Pitchvision Academy


There is a focus on talent and controversy this week. The IPL final saw a fantastic hundred from Saha, so we analyse it from the coaches chair. Plus, Jos Buttler is in the news for both his outragous talent and his unusal dismissal. Of course, we examine both.

Plus we discover three secret coaching skills. Read on the find out more.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

The Buttler Factor: How Extreme Talent Identifies Itself

In my roles with Hampshire, Somerset, Ireland and now Millfield School I have seen a significant number of talented 12 and 13 year old cricketers. There has only ever been 1 player who I predicted would play International cricket from all those promising players.

His name is Jos Buttler.

Jos continued to underline his incredible talent with England's fastest ever ODI hundred.

I watched him play a heap of times for his school and for our County Age Group squad at Somerset. His natural talent was incredible. I was amazed at how a slight 12 year old boy could hit the ball with such brutality and power.

Yet, more impressively was Jos' strategic mind. He plotted each innings and next batting option like a guy who had played 75 ODI's. Jos displayed incredible calmness under pressure. The game seemed to slow down around him before he then injected huge amount of pace and power into proceedings.

Jos also had a hugely supportive, yet realistic family around him. Mum was a tennis coach and saw things in an objective way. I can't underestimate the importance of this kind of family support and the more research I read on this area, the more important it becomes.

But it wasn't all about support.

Jos led his own development, even from a young age. He had a maturity that was rare. We often pinched ourselves in conversations about his development when a 13 year old would make a very adult statement or ask a very mature question.

Jos' performance and characteristics gave me confidence to ask the ECB's Hugh Morris if I could place Jos on the Somerset Academy at the age of 12 rather than the then ECB stipulated minimum age of 13. Hugh is a visionary and made a very sound decision that day!

Development is a rocky road

It was then that Jos and I started to work together with interesting results.

He burst into tears in most of our early sessions because I increased the challenge. For the first time in his development Jos was not in control, was not timing every ball. He was finding it tough. I loved it; he didn't!

Eventually, He began to feel the benefit of the methods and his game came on at an accelerated rate.

Then we had another stand-off.

I asked Jos to start keeping wicket as well as batting. Jos initially was reluctant, didn't want to risk his fingers and we had a number of 'grumpy' sessions.

Over time, Jos saw some merit in what we were asking him to do and he started to keep wicket with a smile on his face.

Or at least a grudging grimace.

These humps were vital to his development and show that success is never a smooth path.

Open Cupboard Wednesdays

"Open Cupboard Wednesday" is a concept where the players lead their own sessions for 30-60 minutes. I open the equipment cupboard and the players went in, came out with some cones, bowling machines, different balls and other kit. They then made up their own drills and practices. It is a great way of developing responsibility and encouraging innovation.

I used to watch Jos and his great mate, Chris Jones (a Somerset CCC top order batter) work together brilliantly.

They would challenge each other to come up with different solutions to different problems. It was inspirational to watch.

Much of their work was done around finding angles and options to score in one day cricket. I would be a fibber if I said that Jos' ramp shots started in those sessions directly, yet I'm confident that the process he went through with 'Jonesy' underpinned his future ability to innovate.

Do you have a very young player who hits the Buttler Talent criteria?

How can you stretch and support them to accelerate their development?

Can you have your own version of Open Cupboard Wednesday?

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The Art of Mankading: The Comprehsive Guide to This Cricketing Controversy

Is there anything that divides opinions more than "mankading"?

When England's Joss Buttler was run out at the non-striker's end while backing up in an ODI, the range of reactions went from "quite right!" to "downright cheating!".

Whatever you opinion, there are some important coaching lessons we can glean.


Making a stand: The culture of mankading in your club

Unlike a well-timed drive, the mankad is not universally admired by players and coaches. It's this cultural fact that must inform how we approach it in our games.

That's a vital point, because without developing a conscious culture around these kind of practices (also see walking, appealing, and sledgin ) we risk defaulting to an unconsidered, uncomfortable consensus that at the least makes playing the game less fun and at the worst takes a chunk from the very Spirit of Cricket itself.

To be clear though, this is about spirit rather than Law. Law 42 even makes a point of it:

"The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker."

But those who frown on the practice say that it's about playing the game the way it was intended.

