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If you want to know how to become a cricketer, who better to ask than the Head Coach of a county team? So this week we talk to Toby Radford of Glamorgan CCC who give us some tips on what he looks for when picking he next crop of professionals.

We could end the newsletter right there, but no, we also have Sam Lavery on changing nets for Twenty20 training, Iain Brunnschweiler on warming up the shoulders and Nick Compton with Mark Garaway on world-class defence.

Take your pick of high quality advice then get stuck in!

David Hinchliffe

First-Class Head Coach Reveals: The 3 Elements it Takes to Become a Cricketer


Toby Radford knows what it takes to become a professional cricketer.

He is the new Head Coach of Glamorgan County Cricket Club. He's also coached for the ECB, West Indies, Middlesex and Berkshire. He's coached talented players who have made the grade, and those who fell before the challenge.

So when I sat in his office at the SWALEC stadium in Cardiff recently, I had to ask him, "what advice would you give to a young player who wants to impress the coach of a professional cricket team?"

Here is what he said.


"Cricket is still a skill-based game. It's about honing your skills and finding time to practice those skills. When I started coaching I realised there were three things players need. I still use them now to assess a player's potential to go on."

1. Desire to change

The most talented cricketers are always striving to improve. You would think that "naturals" have no need to strive, but as you move up in standard you come across better players who challenge you in new ways.

If you are unwilling to make changes to overcome the challenge, you will get stuck at a certain level.

2. Time to change

We all know the 10,000 hour rule: You have to put in a great deal of time to achieve mastery of your skills. SO you have to spend a lot of time practising hard.

It means going to the nets when you want to be somewhere else. It means training in the gym to be fit. It means fitting your life around your cricket to chalk up more hours.

But you also need to be working towards a goal: practising with a purpose that is driven by your desire.

3. Ability to change

Back to Toby again:

"There are players who did work hard but didn't have the ability to make changes. They just couldn't make the key technical changes. Other players had this ability so they kept going up. I don't know if this is genetic but I have seen some who can do it in 3 days and others take 3 years."

Researchers sometimes call this "physical literacy" and it's a crucial element because if it takes you three years to make a change that someone else can do in three days then you miss your chance.

Of course, everyone has different ways to learn, and that's where a good coach like Radford can make a difference. He has different drills and different ideas for different players. He can experiment to find what works for the individual. Even if you don't have a Toby Radford on hand, you can experiment your self.

However, it's here you have to be realistic about your chances. If you just can't do the things you need to do, then you will never reach the highest level.

But don't write yourself off either. The only way to find out is to do that long, hard slog while maintaining your desire.

If you do that, you will still be an excellent player, even if you never scale the heights of being an international. And either way, as long as you are enjoying it, then you will be up on the deal.

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The Nick Compton Batting Masterclass: World Class Defence

This week, we had a batting masterclass from Somerset and England's Nick Compton.

Nick is someone who I have watched and admired for a number of years and a few weeks back he agreed to come in and work with our cricketers. His story reminded me of the session that we did with Kevin Pietersen. Their batting style of play may be different, yet their approaches to challenge, their drive, their hard work, honesty and willingness to share information with others was identical.

Here is what we learned from that masterclass.


World-class batting defence

One of Nicks aims for 2012 was to face more balls in County cricket than any other player.

In this age of innovation, it was refreshing to hear that Nick quickly established that the best way to bat is to build his game around world-class defence. He felt he would be in with a chance of scoring more runs than any other player in the country by occupying the crease.

The upshot was that Nick faced more balls in 2012 than any other player in world cricket, topped the run scoring in the County Championship and was selected to play Test cricket for England.

There might be something in this!

Nick ran a session with 4 of the schools batters. Another 25 cricketers were placed outside of the net and asked to observe the practice and offer feedback.

Nick cranked the bowling machine up to 90mph with '3' Away swing and told each batter that they would bat until they were out. As you can imagine, this was tough and Nick delivered a spell of unerring accuracy, pace and swing at these four players.

Each batter played and missed a heap, left a few balls, defended some good balls.

3 of them nicked off within 15 balls. One lad survived a 25 ball onslaught.

Their defence was challenged, yet they stood up pretty well.

Nick then asked for feedback from the observing group and then told the 4 players how well they had done. He then revealed the ball speeds and swing that he had delivered to them.

You could see each players confidence rise at that moment.

Nick then went on to talk about how he gets himself ready to bat. He spoke of emotional control, some strategies for managing this and how his consistency in preparation helps him to be ready to bat.

It was time for round 2 with the batters. Fuelled with confidence and strategies to cope with their emotions, each player then faced the challenge once more.

They adapted brilliantly.

All 4 players defended with confidence, they still played and missed a bit (who wouldn't?) yet actually started to score as well. All 4 achieved even better results than their first attempt.

How much do we work on our player's defensive game nowadays?

Can you honestly say your run getters from 1-11 all have world-class defence? If not, what can you do about it?

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 5: The New Numbers Game

Gone are the days when a batting average of 40 marks you out as a good player. With so many stats at our fingertips, the teams try and break through the sea of data to come up with a new standard for batting and bowling statistics that doesn't need a maths degree to understand.

Specifically David Hinchliffe chats to Mark Garaway and Sam Lavery about: Strike Rate, Runs per Scoring Shot, Scoring Ball Percentage, Scoring Areas (where runs are scored and conceded and at what times), and Quality of Contact (how often a bowler beat the bat).

Are these elements that you can start counting, tracking analysing and reporting? Listen to the show to work out if they beat the old average adage.

Plus we look at bowling speed with questions on moving up to 140kph and what pace a spinner should bowl.


How to Send in Your Questions

If you want to win a cricket coaching prize, you need to send in your burning questions to the show. If your question is the best one we give you a free online cricket coaching course!

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This is show number 248.

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Who Knew it Could be Fun Warming Up for Cricket?

Let's be frank, warming up is boring.

Essential for injury prevention yes, but it's not the reason you picked up a bat and ball. So if we can come up with ways to make warming up both fun and functional, we are winning at life. And if there is one coach who knows his way around fun and function, it's Iain Brunnschweiler; author of the Inspired Cricket Manual.

Here's an example of what we mean:

Make One Simple Change to Nets to Improve Your Twenty20 Results this Year

We stood in silence. Blinking at each other.


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: 294
Date: 2014-02-14