Pitchvision Academy


The ring field is one of the most common setups faced at club and school level, yet traditional batting advice ignores the added pressure of feeling surrounded. We show you how to break through the wall in this newsletter.

Plus Mark Garaway talks about Moeen Ali's incredibly fast development as a spinner, while Sam Lavery digs through his kitbag to tell you the stuff that works best to improve your game.

Finally, Stirling County CC make a special guest appearance as a case study of how modern coaches approach the club game. It has it's own challenges, and they are universal!

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Bat Against a Ring Field

Picture the scene: You walk in to bat. A medium pace bowler stands at his mark while you take guard. You look around and see the classic ring field: everyone saving the single.


It's a wall on both sides.

How are you supposed to rotate the strike?

How can you hit boundaries when there are fielders bearing down on all sides?

I would hazard a guess that this field is one of the most common in club cricket, so almost everyone will come up against it. You see it as standard in age group cricket, and it comes up any time there are slow pitches and limited over formats.

Here's one example:

Of course you may see a few variations on the theme: a third man instead of extra cover, a catcher in front, or fine leg saving one. The basic theory remains the same.


Make you do something crazy from frustration.

Here is how you release the pressure without having a big slog. (I know, it's tempting).

Look at the green

A very fine West Indian batsman once told me that hitting the ball into the gaps is easy. You simply look at the huge green spaces and ignore the relatively tiny blobs of white that are fielders.

You might argue that this is because he was a a very fine batsman and can thread the ball through the eye of a needle, but I say that anyone can use this trick.

When you realise there is much more green than there is white, you can aim for it. Wait for the half volley and aim to hit it between mid off and extra cover, or midwicket and mid on rather than through them. You might not do it as often as a great player, but the shift of focus is enough.

Simply remembering that fielders can't build a wall, no matter how good they are, will give you confidence and freedom.

There is always a gap

On top of this idea of gaps between fielders, is the reassuring knowledge that there will always be a space. Even the tightest ring field can't plug every gap because 9 fielders is not ever enough.

In our diagram above you can see about as tight a circle as you can get. Yet there are options:

Of course, the bowler needs to serve you up balls to hit in these areas, but he almost always will in the end.

So take a moment to pick a couple of safe scoring areas (or "shots" if you prefer more traditional terminology) before you take your first ball.

Hit over the top

Finally, you have the biggest gap of all: the vast area behind the fielders.

I know all classical batsmen hit along the ground, and you want to look as stylish as Tendulkar with everything on the turf. You can still do that, and before you do, why not make it easier by getting a couple of men out of the ring by going over the top?

Don't slog.

Here are your options:

All these shots are, with practice, safe and effective when the field is up. You don't need to clear the boundary, you only need to get it over the fielder's head.

Once is usually enough to get a player or two out of the ring.

Two good shots is always enough.

And that is the real secret of batting when the ring is bering down on you: All you need to do is play a couple of effective shots past the fielders. You see wider gaps opening up as the captain decides to protect the boundaries.

It's easy - while the pressure is on - to get frustrated that you are "wasting balls" if you block a few then hit a clean drive to a fielder a couple of times. You feel time ticking and you are not scoring. When you have that moment, remember that this is exactly what the bowler want you to feel. So release the choke, reset, reconsider your options and get back to batting with freedom.

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Learn as Fast as Moeen Ali with These Spin Tips

Alistair Cook called England all-rounder Moeen Ali the fastest learner that he has ever played with. England's spinning sensation has gone from barely-used in his debut to take 19 wickets in the series against India.

So what exactly is it that Moeen has learnt?


Bowl at the right pace

"You need to up your pace at this level, lad!"

Ian Bell offered constructive feedback to his new team mate. He informed Ali that he needed to up his pace at International level in order to make things happen, to reduce the decision making time and pressurise opposition batters.

Since that feedback - ahead of the Southampton Test - Ali has been touching 55mph rather than flirting with 50mph which was his 'county pace'. At slower paces, Ali was being pulled from relatively good lengths. The likes of Jayawardene and Sangrakkara had more than enough time to rock back and hammer the ball over mid wicket.

