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There is a eclectic feel to this newsletter, as we trawl the known world for the best advice. Mark Garaway steals the headlines with some advice for England to come back in the Ashes, but we also find ourself in France with Zaheer Khan and Dubai with Shahzad Altaf.

Plus, we have a controversial thought about using Twenty20 as a basis for all cricket. Give it a try and join the debate!

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

The Zaheer Khan Guide to Building Bowling Stamina


It's well documented that Zaheer Khan returned to fitness in 2013 by attending a "performance camp" in France. What can you learn from how Zaheer did it to help you improve your bowling stamina?

The exciting part for me is that he did it without the old fashioned mantra of "putting miles in your legs" and jogging. That's not to say he needed a lot of special expensive gear either. Everything the paceman did is simple to recreate at home, in the gym or even in the nets.

In fact, it's a great overall plan for any fast bowler who wants to bowl longer spells and come back for second and third times with equal fire. So lets take a look at what he did:


Bowling Stamina Tip #1: Get Committed

I don't know Zaheer Khan personally, but I do know people. I have seen cricketers transform themselves by making a big shift in attitude. You can see that with Zaheer clearly: You don't fly across the world to train unless you are serious about improving.

For most, this is the biggest hurdle to overcome. You want to improve. You make a plan. Then life gets in the way and you find you can't stick with it. So you give up and feel like a failure. This negative cycle stops even the best of intentions dead.

A practical way to deal with this is to stop it happening in the first place. Make sure your plans are realistic and achievable (like all good goal setting) and take some time to establish a routine that integrates your plan into your life. This can take a month or more, so cut yourself some slack if you fail a couple of times.

With your new found steely determination, you can move onto the more practical elements of boosting stamina.

Bowling Stamina Tip #2: Get Lean

Fast bowlers don't need to have low levels of body fat, but the more you carry the more dead weight you are lugging around, so it makes sense to get lean while staying healthy.

The fastest way to do this is through diet.

Zaheer's approach was to cut back on the starchy carbs like pasta and rice while stocking up on lean protein, especially from fish, combined with lots of vegetables. It's hard to argue with this approach as a strategy for losing body fat, and it worked for Zaheer.

Many argue that increased stamina comes from "loading" or extra carbs. This is true for long distance endurance events, but for the stop-start nature of cricket it encourages extra calories and therefore more fat. It's more sensible to balance your carbs.

Bowling Stamina Tip #3: Get Strong

Meanwhile, in the gym, Zak avoided the treadmill. Instead he focused on training that would make him stronger, more resistant to injury and more able to overcome the fatigue of a long bowling spell.

The regime was based on weight training (not bodybuilding which is also counter-productive). The focus was on raw strength in "big" lifts like squats and deadlifts. This was combined with exercises to strengthen the core across all the ways it can move (or to be more accurate, resist movement).

Bowling Stamina Tip #4: Get Powerful

Strength was the base, but strength alone does not translate perfectly to more stamina on the pitch. To do that Zaheer also needed to improve his power. The goal was not to increase his pace, but to allow him to maintain his existing pace while keeeping his mind clear and focused for plotting batsmen's downfall.

So, he would jump onto boxes, throw medicine balls and sprint: powerful movements that have similar effects on the body to bowling. His body learned to recover between bouts quickly, just like it would have to do between overs and spells in the middle.

And this is one of the secrets of good training for bowlers: You don't have to see the differences (like you do when you lose weight) you can feel them when you are in the middle. No one else may notice, but they will see you coming back stronger and longer, even if they don't realise it's your gym work behind the change.

If you want new-found stamina like Zaheer Khan, I can strongly recommend his training regime.

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How to Come Back From a Drubbing

We have all been in England's shoes: A good side at the hands of a huge defeat. How the English fight their way out is a good case study for the teams that we coach.

England are not in unfamiliar territory. They are used to chasing a series after losing the first test match of the tour, It's been happening for years; it started on my watch unfortunately! As the perennial bad starters into fast finishers, England are the Usain Bolt of cricket.

Looking at the facts, England have been undefeated in 55% of overseas Test series in the last 11. However, they have won the opening Test once since 2006. England Coach Andy Flower thrives under this type of pressure, he knows that his team are slow starters and most importantly, history tells him that England fight back well after their slow starts.

So where do they go next, and what can we learn?

Fight fire with skill

All the talk in the England camp will be about "skill" not "mouth" or "brawn". If they try to compete in this area then Australia will have already won. They must concentrate on their skills and methods.

Specifically, batters will be working on methods to play:

  • Mitchell Johnson's left arm quicks.
  • Nathan Lyon bowling off spin around the wicket.

The lower order in particular will focus on the short ball and finding a way of coping with short periods of sustained 'chin music'. Johnson doesn't bowl long spells so it's about short-20 ball competitions. Find a method, see it out, Australia will have to make a change.

The Johnson attack is uncomfortable, yes, sustainable, no. Flower will want his players to be honest about their lack of comfort and find a way to defeat the Australian plan. No sledging required.

Analyse then execute

Bowling wise, the attacks are both strong, yet the thing that has impressed me with Australia is the specific planning for each batter coupled by the relentless drive towards those plans by each bowler. It's been brilliant to watch.

In terms of overall skill, England edge it. In terms of bowling plans and execution Australia are winning hands down and have done for the last 4 Ashes Tests. England need to step up to Australia's level if they are going to compete.

With a long series ahead, there is still plenty to play for on both sides. Ashes Test cricket is the best game in the world!

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Cricket Show S4 Episode 47: Welcome Lavers

Sam Lavery joins the cricket show panel this week as "Lavers", Burners, David Hinchliffe and Mark Garaway talk about the sticky subject of losing weight for cricket, including the fitbit. Plus Lavers makes a stunning debut on the "soap box".

The mailbag also has a question about which types of spin bowling work best for Twenty20 cricket. The team and give all the budding short format spinners some tips for success whatever your style.

Download the show and listen now!



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This is show number 240.

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Play Twenty20: Get Good at Everything

Being a good Twenty20 cricketer is exactly the same as being a good cricketer. So save yourself the trouble of working out how to adapt and focus on your short-format skill development.

Quite the claim?

Let's look at the facts.

Take out the shortened time and all the basic elements of success in Twenty20 cricket are usable in any format. However if you flip it around and try to play 5 day cricket style sped up, you fall down. So start with Twenty20.

Here are some more specifics for your skill set:

Becoming a Cricketer is like Building Cathedrals

I was recently lucky enough to have a conversation with Shahzad Altaf, the Head Coach of Young Talent Cricket Academy in Dubai. One of his key coaching philosophies is that developing cricketers is just like building a medieval cathedral.

I love the analogy because it works on a number of levels:


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: 283
Date: 2013-11-29