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It doesn't matter how often you are told that fielding should be fun, sometimes it can be boring. The good news is there are 4 things you can do to minimise the dull bits and make fielding a genuine chance to become a hero with a catch or run out. Read our main article to find out how.

This week also sees John Hurley advising us on bowling actions in a video post, an article on reasons to be nice to the umpire and the latest Cricket Show for you to download and listen to.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Enjoy Fielding

Fielding, especially for young players, is the ugly sister of playing cricket.

You can stand there all day with nothing coming to you and then have the confidence to take the winning catch: Even when the ball seems to hang in the air for hours. It's the putting together of boredom with microscope like attention.

Who would enjoy that?

Yet many players do. They approach the day as an opportunity to test their self confidence, concentration, skill and anticipation. For them fielding is the opportunity to win the game with a great catch or run out.

It's easy to say fielding is underrated. To say we should all work on it more. It's simple for the captain to tell their team to switch on in the field and stay focused. Yet I have seen games where attention drifts, heads go down and catches are shelled.

No one can enjoy fielding in those circumstances.

So what is the secret to really enjoying it?

1. Work on your skills

All the pep talks and one liners in the world are no good unless you put in the work beforehand. If there is a secret to enjoying your fielding its: A genuine change in attitude brought about through becoming an excellent fielder.

Everyone can improve. Everyone can become more athletic, be able to dive and learn how to catch more than they drop. Every time you take a catch or make a stop in practice you are learning to do it in the middle.

As yourself: Do I dislike fielding because I want to hide in the field as my skills below par?

If the answer is yes, even a tiny bit, then it's time to make fielding the focus of your practices. The better you become the more you will enjoy showing off your skills.

2. Shift your focus

Another area that you may not enjoy is the waiting. You can get a lot of time between balls to field. It's easy to drift off, feeling like the game is far away and you are no longer involved.

This is where your ability to tune in and out of the game becomes vital.

Some people call it switching on and off between balls but it's better to look at it as a more subtle shift of focus. Nobody can give their full attention for an entire innings in the field, but you can shift your attention to ration it out.

You only need to be fully switched on for a second as the ball is delivered. In fact, if you are grazing down at third man during a long match you probably never need to give your full attention. Just enough to make sure you are ready when the ball comes to you. The rest of the time you can lower your focus. Some fielding positions allow you to turn off almost totally while others benefit from a little more attention even when the ball is dead.

For a detailed breakdown of what type of attention you need in different fielding positions, enrol on my mental training course on PitchVision Academy.

3. Talk to the captain

The attention trick works well, but if you find yourself still 'on your heels' in the field you may want to try and get yourself a new challenge by changing fielding positions. A few overs at gully or midwicket when you have been strolling from mid on to fine leg is bound to revitalise you and stave off the boredom.

The best way to do this is have a quiet word with the captain between overs. He or she will no doubt have a lot more on their mind than where you field, so will probably swap you straight away. That way they don't have to think about it too much.

You can also have a pact with an equally skilled team mate to swap positions if you are not getting the ball much. It's important to pick someone of roughly equal skill so you don't upset the captain's brilliantly set field. It's also best to clear this with the captain before the game. If you are trusted they will say yes.

4. Visualise success

If you have worked hard enough on your skills you will automatically be more confident when the chance comes for a run out or catch. You can boost this even further by combining your practice with imagined success.

It's been shown in sport psychology that the more you imagine performing your skills correctly, the more likely you are to do well on the field. You can find out more about why this works and what to do on my mental training for cricket course.

Enjoying fielding is a combination of having good skills (skills that anyone can develop) and a sound mental approach. It's all too easy to say fielding is important yet not work on it with any passion or energy. Don't be one of those people who hate fielding because it's 'boring'. It's not if you do it right.


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How to analyse your bowling action with some chalk


Every fast bowler knows that a 'mixed' action is a recipie for lower back injuries. If you don't have a video camera, how can you tell if your action is mixed?

In this video, filmed at Activate Cricket Centre in Sydney, we look at how a simple piece of chalk can be just as effective if you know how to use it. Learn how you can find out if your shoulders and hips are properly aligned in your action and reduce your chance of injury.

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The art of working the umpire

Do you remember the Marcus Trescothick sweet controversy?

The former England player revealed he helped the ball swing by eating sweets. The sugar on his saliva as he shined the ball seemed to make a difference. Sales of Murray Mints around English cricket grounds shot up overnight.

You see, former first class cricketers know all the tricks in the book for taking wickets. They usually stay as trade secrets but every now and again, like Trescothick did, an ex-player reveals his hand.

This is how I found out recently about the art of working an umpire.

I was listening to radio commentary of England against the West Indies. Former Somerset and England bowler Vic Marks was talking about the passionate appealing of Monty Panesar. Monty, he surmised, was not being a good professional and not working with the umpire.

I see the point Vic was making. I have never been a bowler, but I certainly have done my fair share of umpiring. I can exclusively reveal that umpires are human and no matter how much they try to be impartial they can be subtly influenced. In short, they are more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to someone they like.

At club and school level this can be exploited even more by the canny bowler. Many times umpires are appointed by the home side or even players/coaches with an understandable bias to their own team. Anything you can do to redress that balance has to be good for your bowling average.

Whether the umpire is neutral or temporary, how do you get him or her on your side and build up their confidence?

Be nice to umpires

When Panesar was appealing for everything he was showing both his passionate desperation for wickets and a total disregard for the standing umpire and the Laws of the game. If you were the umpire at his end wouldn't start to get slightly peeved at the enormous appeal followed but an incredulous stare every time the ball hit the pads (even if it pitched 6 inches outside leg stump)?

I know I would. Who wouldn't get worn down by it in the end? Who wouldn't start thinking 'you just appeal for everything, I can't be sure any more so it's going to have to be plumb for me to give it now'? You have just shot the umpires confidence in themselves and your appeals.

Compare that to being nice.

You still appeal of course, but when the umpire says 'not out' you show some respect. Nod at his or her in depth knowledge of the game. Asking respectfully: 'sliding down leg side was it umpire?' or something similar. The umpire feels great. They know that you know they can't be hoodwinked. They are too clever for that. So when you do go up for a big shout that could go either way they have the confidence to give it out. After all, the bowler knows almost as much as the umpire. It must have been close, right?

Tricks, not treats

What strikes me about this trick is that it's not really a trick at all. You are not trying to get a wicket you don't deserve, just asking the umpire to be fair. Sadly sometimes umpires are not fair because they lack confidence, are not good enough or are just plain biased. You can do something to redress the balance just by being a nice person.

It's only what your mum would tell you to do anyway.

Image credit: Prescott

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Forget jogging: Fast forward your cricket fitness with Tabata

There are two types of people in this world: Those who hate jogging and the crazy ones.

Let's face it, for most cricketers jogging is less fun as getting out for a golden duck, dropping a catch and getting your bowling smashed around the park all rolled into one. But most of us would also admit that being a little fitter would help too.

Cricket Show 20: How to stop getting out LBW

After a short delay due to technical issues, the world's only cricket coaching and tips online show is finally out for you to enjoy.

If you have a question or comment related to cricket technique, fitness, nutrition, tactics or psychology you can email the show here.

This week we cover:


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: 37
Date: 2009-03-13