Pitchvision Academy


Bowling fast or ripping through batsmen is exciting, but it's all useless without hitting your line and length. It's an old fashioned skill that we look at this week through the lens of modern coaching.

Speaking of which, we also take a modern view of developing Test cricketers, and look at how to develop a technique and method that fits your body and personality. Now that is modern!

So modern in fact, that we also outline a few classical basics in a batting article.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Bowl Perfect Line and Length

Let me ask you something; how much better a bowler would you be if you could hit a perfect line and length?

It's a challenge that takes a lifetime to master, and a road that is littered with distractions.


Yet the simplicity is appealing: Put the ball on the spot, hit the seam again and again and watch the wickets tumble.

You don't need to be quick. You don't need to rip it square. You don't need to swing it round corners or even have a clever mystery variation. Those things are nice, but accuracy... accuracy is within reaching distance.

It's so tantalisingly close that you can almost taste the success it will bring.


Yet, so few achieve what should be simple.

How do you break through the accuracy barrier and take your game up a level?

Here is some advice.

Become obsessed with process

Modern coaching uses terms like "processes" to break the shackles of outdated methods. We used to use technique as the beginning, middle and end of bowling. It was striving for perfect technique that created bowlers with perfect accuracy.

That is certainly true, but we also know now that techniques vary. Technique is an important part of the bowling process that also includes other factors. Take the example of Lasith Malinga. The Sri Lankan has a bowling technique that should be super inconsistent. Yet he can bowl that death yorker for 12 balls in a row if he likes. He has a process.

And that's what you need too.

That starts with your bowling technique. Does your technique give you the best chance of bowling with accuracy? Do you find that you action can vary between balls?

Video yourself bowling both in nets and in games, especially towards the end of a match or session where fatigue can influence your movement through the crease. Watch to see what stays the same, decide what changes as you get more tired or stressed.

When you can see an area of weakness, strive to improve it.

This is not about wrist or head position or any other particular technical point per se. It's more about seeing what works in your technique, and what goes wrong when you fire it down the leg side. For example:

  • If you notice your head falling to the off side at the end of the game, you might need better fitness (both core strength and endurance)
  • If there is variation in your arm position as you release the ball, work backwards through each step of your action and decide where it breaks down, then work on it with chaining drills.
  • If you bowl poorly under pressure situations, start developing methods to become better and handling those pressure moments.

You get the idea: Spot the issue (technical, fitness, or psychological), design a drill or training plan to overcome that method and work on it with single-minded obsession.

Remember the basics

Of course, all this takes some effort and no small amount of skill and knowledge. Luckily, during this process you can do something a lot simpler and that is almost always effective: basic target bowling.

Target bowling is useful because it is the purest form of deliberate practice: You can set it up quickly, get instant feedback and track your improvements over time. PitchVision even does this for you, but you can use a pen and paper or track it in your notes app on the iPad.

So, set up some targets, mark your pitch and bowl like a crazy person until it starts to click and your percentages shoot up. The more you do it, regardless of any other factor, the more accurate you will get. You learn where to look, you learn how bowling a good ball feels, you learn how to stay focused in a long spell. If you do it enough you develop bowling stamina.

Like all practice methods there are limits - you don't learn how to bowl under pressure, and you can't correct technical issues - but overall it works so well I would be amazed by any bowler who didn't use it.

Combine your target bowling with your new obsession with process and you have a bowler, over time, who can reach insane levels of accuracy.

Cricket is simple when you put it like that isn't it?

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What Grass-Roots Cricket Coaches Can do to Save Test Cricket

How, as coaches, do we keep promoting the virtues of the ultimate format, Test cricket?

ODI and T20 cricket are both brilliant formats that have helped to develop broader interest levels in cricket across the globe whilst opening our eyes to advancements in fielding techniques, batting options and athleticism.

Test match cricket is a very different game to watch now because of the shorter formats and that's a good thing.

However, the challenge for me is to keep India interested in playing longer format cricket. The dominant Indian performances in the ODI series against England are a stark contrast to the pitiful 3 day capitulations that we saw at the back end of the Test matches.

This has nothing to do with ability, as the Indians have excellent players within their Test Team. To me it comes down to the attitude that the BCCI and has towards Tests. This rubs off on the player development system and, most importantly, upon the players.

We all know that if India lose interest in Test Match cricket, then the format will start a rapid slide into extinction.

So what's the solution?


2 day cricket

I encourage clubs all over the world to ask their local rival to play one 2 day, 4 innings match per year at under 16 level. This will act a as an introduction to the longer game and to expose young players to different pressures, strategies and methods that would normally be untapped.

  • Limit the 1st innings to 65 overs where there will be an automatic declaration unless the side have declare previously or been bowled out.
  • Whichever team scores the most runs in the first innings will be deemed the winner (winning on 1st innings) unless the lower scoring side can secure an outright win over the 2 days.

It's a format that works in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa yet foreign to many in the UK and in the sub-continent.

What does this format give you that others don't?

  • The ability to bat long and to bowl more spells in a given day.
  • Spinners are bought into play in a different way. The game becomes more about taking wickets than solely containing the run rate.
  • Captains learn how to manage spin bowlers more effectively.
  • Changing pitch conditions (especially if the match takes place over 2 weekends)
  • Captaincy development, particularly in field placings, reading the ebbs and flows of the game and creating wicket taking opportunity.
  • The opportunity to be losing the game on 1st innings to then choose to take some strategic risks in order to force a momentum shift that reverses the initial result.
  • To create pressure on batters by having catchers around the bat. This in turn presents a different challenge for the batter and skills are developed at an accelerated rate.

There are many other benefits which then can also start to change the way that we may look at the way that we play the shorter formats too.

If we play 10 T20 matches and 18 50 over matches in a season, why couldn't we adjust that schedule slightly to incorporate a two-day game?

If we are truly passionate about the pinnacle of cricket, then we need to take measures to educate the young players that it is a great format and expose them to its virtues at an appropriate age.

That way, the future adult players and spectators will gain a keener insight into longer format cricket. The National Governing Bodies will take heed and Test cricket will continue to survive and thrive way beyond our time on the planet.

Develop players whilst preserving the "Ultimate Test". I lay down my challenge to all youth team coaches. Sacrifice 2 shorter format games per year for one 2 day game.

I assure your that the results will astound you.

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 34: The High Risk Edition

Mark Garaway is a busy man. So busy, they only way we could get him on this week's show was to call him up while driving between appointments. With his phone on 9% battery and shooting along at precisely 70mph, will we make it to the end of the show with him?

David Hinchliffe and Sam Lavery shore things up in the studio as we talk about the use and misuse of stats in cricket, bowling googlies and how to find your perfect setup.


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 277.

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Old Fashioned Batting Tips for Modern Run Makers

Are you confused by the explosion of batting methods in recent times? You should be.

Batsmen are expected to contribute more runs in less time from 1-11 these days. You can thank Twenty20. As a result there are more outrageous shots played with more confidence than ever before. I saw a club game not long ago where the number 9 played a scoop shot several times! Yes, these days it's all about finding your own method.

But don't panic.

How to Find Out What Works for You

You want to become a better cricket player, and there is no shortage of advice. The problem is, how do you work out what tips, tactics and techniques work best for you?


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: 323
Date: 2014-09-05