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This week the world's attention has turned back to Test cricket with India taking on England, South Africa in Australia and The Kiwis up against the West Indies. It's good to get back to the whites and the red ball after recent world events and the Twenty20 revolution in cricket.

To celebrate the intense mental challenge of the long format we have new articles to cover every base: How to out think your opponent, training during a long season and a look at how knowing your angles can get you more runs and wickets (protractors not required).

There is still a short time to apply for the 2009 case study. Click here for details, but be fast as I am making my decision by December 19th in time to begin in January.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

Why angles are so important to bowling and batting tactics

Ex-England captain Nasser Hussain once said that Duncan Fletcher taught him cricket was all about angles.

Don't worry; you can put down your protractor. Both men are right but you don't need to be a maths whizz to be able to use angles to your advantage whether you are batting, bowling or captaining.

So what do I mean when I talk about different angles?

Even the straightest of bowling without a hint of swing, seam or spin needs to consider certain angles. If you were to bowl a ball on an imaginary pitch where there is a brick wall at the other end, you would never be able to get the ball to bounce straight back to you. Because the stumps at the other end get in the way, the ball would always bounce off at an angle.



This means that a ball that is of good line and length ends up in very different places depending on where it is released. Let's look at some examples:

Right arm over: no movement


Left arm over: no movement

The black line shows the line of the delivery, the dotted line shows the imaginary rebound.

As you can see, despite both ball being a good line and length, the angle the batsman is playing is completely different. This angle can become even greater if the bowler goes wider on the crease or can be lessened by the bowler getting closer to the stumps.

What difference does this make to you?

Batsmen tend to play straight to a good line and length. But now we know 'straight' is actually an angle. So now we know where the ball is more likely to go. It's easier to play a right arm over bowler with the angle into the leg side, even when playing with a straight bat.

Using movement to change the angle

Up until now we have assumed the ball has not moved in the air or off the pitch. However, most bowlers will be trying to get the ball to do something (admittedly with various degrees of success).

Right arm over bowlers who swing it away are reducing the angle to make the ball have a straighter rebound. The same is true for:

  • Right arm over away swing
  • Left arm over inswing

This bowling his hard to get away because once the ball has moved onto the straight it must be played straight. Trying to it across the angle is like hitting across the line: It reduces the amount or room for error and requires a lot more skill to pull off. Even the worlds greatest can't do it consistently.

The angle can be increased with movement too:

  • Left arm spin around
  • Leg spin over

Both these move the ball from off to leg to the right hander, increasing the angle making it harder to hit straight or on the leg side with the ball 'going with the spin' in an arc between wide mid off and backward point:

Although most technically correct batsmen will do this beware of the player who is happy to hit the spinner across the line. To combat this successfully the bowler will need to rethink both his packed cover area and the line he is bowling.

Taking the opposite view, an off spinner bowling over the wicket will increase the angle to the leg side making the hitting arc more likely to be to the leg.


All these notes so far have been about the classic angles to right handed batsman. There are some other angles to be aware of:

  • Going around the wicket will change the angle. For example, a right arm around bowler becomes similar to left arm over (although not quite as the left arm bowler can naturally get closer to the stumps).
  • Everything is in mirror image to the left handed batsman. For example the right arm outswing bowler becomes the same as a left arm inswing bowler.
Theory into practice

OK so that's enough theory. How can you apply it to get you more runs or wickets?

Let's look at some examples.

A left arm over bowler is swinging the ball back in to the right handed batsman. If he bowls a good length at the stumps the ball will be pitching on leg or middle and leg. This means the batsman is forced to play straight and hit only to mid on or mid off. To score runs without risk means trying to play the ball square onto the on side. The bowler can then place the field to prevent this.

However, if the if the bowler strays too wide, bowling an off stump line, the batsman knows he has a free hit at the ball through the less protected cover region.

Another example might be the leg spinner who bowls close to the stumps with an off stump line. Most hits will be on the off side and slightly squarer. Hits across the line will go between midwicket and mid on. The batsman will have to wait for a genuine bad ball to get away.

A good tactic for bowlers of any type is to go around the wicket. This instantly changes the angle and the batsman will need to be careful in judging his off stump again. It's not used as often as it should be in my experience and is especially good against left-handers used to free hits on anything pitching on off stump.

So next time you are thinking about line and length, also take some time to consider the angles. As a bowler and captain it will help you set a good field. As a batsman it will help you see what the bowler is trying to make you do.

Image credit: HNM_1977

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4 ways to train better during a long (or extended) cricket season

It's getting increasingly difficult for us cricketers to develop the all round athletic skills we need to succeed.

Playing lots of cricket is the best way to get better at cricket, but doing that alone will not make players faster, more powerful or less prone to injury. To do that you need a well planned progressive training plan.

What with cricket training, matches and other commitments (work, family, school) there is only so much time in the day, especially during the season.

This is made worse if you play cricket in a country with a long season like India. The off season is so short you barely get chance to recover from the last one, let alone develop. It's also a problem for cricketers who play all year round, perhaps in the UK during the northern summer and South Africa or Australia in the southern summer.

On top of all this, young players are specialising in cricket at earlier ages. Parents are following the example of Tiger Woods and working on technically perfect players at the age of 5 or 6. Gone are the days of playing different sports and developing all round athletic skills first. They are either playing cricket, watching TV or on their games console: Nothing in-between.

As a result we are seeing players with more experience but less athletic prowess and a greater chance of injury coming through the system.

