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India supporting readers can laud it over me this week as my England side go 3-0 down in the current one day series. To me it shows how tough it can be to adapt to foreign conditions while coming up against a team brimming with skill and confidence.

While I lick my wounds, why not enjoy the latest on miCoach this week?

We have a bit over everything this week. Food ideas, field settings, fitness and fielding tips.

I'm especially proud of the miCoach Cricket Show with Glamorgan Strength and Conditioning Coach Rob Ahmun. It's a real boost to get tips from someone working at the professional level. Listen in here.

It made up a little for feeling like England have forgotten how to win a cricket match.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

Field Settings: Medium pace, some movement, slow wicket, limited overs

This article is part of "The complete guide to cricket field settings" series.

This is a field with a single purpose but can be used by medium paced bowlers from the faster to the slower end. The purpose is to 'squeeze' a batsman who is looking to score runs by stopping the singles. It does away with attacking fielders to prevent the runs so is ideal in limited overs cricket.

It can be used early on in the game or in the middle overs, but the later stages need to be even more defensive.

It can also be used in longer format games to frustrate batsman who are taking easy singles but not hitting many boundaries.

Bowling to this field

With a slow pitch, a slow outfield, some movement and pitched up bowling (around 12-15m from the bowlers popping crease) this field can be frustratingly hard to pierce. The conditions do the work for you.

Wickets come from batsmen trying to create runs under pressure of the clock, so bowl a consistent off stump line and aim to bowl maidens.

Bowling variations

For bowlers this is a field with a specific tactic. That means there is no scope for variations. You want to predictably put the ball in the same spot every time rather than mix things up.

If the batsman is overcoming the tactic by scoring runs easily then go for a different field with scope for variety.

Avoid bowling

Batsmen can throw the bat at bad balls knowing there are no attacking fielders so avoid:

  • Short of a length/long hop. Anything too short (around 11m or closer to the bowler's popping crease) will sit up on a slow wicket and can be cut or pulled easily by most batsmen. The better the back foot player, the closer they can cut and pull giving less room you have for error.
  • Half volley length. Most drivable balls (over 14m from the bowler's popping crease) have good outfield protection but there is little boundary cover square on the off side so penetrating the infield leads to runs. Even wide half volleys are safe to hit as edges wide of the keeper are unprotected.
Field variations

Most of these variations work better at the faster end of medium paced bowling.

  • If you bowl away swing/seam you can move square leg to strengthen the off side.
  • Fine leg and third man can move up to save the single. Third man can even move to a deep gulley position for the slashed drive or mishit cut.
  • Mid on and mid off can be pushed back into the deep with extra cover and mid wicket level with the bowlers stumps to save the driven single.
  • Cover can be set deep. Point can also be moved back, but not both at the same time.
  • Square leg can move to the boundary, especially if the ball is moving in to the batsman.
  • If third man and cover are saving one, point may be better used at third man, short fine leg or deep midwicket/cow corner.
  • The wicketkeeper can stand up to add even more pressure.
Batting against this field

As soon as you see this field in place you know what the tactic will be. If you are lucky the bowler will not find the right line and length and you can pierce the infield with good timing for easy runs.

If the bowler is on top of you, it is very hard to score and you will quickly get frustrated unless you find a way out.  The easiest 'get out' shots are over the top of the field: Straight and midwicket areas.

You can also pick up singles down to fine leg and third man with late cuts and flicks off the leg.

Images supplied by PitchVision - Coach Edition software

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How to avoid becoming a cricket robot

Is it possible to forget about playing cricket?

Our sport relies heavily on technique. It's possible to spend hours working out which tiny aspect or another will correct errors. The holy grail of runs and wickets, some can imagine, is just a technical tweak away.

But is it?

Are we in danger of going too far down the technical route and forgetting how to play?

Cricket is also a game that requires rhythm and flowing movement. Many first class players in recent times have been accused of becoming 'robotic'. Too reliant on their coaches' aims to produce technical perfection, they have become lesser players because their natural instincts have been over-coached out of them.

That doesn't sound much like play to me.

In Greg Chappell's coaching book he lists 24 great cricketers who learned the game in an unstructured play-like way: Names that include himself, Don Bradman, Fred Trueman and Bishen Bedi.

These names learned to enjoy playing cricket by picking up a bat and a ball and playing games in the street, park or on the beach. They learned what worked and what didn't work for them. They saw the greats of their childhood play and picked up tips. They moved and played in an unstructured way.

They had fun and didn't worry about technique.

You could argue that these greats were natural cricketers who didn't need much coaching. You could also argue that perhaps they made the most of their talent because they didn't get much coaching in the first place.

Free play

In many ways, miCricketCoach is just as guilty of this. I started this site as a way of focusing on the details. I analyse the difference between this method and that in the effort to bring you the most cutting edge reliable information. Sometimes I forget that it is supposed to be fun too.

