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If you want to win a cricket match in any format the best way is to bowl the opposition out fast.

This week we cover how your team can user their 'killer instinct' to do just that. John Hurley has part two of his article series on creating a map of routines and we welcome yet another contributor. This week it's the turn of 13 year old Ben. I have been very impressed with Ben's writing and maturity. Plus, he really knows his stuff!

If you are looking for a bit of extra help to make you a better player have you looked at the comprehensive online coaching site: PitchVision Academy? The doors will be open very soon. This newsletter's readers will be the first to know when they do.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

How to adopt the killer instinct in your cricket club (part 1)

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

There are a lot of ways to win a cricket match. The most effective is to bowl the opposition out. If you can take 10 (or 20) wickets in any format regularly you are going to win a lot of games.

Good bowling is the key to this and good bowling comes from intent: It's hard to take wickets if you don't have the killer instinct.

That may seem an obvious thing to say. It's not as obvious to do. I've played in games where teams are just drifting through the opposition's innings waiting for something to happen. The bowling is unimaginative, the captain barely adjusts the field and everyone is hoping for a run out.

I'm sure you have been there too. It's great if you are batting at the time, not much fun if you are in the field. You have given the momentum to your opponents.

It's at points like this that skill becomes less of a consideration. It's all about your mental approach.

Some might argue that skill is always the number one consideration. I disagree. Look at it like this: In most matches selected on ability (league cricket for example), most players will be about the same skill level. Everyone in a first grade Australian cricket match will be about first grade standard. You may get the odd person above or below their current level but they are the exception that proves the rule.

If everyone has roughly equal skill levels, attitude distinguishes the winners from the losers.

This has been called a number of things: Mental toughness, momentum, heart (or ticker), street smarts or steely. It's all the same.

What can you do to keep the quicks snarling, the spinners giving it a rip and the fielders feeling part of the attack? In short, how do you get the killer instinct?

For me it's all about leadership.

Let's take the example of the Australians in India in 2008. In one game skipper Ponting used part time spin bowlers instead of his highly effective seam attack to catch up with the over rate. India won the game and the series. The critics had a field day.

A leader can install any kind of thinking into a team. In Australia's case it was the wrong approach if they wanted to win the match. The captain was the focus here, but respected players have a job to do too. You don't have to have the armband to be a leader.

If your approach is to try and win every game until there is no chance you can win it, then you need to help everyone keep a killer attitude whether you are a captain or member of the ranks.

In the next part we look at how you do this. To go there now, click here.

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How to adopt the killer instinct in your cricket club (part 2)

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

In the last part of these series we found out why a killer instinct is critical to your clubs success whatever level you are at. Today we look at the three ways you can do it as a captain or player.

1. Keep wickets at the front of your mind

Wickets can come from good bowling, good fielding, good captaincy or bad batting but you must keep the aim of taking them at the front of your mind. There is a world of difference between thinking "how are we going to get this one out" and "we will never get this one out".

The former way of thinking gives you hope even when the score is 300-1. The latter makes you sit back, defend and hope. It's a control thing.

This approach applies to everyone on the pitch. The bowler should be making plans to set batsmen up. the captain will work with him to set the field and motivate the fielders. The fielders will be ready to take catches and hit the stumps with run outs because they know every chance is golden.

There will be some exceptions to this rule. For example, at the end of an innings where it's clear a side will not be bowled out and are playing for the declaration or end of their allotted overs. It's here that defence is your only option.

2. Keep setting targets

No matter what the situation, you can set a personal or team target to keep the momentum going your way. This could be to bowl maidens, keep a certain player off strike or anything else relevant.

The captain is in charge of this, but fielders can set personal targets. Staying focused every ball or stopping boundaries. Even wicketkeepers can think to themselves 'no byes today'. It all helps keep the screw turned.

If things are going wrong and catches get dropped or bowlers are serving up half volleys every other ball don't despair. Reset your targets and keep focusing on what you can do. I'm a wicketkeeper for example and I often use the 'no byes today' trick. If I do concede a bye (or worse, four byes) I don't think that I have failed for the day I just think: "OK mistake made. Nothing I can do about it. No more byes".

3. Be creative

You should always have a plan A. It's important to know what you are doing as you bowl rather than just sending it up the other end hoping something will happen. Good players also formulate other plans in case the first one fails.

No matter what is happening, keep coming up with new ideas. Your first plan may work. If so keep the other plans in the back of your head and carry on. If the original plan fails keep trying new things until you make a breakthrough. It's all about going back to that 'never say die' attitude.