We all want to be skilful as skill equals better performance. We can't continue to focus only on playing and practicing if we want well rounded players.

That's where proper planning and effective fitness work comes in. Not the 'run-into-the-ground' type of fitness, but the type that stops injury by strengthening muscles and ligaments, improves functional power and makes players faster with more agility.

How do you progress this type of work if you are in season or have an extended season?

1. Generalise your training

Everyone can find time to be more general in their training. By general I mean avoiding cricket now and again to do something else. The something else could be playing another sport competitively, training in the gym or just having a knock about game of football with your mates.

Almost any other stop-start type sport has a crossover to cricket. If you can run fast chasing a football or hockey ball you can do so chasing a cricket ball. Similarly, doing weights in the gym (or even a few press ups) will strengthen you up giving you more power and speed.

More importantly, it gets you muscles working in different ways to playing cricket. You are not locked into the patterns that, over time, cause injury through overuse.

Unless you are a genuine prospect for playing professional cricket and are over 18 years old there is no need to specialise in cricket to the exclusion of everything else. In fact, it's counter-productive.

2. Know what you want

Once you have started some general training, like a couple of gym sessions a week between playing days in the summer, you can start to focus.

Focusing your training on a specific goal for a set number of weeks is advantageous for the long season. It allows you to develop athletic skills even when you are playing games.

Divide the playing season into smaller periods (around 4-6 weeks) and focus your general training on one element like strength or endurance.

For example, if you were playing an Indian season you would not have time in the off season to develop your strength to any great degree. So you divide up the season and decide to focus on improving your strength in January and May.

For those 2 months you hit the gym 2-3 times a week following a progressive overload plan. To make sure you don't lose other fitness elements you might also make sure you do skill drills at a higher intensity and have a longer warm up before cricket practice or play. By the end of the second month you would be stronger without losing any skill.

3. Plan carefully and avoid the mistakes

One of the down sides of this approach is it needs careful planning to avoid over exerting yourself. Athletic skill is accumulated gradually over time. If you try to do too much or have no recovery time you will quickly see a drop in performance.

You can see the general guidelines on how much rest you need here. Always err on the side of more rest than less in season, especially towards then end when your body is aching for some time off from cricket.

It's also worth noting the things to avoid in season unless you have very carefully planned recovery:

  • Long workouts (over an hour)
  • Very long skill sessions (over two hours)
  • Very heavy lifting (less than 5 reps), especially two leg lifts like squats and deadlifts
  • High intensity plyometrics

All these can have very long recovery times and most players in season will not have to time between actual cricket sessions to fully recover.

With all in season training you have to be flexible in your plan. If your game is rained off you may be able to squeeze some extra work in instead for example.

4. Eat well

The final secret to training effectively over long seasons is to get your nutrition up to scratch. The right nutrition will not only make you healthier, it will give you energy and help you to recover.

I always advise following the Precision Nutrition system, especially when it comes to getting in the right amount of good carbohydrates from beans, rice, potatoes, fruits and vegetables.

Whatever way you eat or train, long seasons are a challenge for players, even at the professional level. However you can make progress if you are prepared to think a little. Modern cricketers at every level can't afford not to.

Image credit: RB.rajesh


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How to out think your opponent (part one)

Despite being a team game, the business end of a cricket match is one on one. This solo battle of wills is one of the greatest challenges of cricket. Think Donald against Atherton and you get the idea.

How do you overcome your foe?
Reading the signs

Batsmen are constantly trying to get into a rhythm of timing while it's the bowlers job to prevent or upset that timing. If either player knows what his opponent is trying to do, they have the advantage in the battle.

It's part of the reason that good batsmen are better 'readers' of bowlers. They have an almost uncanny sense of the length before the bowler has even released the ball, giving them more time to play the shot. Similarly, the bowler who has a sense of what the batsman is about to do can counter their tactic.

This is not some mystical power though.

It's well documented in sport science research that better batsman are better at picking up line and length early. Researcher Tim Noakes found that expert batsmen are 10-12% faster at this. They can subconsciously read the tiny telltale changes in the bowler's action. They are also more experienced at reading game situations and know when a certain ball is more likely.

Bowlers also tell of getting a feel for when a batsman is about to play a big shot. Perhaps a couple of maidens have played out and the batters grip tightens or they are twitchier between balls.

It's so subtle that it would be impossible to make a list of things to look out for. Even the players don't quite know how they do it. It's something that comes with hours of playing, practicing, watching many different players and building up a subconscious database of experience. Some examples are:

  • Changes in run up speed
  • Position of the front shoulder
  • Position of the wrist
  • Point of release

But learning how to spot that takes time. To become a master may take 10,000 hours of practice, which is about 10 years doing nothing but play cricket.

While you can start now, understanding some of the tactics you and your opponent can use will give you a shortcut.

Coming up in the next part I'll go over some of these tactics. Click here to go to part two now.

Image credit: HNM_1977

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How to out think your opponent (part two)

This article is part of a two part series. To go to part one click here.

In part 1 we learned how batsman and bowlers are able to learn how to pick up on the tell tale signs of what their foe is thinking. The next step is being able to manipulate their plans to get them thinking what you want instead.

Field setting: Fast/medium pace, new ball, any wicket, Twenty20

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

Limited over cricket (especially Twenty20) is all about restricting the runs and this field is designed to help the opening bowler. When the ball is new and the bowlers are fresh, it's possible to be a little more attacking to get early wickets and restrict the run rate with the field 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: 25
Date: 2008-12-12