Sometimes it's better to leave the coaching aids and training plans behind. It's good for any age player to just play: Experiment and push the limits of what you can do. You can fail safe in the knowledge that failing is part of learning.

There is room for everyone to have both structured and unstructured training. A good coach can make sure that coaching sessions have drilling, competing and playing.

To just be structured when you train leads to robotic, over-technical players who think technique is everything.

To bring in a bit of play reminds us to relax and stop thinking about it so much.

Some free play methods

So how do you integrate free play into your training? The joy of this is that it doesn't really matter, as long as you are safe you can do anything. Here are some examples of things I have tried (or want to try):

  • Grab an old bat and anything for a ball, gather up some friends/family and go have in impromptu game somewhere: Park, beach, street or aircraft carrier.
  • Cover a tennis ball in masking tape, take a bat to a tennis, squash or basketball court and learn the fun of tape ball.
  • When doing batting or bowling drills, focus on hitting targets rather than what is the correct technique
  • Take your team to a different location to train and do something unexpected like a workout using the park children's play equipment (making sure there are no children around first of course).
  • Play a practice match in your training sessions instead of having a net, but play with a soft ball and make it a 5 over slog.

Let your imagination run wild and move, have fun and relax. No robots allowed.

Image credit: Niyantha

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Improve your fielding by working as a team

Do you sometimes feel alone in the field?

There is the famous story of an English club player many years ago. He was sent to field on the boundary on a pitch with a large slope: A slope so steep that when he got to his position he could no longer see the action.

Undeterred by this he faithfully fielded in the same position all afternoon. Nothing came to him.

Nothing that is until suddenly he heard cries of 'catch!' and seeing a ball fly through the air to him he steadied himself under it. Upon taking the catch confidently he ran back up the slope to take the applause from his team mates.

He was met by the sight of eleven men he didn't recognise and his own captain walking off with a bat under his arm. Our man was so isolated that he had not realised the innings had changed and he had been fielding for the opposition.

The very opposite of good team fielding.

It's impossible to say if the story is true, but I have certainly played in teams where it could be possible.

A good fielding unit would never let that happen. Besides, it takes all the fun out of fielding (which should be fun when done right)

Field as a unit
What is the basic job of all fielders?

Stopping runs and taking catches, or to put it another way: Attack or defend.

The best way to go about this is to adopt a philosophy of trying to dominate the batsman together. The best fielding teams make batting seem very lonely with 11 psyched up fielders working together to force an error.

On the other hand, Batters also quickly pick up on a negative atmosphere where bowlers don't trust fielders and everyone is quiet.

How do you psychologically stay on top as a fielding team and avoid getting caught out by your own player?

  • Decide on tactics. If you can before play, take 5 minutes to talk about the opposition and conditions. Work out what fielding tactics will work best for what players. If you don't get the time before play, chat about it as you walk out onto the field.
  • Take personal responsibility. A positive atmosphere starts with individuals. It's hard to stay negative in a team where players are supporting good play, enjoying their fielding and talking tactics between overs. You also need to take responsibility for your own attitude.
  • Be loyal. Everyone makes mistakes. Catches get dropped and balls are misfielded. You can use the stop technique to put your own mistakes out of your mind. You can also help others by supporting them when they make an error. There is nothing better than a bowler going up to a fielder who has just dropped an easy catch and telling him "never mind, catch the next one to make up for it".
  • Move around. A simple trick the captain or bowler can use is to move players around positions. This keeps everyone on their toes (including the batsmen who have to keep an eye on where the strong fielders have moved to).
  • Trigger your focus. It's easy to lose focus especially when the day is hot, the batting is dull and not much is coming your way. To avoid this, use triggers to switch on and off in a similar way to when you are batting. If you are in the deep you need slightly less focus than if you are up close, but never drift away completely.

Have you tried fielding as a unit? What are your team's fielding experiences? Leave a comment and let me know.

Image credit: mrs2fat


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7 Ways cricketers can stop lower back pain

Back pain is surprisingly common. Yet in many cases it can be reversed easily, so why suffer?

My job involves a lot of sitting down: writing and travelling are big parts of my life. Combined with regular years of playing/coaching and a body in the 30's and you get a high risk of back trouble. It's true I have had the odd bout of taking anti-inflammatory pills for an ache over the years, but in recent times I have learned some simple ways to prevent it.

Cricket food ideas: Go nuts

Stone Age man was probably too busy wrestling sabre tooth tigers, hunting, fishing and gathering to play even the most primitive game of cricket. He was pretty fit and strong though, so maybe we can learn a thing or two from his way of life.

One of the staples of his diet was plain old nuts.

He was certainly onto something, because research since has shown that raw nuts are quite the superfood. The boffins tell us that adding nuts to your diet leads to:


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: 22
Date: 2008-11-21