Pitchvision Academy


This newsletter is unashamedly about fielding.

The reason is because Mark Garaway has a new course - First Class Fielding - to help coaches and players handle throwing and catching better. So, we talk you through the course itself, give you a free sample video and go into more detail on the podcast.

Plus, we also get time to talk you through opening the batting.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Be a Better Opening Batsman

How to Be a Better Opening Batsman at CricketAsk most people about opening the batting and they will tell you about batsmen who can block. Occasionally you get a big hitter. But, what really makes a good opening batsman?

Opening is about more than "seeing off the new ball" in your cricket match. It's a matter of good organisation, and a position that is specialised. The bowlers usually have the upper hand with a new ball and fresh legs. That means you, more than any other position, need to have your cricket wits about you.

There are certain traits a good opener has, or is able to develop.

  • An adaptable technique. Although you could have lots of shots, knowing your own game is most important. Playing straight is the cornerstone of your game. You could have the ability to switch gears from disciplined defence to attack depending on the conditions, match situation and bowling.
  • A good judge of the off stump. Knowing when to play and when to leave is a great skill for the opener, even in Twenty20 conditions.
  • Patience. There will be times when the bowlers make you play and miss. However, the bad ball will come. The ability to stay focused on the next ball will see you through the tough periods all openers experience.

This is often what coaches mean when they talk about seeing off the opening bowlers. Personally, I don't like the phrase. It puts openers into a defensive mindset. Opening the innings is more about having a sound defence and being ready to attack.

Once you have assessed that conditions have are in your favour you can start to think more aggressively. This may be a couple of hours in, or right from the first ball. However, you need to keep a tight defence as a good ball is never far away.

Naturally, these skills are useful anywhere you bat. So the biggest difference for me is the desire to do it.

You have the biggest opportunity as you are on the field from the first delivery. You have to be prepared to make a big score and that takes focus, patience and cricket bravery. Get out early and your side are off to a poor start. Make runs too slowly and the pressure is on. Do well, bulid an innings and pace yourself effectively and the team will come to rely on your solidity at the top. That's a different kind of pressure to batting between three and seven.

Opening practice

There is not much an opener can do differently from any other batsman to prepare. The principles of deliberate practice apply just as much with any position in the batting order.

That said, you will want to focus on two areas in particular:

  • Middle cricket practice. Practicing against fresh bowlers with a new ball in simulated match conditions will teach you how to adapt to the mental and tactical side of opening. When you have had a middle practice, sit down with your coach and opening partner (and possible the number three) and discuss how it went, what your tactics were and whether they worked or not.
  • Technical development. While you want as many shots as possible, you don't need them. Get the straight shots in order first. Learn to judge whether to play or leave. Have some more attacking options thirdly. This can't be done in standard nets as the bowling is not accurate enough so grab an empty net with your opening partner and give each other some accurate throwdowns or bowling machine drills instead.

I would also strongly recommend learning how to rotate the strike by taking cheeky singles and turning ones into twos. You can score very well without ever hitting booming boundaries.

An opener needs to be a positive player with the ability to leave attack behind for a while if you are up against a good opening bowling attack. Practice to learn this cricketing nous, and you will not go far wrong.

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EXCLUSIVE: First Class Fielding Course from Mark Garaway out Now, Buy Today on Pitchvision Academy

PitchVision Academy is delighted to announce that Mark Garaway's online coaching courses First Class Fielding is out now, exclusively on PitchVision Academy.

As you know, a few weeks ago we announced the ex-England Analyst and current Director of Coaching at Millfield School was revealing his methods in his first ever online coaching course. And since then it’s been a feast of fielding action on the site as a preview to the main event.

Now the wait is over, First Class Fielding available to purchase on PitchVision Academy. Get it now.

Click here to buy the online coaching course.


All the streaming videos on the courses are professionally produced and the content is split into chapters to make it totally relevant to your needs: High Catching, Infield Catching, Slip Catching,, Throwing Technique and Run Outs

The course is fully interactive and have been designed to teach you to teach others effectively. Guides to different types of players allow you to adapt to your specific situation so you can make the most of every training session. The road to better fielders starts here.

The members-only forums also allow you to chat and interact with others enrolled on the course. You are only in the inner-circle when you purchase a course.

Click here for more information and to be one of the first to purchase.

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Cricket Show S6 Episode 3: First Class Fielding

Mark Garaway talks with Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe about his new online coaching course, and the reasons behind why he flet it was important to bring out now.

The team also get stuck into discussing the role of the hips in spin bowling and the common mistake spinners make about thinking it's al about fingers and wrists. Plus there is a primer on drift and dip in spin bowling.


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 294.

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Combine Fielding Technique with Fun to Take Home Trophies

When I watch coaches take fielding sessions I see excellent activity, movement and enjoyment. Yet I would like to see this backed up by some coaching work.

It's great to see youngsters enjoying fielding drills. Fielding is a hugely important part of the game and we do it for the longest time within each game of cricket. Team drills all help towards facilitating better performance.

Make This Simple Change to Improve Slip Catching Drills

This video is a free sample of the online coaching course - First Class Fielding - from Mark Garaway

In this final preview video, Mark Garaway gets real about slip catching. In this video about slip catches from the seamers, Garas shows you how you could make a simple change that instantly improves realism.

Click the link to view Garas at work:


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: 343
Date: 2015-01-23