Pitchvision Academy


We look at some classic technical pointers this week. There is a new look at the forward defence, a complete batting guide and tips on fast bowling technique.

It's all great stuff of course, but I think you will be especially pleased with the batting guide. It's 25,000 words plus videos and pictures to improve your technique, tactics and mental game and it's totally free to you dear newsletter reader. If you want to score more runs then get cracking on it right away. Let's face it you have plenty of free time coming up.

And as if that wasn't enough, Mark Garaway is taking fielding to a whole new level with First Class Fielding, his brand new coaching video and eBook exclusively available on PitchVision Academy in 2015. How can you fail with help like that?

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Play the Forward Defence to Improve Batting Strike Rate

We are all well drilled in playing the forward defence, playing it to prevent the bowler from taking a wicket. In fact, it's a lot more useful than that.

Playing defensively spans everything from "none shall pass" drop to the feet, through to a defensive push that is designed to score runs. It's a shot with nuance that requires skill and practice to get right. ANd if you do it will increase your strike rate!

So, it's time to give the forward defence the time and respect it deserves and learn to play with both soft and hard hards to make more of those balls you can't smash.

 When to play the forward defence

First, a quick recap on defensive play as it's crucial to your cricket success. It is the shot you are likely to play most in your batting career.

A forward defence is played to a full ball in a situation where you can't look to score a boundary. In longer cricket this tends to be a ball on a good length on the stumps. Perhaps you are a top order batsman looking to build a long innings. You might be a tail ender defending to save a match where runs are unimportant. Perhaps it's as simple as it's a good ball from a good bowler and defence is the only option.

However, playing defensively doesn't mean you are unable to score.

Intent to score

When you think about it, you realise there are very few situations where you are absolutely intent on survival with no regard to runs. You almost always have an intent to score, even when you are forced to play a defensive shot. So why are we taught to play as if saving a Test match when we defend?

It's far better to make an assessment of the situation and then look to find ways to score after you have selected a defensive shot.

Naturally, there are some occasions where intent to score is close to zero. You merely wish to survive. Perhaps the opening bowler is outclassing you with pace, swing and effective short bowling. You just have to get through it. Maybe you really do need to save a game by batting out the last 10 overs as number 11.

This is when you adjust your technique to play with softer hands; that is to say you play a defence like you were taught as a kid. You get into position lined up with the ball and let it hit the bat rather than pushing your hands towards the ball.

Some people prefer playing with bat and pad together, others have the bat out in front. Either is fine as long as you are playing softly.

Desmond Haynes demonstrates different cricket bat positions in the forward defence

Rotating the strike with defence

Most of the time however, you will also want to get some runs. The bowler is not in agreement so will try and force you to defend to get a precious dot. Even here, you can often score a run with good awareness.

Playing softly, there are options.

  • Against seamers when you are well set, you can use the pace of the ball to open or close the face and guide the ball into a gap, especially behind square on the off side (risky if there are slips but acceptable in a limited overs match)
  • Against spinners with no close catchers in front of you, you can drop the ball at your feet and scramble up the other end. You need a trustworthy non-striker who can go on the drop of a hat but with a good call you are in little danger as the keeper is blocked by your run and the bowler has to evade you, pick up turn and throw.

There is also a case here to move to "hard hands".

On true wickets especially, you can play a defensive push. That is to say you are still looking to defend but now you are following through slightly in a straight bat push. It's not a drive, but it's very effective when it hits the middle.

You can use this push defence in a couple of ways:

  • You can hit the ball towards a boundary runner (deep cover, deep mid on, and so on) so it goes much slower than a full drive. Instead of an easy single trotted through, it becomes a two with the pressure on the fielder to throw well or concede overthrows.
  • Against seamers you can hit a gap between in fielders for one or two with no danger.

The danger of this method is when you get a really good ball. The one that goes away will catch the edge and carry nicely to keeper or the slips, unlike a soft hands approach. That's why it's best employed when the ball is doing little and you are set a little.

Practice defensive methods

However, the key to this is to practice all the methods to find out what you can do.

