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This newsletter is the last one before a Christmas break of one week. Don't worry; we will be back in full swing on January 2nd.

Saturday's Cricket Show is also the last in the current series as Kevin and I take a few weeks off from recording. The show will be back for season 2 in February.

The rest of the newsletter along with the extensive archives covering every aspect of playing and coaching cricket should be enough to keep you going until we return. This week includes a guide to making fielding drills fun, a deep look at the misunderstood field setting for leg spin, the bestselling cricket coaching books of the year and 5 minutes with Dr. Ganesh.

You can't say we are getting fat, even if the geese are this Christmas.

Merry Christmas,


David Hinchliffe

How to avoid the 7 mistakes that makes fielding drills boring

Mention 'fielding drills' to most club and school cricketers and they are wracked with indecision and guilt. Like flossing we all know we should do it but we don't because we know how boring it is.

Thing is, it undoubtedly has an influence on your fielding skills and drilling certainly shouldn't be boring.

It's just many coaches (or team captains in the absence of a coach) don't know how to avoid the pitfalls that make a fielding drills into drudgery. Some simple planning ahead is all it takes to make a huge difference.

Here are the most common mistakes that make practice boring. Avoid these and players might even want to do drills!

1. Too many players

The classic mistake is to line up your team before play and hit balls to one player at a time while the others stand around getting fed up. The players get to field far too few balls and have far too long to wait.

4-6 people are a much more sensible sized group. Everyone gets a go and has something to do all the time. That means larger groups need to be split down.

It's simple to do in a pre-game warm up with 11 or 12 players. You just spilt them up and perform 2 different drills. You can either swap over drills after 5 minutes or create a 'specialist' group for slip, short leg and wicketkeeper practice.

With very large groups (such as coaching children) you may need to create a circuit style system with several drills being rotated through.

Drill selection is all important. If you trust senior players or junior coaches you can have them act as coach in one group while you coach the other group. With children you may need to choose drills that are both engaging and require less supervision.

2. Bad attitude

If you have ever watched the opposition warming up in a half-hearted, unfocused way you know how motivating it is to your own team. Drills set the tone for your team's attitude so they need to be performed in the way you would do them out in the middle.

This applies to both drills done right and wrong. Good performance needs to be backed by everyone and poor performance needs to be put out of the mind as quickly as possible. This teaches players to do exactly that during the game.

A positive approach also makes it more fun. Even those not directly involved are watching, clapping and encouraging when things are done right. Make sure players are focused at game intensity rather than 'going through the motions'.

3. Waiting until after nets

If you wait until after a net session to do fielding practice you are saying fielding is less important than batting and bowling. Players are tired, some may decide it's time to go home and the whole session is less effective and focused.

We all know fielding should be an equal, but we all prefer to be batting or bowling. The answer is to do the drills before a net session as part of your warm up.

The players will be fresher and more willing to focus on getting the drills done so they can get to the good bit. The drills also prepare the body and mind for net practice.

4. Mixed abilities

At club and school level the average session will have a great deal of difference in ability. I know at my club all the teams practice together. The star 1st XI batsman who has played some county cricket in the past is shoulder to shoulder with the uncoordinated 3rd XI player doesn't bat or bowl.

If the coach tries to cater to all levels they end up catering to none.

One solution is to run sessions based on ability. Where this is not possible you can do the same skill work but at different levels of difficulty. For example you can add a competitive element for the talented players while the less natural ones work on skill development in pairs.

5. Not having fun

Whatever level you play, cricket is a game to be enjoyed. Many coaches are so focused on improving skill with serious drilling they forget this fact. It may even drive children out of the game through bad experiences.

On the other hand, if you just play around during your sessions then skill will not show improvement. Nobody wants that either so it's up to you to strike a balance.

Ideally a session will start with some serious practice that increases in intensity. It ends with some kind of game where skill is sacrificed for finishing on a high. This is especially true for younger players but even adults need to have some enjoyment. It is a game after all!

6. Wasting time

For me it's a cardinal sin not to have enough balls to keep a practice running. The fewer balls you have the more likely you are going to waste time. It's no fun standing around while a single ball is collected from a poor throw every other minute.

If you run a session make it your obsession to get as many old balls as possible. It will save you a great deal of time.

You can also save time by encouraging a fast pace of drills and accurate throwing, having someone collect balls (rotate this job often) and putting in an extra effort to get to poor returns yourself.

Finally, if you have to perform a demo of any drill or skill, keep it short and do it rather than describe it. Once you have shown it once or twice get the players active quickly.

7. Injuries

Even when safety has been assured by the coach, injuries still happen and will ruin a session for a player who may even try and drill through the pain.

You can do a lot to prevent injuries including:

Each of these errors are easy to prevent with a little forward thinking.Try planning your next session with these elements in mind.

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5 minutes of cricket psychology with Dr Ganesh

Dr Ganesh Dutt Chugh is a respected cricket coach and sport psychologist based in Gandhinagar, India. He has an impressive CV including 3 Masters Degrees, a PhD and real life experience coaching since 1985. He has been psychologist to many private clients as well as the Indian netball and volleyball teams.

Dr Ganesh was kind enough to answer some questions for me recently on cricket psychology.

Can you give examples of players you have coached who have seen the benefits of sport psychology?

The list of the Players is quite long. The two latest players are Manish Parmar, who has been selected to represent the India A team, and Ishwar Choudary who has represented India at under 19. Both of them play for Gujarat State in the first class Ranji Trophy championship.

Why do cricketers need psychological skills to perform at their best?

Cricket players requirements are different from the others sports person as the game is much more mental. All behaviour is control by the mind. The way you think influences your body's reaction.

