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We love technique here at PitchVision, but often things go beyond technique if you want to do well. So, in this newsletter we look at some of the "softer" yet crucial cricket skills. Mark Garaway talks about anxiety and confidence. There is an article on on dealing with selection bias and we show you how to have a "mental net" as well as a real-life one.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

What to Do When Your Cricket Talent Is Not Getting You Selected

One of the more common frustrations we hear at PitchVision is the talented player who is not given a chance to prove his ability.

Perhaps you feel you are the victim of this bias.

The men who make the decisions somehow have it in for you or - more often - favour someone else above you for reason that are not about cricket. You can't prove that corruption is happening, but you hear things said and see lesser players chosen above you and become convinced. The coach might tell you it's because the better man was chosen, but you know politics, money or even race lie at the heart of a choice.

It's enough to dishearten the honest, hard-working and talented player.

Don't give up yet, friend. There is hope.

You are not alone. There are inspiring stories of players in your exact position that have gone on to overcome bias and become a cricketer. We can learn from the example.


Is there really a problem?

We all know bias exists, even in people with a pure heart. Yet, often it's a misunderstanding rather than a conspiracy to keep you out of the Indian team. Your first job is to find out as much as you can by asking "why".

Identify who is in charge of picking the team you want to play for, then ask them - in a polite and assertive manner - what you need to do to be considered for selection. The answer will often give you everything you need.

Of course, I don't mean calling Duncan Fletcher if you are playing gully cricket with a tennis ball. You are much better off finding the local academy or club and asking the question. Respected coaches like Monty Desai are open to speaking to players and offering advice. Places are always limited but there is also always room for the best players, regardless of non-cricket factors.

The same applies if you are in a club already. Talk to the guys in charge at the next level. Most will be impressed with your perseverance and will explain things to you.

From there you may realise there is no problem. You can go about your business knowing that you will be chosen on merit alone.

However, there will be frustration. You will find people who can't or won't speak to you. Even if you do get a word with the right person, they will simply tell you the words you want to hear then carry on ignoring you. You may even be told outright that you will never be selected (it's rare but it happens). It's here you know you have a problem.

Tell your story

If you are faced with such frustrations you really only have one choice; tell a story that can't be ignored.

That story comes in runs and wickets.

No matter how biased a selector, he cannot ignore a player who has the numbers.

If you score three hundreds in a row you can be sure you are better than at least one batsman ahead of you. If you take 19 wickets in four one day games, the guy in the team better be darn good. It might take you longer to get recognised for your talents, but no one can be ignored forever if they are smashing it everywhere and knocking stumps over regularly.

The same applies for trials. You may only get six balls in the entire trial. That's not a fair assessment period, but it's all you are getting. So, you have to take the once chance you get; bat like Tendulkar and bowl like Steyn or Warne. If you stand out, you have a much better chance of being chosen. They always choose someone.

Of course, I'm not a fool, I know that often trials are exercises in making it look like local talent is being examined but the decision has already been made. All you can do is keep trying and keep asking for a chance to the right people.

Nevertheless, if you make the right impression you will be remembered.

Every selector wants the team to win, even if they are picking their son and the son of an influential politician over better players. If you are clearly the best player, they will find room for you in the end.

Growth, grit and more than one chance

To keep at this task is difficult. It takes players who can conjure up several chances. Players who keep going to trials, keep grinding out runs and wicket and keep showing their talent to everyone.

That takes two skills that go beyond technique and fitness;

  • A growth mindset
  • Grit

These are skills that most successful cricketers have, but are rarely discussed because they are mental skills. You can't see them, but they are powerful weapons in dealing with tough selection issues.

If you have a "growth mindset" you believe you can get better. You believe that with work you will improve and you believe that chances will keep coming as long as you keep getting better. Click here to find out more about the skill.

With "grit" you have the ability to keep fighting despite setbacks. You miss your chance at a trial or you get a golden duck in your first game of the season. Yet, you are able to keep going. You never give up and you never stop looking for chances to prove your ability. You are fitter and a better fielder with grit behind you. Grit is even the bedrock of good technique. Click here to find out about grit.

Combine growth with grit and add in talent. You are in the perfect position to defeat bias, score runs, take wickets and find many chances. Your future is in your hands, it's up to you to take control.