Fast forward to August and the same length delivery is causing Dhoni and co all sorts of problems. Ali has adjusted his pace to survive and thrive in his new environment.

But that's not the only reason why he has developed so quickly.

Keep the revs, adjust the seam angle

I was encouraged by Ali in the Sri Lanka series. He had one of the most important elements of spin bowling: revolutions on the ball.

Moeen regularly bowled the ball with over 2200 rpm (far more than his opposite number, Rangana Herath) in that series, yet found it difficult to create any deception either through the air or off of the pitch. Ali's seam angle was very square to the pitch as it flew through the air. He bowled with pure side spin.

This meant that he was losing the ability to drift the ball in the air, dip the ball extravagantly on its curve to the batter and to get excessive bounce from the surface.

The combination of side spin and top spin is vital at the top level and Moeen needed to adjust something in his grip or wrist position at release to facilitate a more optimal seam angle. I mentioned this to Head Coach Peter Moores after the Sri Lanka Test Series. It's been great to see the results of some excellent interventions that the England Coaching staff have put in place.

The seam angle for Ali's stock ball is now on an axis that encourages increased top spin. His dismissal of Jadeja in the Old Trafford Test was a great example of those adjustments. Drift, dip, bounce and enough side spin to hit the shoulder of the bat and loop to slip.

Change your strategy, change your luck

Mushtaq Ahmad always says,

"If things aren't working for you, the first thing that should change is your field and strategy."

This is exactly what Ali, Cook and Moores have done. There is little change to left handed batters, he has just got more skilful. Yet to right handers, the introduction of a leg slip and the increase in pace has encouraged Ali to shift to a straighter line. Both edges come into play and any misjudgement of length threatens the stumps or pads.

I love a leg slip; and now so does Moeen Ali!

Can these 3 points spark similar accelerated learning in your spinners?

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Cricket Show S5 Episode 31: Hit it into the Long Grass

Can you train all the new skills of cricket and master the basics?

The team get stuck into this question as Mark Garaway, David Hinchliffe and Sam Lavery also swap stories of holidays and Bob Taylor's wicketkeeping. We quickly move onto more important stuff though, including the aforementioned discussion on this article.

Plus Sam Lavery geeks out about kit before helping a young cricketer in the USA deal with unique conditions with tricks and tips on hitting over the top and picking up quick singles.

Then we give some advice on protein powder for teenage bowlers. Learn the basics on the show, and get stuck into more details with this article and this one.


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, smart phone or tablet every week automatically. Simply choose your favourite podcast player and do a search for the show:

Or subscribe manually with the RSS feed. Right click here, copy the link and paste it into the appropriate place for adding new feeds in your podcast subscription software or RSS reader.

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 274.

Discuss this article with other subscribers

What's in Your Kitbag to Improve Your Cricket?

Coach Sam Lavery talks us through his perfect cricket coaching kitbag, and what's most essential when space is at a premium.

Imagine taking a current kit bag back 20 years.

Not only would some pieces of kit be questioned, but others would be completely unrecognisable. So what are the options that coaches carry in their modern day kit bags, and what do they have tucked away in the store cupboard back at HQ?

I’ve spoken to 10 coaches ranging from a few at First Class and International level, through to school and club coaches. Here's what they said.

Case Study: Coaching at Stirling County Cricket Club

Cricket clubs around the world are dealing with the same issues. Sometimes it's nice to see how someone else does it within those common constraints.

One example is Stirling County Cricket Club, a thriving Scottish side. I caught up with Head Coach Ian Shaw to find out how a modern coach approaches the club game.


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.


Want Coaching?

Send to a Friend

Do you have a friend or team mate who would be interested in this newsletter? Just hit "forward" in your email program and send it on.

If you received this email from a friend and would like to get subsequent issues, you can subscribe here.


PitchVision Academy

irresistable force vs. immovable object

Thank you for subscribing to PitchVision Academy.
Read more at www.pitchvision.com


To unsubscribe eMail us with the subject "UNSUBSCRIBE (your email)"
Issue: 320
Date: 2014-08-15