Pitchvision Academy


Welcome to 2013, your best year ever? It will be if you stick with the newsletter!

And what a newsletter to start this next batch of 52. It's already a contender for the best of the year with A double helping of Mark Garaway, Gary Palmer busting a batting myth wide open and Karl Stevenson showing us how to bond our team together.

Happy new year!

David Hinchliffe

The Great Batting Hoax


Gary Palmer, the PitchVision Academy batting coach, sheds light on the biggest hoax in batting.

Cricket has advanced in so many ways in the last 60 years. So why do we still hold onto the same ideas when it comes to classical batting technique?

Coaches and players have always called batting a side on game. But I have learned that batting is more front on than side on.

In my experience, when I say this most people disagree instantly and switch off.

But I always try to find out why people don't want to hear it.

Inevitably they will point to the textbook, or something they saw a well-known player do or say on TV. That would be fine if it was true, but you need to have logical evidence to back up your argument.

Proof Batting is not side on

I have been through the English system as a player and a coach, from Somerset u12s, South region u15s, Young England and finally playing for Somerset as a first-class cricketer. I started coaching when I was 17 over 30 years ago. I have seen countless players from the greats through to current Internationals through to total beginners, often up as close as it is possible to get.

From the lab of these thousands of players and millions of shots I have seen played I have learned the truth.

As a specialist, professional batting coach and my findings are that batting sideways on restricts you as a batter. I have no doubt that it is a flawed technical way of playing and makes players skill levels limited, especially players who would are talented but have never played to their full potential because they are adopting or are being coached flawed techniques.

Being side on starts your head off in an initial offset position meaning poor balance and alignment, this is difficult to re-correct when the ball is flying towards you at 90mph.

Sideways on only means you are effective on deliveries outside off stump only. This makes it difficult to play consistently well in the V. It makes it particularly difficult play through mid-on without getting blocked off and playing around your front pad. You are limiting your range of shots.

Whilst many people will think my thoughts are radical, it’s certainly not as radical as a left-handed switch hit or reverse sweep, which players are implementing and coaches are coaching.

Rewriting the batting textbook

So what is the alternative?

Playing straight and through mid-on you need to be open with your knees and laces pointing down the wicket.

Being more open will arm you with a technique that allows you to score through 360 degrees. It gives you a head start with your balance and alignment of bat to ball. Yet, you still have the option to turn slightly more sideways when you need to get across to the off side to play the off drive. It's easier to go from slightly open to slightly more side on to play the off drive rather than being too side on and trying to reopen to play through straight and mid-on as you have already started tipping to the off side. From this side on position it is difficult to re-open and play well in the V.

It's no surprise that the great Sir Vivian Richards played this way. Sir Viv was more open than most in his stance and when he hit straight and through mid-on he was well balanced and aligned and had great access to the ball. His shoulder was never in the way therefore his head was always in a great position and with a more open body position he could hit the ball wherever he wanted.

If Sir Viv was side on he may not have scored as many runs as he did nor could have taken bowling apart as destructively ad he did.

Occasionally Viv used to play side on and play around his pad on purpose when he was improvising. But when he wanted to he could play attacking shots in the V as correctly as anyone, using the open method.

Towards a new basic technique

I firmly believe that "one size fits all" with basic batting technique, this makes it clear and simple to identify what to do as a player and a coach.

No mixed messages and less time wasted implementing trial and error.

Through coaching in the trenches I have found what is the most effective technique. I feel we should all use this best practice for the benefit of all players.


Because it makes batting easier.

I realize this is a big statement but I have based it on outcome against a series of specific angles and progressive swing types on a bowling machine.

I call it The 4 Angles methodology.

This sequence of angles exposes batting technique as we know it teaches the more effective "open" method.

My 4 Angles system develops and accesses the ABC of basic batting technique (Alignment, Balance, Completion of Shot). A player needs to get these in order before they progress on to nets and middle practice. The best technique is the one that works against all angles and swing types, you will find that that open works and side-on is inefficient.

ABC is the foundations of correct batting technique.

Every talented cricketer from 11 year olds to the professional game should aspire to be able to play all the angles efficiently with ease.

Cricket nowadays is more about attacking the bowlers through 360 degrees and it is massively important to have technique that allows you to score do this. Being more open and hitting in the V with your laces pointing down the wicket more will help you to do this with minimum risk of getting out.

I run my CCM Academy here in the UK and we have been using 4 Angles for some time. All the players can play effectively well in the V and are especially good at the on and straight drives. The players all enjoy positive performances and 5 boys are playing professional cricket.

Detailed videos of the 4 Angles system and the more open batting techniques can be found by clicking here.

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How 3 Simple Fitness Exercises Improve Spin Bowling Guile

We all understand how important being strong, balanced and powerful is to a fast bowler, yet we are generally "take it or leave it" when we talk fitness to our spinners.

So, how can being strong benefit a spinner?

In recent studies, it has been established that elite spinners (the Graeme Swann's of this world) have consistent and repeatable actions which enable the bowler to deliver the ball with an "11 o'clock" release position.

Or to put it another way, the lack of physical ability to hold a consistent position at the crease for a sustained period of time means you lose the ability to decieve.

This makes sense to us as we have been coaching this for years. (Phew!)

This arm position allows the ball to be delivered with lateral spin - a combination of side spin and top spin - and as a result the ball can:

  • curve in the opposite direction to its break off the pitch
  • dip thanks to the top spin element
  • break viciously off of the surface

These are the 3 elements of deception within this delivery, all of which stem from the ability to repeat a consistent action with an optimal release position.

