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It turns out that there is nothing more you guys love than an article on cricket technique. Quite right too, as technique is the keystone of good cricket. But it's hard to pin down exactly what good technique looks like because everyone is different.

So, in the newsletter we take a deep dive on some technical elements of cricket that go beyond the advice given to you by your coach when you were 12. We are far beyond that these days, but we need to keep it simple.

So, we look at 4 batting cliches. We discuss the way to learn your technique quickly and effectively, and we help you take a few more slip catches into the bargain.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

3 Batting Technique Myths You Can Stop Worrying About

Everyone's a cricket coach.

Or so it seems these days. Advice comes from every angle; coaches, family members, the internet and even passers-by calling out. That would be great if it all matched up, but most of the time it is in direct conflict with another piece of advice.

Then there are the myths and clichés on top. The advice that sounds good, and makes the advisor sound wise and clever. In fact, it's based in no more evidence than it was overheard on TV. So it must be true for everyone, right?

It's enough to make you go back to bed instead of picking up the bat and dealing with the swirl of advice in your head.

So, here is some clarity for you: Three simple bits of advice we have all heard (or perhaps even given) that don't make as much sense as they seem. Once you know that these things are not always true, you can get on with getting back to the simplicity of hitting the ball with a clear mind and a confident outlook.

 You are welcome.

1. "Watch the ball on the bat"

Studies have show that this is not how the eyes work when a ball is moving towards you.

Instead, we look at the bowler as he is releasing the ball and make a prediction and move our eyes to where the ball is going to be. The better the batsman, the faster this happens. You might argue that's all good in theory, but you can't advise a player to do that: It's a naturally occurring reaction we do subconsciously. So you have to advise the player to "watch the ball" and let nature do the rest.

That would be right, except some people don't watch the ball very hard. When they do, they tense up and lose their natural rhythm. For these people, watching the ball intensely is damaging advice. Lucky for you, it's easy to work out your visual preference.

2. "Get to the pitch of the ball"

Again on the surface, this seems solid advice. If you can get your front foot to the ball, it's a half volley and it's a four.

How people read this advice is to take a longer stride forward. After all, that's good footwork. For many people this works well as they naturally play better leading with the foot. For others, who are more inclined to lead with the head, a big stride is a poor position.

So, it's more important to get to the line of the ball than the length when you play forward. This works for botht those who lead with head and those who lead with feet. Then, if you naturally have a big stride you can let it happen. If you naturally have a smaller stride you will hit more "on the up" more often, but will be just as effective.

If you want to know which method is your way, take a look at your chin when you drive.

3. "Lift your bat high"

When I coach beginners, I often see the habit of barely lifting the bat up at all in the backswing. The 8 year old instead tries to get power by "poking" at the ball with the bat. The obvious advice is to tell the player to lift the bat up higher to get a swing going and get more power.

My theory is that this has translated into older and experienced players getting told that lifting the bat high will generate more power like, say, a golf swing. What it is really about is rhythm and timing.

Some people, including Kevin Pietersen, can generate a lot of power from a low backlift (about stump height). Others, notably Brian Lara, got timing from a big backswing. So it's more important to do what comes naturally.

Experiment with what feels better overall. If your backlift is low but you can "muscle" the ball then do it that way. If you prefer to caress the ball you might feel better with more firepower coming from a longer downswing.

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Improve Slip Catching with This Lesson from Old England

Ex-England coach Duncan Fletcher loves slip catching practice. He comes alive as he edges the ball to the slip cordon and encourages the players to strive for more consistency, more commitment and ultimately, more brilliance.

But it was not always the case. Fletch inherited a slip cordon in 2000 that was less than brilliant. He told me that many of the players were happy to let the ball bounce just infront of them instead of diving forward and attempting the catch.

He used to call poor commitment to this kind of ball "Old England" .


The birth of "New England"

When Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss joined the squad in the early 2000's, Fletcher implored his new slippers to dive forward and get these half chances.

The pair would regularly throw their heads into the catch, dive forward and come up with the ball in practices. Eventually we began to see this in Test matches. This was very much Fletcher's idea of "New England". That term would reverberate around the practice grounds of the world during slip practice for the next 5 years.

Why did this shift in approach and performance occur? Was Fletcher the catalyst for this change?

Yes. And no.

The vision of what he wanted to see was clear. He painted a picture for Strauss and Trescothick to aspire to. This is great leadership. Great coaching.

However, It was more down to natural preference and luck that both were slip catchers for their respective counties.

The science of slip catching

What we now know is that both Strauss and Trescothick prefer to lead with their head and shoulder when they move. They find it easy to fall and dive forward onto this type of catch. It's the way that their bodies and brains are wired. It allows this to happen seamlessly.

Contrast this to Mark Butcher and Andrew Flintoff. Both were excellent slip fielders who had a preference for bending their knees to get to the low ball with a preference for moving linearly (sideways) not forwards.

For these two, the same length of ball (that doesn't quite carry) ends up being taken on the half volley, rather than being caught, like Strauss and Trescothick.

Butch and Freddie used to have "Old England" shouted at them a lot! Do you recognise this you the teams you coach too?

If you do, how can we help the "bent knees brigade"?

As coaches we need to adapt our conventional view on how we stagger slip cordons.

We should use our understanding of a fielders preference to dive forward or not as a indicator of the depth that they should stand at slip. Throw away the conventional staggered approach and look at it through another lens.

The new rules of slip cordons

If you are naturally "wide based" with significant knee bend when fielding at slip and struggle to dive forward naturally; then come slightly (half a step) closer than the conventional depth.

If you are naturally "narrow based" and happy to dive forwards; stand in the conventional position.

This may impact on the aesthetic look of the slip stagger but will help turn your slip cordon from "Old England" to "New England" overnight.

Trust me, that will be a quicker transition than the one that we got all those years ago!

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Cricket Show S5 Episode 42: Negotiating Technique

Technique is ever popular, and so when Ed Smith wrote about batting technique this week the team of Mark Garaway, David Hinchliffe and Sam Lavery pounced on his words and discussed what it means to achieve technical perfection as an imperfect human.

The "tekkers" theme continues throughout the show too. Listener Daire has got back to us with some questions about his action and gave us some video footage. We discuss the 4 Tent Pegs principle. Thanks to the power of the show notes we have also got some stills to illustrate the points made in the show below.

Let us know what you think too.

Finally, we discover the best technique for reverse swing, and it's not what you might think! Download the show to find out what it is.

Action Analysis

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!

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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 284.

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How to start bowling leg spin

Being able to bowl leg spin well is rare quality; if you do that then you are valuable to any captain at any level.

But where do you start?

Good leg spinners seem to need so much; a canny tactical awareness, steely personality, and a phalanx of variations on top of a fizzing, dipping leg break that turns a foot on any wicket.

It’s not as bad as it seems.

Leg spin bowling may be an art, but it’s one that can be learned.

The OAT Method: How to End Frustrating Net Sessions

The boy was about 17 years old. He loved playing cricket but knew he wasn't a natural with the bat.

But he had some grit. He wanted to improve.

Even better, there were plenty of people around willing to help with technical advice. So he walked down the net declaring,

"If you see me do anything wrong, let me know."

He did a lot wrong.

Like I said, he was keener than he was a natural ball striker. As instructed, the bowlers all gave their advice to him.


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: 331
Date: 2014-10-31