Pitchvision Academy


Slip catching is often discussed, but rarely practised well. This week Mark Garaway takes a fresh look at the hardy perrenial.

And speaking of fresh looks, we also discuss the role of bowling at leg stump and have a scientific approach to game day prep for club players from Steffan Jones.

Have a great weekend

David Hinchliffe

You'll Coach Better Slips with These 4 Cutting-Edge Methods


How vital is a good slip catcher?

We work all year on developing bowling fast bowlers and spinners with the intention of taking the edge of the bat to create catching opportunities. So develop fielders who can convert those chances into wickets!

So, as a coach, lets assign some quality time to slip catching skills. Including your own. Read on to find out more:


Become a World Class "Nicker"

When I deliver fielding on ECB Level III and Level IV coaching courses, the first thing that I say is that we can not develop world class fielders without developing our own skills into our practices.

So get down and start practising nicking the ball into the slip cordon.

Like the photo shows, it's important to get down on your knees when nicking balls.

Most edges to slip from front foot defensive shots or drives. It's vital to nick the ball from the same height to functionally replicate the trajectory of the slip catch.

I get frustrated with coaches who do a slip drill from a standing position as they are not preparing their players optimally. Some of you will moan that you will feel vulnerable in a kneeling position against an oncoming cricket ball.

Well, get your helmet on and chest guard if needs be and crack on.

Find a confident thrower

The next thing is to find a fellow coach or player in your squad with a good arm. Then start to work on your throw-nick partnership.

It's important that you have confidence in your thrower. You need to calibrate by having the ball reach you with consistent pace and consistent accuracy. Remember, it's a skill to develop any partnership so be patient, work hard and the results will come.

Stand how you want

The coaching of batting stances is becoming less generic and more geared around personal preference and comfort. It's vital that we apply the same approach with stances for slip fielders.

Mark Waugh and Graeme Smith are two of the best fielders that the world has ever seen yet their ready positions are totally different. Smith is crouched low, lots of leg flexion and with his feet wide apart whereas Waugh was narrow based, upright and with narrower feet in his stance.

Both are comfortable in their stances, both chose the way in which they stood at slip and most importantly, both players consistently came up with the ball in their hands!

Work with each fielder, notice how they want to stand and remember that comfort is crucial.

A fielder may have to wait a number of weeks for their chance to shine, if they are not comfortable in their ready position then my bet is that the ball will end up on the turf.

Catch efficiency: Decide your best slipper

Ask yourself, who is your best slip catcher?

The number of catches that someone takes only tells part of the story for me.

Jon took 10 catches last season at slip but dropped 20. However, all we see in normal cricket stats is that Jon caught 10 catches.

Try this formula and use it in practice and matches:

Catch Efficiency = Catches taken ÷ Catch opportunities x 100 

So in Jon's case,

10 (Catches taken) ÷ 30 (Catch opportunities) x 100 = 33.33% 

After seeing that, do you really want Jon at slip next year?

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Streetwise Bowling: Show a Bit of Leg

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

Bowling at leg stump has a bad rap. It's seen as defensive and, by many, as almost against the spirit of cricket. So much so that in many formats, the leg side wide has all but killed the tactic.

But in the right situation, this plan is an excellent variation to the usual line for a left arm bowler. The batsman is not used to the lines. More importantly, there are few gaps in the field meaning the batsman is going to have to do something unusual to get you away.

As such, it can be used in both attacking and defensive roles.


  • Name: Show a Bit of Leg
  • Bowling Type: Left Arm Orthodox
  • Difficulty Level: 5/10
  • Success Level: High

The key to this tactic to know when to use it. Most left arm bowlers see it as a last resort when they are getting destroyed. It can work this way but also can be used when:

  • Run rate needs to be controlled.
  • A new partnership comes together (especially left/right hand combinations).
  • A very strong off side batsman.
  • A very strong leg side batsman.
  • Wickets are not falling with the orthodox of stump line

In other words, any situation where you think a change of line will be disruptive to the batting team.


You will use natural variations in loop, dip and turn, but maintain the same line throughout the over: good length, hitting the top off middle and leg to leg stump.

left arm spin line

Yellow line: left arm round, leg stump line

Bowl dots (or singles at the death) with a packed leg side field.

To stop a maiden, the batsman has to take some action. She may hit out and be caught on the boundary. She might look to go 'inside out' and hit through the off side, risking a catch at the wicket, or a stumping.

Naturally, with this approach you take LBW away, and so there is a compromise to be had. However, there is also a lot to be gained, so don't consider it a pure tactic of last resort. As long as you stay accurate in your line, you will ask the batsman to make a move and that means taking a risk.


Your variations can still be used throughout the over. This will give you a better feeling of control in a situation where the basic plan is do fire the ball at leg stump with metronomic accuracy.

By all means throw in your arm ball. Try variations in pace and flight. Yorkers work especially well.

Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 15: Super Skill Yourself

All the coaching focus is on Peter Moore's as England coach, so the team discuss how coaching senior players is a different challenge at every level.

Plus, your questions are answered by Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe about coaching fast bowlers and finding your "superskill".

Download the show and listen now!


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!

Send in your questions via:

Or you can call and leave your question on the Academy voice mail:

+44 (0)203 239 7543
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This is show number 258.

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Get Ready on Game Day with This Scientific Method

This is guest article from Steffan Jones

Warming up can get pretty scientific nowadays. Here's a simple, effective game day warm up that I use if I want to be at my best.

The first point is this: we know that you can "warm up" your mind and nervous system a long time before you start playing. So the warm up on game day starts as soon as you wake up!

Don't worry though, I've tested all this myself and know it works well if you have prepared properly through the week.

The Norway Guide to Playing in Different Conditions

Away games are a perennial problem.

You can be a high level International side like India, or a plucky Under 10 beginner side. The issue of a change in conditions leading to a drop in performance is common across the board.

Take the example of the Norway national cricket team. This summer the side are traveling to the UK to play in an ICC Europe tournament. But the team are newcomers to the international game and are used to playing on the very batting friendly artificial pitches of home.

How are they going to adapt to the grass wickets and swinging or turning ball they will discover in Essex?


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: 304
Date: 2014-04-25