What can you try? Changing line, changing angle on the crease, going around the wicket, slower balls, quicker balls, unusual fielding positions, changing the bowling, winding up your opponent or even winding up the bowler (Mike Brearley famously used to call Ian Botham a medium pacer which made him bowl faster than ever).

What are your experiences with adopting a killer intent?

Image credit: Prescott


Want to be a better captain? Learn from the best with the interactive online course Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley.


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'The Map' part 2: Developing non-practice training routines

Every player can benefit from developing their own set of routines and processes to help them prepare and play successfully. 

In the first installment of this series, I dealt with developing routines to be employed during batting, bowling and fielding practice. 

This article will deal with developing sound routines to help you get the most out of your training sessions away from the team: Non-practice training. 

For some players this may be a long jog with the dog every other evening. For others it may involve gym sessions, road running, yoga lessons and a whole range of ‘cross training’ options. While it is great to devote time away from ‘just batting and bowling practice’, a haphazard approach can be detrimental, causing fatigue and lack of clear focus on the ultimate goal of improving your cricket. 

How do you go about this training more systematically? 

Adding value to cricket practice 

As with the whole mapping process, the younger cricketer will not need a very detailed or complicated set of routines. They are supposed to make your job of preparing to play cricket easier. 

More experienced players, playing at higher levels (or aspiring to reach higher levels) need to spend considerable amounts of time each week ‘adding value’ to the work they do at cricket practice. When deciding on your specific non-practice training routines it may be useful to follow a few rules. 

  • Examine your game and identify what physical and psychological aspects need attention
  • Identify what action or activity will provide the required attention
  • Identify how much time you have available to devote to an activity – if there are a number of activities you may also have to prioritise each activity to create the best overall fit.
  • Try not to choose activities that require a hard and fast commitment. This will allow you the flexibility to miss the occasional session when it is at cross purposes with your specific preparation for cricket.
  • Monitor your energy levels. Don’t over commit yourself to too many training activities. This may cause fatigue and physical injury or just a reduction in your enthusiasm for cricket training. You don’t want to burn out!
  • Where possible, seek out experts to help you perform your identified activities properly. E.g. sprints coaches, psychologists, yoga teachers
  • Evaluate your sessions constantly. While it may take a while for an activity to start having an impact on your cricket, don’t persevere with an activity that has not, over time, shown any beneficial results. Devote your time to activities that really do help your play better cricket 

To clarify this further, let's look at some practical examples..

Example 1: The younger player 

A young player may decide the one area they really need to improve is in their flexibility. 

They are getting lots of strains and aches and pains after training and this is affecting their performance on weekends. A non-practice training routine for a young player focusing on improving their flexibility may be a simple morning and evening stretching regime (15 minutes of static stretches before breakfast and again before bed each day). 

Example 2: The aspiring professional 

As the player gets older, they may decide that improved flexibility has a very positive impact on their performance in games. This player may then decide to take some yoga lessons if they have the free time to do so. 

They may also be going to a sprints coach one night a week to improve their running style (so important for bowlers of all types as well as fielders and runners between the wickets!); playing in a touch football competition (to improve their agility); and going to the gym twice a week (to improve their strength and muscular endurance).

For this player, organizing all of these activities into a routine is extremely important. If he is not organized, he will miss sessions, get over tired and end up falling well short of what he wanted to achieve by taking on so many activities – cricketing success. 

The key to deciding what should be included in your non-practice training routine is the amount of time you have available to train and one other very important consideration: balance. 

Always strive for Balance 

It is genuinely unhealthy and ultimately unproductive to devote all your time to a single pursuit such as cricket. One must have other things going on in one’s life to enjoy the whole human experience. 

Non-practice training activities can provide some of this balance. Allowing you mix with ‘non-cricketers’ and spend time enjoying yourself away from the game. (Matthew Hayden identified this as being a major reason why he was able to play the game at the highest level for so long.) 

So now we have discussed developing routines for cricket training as well as training routines conducted away from cricket. Hopefully your map is starting to take shape!

Every journey is an adventure, and every map provides an invitation to explore the world … and yourself!


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4 Simple ways to get your batting strike rate up to 130 (or more)

Today we are delighted to introduce a new guest writer to miCricketCoach. Ben Baruch is a 13 year old cricketer from Buckinghamshire in England. He has played district level cricket. Today he gives his views on how to improve your strike rate, something very important for all young players looking to make an impression.

Master the pivot to give the ball extra spin revolutions

Do you dream of bowling the perfect spinning delivery?

You know the one. For the off spinner it's the one the drifts away from the batsman before ripping sharply back off the pitch through the gate. For the left-armer and leg spinner it's the one that pitches on leg stump and clips the top of off stump. Bowled Warnie!


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: 29
Date: 2009-01-16