Pitchvision Academy


This week we delve into some corners of cricket that are not well explored. We start with a personality trait that could be the secret of your success. Then we move on to how wides are a symptom of a deeper issue.

Plus, Chris Watling, new man in the team, talks us through his methods for disrupting spin and scoring runs.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Unlock your Cricket Skill with Grit


Could those 4 letters be the most powerful weapon in becoming a successful cricketer?

There is strong evidence that it's a vital trait, whatever your run-making or wicket-taking ambition. So much so that - in the coaching community - it is at least as important as technique, and far more important than talent.


It makes sense of course. Only the most determined cricketers succeed.

Every International has a story of triumph over past failures to become a success. Had Kevin Pietersen given up on becoming a batsmen when he was classed, as he was as a youngster, as a spin bowling slogger, he would never have scored 12,000 international runs.

Grit of the highest order.

Grit changes failure to success

The difference between success and failure wasn't his talent or his famously "unorthodox" technique, but his determination to learn from failure and make himself a success.

For Pietersen, and anyone with the right frame, grit is the ability to fall down and say to yourself "well, I have learned one way to avoid, let's try another way".

The you get up, dust off and try again.

And you repeat every time you fail.

Think of it like an aeroplane autopilot. Planes in this state fly along a set course, when the plane goes off course, it adjusts to get back on track. This means it spends most of it's time off course, and readjusting. But it makes it to the destination perfectly.

Of course the plane doesn't need grit to stay on course. It's a computer. But your internal computer does need the "grit app" running to do the same for your cricket skills.

But it doesn't end there.

Grit helps maintain technique under pressure

Grit is great for learning skills when others are giving up, but once you have those skills you need to be able to do them under the pressure of a game situation.

How often do we see skilled professional bowlers lose their yorker at the death?

Heck, South Africa have been labelled for years as a collective of players who choke in the big games. It's unfair but it shows the power that pressure has on everyone.

Grit is also there helping you when you are out in the heat of battle. Grit gives you the motivation and ambition to see opposition pressure as a simple hurdle to leap.

You have trained hard, you know what works because you know what doesn't work. You do the those things with robust confidence. You keep your head under pressure and you win games.

Anyone can get more grit

By now you are probably thinking you should get some of this grit stuff.

But perhaps you are wondering how much of it is innate, and how much can be developed.

That's still an open question, and it certainly appears that some people have more natural grit than others. But one thing we do know is that with mindful training you can develop a grittier side.

It's a constant challenge. Imagine being in a warm bed on a cold day in the dead of winter. Something good is on TV and breakfast is served. You also know you are due for a gym session in an hour.

If you have grit you get up and go.

If need some motivation you find a story to tell yourself, and get up and go.

Perhaps the former finds things easier because grit comes more naturally, but the end result is the same. You train harder and for longer. You learn from mistakes and you do better under pressure.

That sounds like a pretty good cricketer to me, no matter where you start on the talent or technique scale.

You still need skill to succeed in cricket, but grit is the key to unlocking your talent door. It's down to you to decide to use it or not.


image credit: Sarah Canterbury

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How Much Do Wides and No Balls Really Cost?

Here's a shocking fact.

On average, the cost of wides and no balls at school is 27.3 runs per 50 overs bowling innings (28.4 runs per 50 overs for the opposition).

We know this because we analyse the impact of wides and no balls:


WNBI (wide and no ball impact) = runs from the wide ball or no ball delivered + runs from the resultant extra ball.

Incidentally, there have only been 10 no balls bowled (3 front foot with a free hit consequence) in the 580 overs bowled to date. So the main culprit is wides, especially from the seam bowlers.

So, it's not just my team but most of the teams that we have played against this year.

I have always been taught that the best coaches and players see a problem and look in the mirror for answers rather than blaming others or bad luck.

So off I went to the mirror and asked the following questions:

  • How can this be?
  • Why is it happening?
  • Has this always happened, yet I have missed it?
  • What am I doing wrong?
  • What can I do about it?
  • What skills am I presently short of in my coaching of bowlers?

This has led me to one huge question:

Do the high levels of formalised coaching for seamers facilitate the development of coach-reliant bowlers?

What do the stats say?

I have looked over many scorebooks from the past both in club and professional cricket to see how WNBI looked back then. Out of the randomised 25 matches analysed, the highest WNBI that I could find was 15. The average for those 25 matches was 8.

Now I have to factor in the relatively recent addition of free hits for front foot no balls which wasn't prevalent back in my youth. So the highest WBNI of 15 turns into 16.7 (average cost of a free hit this year in our matches has been 1.7) and the average WBNI of 8 turns into 8.1.

What's changed?

Back in the day, we used to run up in nets, alley ways or towards stumps scrawled on a brick wall and practice our bowling day after day. We haired in, bowled really fast and bowled really straight.

There was no coach in sight.

We created games with ourselves where we pretended to be bowling at legends such as Viv Richards, Ian Botham and Allan Border. We would set fields in our head, have a plan to each imaginary player and look to execute them.

There were no looks to the coach or parents.

It was bowler vs. (pretend) batter.

Our only focus was the top of the crate, the white line on the wall or the off stump. We used to run up and bowl straight, even when it swung.

The result was that we could go into a game, bowl fewer wides and if we did sneak one out then we had a self-made coping strategy or focus to remedy the glitch.

We took responsibility for our own performance and development.

Glenn McGrath, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Lasith Malinga all learnt their skills in home-made facilities, without formalised coaching and through their incredible powers of "pretend".

Solving the issue of wides and no balls

Here are some thoughts.

Do we as coaches leave a box of balls for the seam bowler and ever ask them to practice through pretending?

Are we good enough at building the "pretending skills" in our young cricketers?

Do we have the confidence to leave the bowler alone for a session and for them to report back to us on their findings?

Do we feel that we need to justify our existence by always being next to the bowlers? By leading each session?

Of course, I shall still be monitoring bowling actions (from an appropriate distance) and asking a few questions, but my approach is going to shift.

I'm going to develop less coach reliant bowlers capable of limiting their WNBI and increasing their overall impact on a game of cricket.

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 19: Running with a Suitcase

After a failed sailing analogy, the team of David Hinchliffe, Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and Burners talk cricket.

There are dicussions on ball shining, putting pressure on teams and practice against the swinging ball. Plus, a question from a killer batsman gets a killer reply from Garas.

It's more gold from the team, so download, listen and improve today!


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
+61 (02) 8005 7925


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You can also download this show onto your computer by clicking the play button at the top of the article, or clicking on the mp3 to download.


This is show number 262.

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Cricket Fitness Workout: Gym for Spin

This article is part of the Cricket Fitness Workouts series. For the full list, click here.

Like all cricketers, to be a good spinner you need a base of fitness, especially in strength and power. Maybe it's not the same as smashing sixes and bowling bouncers, but a ripping ball is equally destructive.

But spin also need a lot of time bowling spin, which leaves you with the gym as a secondary concern. You want to get in, get it done and get out so you can go back to bowling.

You want as much as you can get in as little time as possible.

Fight Back Against Spin Bowling with a Disruption Plan

This is an article from PitchVision Coach, and minor counties cricketer Chris Watling.

When the spinner comes on, are you filled with dread?

Many batsmen have this secret fear, you are certainly not alone. You can no longer use the pace of the ball to work it around and hit your boundaries. You are forced to defend and wait. Against a good spinner you get tied down.

And we all know what happens when you lose patience: head up, ball in the air, back to the pavilion.

There is a better way.


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: 308
Date: 2014-05-23