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Overcome Cricket Nerves with a Mental Net

One of the biggest problems faced by cricketers is the nerves before playing. But what if I told you worrying in the right way is perfect for getting you through a tough game?

We all worry, and that worry is usually fearing the worst. Everyone has had the moment where they wonder if they will get out first ball. It's usually around the time you are in next. It's uncomfortable and it makes you nervy at the crease, stopping you play your natural game.

So, switch the worry to focus on what you can do instead.

You can still worry, it's just you can make it productive instead of being filled with panic.


Imagine the worst

Before the game, take your worry to it's most logical conclusion. Ask yourself, what's the worst that could realistically happen?

  • You get a brilliant ball first up and get out.
  • You get tied down in a run chase and slow the rate to make it hard for your team mates.
  • You play a stupid shot and get out at a key moment.
  • You bowl a series of bad balls.
  • You drop their best batsman on nought.

I'm sure you can come up with plenty of things that you have done before or have seen others do. The point is, make that list as long as you want. Get every worry named and shamed.

Make a plan

With your list of problems in front of you, take a few minutes to work out how to solve them.

  • Tied down in a run chase: Rotate the strike and hit the gaps.
  • Play a stupid shot: Stay mentally focused on your scoring areas.
  • Bowl a bad ball: Find a way to get into rhythm more quickly.
  • Drop a catch: Take more catches in practice.

You might have different solutions to the problems, the details are less important than having a plan for those moments where things go as badly as you can possibly imagine.

Have a mental net

Here's the clever part. You don't need to practice "in real life" to calm your nerves.

That means you can do this mental netting at any time; while you wait to bat, at the top of your mark, or even between balls when you are standing waiting for the catch.

Picture the worst case, then picture your ideal response. Imagine you do drop that catch. What is your response? You know you are able to put the error behind you and focus on taking the next catch. You are able to stay positive despite the error, and know you can make up for it in another way.

Do this in as much detail as you can. Picture the feelings you feel when things go well, even in the worst case. Smell the grass, feel the sun on your face, imagine the tingle on the back of your spine and the slap of a high five from your team mates when you succeed.

The more real you can make your mental net feel, the more you realise how ready you are. By the time it actually happens, it will be second nature to feel confident you have covered every base.

Picture perfection

Once you have the worst case under control, you can start to imagine what happens when things go perfectly.

As you wait to bat, imagine your game plan in perfection. You know what you can do and how to go about doing it. You hit every gap and never give a chance. The opposition have no reply and you feel like you will never get out.

This is very different from more general affirmations. You are not blindly telling yourself you are a beautiful snowflake. You are making a plan and picturing how that feels to you when it's executed to perfection. It's you telling yourself that you are ready, and that you know you are ready.

Naturally, all this mental practice will only convince you if you have practised in real nets too. If you have never tried your plan at practice, you will never convince yourself just by thinking about it. That said, if you go through the process built on a foundation of proof and truth you can turn your fears about failing into robust plans for success.

And that can only get you better at your game.

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Cricket Show S6 Episode 30: Pressure and Preseason

Adding pressure to nets to make them better and more realistic is tricky but possible. On the how this week, David Hinchliffe is joined by Mark Garaway to discuss this issue.

Then Sam Lavery makes a late visit on the show to answer cricket coaching questions on off season training for batsmen and a discussion about the power of Ian Pont's theories from Ultimate Pace Secrets. Is it really as good as it claims to be?

The team have strong views that you have to hear if you want to bowl faster, or coach others to bowl faster. Listen to the show to get the lowdown, the banter and the cricket coaching tips!


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

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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 322.

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How to Coach Confidence and Reduce Anxiety

Nomaan sent in a great question to the Pitchvision Cricket Show last week. It revolved around his lack of confidence, increased anxiety levels and being unable to transfer his considerable practice skills into a match context.

Ultimately he had lost "that loving feeling" for the game.

Stop Making Excuses About "Style" to Start Making Runs

Whatever your style as a batsman, you can't use it as an excuse.

If you are a big hitter and you get out in a tight run chase trying to clear deep midwicket, you can't shrug and say "it's the way I play".

If you are a naturally cautious batsman there is no excuse for making the middle order have to take risks because you have wasted balls at the top of the order.

Some might say it's selfish batting.


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: 370
Date: 2015-07-31