Pitchvision Academy


How much do you really need to spend on a cricket bat?

It might not be as much as you think. We examine in detail some of the more touchy-feely parts of buying a bat and come up with some ideas you won't have heard before.

Speaking of which, there is also drills using tunnels and curtains, and a detailed article on one of the most popular queries we get: How to handle trials like a cool, calm, and collected cricket hero. It's all in the newsletter this week.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How Much Do You Need to Spend on Your New Cricket Bat?

Revered, adored and - when you get out to a mistimed drive - hated. The cricket bat is the icon of of batting. It stands to reason you should spend a lot.

Except, what if cost is not tied to quality quite as closely as we all assume? And if that's true; how much do you really need to spend to get a "gun" bat?

We have all heard stories of the extremes. Your mate bought a second hand plank and it turned out to produce 1000 runs in a season. A friend of a friend bought a top-of-the-range branded beast that had a smaller middle than a supermodel on a crash diet. You don't want to spend extra if there is no need, but you also want to make sure you get enough. So, here are the things you need to consider when checking out your next blade:


Willow quality is no guarantee

You might be surprised to learn that the grading system is not a solid way of deciding bat quality.

A Premium Grade 1 English willow bat is the top-rated type (and the most expensive), but a Kashmir Grade 3 will be just as likely to ping out of the middle. The differences between grades (1-5) is more about appearance than how well the bat deals with a thick edge. The higher the grade, the straighter the grains and the lesser the blemishes on the face.

Usually the better the grade, the better the bat, but it's more of a general guideline than a hard and fast rule. You can get away with dropping a grade if you want to save money.

Design is about branding

Beyond the wood itself, there are plenty of different bat designs that vary the cost. While there are some cricketing reasons for good design, a bigger factor is the emotional impact of the brand.

What do I mean by "emotional impact"?

Think back to your favourite ever bat. You can probably tell me exactly what it was like from memory. There is a high chance you can tie it in to a great batsman or innings that you admired and wanted to emulate. If, say the adidas Sachin Tendulkar Master Blaster or the Fearnley 501 spring to mind then you have nothing but warm memories born from ideas that go far beyond function and into style.

Of course, there are functional reasons to buy a certain design of bat: The "forgiving" area where you just miss the middle can be high or low depending on profile is one example.

Really though it's about how you feel when you hold it. You look down at the thick edges and the curved face and you become Tendulkar, or Kohli, or Root, or whoever. You hold the Sword of Grayskull and all you need to do is raise it aloft to become He-Man

It's important to realise that this is not just marketing.

If you hold a bat that feels like it is designed for your batting style, you gain confidence. When you gain confidence, you get runs. Emotional impact is crucial to your choice.

Specs matter, but not to price

Technical specs of a bat are not related to price.

You can buy a 2lb 10 bat for a huge variation in price. So, when it comes to weight, all you need to consider is that it is not too heavy (a common mistake in younger players) and that it feels good when you pick it up and play some shots with it.

You can also buy cheap bats that last for years and expensive bats that last for 200 runs. You can argue that better bats are designed to give more performance but bring it at a cost of lasting much less time. That is certainly true. The question is, why would you do that if you are not sponsored? You would have to have a lot of money for bats.

What's the cost?

So, what does that mean to your wallet?

It means there is no single answer as to how much you spend apart from to say: Spend as much as you can afford to make sure that you get a bat that makes you feel like you will get runs.

A cheap, unbranded Kashmir blade is exactly as effective as a Gray-Nicholls Legend if you feel like you can score a bucketful of runs with it. That's because good batting is very little about the differences between blades and mostly about the big differences between your ears.

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Use the Imaginary Tunnel to Boost This Batting Style

Have you noticed that some batters set up differently?

Bent knees and a slightly wider base are notable in Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Smith and Gary Ballance. They move completely differently. Their movements don't relate to those coaching words and terms that I have often been exposed to in during my 22 year coaching career.

How do you coach players like this when they struggle with technical issues?


Like last week, you coach the intention and not the action. These pare perfect for bent knee/wider based players who are not moving very well to length or fuller deliveries, or struggling to transfer their weight back into the ball.

The front foot tunnel

The simple intention is this:

  • You are batting in a tunnel. Your feet are on the road in the tunnel and your stance is taken at the entrance of the tunnel. The bowler is at the opposite end of the tunnel at ball release.
  • Your batting helmet in your stance is 3 centimetres below the height of the tunnel.
  • The aim is to move from your stance to ball contact without your batting helmet hitting the roof of the tunnel.

The aim for these types of players is to move from a low position at stance to a low position at ball contact.

The imaginary tunnel gives them an intention and the result should see them push down and drive off of their back foot to initiate their movement forward.

This is how these guys move.

Play bounce ball

A second intention is playing "bounce ball": The aim is to make the ball hit the ground ahead of hitting the side of the net or before the ball reaches the bowler.

This asks the batter to find their contact point which guarantees that the ball is hit with control and falls into part one of Graham Gooch's famous mantra:

"Hit the ball along the ground; or out of the ground."

Most people will need to strike this ball under the line of the eyes or even later to meet the intention; yet some will be able to strike the ball slightly in front and still succeed.

I had one infamous day (11/12/2008) where I had the opportunity to play bounce ball with both Sachin Tendulkar and Kevin Pietersen. They both nailed the drill, yet Sachin hit the ball really late to get the ball into the ground and KP took the ball earlier to achieve the same result.

Fit the player

It's our job as coaches to work with the players preferences and strengths rather than moulding them into our own belief system. Intention based coaching provides a simple way of doing this.

And, from experience, it works.

Watch your batters and see how they stand. If they present like the guys that I mentioned at the top of the page and if they are struggling to move into length and full balls then try these two intentions.

Introduce the first one and then, when appropriate, the second.

Let me know how you go.

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 40: A Pile of Old Curtains

You want some creative drillology? Mark Garaway joins David Hinchliffe and Sam Lavery to talk about power hitting with some curtains. As if that wasn't enough we also get some basketballs in on the action.

It's all in the 30 minute show that also contains tips for bowlers on how to deal with twinkle toes batters, and a detailed discussion on bullying in cricket. We discover what it really is, how to handle it as a player and how to deal with it as a coach.

Download, listen and enjoy.


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:

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This is show number 283.

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How to Prepare for a Cricket Trial

Trials are unique: The feeling of nervousness on arrival, the pressure of your first delivery and - hopefully -the feeling of excitement as they crunch a pull shot from the “big lad”.

Here are a few tips. They may not revolutionise your stats at the end of the season, but will install a game plan, or a little structure to your trial. Possibly taking you from a player who just missed out, to the one that snuck in the back door.

3 Reasons Why Good Bowlers Want the Keeper to Stand Up

Ego has been the downfall of many a cricketer. Consider the good batsman who gets himself out against a part-time bowler. The bowler doesn’t have to do much because the batter loses concentration against someone with lesser skills.

It’s just the same for club seamers.

A decent league cricket keeper can easily stand up to the average medium pace bowler on the average club wicket. Yet time and time again ego gets in the way.


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: 329
Date: 2014-10-17