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We are always delighted to welcome new contributors to the newsletter, and so this week the introduction of Shayamal Vallabhjee is warmly applauded.

Shayamal has experienced cricket from the very top, having worked as an anlayst for the Indian and South African teams, as well as several professional outfits. His Handbook of Cricket Drills eBook is a nuts and bolts insight into his experience that can be used at any level. His first contribution is a extract from the eBook. You can read it in this edition of the newsletter.

Plus we have all the regulars: Mark Garaway on coaching, Menno Gazendam on spin bowling and tips on control as a bowler in limited overs cricket.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Maintain Pressure on Batsmen in Limited Overs Cricket


It's common to say an inexperienced bowling attack can't "maintain pressure".


Is this double-speak for bad bowling, or is there something more to the idea that experience improves your ability to tie batsmen down in the middle overs of a limited overs game?

Many say experience makes no difference. If you have a repeatable action, you can bowl good line and length and yorkers at the death, you have all the skill you need.

Personally, I think experience has a huge influence, but it is not obvious at first glance.

The key to the power of experience in bowling is linked to a skill that batsmen are desperate to develop: picking line and length.

Picking line and length: Not just for batsmen

One of the most important differences between elite batsmen and lesser players is their ability to pick line and length. It's a topic that we have discussed often on PitchVision Academy.

With much practice, the batter learns to subconsciously read the signals from the bowler and respond to the bowler, rather than wait to pick up the ball from the hand.

But experienced bowlers also have a version of this ability.

If you talk to a bowler who has played from many years, they will confidently speak about a sixth sense: The ability to know what a batsman is about to do based on some kind of a hunch. They just feel something is about to happen.

Except, it's not really a hunch at all. It's the result of years of experience of bowling to batsmen and learning how they react in any situation.

Sure, there are variations of reaction, like there are variations in bowling cues and clues, but the more you bowl, the better you get at reading the reaction before it even happens.

Use experience to maintain the stranglehold

The experienced bowler senses this, knows what to bowl next and how to change the field accordingly.

The wild swing to leg countered by fifth stump away swinger, the sweep countered by a fuller, quicker ball that slides straight on, or the batsman with fast footwork set up for a leg side stumping by bowling wide down the leg side.

These tactics are all logical and simple and a bowler of any experience can come up with the idea.

The difference is the experienced bowler knows exactly when to bowl the right ball based on the batsman's reactions.

When you are skilful at this, you are much more able to tie down good batsmen in limited over cricket based on your hunches.

Sometimes, simple is effective too

All that said, experience is just one factor. The better the player you are bowling at, the more you need experience to counter his skills.

However, sometimes you will be in a situation where you don't need to be clever at all. You can bowl an over at the top of off stump and walk away with a maiden no matter who is at the other end.

You can bowl an over of yorkers and go for five runs or fewer at the death.

So there is no need to try and get too cute with experience. Simply try to bowl well, work on your accuracy with deliberate practice and develop a useful variation. This will see you well.

But also bowl a lot in matches, and mindfully try to learn how batsmen handle the pressure you build.

As you move up in experience - you get the "aha" moments of your career - you will find that your ability to tie batsmen down improves.

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Cricket Success Advice from the Highest Level

PitchVision Academy is delighted to welcome a brand new columnist: Shayamal Vallabhjee. Shayamal is a uniquely experienced sports scientist with experience at the highest level (India and South African national sides), speaker and author of 4 books including the brand new Handbook of Cricket Drills.

In this first article, we take an excerpt from the Handbook to give you a feel of what you get when you buy the eBook. Please post your questions and comments and welcome Shayamal to to PitchVision family!

"For all its reputation for conservatism, cricket in its history has demonstrated a remarkable capacity for innovation. What game has survived subjection to such extraordinary manipulations, having been prolonged to 10 days (in Durban 70 years ago), truncated to as few as 60 balls (in Hong Kong every year), and remained recognisable in each instance?" - Gideon Haigh

Success for me has come from a love for the game, a determination to overcome adversity, and most importantly from the understanding that the road ahead will not be easy. In my eight years of professional cricket, I have always maintained that despite the innovations and technological advancements in the game, success will inevitably belong to the individual who is inspired, hard-working, positive and proactive. And if he can spread this aura to his team, then they too will enjoy the sweet taste of victory.

As we move into the new age of cricket, fitness will form the cornerstone of success for most teams: not necessarily in the cricketer’s ability to run fast but in his ability to utilise that fitness to uplift the team’s fielding, improve his mental strength, reduce injury, enhance performance, prevent fatigue and practice perfectly.

