Pitchvision Academy


With the Ashes in full flow, there has never been a more exciting time this year for cricket. So, in this newsletter we look at a broad range of skills. Muhammad Haroon talks us through bowling the googly, Mark Garaway helps the batsmen with cut down bats and Sam Lavery gives everyone an edge with "automatic responses".

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Bowl a Googly

Make the most of this awesome leg spin variation.

Watching a good leg spinner operate against an average batsman is like watching a lion play with its prey before going in for the kill. The helpless beast has no idea what’s going on and no way to combat it.

The googly is the lethal blow for the poor creature.

Spin is all about outsmarting the batsman and the googly puzzles batsman by turning the wrong way with the same action, leaving him walking back to the pavilion with a confused look and spread-eagled stumps.

Here is how to bowl that destructive googly.

Grip and wrist position

Hold the ball in the identical way as you would hold for a usual leg spin delivery:


Most leg spinners place index and middle finger on the seam while thumb place adjacently to them along the seam. The ring finger is often placed slightly wide of the seam and used for holding the ball.

From here you’ll see the difference between a googly and a standard leg break. As you bowl, the palm of your hand carrying the ball points up. The back of your hand faces towards batsman so they cannot point out the difference. If the googly is picked, it is less effective.

Twisting the wrist at around 180 degrees towards the ground will cause the ball to spin into the batsman. The ring finger plays an important part as it rotates the ball in an anti-clockwise position. This will cause the ball to turn like an off spinner after pitching.

All this takes a lot of trying, so don't expect to master it in a weekend.

Avoiding the ‘googly syndrome’

The control, precision and accuracy in bowling a googly come with time and practice. However, there is a risk associated with too much googly practice.

You can lose your leg break and end up only being able to bowl googlies.

This has been coined the googly syndrome and has been recognised by leg spinners and their coaches for many years.

The best way to avoid it is to be careful how much you practice. A typical club leggie might bowl 10 overs a week in the nets. Of that, you can avoid getting stuck only bowling a googly by keeping the practice down to 6-12 balls. On top of that, look to finish with 2-3 overs of pure leg breaks with no variations).

This limited practice time is why it is so hard to master the googly, especially for young spinners.

If you stick with your practice, keep firing the ball at a target without a batsman.

Also make sure you throw it in when a batsman is facing so you can see the response.

Before long you will be confident to use it in a crunch moment of a game. Your team-mates will consider you some kind of leg spin genius when you bowl the hapless batsman with a perfect bosie.

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Cut down Old Cricket Bats to Gain Match Day Precision

I spent the weekend heading up the Cricket Zone at SportFest15 in the grounds of the glorious Wormsley Estate. 1000's of children were coached by Sporting legends over the two day festival.

The Cricket zone had 6 areas including the PitchVision net manned by Andrew Strauss and Simon Jones.

Another section is called "bowl at Hoggy's Stump". In 2014, England legend, Matthew Hoggard batted for 2 days in a net armed only with a stump. The children loved it, so did Hoggy!

This year we upgraded the stump to a middling bat.


A middling bat is a thin bat, either made specifically or a cut down old bat (a great way of recycling what seems like a broken and useless bat). I love the concept of middling bats. They focus the batters vision, facilitate more precise movement to the contact zone and make the batter focus on his batting basics in a subconscious fashion.

There are many ways that a middling bat can be used within a training programme.

Tennis ball drills

Middling bats can be used with tennis ball drills when testing a newly learnt skill. To learn the new skills - say a sweep- start with your normal bat. Get to a point where the movements are learnt and the contacts are consistent and then move to the middling bat. This increases the need for precise contact and precise judgement of where the ball is in relation to bat face.

Often the contacts go awry and the batter then has to refocus and work hard to get a favourable result. Cross batted shots are more difficult to learn than straight batted ones yet are still worth learning in this way.

Netting against bowlers

Ian Bell had a middling bat specifically made for him to the same weight and similar balance to his match bat. He would play in the nets against the ground staff bowlers and occasional bowlers before taking his normal bat into action against the England Test stars.

Ian would claim that his movements and ability to watch the ball was enhanced as a result of using this regime on a regular basis.

The other thing that Ian swore by was having a bat that was the same weight and balance. This meant that if he wanted to hit the spinners back over their heads for 6 then he could make the distance.

Batting against spin on turning surfaces

The middling bat is great for working on defensive technique on spinning surfaces. Let's think about it. If we can bat for ages on a spinning deck without offering a chance with the middling bat the life will be easy with a normal width bat.

We do a drill where you have to defend on the Merlyn machine bowling into the rough outside off stump with the middling bat. You start with 10 points and lose points for dismissals (minus 2), play and miss (minus 1) and for being hit on the pad (minus 1). Whoever lasts the most deliveries is the winner.

Then you do it with a normal bat and see how your score rises. This is the classic overtraining methodology put into a middling bat drill context.

Hoggy in action

Now, Matthew Hoggard was not the best batter in the world yet has played a couple of match winning innings for his country. His batting over the weekend became more and more effective as he went on. His eye quickly became attuned to conditions, he started to strike the ball cleaner and in the end was being very innovative:

If International players can benefit from a middling bat, then why can't you?

The next time the inside edge goes on the match bat, take a saw to it and turn it into your batting practices 'best friend'.

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Cricket Show S6 Episode 31: Kenyan Starlet Momemtum

With a great email from a Kenyan international cricketer, the show is even more starlet packed than ever. David Hinchliffe is joined by the evergreen stars of Mark Garaway and Sam Lavery to discuss cricket playing and coaching.

Topics on the table include how to use "momentum" to make better cricketers, the role of the back leg and hip in leg spin bowling and how to do well when you don't have access to many resources. It's all about mentality!

So have the mindset to listen for half an hour and get better forever.


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 323.

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How to Become an Adaptable Batsman

Sam Lavery talks about the power, and problems with "automatic response" batting.

As the players I coach progress through the age groups on the road towards the professional game, I often find myself trying to help them train their "automated responses".

Better Seam Bowling

England Development Programme Coach, Iain Brunnschweiler, returns to give the seam bowlers a tip for hitting the seam more often.

Seam bowling is the most powerful weapon a fast bowler can use.


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: 371
Date: 2015-08-07