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Every cricketer secretly desires a skill they are not know for.

What's yours?

Whatever it is, we look at how to go about developing your hidden cricketing desire in this week's main article. But it doesn't end there. We also look at death batting, eyepatches and handling information overload as a player or coach.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Second Chance: How to Add Another "String to Your Bow" as a Cricketer

It's easy to be typecast as a cricketer.

When you have played for any length of time in the same place you start to get a reputation. You are the bowler who is a bunny with the bat. You are a batsman who doesn't even bowl in the nets. Every team has one player like that.

And I guarantee that somewhere deep in their heart, each one of these players wishes he had more skills.

Every batsman wants to be able to bowl bouncers to give back a bit of aggression. Every spinner wishes they could biff revenge sixes over deep midwicket.

So, why not try?


Modern cricket, lead by Twenty20, has given space for players with more "strings to the bow". Who says your lifelong wicketkeeper can't bowl leg spin (a long standing hidden desire of your 'keeping author)?

And as for fielding, well, there is certainly no excuse for being anything but the best fielder on your team.

But where do you start?

Won't your teammates laugh at you when you tell them you want to [insert skill here] seriously?


But they won't laugh when you prove them wrong and become an effective player with your new skill. Here's how to go about it.

Choose wisely

Not all skills are created equal to all people, so choose what you want to do carefully.

Sometimes it will be obvious. If you bowl a little part time off spin, you can commit to making it full time instead. Or, you lose your place in the first team as an aging fast bowler so you go into the second team and try your hand at spin instead.

Other times, it will simply be a passion you want to develop. As I mentioned before, I have long dreamed of hanging up the keeping gloves to bowl leg spin. Our club has recently signed a young keeper who has taken my place, making me one step closer to the dream. I really should start working on that googly.

So, pick something.

The research it hard. Use PitchVision Academy as your starting point for advice on every skill going.

Then commit to it for at least 30 days of solid practice. After a month you will find it has become a habit and you will have improved dramatically. Enough to keep you going for another year of hard graft.

Buddy up

Once you have chosen your skill and committed to working on it, find yourself a mentor, or a buddy.

This is most likely someone in your team who has the skills already. If you want to be a spinner, sidle up to the best spinner in your team and tell him or her that you want the number 2 spot. It's a fact that people love to share their knowledge. Take advantage. Tap up as much advice as you can. You might even get a net session or two out of them if they are feeling really generous.

Of course, if there is no one in person you trust to advise, you can always use PitchVision Academy to get a virtual coaching session with some of the best names in cricket.

Play some games

Having a net is good; drills are excellent; But the real test comes with games. Get out there and throw your skill in at the deep end.

This is where games of lesser importance come in handy. Try and play pick up matches, Last Man Stands, friendly games or even drop down a grade to play as a specialist in your new skill.

While playing, you will quickly learn your weak and strong areas. You will develop tactics and mental techniques that will grow your technique. You will gain directly from your experience be it good or, more likely, horrifically bad.

Be prepared for some pain.

The advantage you have is that you have been through this learning process before with your main skill. You remember what it was like to be hopeless and then get better, and then get good and canny. This all means you can speed up the process with your new skill.

It's heartening to know that even if you first over as a leg spinner goes for 27, you won't always be this bad (as long as you stick with it for a month).

Avoid "bits and pieces"

As you develop you will likely be encouraged to work harder on your new skill. But don't forget your other skills too.

The idea here is to become, for example, a batsman who is good enough to be a second spinner. You don't want to become a second spinner who also bats a bit. Always make sure your main skill is your main skill and your other skills are important, but secondary.

In other words, you are no longer a one dimensional specialist, but you are also not a "bits and pieces" cricketer who is average at everything and exceptional at nothing.

That is a difficult balance to maintain, and one you have to be aware of from the moment you begin your mission to level up.

