Pitchvision Academy
PitchVision Cricket Technology Improve Your Performance: Training Logs Get Fit For Cricket


This week is all about remembering the basics. We look at the basic press up for improved fitness, the basics of batting, the basics of building a great team and the basics of keeping an accurate record of how you play.

Forget the basics and you may end up all style and no substance (or success). Master the basics and you can add your own flair as much as players like Pietersen and Sehwag.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

How Alastair Cook should play spin

Gary Palmer, the PitchVision Academy batting coach, takes a look at the techniques of some of the England team.  He has some ideas for positive changes that will benefit that player’s performance. Today it's Alistair Cook. If you would like coaching from Gary, check out CCM Academy.

If you think about 'ABC': Alignment, Balance and Completion of shot it will help you understand my analysis. Improving these key areas will benefit the player and result in improved performances.

Alastair Cook's main technical error is that he puts his foot down the line of the delivery before it turns.

By the time the ball has bounced and turned in he is 'closed off' and his only game plan option is to play around his front pad to hit the ball square on the leg side or to sweep, this minimises his scoring options on the leg side.

As the ball turns he ends up playing around the front pad presenting half a bat at the ball. The only area he can score is square of the wicket on the leg side. This is a high risk shot because he is using half a bat while hitting across the line.

You can get away with this on flat wickets against average bowlers but against world class bowlers or on wickets that are doing a bit it's an inconsistent method that results in under performance.

This is illustrated below:

Alastair needs to be strong straight and through mid on where the full face of the bat is presented to the ball. Scoring down the ground along the ground or in the air is the best scoring option because you minimise the risks of getting out. His current technique is preventing this.

To play straighter well, especially against spin bowling, it is essential that Alastair adopts the correct foot and body position to allow the most efficient bat path to the ball. From back swing to completion of shot the bat needs to swing in as straight a line as possible towards the target area. To be able to do this he needs to manoeuvre his body in to such a position that this is possible to achieve.

Aligning the body to the target area is the key.

Aligning to the target against spin

The key to aligning correctly is to play for the spin: Putting your foot to the side of the line. This position is in line with your head. 

  • Turning in. Alastair's foot and leg should open out towards the leg side so the ball turns on to the line where the bat can swing in a straight line towards the ball; At this point he is playing with the spin.
  • Turning away, pitching on middle, leg or outside leg line. Here Alastair needs to step inside the line of where the ball pitches. This means that by the time it gets to him it is under his eyes and in line with the body.
  • Turning away, pitching on or around off stump line. Alastair should look to plant the front foot slightly to the leg side of the ball, in line with the inside of the front foot but forward of the body. The inside of his big toe should be touching the ground and his back heel should be off the ground.

The diagram below illustrates the foot position and alignment for the ball turning in:

It is of vital importance that he makes contact with the ball forwards of the front pad, letting the ball come to him prior to contact.

If Alastair put his foot straighter up the wicket and allows for the ball to turn in to his hitting zone, he will be more open and he now has the option to hit the ball down the ground with a full blade of the bat which is less of a risk.

Also, the slog sweep will now be easier to play: He just needs to plant his foot even wider on the leg side. The slog sweep gives him a wide scoring area to score in on the leg side when improvising. Putting his leg down the line of the ball makes it difficult to play the slog sweep effectively.

Using this method he still has the option for the conventional sweep as a backup. He just needs to put his leg down the line of the ball before it turns for that option.

Scoring through the leg side

If Alastair was to open up slightly in his stance and adopt a target area between straight mid on and mid wicket he will find it much easier to play the ball turning in to him when the ball pitches on or just outside off stump.

To be able to hit this scoring area he will need to make sure his back heel is off the ground so he can get his head as far forward as possible thus lengthening his hitting zone when driving.

It's important that he pushes his head to the ball prior to contact rather than his shoulder. His front foot needs to point up the wicket more and most importantly his back foot needs to turn in slightly so his hips are well aligned to where he is going to hit the ball.

round the wicket
over the wicket

All this means there is less chance of him being blocked off. Making these minor changes would widen his scoring areas and make his less vulnerable of getting out and score more runs consistently.

  • Areas to improve. Getting closed off to straight deliveries on the  front foot
  • How to improve. Open stance slightly, get his head at the ball more than shoulder, allow the back foot to turn in when playing through mid on and straight.

Alastair Cook is a very talented cricketer. I feel he could be even better if he was to think about these technical changes. They will help him to play against the ball turning or swinging in to him.

Image credits: RaeA, PitchVision Academy


If you want to learn everything there is to know about technique, check out Gary Palmer's interactive coaching courses. Gary is a coach with over 20 years experience teaching players to become first class cricketers. For the first time he has put his drills online, only at PitchVision Academy.


Discuss this article with other subscribers

Humble or humbling: The press up for cricket fitness

The press up divides cricketers of all ages and levels.

On one side it's the simple to do, no equipment required exercise of the super fit (or those aspiring to get fitter at least). On the other side it's a painful punishment that brings back memories of nasty PE teachers from school.

Whether you love it or loathe it there is no doubting how useful and versatile the push up is when done correctly. If your goal is strength, power, fat loss or injury prevention there is a press up for you. That's why it drives me mad when I see coaches dishing out press ups for dropping a catch. Exercise is about enjoyment, not punishment.