Work on your soft and hard hands defensive play in nets and track how it goes. Do you nick off a lot when you "go at it"? Then perhaps you need to make an adjustment. Do you feel bogged down when you use soft hands and can;t rotate the strike? It's time to modify some middle practice to get your method down.

If you imagine you know all there is about playing the forward defence, there is a good chance you are missing out on some runs. So, give it a go. You know it won't be wasted practice because you play the shot so often!

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Catch it Soon: First Class Fielding with Mark Garaway

EXCLUSIVE: Mark Garaway Announces Guide to First-Class Fielding Skills

Learn Cutting-Edge Catching and Throwing Skills

PitchVision Academy are delighted to announce Director of Coach Education Mark Garaway's first online coaching course, available on January 22nd.

Click here for full details.

We are delighted to have Garas first video coaching guide because his coaching CV in unparalleled. After a career in county cricket he moved into coaching aged 26 at Hampshire Academy, moving though Hampshire up to England analyst, Ireland Cricket, ECB Coach Education and his current role at one of England's premier cricket schools: Millfield.

There is no doubt that Mark Garaway is one of the premier coaches working in the world today. And that means you can apply his experience and advice with your team too.


In this first course, Garas focuses on the latest research into fielding, and how he has successfully applied new throwing and catching methods to players from international to school levels. The theory is wrapped up in Mark's simple and clear explanations and the practice is show in the drills and live coaching that we see on the screen. It's a rare insight into the work of a coach who has hit and thrown lot of balls to a lot of players and learned a lot on the way.

But more than sheer "coalface" coaching, Mark Garaway has also worked with experts across many fields in his quest to develop players to their best. He draws in ideas from experts in movement, other sports, sport psychology and strength and conditioning. He has build a wide knowledge that he applies every day into cricket. He has filtered out the bad and has worked out the good, now he is passing it onto you so you don't need to take the same long journey.

The course is available on January 22nd, and to give you a taster we will be running free preview content right up until launch day. To get this content, to subscribe to the newsletter.

The course was filmed at Millfield School, with detailed streaming video demonstrations of techniques and drills alongside insights from Garas on the theory behind the practice. Unlike a traditional coaching manual or DVD, you can interact with others on the course, take on the advice and video tips and apply them immediately by using the included personalised worksheets that you can take to nets.

It's a coaches masterclass on working with players to get first-class fielders.

Remember the course is available from January 22nd. Until then, make sure you are subscribed to the PitchVision Academy newsletter for free, exclusive tips direct from Mark Garaway.

Find more details at Mark Garaway's exclusive page here on PitchVision Academy.

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The Complete Guide to Batting

If you want to learn how to bat, here is the place to start.

Batting is a difficult cricket skill made more difficult by the pressure of having one chance before your innings is over.

It's important to get it right because your mistakes are so punished. That's why you need to know how to bat technically, tactically and mentally if you want to be a good batsman.

Batsman come in all different varieties and develop their own techniques and methods to compile their own individual textbook based on flair, technique, tactics and ability under pressure. This complete guide outlines the skills needed to develop and progress all aspects of your batting.

Below are articles that you can implement before, during and after the game to improve your cricket.





Prepare, Practise, Analyse


Reading the Game


Shot Selection

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Thank You India: What English Cricketers Learned from the Indian Experience

I'm writing this week's article from a coach travelling from Jalandhar to Delhi. The green countryside is rushing past and there are lots of Millfield cricketers chatting about the wonderful experiences that they have picked up to date on our Indian cricket adventure.

We have played 8 games so far in our 2 squads. We have 4 wins, 1 tie and 3 losses to our name. That's a fantastic effort considering the completely alien conditions that all the players have encountered: Heat, dust, spinning pitches, lots of spinners, doosras, excellent players and lots of travel have provided the challenge to our 29 players. They are doing brilliantly.

The biggest learning outcomes for me have been:

Bowl Faster: Brace the Front Leg

One of the most common pieces of advice from top bowling coaches is to learn to "brace the front leg". But that's a technical term, and it's not obvious to everyone what it means, or how to do it. So, here are more details about how and why you brace the front leg to bowl fast.


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: 338
Date: 2014-12-19