Another important thing I would like to mention is that each and every individual is going to react and behave differently in the same situation.

What psychological skills does the modern cricketer need to perform?

I have got excellent result with psychological drills such as Auto-genic training. This is performed daily, ideally after training:

  1. Ask the player (after cooling down) to lie on the ground. Ensure that no part of their body touches another part.
  2. Keep palms upwards and away from body. Keep the chin up and the air passage unobstructed.
  3. There should be no tension at all on any part of the body.
  4. Ask the player to close their eyes
  5. Command the player to inhale, pause then exhale.
  6. Depending upon the response of the player you may go for 10 to 15 time this process of inhaling and exhaling.
  7. After this tell the player to focus on the feel of their nose and the feel of their breath. During this process they should not move their body at all.
  8. After 3 to 5 minutes (depending upon the response of the player), you may command them to go to sleep.
  9. Keep quiet for a couple of minute.
  10. Ask them to open their eyes only.
  11. After a minute or so ask them to turn left and slowly get up
  12. Ask for feedback on how they feel before, during and after this drill. I promise you will hear wonderful experience.

You can include a drill like this as part of regular net training.

If you have any cricket related problem, please contact Dr Ganesh Dutt Chugh via his website at cricketclinic.co.in


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Field Setting: Leg spin, old ball, any wicket, long format, right handed batsman

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

Leg spin is dangerous on any pitch because there is greater turn, drift and dip in the standard leg break than orthodox spin. However, the leg spinner also tends to be less accurate and when combined with variations like the googly it makes for an interesting challenge when setting a field.

This is very much a standard leg spin field to a right hander that has been designed to be customised depending on the style of the spinner and the match situation. Don't use this field for left handed batsmen.

Bowling to this field

You are looking to dismiss the batsman through bowled or caught behind as the batsman misjudges the turn, especially playing forward. If you have a googly as an option you open up bowling your foe through the gate between bat and pad or getting a thick inside edge to a leg side catcher.

The leg break is best pitching somewhere around middle to middle and leg and turning to hit off stump. The exact line and length will vary considerably depending on the turn and bounce. The aim is always to get the batsman playing forward as tentatively as possible. The later they play the more chance you have of taking wickets.

Most balls will be played with the spin into the off side so you have protection in that area, especially from extra cover and gulley/short third man. The deep square leg also offers some insurance against a poor ball or a batsman who sweeps.

Bowling variations

Variety is the key to getting wickets for the leg spinner as it prevents the batsman getting into a rhythm of timing against you:

  • Googly. Bowl the one that goes the other way a little wider and fuller. This will tempt the batsman into driving and turn back onto the stumps.
  • Flight. The ability to vary place the ball in the same spot but with different heights on the ball is very deceptive on any wicket. If the batsman is in a rhythm try a mixing in a flatter or loopier ball.
  • Drift. If you can give the ball a 'rip' and you get it right the ball will drift in the air like an inswinger to a right handed batsman. It will also dip later in its flight than your stock ball. The batsman will often misjudge this ball if you can get it above his eye line with plenty of loop.
  • Around the wicket. If there is rough on the pitch you can go around the wicket to land the ball there. This will impart a great deal of turn and bounce.
Avoid bowling

This field is designed to take wickets while giving you some insurance.

  • Wide outside off stump. There is lots of protection in the covers, but too much width (especially short) has no cover in the deep.
  • Outside leg stump. Unless the ball is turning a lot (say, out of the rough) then balls pitching outside leg are easier to sweep and pull without fear of LBW.
Field Variations
  • Accurate leg spinners can move silly midwicket to the offside to make a 6/3 split field.
  • Googly bowlers will need a fielder behind square on the leg side. This can come from silly midwicket, gulley or the covers.
  • Faster leg spinners with less spin may benefit from a deep midwicket instead of silly midwicket.
  • Gulley can go a little deeper or move to short third man but always keep someone behind square on the leg side as the ball goes there a great deal.
Batting against this field

This is a compromise field for the average club or school level leg spinner so there are gaps for the patient batsman to exploit.

Early on against an accurate spinner your best line of attack is to sweep fine where there is no protection. If you do this a couple of times the field will change and you will need to rethink. Apart from this, its best to avoid hitting across the line to anything but very short bowling as the extra turn, dip and bounce can deceive you.

If the bowling is poor (and leg spinners usually bowl more bad balls that other types of bowlers) you can drive, cut and pull. Look out for the googly and other variations before driving at balls outside off stump.

You can use your feet to turn a good length ball into a half volley to disrupt the accurate leg spinner, but as the ball is turning away this carries a greater risk. Avoid it early in your innings.

Hitting over the top on the off side is an option but you would need to get to the ball on the half volley to smother the spin effectively.

Images supplied by PitchVision - Coach Edition software


If you want to learn everything there is to know about playing spin, check out Gary Palmer's interactive coaching course - The Complete Guide to Effectively Playing Spin Bowling. Gary is a coach with over 20 years experience teaching players to become first class cricketers. For the first time he has put his drills online, only at PitchVision Academy.


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Bestsellers from the PitchVision coaching shop

Around this time of year it's interesting to find out what you, the community, have been buying through this site.

I know what is popular through a sneak peek I get. When you click a link on here and buy anything on I get told about it. I don't get your personal details (of course not) but I do get a bestseller list of what's popular.

So what does everyone buy to improve their game? In order of popularity:

How to use the PitchVision Academy archives

I have had a couple of questions recently on how to access the information contained in the PitchVision Academy archives. I thought I would clarify by giving you this simple guide.

The site is spilt into two:

  • freely available content.
  • premium online coaching course and ebooks.

There are several ways you can check out either or both, depending on how you want to find things.


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: 26
Date: 2008-12-19