Training is a science designed to create an understanding of the physiology of the body and it is utilised to take the athlete beyond his own considerable expectations. It is what makes running 100m in under 10 seconds and breaking the 160km bowling speed barrier, efforts to marvel at.

Much of what we experience in life results from a combination of skill and luck. Different levels of skill and off good and bad luck are the realities that shape out lives. Success on the other hand is as a result of years of deliberate practice, a cultivated work ethic and adequate guidance.

The purpose of this book is to help you untangle and interpret the processes necessary in developing a cricketer. The book in itself is a journey - my journey of how I, with the help of many passionate and knowledgeable players and coaches, learnt to understand and quantify the skills needed to achieve success on an international podium.

I hope that the experiences from my journey provide you with the guidance you need to live a life of dreams fulfilled.

To get the Handbook of Cricket Drills as an instant download eBook, click here.

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How to Become a Professional Cricket Coach: Further Reading

This is the third article in a series showing you how to progress as a cricket coach. To read the first two parts, click here.

In the last article I talked about the importance of informal learning as part of your skill development as a coach. I stressed how online coaching is an important part of that. But in this article I want to give you further options for informal development.

There are some incredible books out there which I have on my shelf in the office and skim read chapters on a regular basis. Here are some of my favourites in a few categories that I feel are important to coaching:


  • Bob Woolmer - Art and Science of Cricket. Great book as you would expect, detailed and offers different technical options in all the cricketing disciplines.
  • Greg Chappell - On Coaching. Thought provoking book that offers alternative and well considered views on developing cricketers by one of the greatest players of his era.
  • Jim Collins - Good to Great. Incredible book showing how organisations can move their performance from normal to great or elite levels. It has helped me shape my programmes, staff and myself. Aimed at business yet totally transferable to coaching sporting teams and building environments.
  • Phil Jackson - Sacred Hoops. Brilliant book explaining how Basketball Hall of Fame Coach, Phil Jackson built a team, developed individuals and mastered the art of "winning after winning".
  • Bill Walsh - The Score Takes Care of Itself. It's about American Football yet the messages are clear. Take care of the small stuff with enough vigour and passion and the outcome will follow. Some brilliant anecdotes in there as well that made me chuckle.

And here are a couple of my favourites on the topic of performance analysis and psychology:

  • Michael Lewis - Moneyball. The story of Billy Bean and lowly baseball franchise the Oakland A's who climbed the Major League through studying numbers, converting that into knowledge and then turning knowledge into action. Don't watch the film; it doesn't do the book justice!
  • Steve Bull - The Game Plan & Game Plan Coach. One of my mentors and fellow England support staff members. Widely recognised as the leading sports psychologist to work within the game, "Bully's" books are straightforward and practical. Can help players and coaches alike.

What if you can't read books because you don't have time?

Well do what I do then, get an audiobook and listen to it in the gym or whilst out running.

Presently on my iPhone is Dr Steve Peters "The Chimp Paradox". Dr Peters simplifies the brain into manageable parts and demonstrates through analogies how the various parts interact and what impact this has on individuals, situations and managing yourself. Fascinating and fun.

What are your recommendations?

There are millions of resources from informal learning, from traditional books through to digital online videos and eBooks. So I want to know: what is currently on your reading list?

Leave a comment and let me know.

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Spin Bowling Tips: Action Advice, from Bounding to Front On Actions

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

Here is a question I got from a fellow spinner,

"I am having trouble with my approach to the crease and I am unable to jump in the delivery stride. Is the jump necessary? I feel I am losing momentum while delivering the ball. How should I use my non-bowling arm? How should my front leg land, on the toes or flat footed? Also many people have told me to become a side on bowler and more classical. However I am not getting the same purchase with a side on action as with my present action. What is your take on that?"


Cricket Show S4 Episode 37: Live From Dubai!

Remember those old TV shows where special guests just pop in from nowhere? This show is exactly the same with 2 friends popping by to keep Burners company at the ICC Academy in Dubai.

Joining Mark Garaway, Burners and David Hinchliffe is Sam Charnley - ICC Academy Head Coach - and The Boss. Much information and banter ensues.

But there is also plenty of time to discuss cricket coaching and playing as we talk about informal learning, dealing with soreness and how to handle sledging while you are batting.


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: 273
Date: 2013-09-20