This can only be enhanced if the bowler is strong, balanced and powerful.

If the arm gets too upright then the ball will be released with only overspin or topspin and this will mean that the ball will not curve through the air or break off of the pitch as significantly.

So being able to land consistently in the same back foot position, to move through your action and release the ball with your hips and shoulders square to the target is a very physical act.

The more stability and strength a bowler has, the more likely she is to repeat her action over time.

From bowling action to workout

As stated previously, cricket is a game of lunges and with the squat in toe, we have the two fundamental exercises that underpin the physical development of a spinner.

Overhead squats and lunges are perfect for a spinner as they have to be able to control their arms above their heads when bowling.

A broomstick a great way to train the body to support the technical developments that a coach is working on with their bowler.

1. overhead squat for spinners

  • Hold the broomstick with your hands at shoulders width.
  • Raise the broomstick above your head and maintain this position throughout the squat
  • Maintain a strong core throughout each rep
  • Perform up to 8 squats with the broomstick held above your head (with good form)
  • Ensure that your heels remain on the floor throughout each repetition
  • If technique fails, end the set.

Three sets of this exercise twice a week will be sufficient. When the bowler can do three sets of 8 reps easily then move up to 3 sets of 10 or 12 reps.

2. overhead lunge for spinners

Again with the broomstick above your head at shoulder width apart, maintain that position and step into a right leg lunge, controlling the movement as you drop and as you return to a standing position.

Repeat on left leg. Do Reps of 8 on each leg as a set. 3 sets, twice a week, ideally on the same day as your squat, but it is not essential.

You can also vary the exercise with different types of lunge. Click here for details.

3. Partner push/pulls

  • Stand facing your partner, each bowler in their delivery stride
  • Both spinners grip the broomstick with their hands placed approximately shoulders width apart
  • Spinner A has to try and pull spinner B towards herself using their core and arms yet keeping their feet in their locked delivery stride.
  • Spinner B has to resist. This exercise is training the push/pull elements of their physiology.
  • The Spinners reverse their role and have another broomstick battle.

3 reps of each role (pushing and pulling) will make up a session. The session can be repeated on 2 occasions per week.

Add these spinner specific exercises in and see how they reduce their risk of injury, positively impact of your tweakers' ability to bowl for long spells and help them to to deceive batters off the pitch.

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How to Use the Arm Ball to Defeat All Batsmen from Sachin Tendulkar to Club Players

Menno Gazendam is author of Spin Bowling Project. Get your free 8 week spin bowling course here

The arm ball.

Or as some like to call it, the floater.

Bowled by the off spinner to either leave the right hand batsman or come into the left handed batsman. Vice versa for the slow left arm orthodox bowler.

Look at Monty Panesar in this video bowling a beautiful arm ball to the great Sachin. You can see the shiny side on the off side in the slow motion, helping him drift it in.


The arm ball is called so because it just go on with the arm. It doesn't drift like a normal spinner would. But, goes straight on with the line of the arm or even swings a bit like a seamer.

I have had a lot of success with the arm ball against left hand batsman on big turning pitches.

They all leave the ball as they think it will spin away from them. Only to keep going on with the arm and swing late into them. Many a 'did-not-offer-a-shot' LBW I picked up this way.

you grip the ball almost like a seamer, but not quite. And the shift in grip is made at the last possible moment. I have some nice sequenced photos of this in my full guide.

Massively useful at club, school and Academy level

This delivery, when bowled right, causes havoc at lower levels. They simply do not pick it. This is because so few of them are use to facing good off spin bowlers with proper variations.

It is a less effective delivery against the very top players, but there are notable exceptions as Panesar showed above.

So, do not rely too much on the arm ball if you happen to play a club game and the opposition batsman is an ex-Test player.

However, 99% of us do not bowl at test players for a living and you will have great success if you make this part of your repertoire.

Arm ball tips

For the right handed batsman you want to bowl this on the off-stump line. Even middle will do. You need him to try and play straight or through mid-on. The ball will then go away from him.

Do not bowl this ball too wide to get him to drive. You lack the speed of a quick or medium pacer and this will usually not be effective. So, try and get the right handed batsman to play straight.

For the left handed batsman you him to drive at the ball. So, start about a foot outside the stump on off-side. The batsman will either drive or most probably pad up and leave the ball. It will swing in and catch him by surprise.

Bowl it anytime as part of your normal bowling plans. But, ideally make sure the conditions (ball and weather) are favourable for a bit of swing.

For more detailed spin bowling advice, tips, tricks, tactics and training drill for spinners in all formats of cricket, get the Spin Bowling Project free 8 week email coaching course.

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3 Surprisingly Simple Exercises to Bond Your Cricket Team Together

Psychologist columnist Karl Stevenson discusses practical ways to understand personality to improve performance.

A watchmaker knows the size and weight of each cog in order to make a watch tick correctly.

Similarly, if each member of a team understands what makes each other tick, they can push the right buttons to get the best out of one another.

Below are three exercises that allow your team to start identifying with each other, and a great way of raising team awareness amongst a group of individuals.

Increase Catching Area with this Funky Drill

How big are your players catching areas?

Super slow motion cameras are great for noting the size of catching areas in both keepers and fielders. Often, we see that catchers line the ball up with one open hand and more closed one, this is great if judgement is spot on or if the ball does not dip or deviate in the air.


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: 236
Date: 2013-01-04