As I see it there are three positions you need to consider for your bowlers:

  1. "If the batsman is out of his ground he is fair game the same as a stumping. I will execute a run out and be perfectly within the Laws of the game."
  2. "I don't want to do it, but if I think the batsman is trying it on I will run him out after a warning."
  3. "It's never acceptable. Cricket is the challenge between bowler and striker, the non-striker is just waiting his turn."

Each case has it's supporters. You will find that even in your team there will be all three of these views. So, it's good to discuss such matters and come to your team conclusions about what you are going to do if the situation arises.

In the field, it's worth having a player who is keeping an eye out for the non-striker pinching ground. Everyone agrees that this is unacceptable, even if there is debate over the degree of distance taken. Those who fully support mankading can execute it.

Those who are against it totally can speak with the umpire about the batsman who is taking liberties. The umpire can award 5 penalty runs if they feel the batsman is trying to steal a run (Law 42).

Either way, it's good to be aware and active rather than passive and ignoring the problem, as many do, so as not cause a fuss.

When you are batting, decide on your approach to backing up. There is a lot of grey area between leaning on your bat and trying to steal a run. Decide how far into the dark you want to go, and what the risk is that you will be mankaded.

Very sharp operators will know the bowlers who can't bring themselves to run out a batsman. The door is open to set off as early as you like. But that's not for everyone.

You can play safe and still back up effectively though. Simply moving out as the bowler enters his delivery stride will get you a yard down the wicket with no danger of being run out.

Coaching the mankad: Ignoring is not a option

With the senior culture broadly in place, you can filter the same points into your coaching setup. It's sensible to do so as if you ignore it you will get a problem.

Young players often back up at the non-striker's end too far. For most this is simply because they don't understand the nuance of the Law and are simply full of high spirits to "run the first run quickly" as they have been told.

A mankading to an unaware player is devastating, especially the younger, less mature kids.

So, when that happens in your middle practice, freeze the game. Gather in the boys and girls and talk through what they think is right and how to combat the problem.

I would say that the answer is simple: No matter what your view on mankading, you can stop it by staying in your crease until the ball is bowled.

There are 2 ways to do this yet still back up:

  • Start outside the crease, with your bat behind the line as if you are turning for a second run.
  • Walking out of your crease as the bowler arrives so you are moving down the wicket as the ball reaches the batsman.

Either way works fine to fairly gain ground and it's personal preference.

But whatever you talk about in those few moments, and reiterate over the coming season, it's important to be consistent across the club. If your youth coaches insist mankading is always unfair, and your senior teams are happy to mankad, kids will ignore the coach.

The bottom line with the Buttler incident is the bottom line in every mankad case: Had the batsman been a little more aware it would not have happened.

So, whatever your morality, come to a conclusion about the practice, stick with it across the board and coach sensible play into everyone.

Maybe then the practice will die out because nobody falls for it anymore.

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 21: You've Been Mankaded

Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and Burners join David Hinchliffe to talk through cricket coaching and playing.

This week the team look at the Jos Buttler "mankad" and talk through the issues around coaching sharp practice.

Plus there are questions on off season fitness for leg spin bowlers, and the increasing skill of run chasing. Is it something that is at every level? We give a comprehensive answer.

It's half an hour of cricket audio goodness, just for you.


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This is show number 264.

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3 Skills Every Cricket Coach Should Secretly Work On

Most players think coaching is easy: You rock up, set out some cones, do some drills and go home. While that's part of the story, there are certain skills the coach needs to practice to be effective.

How to Score a Twenty20 Hundred

A strange thing happened in the final of IPL 7.

Batting first against KKR, King's XI Punjab had two in form overseas superstars ready to go in and start crashing boundaries. Maxwell looked primed. Miller was itching to biff it. Instead, a slight wicketkeeper with a traditional technique - best known for not being MS Dhoni - was sent in after 5 overs.

Wriddhiman Saha looks every bit the anti-T20 player. His batting was once said to have "the look of an accountant passing journal entries." Solid. Reliable. Safe.

He ignored this cliche about himself, and proceeded to smash a blistering Twenty20 hundred. Read on to find out how you can emulate this story in your Twenty20 cricket.


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: 310
Date: 2014-06-06