Pitchvision Academy


The focus this week is on that annoyingly accurate bowler who ties you up and stops you scoring. The solution might surprise you, even if you have lost early wickets.

Plus, there is a discussion on rescuing training sessions, improving fielding skills and fitness for fast bowlers.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Hit an Annoyingly Accurate Bowler off a Length

We have all been there; the nagging bowler who doesn't give you anything to hit, and just keeps plonking the ball on a length.

Time after time, while the runs dry up.

You fear being called too defensive, so you try hitting it and end up caught. Your game ruined.

What can you do?

It's simpler than you think, it just takes a little practice.

You see, you don't have to either block or day, or play some crazy shot. You just need to work on changing the ball yourself.

If the bowler is going to put the ball in the same place, you can do the leg work. Change position and turn a length ball into anything you like.

Your options are:

  1. Come down the wicket.
  2. Go deep in your crease.
  3. Step to the off side.
  4. Step to the leg side.

Each option changes a good length ball on off stump:

  1. A half volley to front foot drive.
  2. Back of a length to drive, cut or pull.
  3. "Leg stump" length ball to flick off the hip
  4. Wide length ball to drive on the up.

The real trick - as you have already worked out - is to play the ball as you would normally play it. The ball you have made into to a leg side length ball can be knocked off the hip for a single. Easy. You are not making a huge swing, you are still playing safe cricket shots, its just that you are scoring from them.

Even in dire batting situations, this is an effective tactic. Let's face it, if you are 50-5 and you stroll down the wicket to drive you can't do worse. You are far more likely to put him off his length so you can play from your orthodox position again.

It's bold. It's cheeky. It's safe. It's effective.

Level up the cheek

In fact, you can take thing up a level by combining two of the options.

If you need to score quicker than normal you can, for example, walk down the wicket and step to the off side at the same time. You make the length ball into a leg stump half volley, then you hit it over mid on for a boundary.

You might look something like this:


First, how cheeky is that? The bowler will be fuming.

Second, how safe is it? Let's think about it. You have made the ball into one of the easiest to hit. You have aimed to hit it into a gap roughly 25m deep and 40 wide (think how much space there is behind the fielders). I reckon you can do that more often than you can't. So, yes, it's super-safe.

Don't try without practice

Before you go and try it, there is one proviso.

Please practice it.

Spend a session, or two. Or five. Get to the nets and try each option. Do it every ball you face, even if some of the balls are not suitable (although a bowling machine is handy to get you started). Know you will likely get it wrong because you have not tried it before. Know that it's OK to make mistakes. That's what nets are for.

Then, when you feel confident you have one or two options nailed, go for it.

Keep practising it as well, but be more selective about what type of bowler you play it against at nets. The more you do it the better you will get and the freer you will be able to score without taking risks.

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Can This Story Help You Save a Ruined Training Session?

Picture the scene: We had a brilliant centre wicket practice the other day ahead of a Regional T20 finals day. I was keen to take full advantage of the time that we had available to us ahead of the big day.

That morning, I had a number of emails about various school events in what is always an incredibly busy last week of term. The upshot? Where we once had 15 players; we now had 10.

And it got worse. Both keepers were at school play rehearsal. The forecast said that rain was due at 1700; our practice was due to start at 1545. My best laid plans for a middle practice were in tatters.

What can we do to make this session as good as could be?


The first thing I did was contact 4 lads from the B team who have put in some serious work this year culminating in excellent summer term performances. The players jumped at the chance to come and practice with the A team. All 4 boys did brilliantly with the ball and in the field. I decided to keep wicket in the practice.

That;s the practical stuff but I was in desperate need of inspiration!

The first ball was edged to third man. As Kabir picked up the ball and started to unwind his throwing action back into me I took a quick glance at the bowlers end. The bowler was standing still after following through and off to the side of the pitch, the stumps were empty and no one had moved a muscle.

I caught the ball in one glove, transferred it to my throwing hand and hurled the ball past the bowlers end stumps for 4 overthrows.

We now had a session theme!

World-class out cricket principles

We stopped and chatted for a few minutes introducing or reconnecting with a few concepts:

  • What is my role in the field?
  • Who do you really want at the bowlers end trying to take a ½ volley out of a foot-mark to complete a run out of the opposition’s best batter?
  • Bowlers end “keepers” – Could we have 3 players in the team who make this part of their skill development?
  • Who gets to the bowlers stumps when the ball goes offside?
  • Who gets to the bowlers stumps when the ball goes legside?
  • What distance should you back up away from the stumps in different conditions?
  • How much distance should you put between “backer upper 1” and “backer upper 2”
  • When should we throw at the stumps? When should we hit an incoming “keeper” in the chest?
  • What depths should we be fielding and in what circumstances?
  • Is it only the captain who can change the field or make comment about your depth or angle?
  • Can the Deep cover and Deep Square leg be like a football “sweeper” using his eyes and communication skills to organise the “formation” that sits in front of them?
  • What is the role of Deep cover when the ball is hit to deep square leg?

During the session, we had many more pauses for discussion. After each conversation it appeared that the players understanding and expectations of their different roles had improved. We were throwing for runs outs (direct and into the chest of the “keepers”) on every ball. This led to 3 direct hit run outs and 2 “assists” in the session.

People were backing up everywhere. The ball was fizzing around the field in between deliveries; players were laughing and joking, yet performing their skills to an incredible level.

A friend once told me “all chaos situations create opportunity”. Monday's middle practice definitely supported his view.

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Cricket Show S6 Episode 25: The Shorter the Better

Changing the attitudes, habits and culture of cricketers (or anyone in fact) is a challenge. Can it be done? Sam Lavery, David Hinchliffe and Mark Garaway discuss the topic and give a few tips in this complex and tricky area.

Then there are the questions. One covers how to teach a young learner how to bat, and the other is all about a bowler who needs too much time to get into rhythm. The team look to help both and give a prize to the best question.

Listen in for the details.


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 show notes.

Or, the show comes out every Friday and you can listen to it on your 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 317.

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Four Simple Ways to Take Fielding to the Next Level

A few years ago, only the best fielders would be diving, throwing down stumps and catching everything. Now anyone who can't do it is seen as a passenger.

So, that means your training needs to go up a level too.

It's not enough to do a few catches before nets anymore. You have to recreate and repeat match intensity skills. Here are four simple ways you can put into action right away.

Don't Listen to Andy Roberts

Andy Roberts was a great fast bowler, but his opinion on training bowlers is harmful. Don't listen to him.

In a Cricinfo interview, Roberts spoke about how important it is for fast bowlers to be fit. Wise words. After that it all went downhill fast,

"You need to do a lot of running, because that's what you do on a cricket field - running."

Actually, you don't.


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: 365
Date: 2015-06-26