Pitchvision Academy


Twenty20 is high on our minds this week, what with the World T20 kicking off this week. That's why we talk about death bowling and hitting, with a neat drill for the latter.

Plus, the best bowlers in the short format are quickies and mystery spinners, so we look at some more ways to boost your bowling speed or develop your doosra.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

5 Ways to Bowl with Express Pace

Jarred Opperman was on a path to fast bowling glory. He was in the Natal team, and the speed gun was showing the high 130s. He took pride in knowing that the batsmen were afraid of his speed.

“There is no better feeling in the world. The battle is already half over.”

He told me when we caught up over Skype recently. So why isn't Jarred the next Brett Lee? What happened to stop him becoming an international superstar?

It wasn't anything to do with his talent, his pace or his accuracy. It was the one word all quick bowler's fear;


Thanks to a stress fracture at 18, Jarred had to retire. At the time, there was no fast bowling coaching that was aware of injury prevention. Coaches were told not to “tinker” and the left Jarred alone with a natural action that was doomed to fail him.

The new rules of fast bowling

This set Jarred on a mission. The young man had lost one passion, but he gained another: To stay in the game and help other bowlers reach their potential for pace.

He turned to coaching fast bowlers, learning the lessons from his own short career, he soaked up ideas from innovators like Ian Pont and Steffan Jones. He started coaching bowlers to be fast, accurate and - most importantly - injury-free.

Back to the present day, and Jarred has learned plenty about express pace. As we spoke, he revealed 7 of his methods to ramp up pace without breaking your back. Methods he has used to great success with the young players that he has coached.

1. Tinker with confidence

A natural action is not always the best action. If your “natural” technique inclines you to injury then you will end up broken. You can't take wickets with a stress fracture.

So, be prepared to compare yourself to a template that works. The 4 Tent Pegs is the place to start.

Work out where you can improve, then spend time “reverse chaining” until the movement feels natural and gets you closer to the template.

This is not about becoming a robotic bowler with an unnatural action. It's about learning what movements work best for your body. This is where a good bowling coach like Jarred can make a huge difference. He is an extra pair of eyes with experience. He can show you how to drill, for example, a back foot drag that indicates a powerful action.

This takes time. Some people take one session, others take months. But there is no shortcut.

Persist along the right path, and you will be rewarded.

2. Video is vital

Jarred video's every coaching session because video provides crucial feedback. There is nothing like seeing yourself to quickly understand your action.

When you have video of yourself, you can instantly see things externally that you only feel before. This takes your technical game to a new level. It provides a feedback loop that is one of the secrets of deliberate practice.

You can use PV/VIDEO, a video camera or even an iPhone, but use something if you are serious about making positive technical change.

3. Avoid props

Video might be vital, but too many cones and poles are counter-productive.

The closer to a game you can make practice, the better, so that means leaving the external guides behind. You see many coaches using cones to show run ups, follow-throughs, ,target areas on the pitch and so on. While there is a place for that, the more you use external guides the less you are self-reliant in a match.

Use the guides like stabilizers on a bike. Start there to stop yourself falling off, but once you know how to ride, throw the stabilizers in the bin.

4. Pace is strength

You have to be strong to be a fast bowler. You can't have power or speed without strength as a base. That's where strength and conditioning comes in.

But fitness is not a separate component of your fast bowling speed plan. You must understand how S&C crosses over to cricket. That means having a basic understanding of the fundamentals of athletic training and putting them into your practice sessions.

This is about quality of movement, recovery, mobility, coordination and strength. It's easy to achieve these things, even if you are under 18, but if you passion is to bowl fast you must learn how the two world integrate together.

It's no longer enough to do a few crunches for core training, run a couple of miles for endurance and then bowl.

5. Be simple, but not too simple

We can all improve pace, but everyone has limits. Most people cannot achieve 90mph. However, you can work on the simple things that have the greatest effect.

So, get really good at the basics (like the 4 tent pegs), it will take longer than you think, and avoid over-thinking. That way you will avoid jumping around different methods and stay focused on that ultimate prize.

Overall, you can learn from Jarred's experiences. He has had the pain of injury and loss of a cricketing career. He has had the joy of ramping up young bowlers pace and this article has given you some practical steps you can take to your next session.

Jarred Opperman originates from Durban, South Africa where he represented Kwa-Zulu Natal High Schools. He is now a Pace Bowling specific coach based in England. He specialises in developing pace, safe bowling actions in bowlers, as well as improving tactical performance.

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How Learning the Doosra Started a Cricket "Arms Race" Between Batters and Bowler

I love it when a spin bowler comes along with something different.

And not just for the reasons you think.

One of the spinners at Millfield School has gained so much confidence from his winters practice sessions that he felt it was time to bowl his "doosra" against batters in the nets for the first time.

The young lad has been working on developing his own version of the ball in his technical sessions, and also down the corridors of his house. He has been delivering tennis balls into an upturned bucket in order to master the release position and now is letting the delivery go in nets.


This boy's journey reminded me of Shane Warne at Hampshire in 1999.

He was working on a slider by flicking cricket balls down the changing room into an upturned rubbish bin. Warne was struggling with his googly as his shoulder and knee were beginning to flare up so needed an alternative wicket taking delivery. The result was very effective.

So, back at school, our batters were perplexed by this "mystery ball".

A discussion started about how to pick the delivery. After videoing our spinner from front on, the batters all had different views and counter views. Eventually they came down to one very simple way of picking the doosra from the off spinner.

"If the pitching line is outside my off-stump then I reckon it’s the offy, and if it lands on or inside my off stump then I'm going to play it as the doosra."

said our attacking middle order right hander.

This took me back to the Somerset changing room in 2005 when Sanath Jayasuriya talked about how the Sri Lankan batters had learnt to play Muttiah Muralitharan in the nets. They picked his doosra and off spinner in exactly the same way.

The batters tried this with success.

After facing 20 or 30 balls using this strategy a few players reported that it became possible to pick up on some of the bowler's visual cues that they weren’t able to pick up on initially.

Great discussion.

The bowler strikes back

The young spinner now had a problem that needed solving; to re-introduce deception.

I told him how Muralitharan had put the mystery back into his bowling once England and others started to pick him based on pitching line.

Quite simply, he bowled around the wicket at everyone!

Think about the angles (geometry made interesting!)

Muralitharan would pitch both deliveries on the line of the stumps, and his off spinner bought LBW into play.

The doosra bought the keeper and 2 slips right into the game.

No batter could use the line strategy to pick the delivery type.

Genius is often simplistic.

Our spinner is now creating chances regularly from around the wicket. Can the batters strike back again? We shall see!

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 10: The Collingwood Captaincy Files

The team pack in a 4 person round table as Burners is back live, joining David Hinchliffe, Mark Garaway and Sam Lavery to talk cricket coaching and playing.

Due to technical issues, the show is slightly shorter this week, but you can still hear Garas, Lavers and Burners in crystal clear stereo as they discuss how to coach "mystery spin".

Plus your questions are answered on captaincy under pressure - with a great story about an England captain, and dealing with knee pain. And if you only take one thing from the show, it's Burners' advice on avoiding injury!

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 253.

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Batting Drill: Death Hitting

Here's a fun drill that can teach players about hitting at the death of an innings. Perfect timing for the World T20, where batsmen will be in the death from almost the first ball.

Streetwise Bowling: The Perfect Death Over

This article is part of the "Streetwise Bowling" series from PitchVision Academy. To view the full list of tactics click here.


That's what makes death bowling so difficult. Any fool can fire a yorker down in a net. Very few can do it in a World Cup Final. And the punishments are severe.


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: 299
Date: 2014-03-21