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I reckon half the people reading this newsletter will groan, and the other half will cheer when I tell you it's focused on fielding.

Love it or hate it, you spend a lot of time in the field. So this week we look at some plans from 2007 that still work, the importance of fielding when you are a "stand in" player, and tips on improving your throw.

Do not fear, however, if you care more about batting. We also have some tips that might just help you to a big score in your next game.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How Moving House Reminds Me of Great Fielding Plans

I'm moving house. While I was chucking out all sorts of rubbish in preparation, I stumbled across a fielding outline document.

The file underpinned England's fielding team at the 2007 World Cup. I put it together with key fielders within that group which included Paul Nixon, Paul Collingwood and Jimmy Anderson.

It's a good read and may be something that you could think about doing with your team.

We started with a Goal or a Mission statement:

"To make an aggressive statement every time the ball comes to you; to save runs and put the batsman under pressure, always!"

We then listed the characteristics that we would like to adopt as a group:

  • Hunter
  • Predator
  • Athletic
  • Explosive
  • Focused

3 sections of the game

The group decided that we should split the 50 over game into 3 sections: Powerplays, the Accumulation phase and Death. Each section would require subtly different though processes, focuses and behaviours.

We aimed to keep this as simple as possible so everyone - even Ravi Bopara who is prone to lapses in concentration when fielding - could remember the key points.

We wanted this to happen so it would the plan would come to life out on the field.

Powerplay overs

  1. Always have a commitment to dive in the inner circle
  2. Have a huge desire to catch the ball. If we take a half chance in the first 15 overs then it saves us heaps of runs in the last 10
  3. Hunt for run outs. Especially after 2 or more dot balls. We discussed that running indecision is most likely to occur when the field is most tightly packed; so the incidence of a run out is high. Any run out in this phase of the game saves us runs in the final 10 overs.
  4. Hunt the man and Hunt the ball - let the batter feel your presence individually and collectively. A great example of this within the 2007 World Cup were the pairings of Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood for England and Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds of Australia. Rarely were these pairings far from each other. They hunted as a pair always and put pressure on every batting partnership.
  5. Every man has a role every ball. Get mobile.

Accumulation Phase

  1. Stay focused: Every run is a premium. If someone is sleeping then it is your responsibility to wake them!
  2. Boundary riders save 2 in this phase unless Vaughan (captain) says otherwise. This was important in the West Indies as the outfields are big and the grass is coarse, causing the ball to hold up.
  3. Keep making statements: every throw, every dive, every decision
  4. Two men chases for every ball
  5. Look for work (backing up/fielding in pairs/congratulating team mates)


  1. Key men in high traffic boundary riding positions (Anderson, Flintoff, Collingwood, Pietersen, Plunkett, Broad)
  2. Be aware of the batter on strike and what impact that has on your position
  3. Support the bowler and keep him focussed
  4. Hold the rope on the boundary unless Vaughan tells you otherwise

These statements were really simple yet really effective.

As a team we narrowly missed out on a semi final. Statistically (stump hits, run outs, catching %, runs saved) we came second in the competition behind World Champions, Australia.

This outline gave us focus, could a similar exercise start something special for your team?

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Extra Man: How to be a Stand In at Higher Cricket Levels

It was 8pm on Friday night. Ryan's phone buzzed with a new Facebook message.

"We have had a drop out, can you play in the first team tomorrow?"

The young man's heart sank. He knew what that meant: In the second team he could enjoy a jolly 40 overs at home, getting a bat and a few overs with the ball. In the firsts he is a utility: a fielder, batting at seven or eight and no chance of bowling.

Plus the game is a 40 minute drive and ten overs per innings longer. He is supposed to be going out Saturday night!

He grudgingly accepts because he is a team man. He knows his afternoon of cricket will be wasted.


A common problem

It's a problem that happens in cricket teams around the world.

The best players in club, school and Academy cricket tend to be all-rounders meaning that there is always one player who is set for an "air game" (don't bat or bowl). It might be like Ryan; a batsman at eight. It might be a bowler who doesn't get on because all the top six can also give you a dozen overs.

Whatever it is, there is an art to being the utility man when you find yourself stuck there.

The art of utility

I've seen players in this position every week. I've done it myself. I know the pain of it.

But with the right attitude, there is also an opportunity to shine and get what you want from the situation.

Here's the trick: It's not simply about "making the most of it".

The standard advice to a player in the utility role is to relax and enjoy it. The pressure is off, you are not expected to perform. If you score a cameo 25 you have exceeded expectations.

So, soak up the experience of the higher level, show you are ready for a bigger chance, field like a demon and take advantage of any moment to bat or bowl you get no matter how small.

The idea behind this is that you want to be picked in the side on batting or bowling merit and not just to make up the numbers.

This is great advice for players who want to make the step up. If you are one of those guys you probably go down to the ground early for an extra net to practice your death batting. You're excited by the chance!

Back to the small pond

What if you don't want that?

What if all you want is to play at a level you know you can do well and have a chance to play?

There are several players like this at my club. It's not my approach, but I understand it. Cricket is a long game and everyone has other pressures. You want to enjoy your weekend run out; not be pushing hard to become a first team player when you feel like you will probably never make it anyway.

You want to get back as fast as possible, but you also don't want to let down the team. It's easy to think that by doing badly and being grumpy you will not get asked again. This isn't what you do.

Here is what you do.

You do your job as well as you can: Keep a positive attitude. See it as a chance to play against better opponents that will make playing at lower levels easier.

You can also learn from players on your side; get advice, watch the captain, perhaps if you have lots of experience chip in with ideas for yourself.

Then, have a quiet word with the skipper. Tell him while you are prepared to help as much as needed, you would much rather be somewhere else and you are finding it hard to enjoy playing.

Even the most grim-faced captain will understand your plight.

Then offer to do it on a rotation system with other, similar players. This week it's you but you know you will not be asked for another month because it's someone else's turn.

It's a compromise on both sides, but at least you get your go without being selfish and at least the first team get a decent fill in player without ruining your season.

I can that a fill-in win-win.

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 29: It's Not About the Couch

Is a psychologist more important than a coach?

That's one of the questions Mark Garaway, David Hinchliffe and Sam Lavery look at on the show this week and come up with some interesting conclusions.

Please the team talk about the coach-captain relationship at various levels, analyse a young batsman's technique and talk about the Commonwealth Games.

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
+61 (02) 8005 7925



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This is show number 272.

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You Might get a Kick Out of My Weekend Batting Revelation

Isn't it great when you find something that clicks in your game?

This week I missed the usual training session at my club, so I arranged to get to the ground early to "have a net" with a couple of other guys in the team.

As you know my feelings about nets, you know how I am not keen to just have a hit, but I hoped it would be better that going into the game totally cold.

As there were just two of us to start, and neither of us bowl to first team standard, we got out the bowling machine.

As you know my feelings about bowling machines, you know I would much prefer real bowling, but that wasn't an option.

Yet, that 20 minutes was a revelation that will give you quite the kick.

How to Have a Bullet Throw

A powerful throw sends a message to a batting team.

The batsmen are looking for a second run and you are in the deep. The both look up to see your throw, as do most of the batsmen waiting to come in. There is a subtle moment of expectation: Just how good is this guy’s throw?

You sear it in head high, dipping into the keeper’s gloves so he doesn’t have to move.


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: 318
Date: 2014-08-01