What makes the press up so good for cricket?

The big advantage in press ups for me is the improvement they provide in shoulder stability. Stable shoulders are resistant to injury. If you bowl or throw the push up is for you.

This is where the press up beats the bench press hands down. The press up forces the stabilising muscles around your shoulder (rotator cuff and serratus anterior) to work where the bench press can't. The bench is great for upper body pushing strength but can't hold a candle to the push up for shoulder stability and, by extension, injury prevention.

On top of this, the press up forces you to stabilise your core as you perform the exercises. We have all heard about how important a strong core is and doing press ups is an excellent weapon in your core training arsenal.

How many press ups should I do?

As we often tell you on miCricketCoach, the answer depends. In this case on 2 factors:

  • Strength. The stronger you are the more press ups you need to do to get a training effect. As you know, we need to overload our muscles to improve performance. If you are a beginner and can't do one press up you can 'deload' by doing them on your knees. If you can do more than 20 with strict form you can load up by raising your feet on a bench, wearing a weight vest or putting a resistance band around your shoulders.
  • Goal. The press up is very versatile and you can adjust it to your goal. If you want to use it for weight loss or shoulder health the more press ups you can do the better. If you are looking more to strength you want to keep the number in the 1-10 repetition range. This may mean making the exercise harder by adding weight. You can also make it a power development exercise by adding a clap.

It's a common mistake to think that the more press ups you can do the better in all cases. This usually leads to repetitions done with bad technique. It's far better to do 10 strict push ups than 100 bad ones.


The press up is a powerful exercise for cricketers. Don't forget to balance out any pushing exercises like this one with pulling exercises like chin ups or inverted rows to balance your strength and power too.

Do you like to do press ups? If so, how do you use them?



If you want a more comprehensive guide to reducing injury risk and increasing cricket specific fitness, check out county strength coach Rob Ahmun's guide on PitchVision Academy.


Discuss this article with other subscribers

When you are out of form, get back to batting basics

Ben Baruch takes the reins again today. This time his article is about going back to the basics of batting: Something we can easily forget about in the world of trigger moves and Twenty20 hitting.

When a batsman is out of form their coach will often tell them to 'go back to basics'. What are these basics?


The grip is essential to play all the shots, and causes problems if not done correctly. The way to test if your grip is good is to put a piece of sting on the ground and take your stance with your toes along it. If you cannot swing the bat right along the string, you should change the grip to do so. Another point is to not hold the bat too low, so the top of the handle doesn’t get it the way of your forearm while driving.

Head Position

Your head should be positioned along the line of your feet, as opposed to leaning over. If your head it leaning over to the offside, you will start to hit around the ball and you are in danger of missing a straight ball. Your head may be slightly forward, over your front foot. This will help you getting your weight over the front foot while driving, stopping you from driving in the air.

Play in the V

This is also called playing straight. This is especially important when you are playing yourself in. Going by this motto is useful in more than one way. First of all, as you are playing with a straight bat, you are increasing your chance of hitting the ball. However, if you are always looking to play straight, you naturally see balls that are not straight. This means you can judge what to play and leave better.

Hit the Bad Ball

If you are blocking the good ball, then logically you must hit the bad ball to score any runs. When you have played yourself in, and you are just starting to accelerate, you should be punishing anything loose. This is not as complicated as it sounds. The loose balls are the ones too full or too short. If the ball is slightly short and straight, or going down the leg side, is should be a four ball and should be belted, preferably on the floor. If the ball is over pitched, on a half volley, just lean into it and use your natural weight to hit it for four, with your foot to the pitch of the ball. If runs are needed early on, anything bowled on your pads should be runs too. However, this does not mean throw the kitchen sink at it. To hit off your pads, your just need to lean into the ball, keep the bat straight (as opposed to hitting across the line), and a flick of the wrists will send the ball boundarywards.

Image credit: pj_in_oz

If you want to learn everything there is to know about technique, check out Gary Palmer's interactive coaching courses. Gary is a coach with over 20 years experience teaching players to become first class cricketers. For the first time he has put his drills online, only at PitchVision Academy.


Discuss this article with other subscribers

Don't rely on memory to review your cricket performance

Your memory is a brilliant but flawed system. If you are using it to improve your game you may be working on the wrong things.

The problem lies in our ability to recall cricket performance. We think we remember things as they happened, but this is rarely the case. Nobody has the memory capacity to remember every ball of every game and practice. You may lose something important, especially around emotionally charged moments: a stunning victory or controversial umpiring decision.

Umpires Corner: Coming out of retirement and unsafe conditions

This edition of Umpires Corner in association with the International Institute of Cricket Umpiring and Scoring covers some more tricky questions of the Laws.



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.


Take a tour
Want Coaching?

Send to a Friend

Do you have a friend or team mate who would be interested in this newsletter? Just hit "forward" in your email program and send it on.

If you received this email from a friend and would like to get subsequent issues, you can subscribe here.


PitchVision Academy

irresistable force vs. immovable object

Thank you for subscribing to PitchVision Academy.
Read more at www.pitchvision.com


To unsubscribe eMail us with the subject "UNSUBSCRIBE (your email)"
Issue: 36
Date: 2009-03-06