But do it right and you can become a more rounded player or even a reinvented one who gets a second run at cricketing success.

image credit: Sportspics

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How the Best Death Batsmen Score from the Best Death Bowling

All good death batters have options to counteract death bowling.

I have worked with some excellent batsmen who thrive at the death. They work tirelessly at developing skills around the three balls they are most likely to get:


Slower ball.


So how do they do it, and how can you coach it at your level?

How to hit the yorker

Owais Shah (T20 expert and ex-England player) used to ask me to try and hit the yorker length from a bowling machine and he would come up with a few options to hit or guide for runs.

Sometimes he would jump back in the crease just ahead of ball release to get under the really full ball, bend his knees and try to hit a flat trajectory shot straight over the bowlers head.

Or he would target those Line Drive and Drop Kick areas that we recently covered.

His intention was to drive the ball low and hard to get 2 or 4. Occasionally, he would time it so well that Owais would clear the ropes. He did this brilliantly against Tim Southee in a 2008 ODI at Durham in his 25 ball 49.

On other occasions, Owais would guide the ball past the keeper for 4 or try and beat 3rd Man either side for a boundary. His stillness of head and body at ball strike was crucial. This allowed him to watch the ball closely and then use his hands (his kinaesthetic awareness) to manoeuvre the ball to its intended tactic.

Duncan Fletcher - former England and current Indian coach - was an advocate of a shorter back swing when you knew that a bowler has a propensity for yorkers at the end of innings. His view was that if you set yourself for a yorker then once you see that the ball was going into another length, your body would adjust - or step and swing action/reaction in biomechanical terms - and the swing would lengthen as the body steps into the different length ball.

Paul Collingwood was amazing at this, even against yorker bowlers as awesome as Malinga and Brett Lee. He set himself for yorker and then adjusted when he picked up variations in length with a more expansive step and swing technique.

Have a go at a combination of these two approaches and see how you get on.

How to hit the slower ball

One of the best exponents of the slower ball back in my day was the Australian, Ian Harvey. He became an expert in delivering different versions of slower deliveries. At Hampshire, we use to assume that every ball in his second spell was going to be a slower ball and then trust ourselves to adjust when he pushed the ball through at his normal medium pace. We couldn't run down the pitch at him because the incredible Jack Russell was waiting for us to lift a foot. Playing conventional shots with a adapting mindset (slower ball to pace on) was the way to go.

We didn't get it right in all our games yet his impact at the back end of the innings lessened game on game which informed us that the new approach was paying off.

The value of wisdom

The Fletcher and Harvey examples both incorporate information to inform strategy and approach.

I'm sure that you have bowlers in opposition teams that predominantly bowl slower balls or go to yorker a lot at the end of an innings. Can you use this knowledge to inform your team training and strategies against them next time round?

"Knowledge that is not utilised retains its status of only being Knowledge; Knowledge when applied becomes Wisdom."

Which one do you have when it comes to the yorker and slower ball bowlers at the end of an innings?

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 24: Eye Patches Are Not Just for Pirates

The show covers some of the more unusual questions send in this week. The team of Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe give audio advice around topics like late bloomers and eye training (one for the pirates), spin bowlers and weight loss, and process or outcome in tactical work.

Plus, there is a mention of the best ever book on club cricket captaincy: How to Win at Cricket. Essential reading even 40 years on.

Can the team link these disparate elements into 30 minutes of cricket coaching podcast advice? Tune in to find out.


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 267.

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Can You Turn Information Overload into Better Cricket?

How do you manage your virtual cricketing world?

Ask the Readers: How do you Train?

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Plus, who doesn't like talking about themselves?

So take a moment (it will be less that 180 seconds) and fill in the multiple choice, anonymous survey here.

The survey is around how much cricket-specific training you do, and what equipment you use to help yourself. That's it: No personal data and no right or wrong answers. Just a snapshot of your training at this time of year.

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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: 313
Date: 2014-06-27