Pitchvision Academy


It's a mixed bag of advice this week, but as usual we cover the topics in great depth and from fresh angles.

We discuss the frustrations of cricket when your motivation is different to others. We also link this to your approach to play and how "doing a job" is not as bad as it seems. Mark Garaway extends this with some tactics you can use to score more runs without hitting boundaries.

It all adds up to something anyone who plays or coaches cricket can use to improve right away.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Do a Job: How Ordinary Cricket Achieves Spectacular Success

Picture the scene: you have just had a stellar cricket season.

You get a trial and you do even better than you could have dreamed. Everything goes to plan and you are man of the match. Becoming a cricketer, you realise, is just a matter of time.

It's possible.

But it's also not going to happen.

You can't plan for insanely good performances at the right time. Cricket is hard, opponents are just as keen to show their potential as you. Pitches and weather are variable. You could be the next Tendulkar, Warne or Dhoni in talent, but lack the luck to show it off at the right moment.

That means you need another idea, an idea that is less about the headlines and more about a quick mention in paragraph 5 of the match report.

Because the fact is that even the most spectacular cricket heroes base their game on a consistently stronger performances than anyone else. And that comes through many small successes alongside the occasional mind-blowing performance.


Consistency is always rewarded

There are two ways to look at being a consistent cricketer as the cornerstone to your game.

First, if you are a decent but uninspiring player. There are many cricketers who fall into this category, some of whom achieve great success with the reason put down to "making the most of his talent".

Paul Collingwood is the classic example of this. But when you realise that he scored 15 International hundreds, took 119 wickets, was recognised as the best fielder in the world and captained England to a World Twenty20 triumph, you start to wonder if there is merit in his approach.

The fact is, that players who have a range of talents, the ones who "do a job" are the ones who will always get the nod. Imagine a situation where selectors have 2 players from trials:

  • Player 1: Averages 41 batting, is a brilliant fielder and can bowl respectable medium pace.
  • Player 2: Averages 45 batting, is a poor fielder and people laugh at his bowling.

You know who is going to get picked.

Of course, this is not to say that you can get away with being average at everything and become the utility all-rounder of old. But every person who is worse than you at fielding gives you that improved chance of moving up the levels.

Reliable is also spectacular

The second type of player this benefits is the occasionally brilliant. The match winning hundred or the hat-trick is always on the cards, but it doesn't always happen.

Even if you are this "inconsistent hero" you can benefit from the do-a-job mentality too.

You might wish to blaze the ball around but when you turn up at the ground on a terrible wicket against strong bowling you realise your job is not to hole out to extra cover while trying to drive on the up. Your job is to dig in and make an ugly score. You leave the cover drive in the locker and accumulate a dull 40 that wins the match.

Remember that your brilliant play might get you noticed but your below par areas will make you more trouble than you are worth.

So, be the best fielder. Work on you batting if you are a bunny or get your spin going if you bat.

By all means have your moments of genius, just keep the lows away between each one. Be as spectacular in your consistency as you are in your in-swinging yorker.

1 percenters alway add up

You might have heard the phrase "one percenters" recently; the idea that the little things you do all add up to a better overall performance.

That's exactly what I mean when I say you need to Do A Job.

If you have real ambitions to take your chance and become a cricketer, you must look at your whole game. It won't make you an average bits-and-pieces all rounder, it will make you a consistent, reliable and highly selectable player.

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Score Big Without Boundaries

Ticking over the scoreboard is a coaching mantra for a reason.

The thing that kills limited over innings in the school and club club cricket game are unnecessary dot ball strings. Batters often get carried away with the notion of smashing the ball over the ropes, forgetting the importance of scoring between those big shots.

So, ability to mix boundaries with singles and doubles is crucial, let's look at some skills.


Dropzones for Singles

Picture a zone either side of the wicket like this:

Your batters can practice to take advantage of these "dropzones" on the off side gap from cover to point or either side of square leg on the leg-side. This can be achieved on both front and back foot.

Many players use a less pressurised bottom hand grip to take pace off of the ball when defending the ball into these gaps.

Others use the angle of the incoming ball or a strategic shift in body position on the crease to open up the onside gap in particular. Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Smith are two of the better exponents of the "lateral body shift".

The value of a duff contact

Other single opportunities into these gaps occur when players mistime shots.

The increase in shot intent often makes the anticipating fielders fall back onto their heels. Then the ball dribbles off of the bat as a result of a poor contact.

Many singles are missed when this happens yet by building awareness, we can pick up a boatload of singles. "World-Class backer upperers" make these every time!

How can you coach your players to pick these often missed singles?

Run down to 3rd man

3rd man is an option on wickets that come on to the bat. Marcus Trescothick is a master of this. He releases the pressure on his bottom hand and the pace of the ball runs down the face of the bat on its journey to 3rd man.

A good way of developing this is to get someone to throw underarm balls at the batter from short distance. The batter kneels on the ground. This may sound bizarre, yet immobilising the legs will reduce excessive movement in the body and increase the focus on the arms, hands and bat face.

Once the upper body skill has been adopted, stand in your normal stance, move to the ball (forward or back dependant on feed height) and replicate the shot.

See the batting from stance element of the drill below. Not bad for an Old Timer!

A word of warning: Build the awareness of pitch pace/type and it's impact on this shots' effectiveness. I see far too many players attempting this shot on slow pitches. The ball runs off the bat far too square: Gully thanks the batter for taking a ridiculous option.

So talk through the options with your batters and help them work on their safe options to stop the dot rot.

Finally, great thanks to Hampshire Batting Coach, Tony Middleton for these tips. Tony has developed a huge number of players into 1st Class level and beyond over his 19 years as a High performance Coach. He has some brilliantly simple approaches to batting and is part of my delivery team on the ECB Level IV batting module.

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 22: War and Peace

The show is taken over by a single question this week as the panel discuss the future of a cricketer at a turning point in his cricketing life. His question was so detailed, there were many elements to discuss around how to keep improving as a player, how to stay motivated as you get older and keeping cricket in perspective.

To help with this epic, Mark Garaway, David Hinchliffe and Sam Lavery are joined by James Hughes to provide the view from the young end of the cricketing world.

Listen to the show for the most comprehensive answer yet.


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


How to Listen to the Show

Just click the "play" button at the top of the article.

Or, the show comes out every Friday and you can listen to it on your computer, mp3 player, smart phone, iPad or other tablet every week automatically.

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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 265.

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Batting Warm Up: How to Make the Most of Pre-Match Throwdowns

This is a guest article from batting coach, Gary Palmer.

What is the purpose of the pre-match batting practice?

The aim is to build confidence by consistently hitting the ball out of the middle of the bat while exaggerating perfect technique. To feel good in the middle you can use throw downs to capture the feel of the correct shapes of your shots.

The better your preparation the more confident you will feel. This leads to being more relaxed at the crease when you finally go out to bat. You will have confidence in you technique and ability to execute shots successfully because you have prepared well and have a feel for the correct shapes.

Can You End Cricket Frustrations by Understanding Motivation?

What motivates you to play cricket?

It's a question worth considering, because the reason you play will help you - and if you coach or captain, your players - to reduce the frustrations that come about when aims don't meet actions.


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: 311
Date: 2014-06-13