a specialist Academy.

Is it time your Academy looked seriously at data analysis? 

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Keys to Throwing Accuracy Part 1: Vision

I employed a baseball coach called Will Lintern to teach the Ireland Cricket Team to hit stumps on a more regular basis in the lead up to the 2011 World Cup. The aim was to become the best ground fielding team in the world.

Our indicators were number of clean pick ups, run outs and direct hits.

Will coached a number of principles yet the ones that are easiest to remember are the 3 Keys to Accuracy:

  • Balance
  • Direction
  • Vision

We will start with Vision first as its often the one which is not coached at all and actually has a significant influence on the other two keys.

Use your eyes to aid balance and direction

Having good vision of your target is fundamental to having a strong, accurate throw. Without good vision there can be no balance or direction as the body has a tendency to go in the direction that your eyes are looking at. Any skateboarder or snowboarder will realise this as their coaches constantly them that the board follows their eyes. Where you look is where you will go.

The same applies to throwing. Fix your eyes on your target and note the difference you have in your balance, direction and therefore, accuracy.

The merging of two lines - sight-line trajectory and ball trajectory

Technology allows us to track both fielder’s sight lines and ball trajectory in lab conditions.

From this research it has been established that average fielders have a tendency to track the ball as quickly as they can (as the ball is deemed to be more important/interesting than the target). This shift in vision causes an imbalance in the final stages of the throwing technique and affects accuracy hugely.

When a fielder keeps their eyes fixed on the target retains their balance and direction in the last stages of the throwing technique. This leads to the ball trajectory path and the sight-line trajectory path to merge prior to hitting the stumps or keepers gloves. The merging of these two lines is essential in consistent stump hitting.

This simple diagram, below depicts the merging of the two trajectories prior to hitting the stumps or keepers gloves.


Although the science behind the role of vision in accurate stump hitting is relatively complex, the principle remains simple.

  • Your body is directed by your line of vision (balance, directional alignment leads to accuracy)
  • Fix your eyes on the target to cause the merging of ball and sight trajectories to increase accuracy

So Will Lintern came to work with Ireland, coached the principles above and Ireland topped both the run-out table with 10 run outs from 6 matches and the direct-hit table with 21 direct hits at the 2011 World Cup. Graeme Smith told me that Ireland were the ground fielding benchmark in World Cricket.

Good Job Will! 

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The DIY Cricket Academy: How a Mum Turned Her Backyard into a Respected Coaching School

It used to be the case that great facilities and coaching was the domain of the professional game. That’s coming to an end, as the story of Marieta Pretorius’ backyard shows.

When Marieta’s son began showing a keen interest in cricket, she helped him with the right gear and a free taxi service to his coaching in Whiteriver, South Africa.

But something wasn’t right.

She wanted better for her son. She wasn’t satisfied with the level of coaching and availability of facilities.

The trouble was that she didn’t know much about cricket and she certainly didn’t have the space or finances to build a cricket ground to meet her requirements.

So Marieta used her smarts; a resource that wasn’t in short supply.

She built a cricket net in her driveway.

It was basic. The netting was strung between wooden posts set in concrete. She had to open her gate to allow the bowlers to run in from the road. It meant play was often delayed while cars went past.

It was about as grass-roots and low tech as you can get.

Then, as her driveway didn’t have a resident coach she started to learn the game. She quickly picked up methods from books and the PitchVision Academy newsletters. She passed on her advice.

She got so good she decided to formalise her skills and before she knew it she had reached Level 2 in the CSA structure. Her charges were improving fast and word was getting around.

As she learned, Marieta also expanded. Her son’s friends also wanted to use the net and the facility added a roof and enclosure.

More boys were added and Marieta grew things further with the income from boys coming from further afield: a bowling machine, strength and conditioning equipment and finally PitchVision installed under the floor permanently.

The backyard was now a fully fledged facility – Unique Cricket Academy – with over 70 kids aged up to 15 years old.

All built up in a little over 7 years as a side project to help her son play cricket.

It’s an inspiring story. It shows how with very little except willpower you can combine good coaching with technology like PitchVision to create a grass-roots facility that can match anything used by first-class teams.

This little backyard net has the same technology that is being used by IPL teams, the ICC and the ECB. With PitchVision on hand, players in Unique Cricket Academy are tracking their pace, line and length and getting instant coaching feedback from Marieta.

And they are improving fast as a result. Demand for the Academy has never been higher.

Especially as when the cricket work is done, there is plenty of time for a braai to refuel. Marieta is as good a hostess as she is a coach.

Expect to see this niche-academy model spring up more and more as facilities, coaching and technology is now so accessible. Great facilities are no longer the exclusive domain of the elite. Is your club, school or academy making the most of this revolution in cricket? 

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Ryan Maron Batting Tips: Lofted Drive

Ryan Maron - the former Western Province player - is one of South Africa’s leading coaches, running his famous Cricket School of Excellence in Cape Town for over 10 years as well as being Head coach of the University of Cape Town.

In this series, Ryan gives his batting tips for talented young cricketers. This week the tips are all to do with the lofted drive.

Cricket Show 169: The Boss is Back

With Burners and Mark Garaway away, ‘The Boss’ steps in as guest presenter alongside David Hinchliffe this week.

The show covers batting collapses, fast bowling injuries and the difference between Swansea and Cape Town. Plus your questions are answered about batting down the order when you are a touch player and taking the perfect fast bowling run up. 


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: 210
Date: 2012-07-06