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England is going through an unusually dry period, and with the Ashes in full swing, the world's attention has turned to combative cricket on slow, dry wickets.

In reflection of this, we are analysing the techniques and tactics that you can use in your playing and coaching. With Mark Garaway talking Ashes, and ways to make the ball swing in batting conditions.

Plus, we look at the perennial issue of players making the grade at a higher level. Whether you are on the way up yourself, or helping others through their journey, it's not to be missed.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Are You Sabotaging Your Chances of Getting Swing?


The sun beats down on a warm afternoon and you are in the middle of an opening spell. The ball is new, the pitch is firm and the batters have set their jaws to dig in hard.

You are desperate to find that bit of swing to make all the difference to your attack.

The call goes up for which side needs shining from the senior player at gully, "look after the dragon, guys" he insists, before rubbing the side of the ball imprinted with a golden dragon on the dark red leather.

To boost the shine further he licks his thumb and slides it over one side, before returning to the rubbing. When he is satisfied, the ball goes round the field to get back to the bowler.

It's a common scenario. I'm sure you have seen it yourself. His intentions were to increase the chances of swing, but in fact he - and everyone else who touched the ball on the way through - has just mad the ball less likely to swing.

Stop using sweat and saliva

We used to think that weighing the ball down with water helped the ball swing. So adding sweat to the ball became a commonly held belief in cricket going back years.

In recent years, research has shown that water is counter-productive because it stops the natural enzymes in the ball coming out as you shine it.

In short, you need to stop using sweat and saliva when you shine the ball.

Instead, the way to get more swing from the ball legally is to keep it as dry as you possibly can.

So, cut out the thumb licking and sweat wiping (even if you have been eating sweets) and keep your hands as dry as you can when you shine the ball.

Less hands, better grip

Ideally, if you sweat a lot, you will not touch the ball at all unless you are bowling. This means the ball is transferred from keeper or fielder to the bowler with as few hands as possible on the ball.

For example, if the keeper takes a ball from a leave, he passes is straight to the slip fielder who is least sweaty. This fielder works on the ball before throwing it straight to mid off to pass to the bowler.

All fielders should also be instructed to how the ball with fingers on the seam and palm off the ball to reduce the amount of sweat that gets on the ball. If you are shining it, work in a circular motion rather than up and down.

In short, make it your obsession to keep the ball as dry as you possibly can so you can let the leather do the work.

Avoid perfection

Throughout all this, you are still looking for as much difference as possible between the shiny and rough sides of the ball, as this is how it swings.

However, often a perfect shiny side is not always possible, especially on rough, dry outfields. The good news is that all you really needs is a small shiny area the size of a large coin. This will still allow the ball to swing, even in harsh conditions.

Combine this with an effort to flatten the seam once the ball has got older because this will further allow swing.

But the real key is to keep the ball as dry as possible as long as possible. If you are doing anything else you are reducing the chances of swing.

Have you experimented with keeping the ball dry or do you still buff with sweat? Leave a comment and let us know your experiences with getting the ball to swing.

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Coaching the Ashes: Use 4th Inning Test Skills to Win Your Matches

What an epic 1st Test Match in the 2013 Ashes.

What an epic final innings.

As a coach, I couldn't help noticing how many of the skills and tactics of the match could be utilised by all teams at some stage in the coming weeks. Here are the lessons from that Test match that you can take into your next match:

Use the lack of pace effectively

Rarely do we see a worn pitch that turns at pace.

This presents problems for the spinner. The ball doesn't turn quickly and batters have developed tactics to nullify the impact of spin.

Australia largely played Graeme Swann off of the back foot in the 4th innings, either defending or punching off of the back foot on either side of the wicket.

This forced Swanny to over-pitch and then the Australian lower order tucked into him scoring freely straight down the ground and over mid wicket.

The take home point: If the pitch is slow then avoid lunging down the pitch with your front foot unless you can drive by getting all the way to the pitch of the ball.

Bank on your seamers

During the match I suggested that the England seamers would pick up more wickets in the final innings than spinners on the worn Nottinghamshire pitch. I was laughed at, but then I explained how the English seamers would look to operate.

Jimmy Anderson is incredible at hitting a slightly fuller length when the ball is moving laterally on slower wickets.

Most fast bowlers look to bowl too full when the ball starts swinging. Jimmy bowls the 5.50 - 5.75 metre (from the batters middle stump) length. This induces thick outside edges as the player comes forward to drive.

Catches are either taken at a wide 1st slip or Gully.

A man on the drive is placed as bait to encourage the batter to try and hit the ball through them, to beat the fielder for pace. Yet we have all seen what happens:

Caught Cook, Bowled Anderson.

This is a tactic that will work wonders in grass roots cricket when the ball is moving laterally.

Use cutters, not slower balls

It was great to see the ball speeds throughout the overs that Broad and Anderson delivered on the final day.

It reminded me of the work the pair did in Sri Lanka a few years ago by bowling the ball at subtly different paces using slightly different finger positions and bowling arm pace.

Many bowlers maintain their optimal pace and then mix in a slower ball on slow pitches. This lacks deception. Anderson and Broad used their other variations rather than slower balls to make the Australians feel for each ball, causing them to play too early and too late.

The lead up and execution of Chris Rogers 2nd Innings dismissal was picture perfect. Although the actual wicket ball wasn't the cutter that David Saker - England's bowling coach - had planned, the subtle variations led to Rogers downfall.

Again, this could be replicated on any club, Academy or school ground this coming weekend. Give it a go.

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Cricket Show S4 Episode 28: Yes Times Six!

With Stuart Broad and sportsmanship in the news, the team discuss walking, the spirit of cricket and the implications for all levels of the game.

Plus there is cricket coaching chat about reverse swing (even if you don't bowl at high speed) and ways to groove technique when you only have net sessions. Plus we interview Neil Carter formerly of Warwickshire, now at Bishop School in Cape Town.

Join in with the show by downloading, listening and sending your feedback!





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This is show number 221.

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The Deceptive Simplicity of Experience, or Why You Don't Need "Coaching Tips"

Last night I wandered along to my local team's under 12 match. I wasn't coaching but the sun was shining and the boys were keen as mustard so I chatted with the parents on the boundary.

One boy was playing in his first ever competitive game and was keen to keep wicket. While he was padding up, one of the Dads said to me, "come on then, you know your stuff, what tips can you give the lad?"

I thought for a brief moment.

"Catch it."

How to Make the Leap to Higher Standard Cricket

Moving up to a higher standard is difficult.

You only have to look at the trail of failed professional cricketers who were tried and discarded at International level. But it's equally true of the level I coach at the moment. Boys have to move from 20 over soft ball pairs cricket to 40 over hard ball "real" cricket.

So whatever level you play, there is always a standard to jump up. How do you do it?


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: 264
Date: 2013-07-19