Pitchvision Academy


In the newsletter this week, Mark Garaway looks ahead to England's winter tours and picks out some things you can do with your team. There is also a dragon slaying, six batting shortcuts and a simple way to help wicketkeepers.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Slay the Dragon: Seven Cricket Myths That Need to Die

I really hope a dragon slayer destroys these cricket myths soon.

They are dragons that stop perfectly decent players doing a good job. Instead of a focus on the powerful things we can do to improve our game, we cower, afraid of the excuse dragons. It's time to go out with swords of truth to hunt every one down.

If you have ever said - or thought - any of the following it's OK to admit it. We all have at some point. This is a place where we can start again and get to the slaying.

So let's slay these dragons:


1. "Conditions were not right today"

Conditions are never right. Good players are capable in any conditions for both practice and play.

If it rains and you are confined to indoor nets for weeks you are not training the same way as you are playing but you can still adapt. If the outfield at your home ground is poor you need to get better at fielding, not change teams; everyone plays on bad grounds sometimes.

Whatever your conditions, instead of thinking "this isn't right, I can't do it", think "this is not perfect, but how can I adapt to the situation?"

You know which one will give you better results in the long term.

2. "Great bowlers don't bowl bad balls"

This is a classic undercurrent of old players looking back on the good old days: Old Jim never bowled a half volley and the one time he did he was taken off and dropped.

We know that it's poppycock. If old Jim was that good why was he playing club cricket?

In modern times we have found out that great bowlers bowl a lot of bad balls. Even the best Test bowlers will give you something every 10 balls. You don't have to panic if you bowl a bad ball, a bad over or even a bad spell.

Instead, relax about accuracy and focus on your goal. If you are a bowler keep working hard on your wicket ball. If you are a batsman, remember you are rarely more than 5 balls from another one you can hit.

3. "We lost because our tactics were wrong"

It's very rare to see actually bad tactics. Even very inexperienced teams have a plan. It might be "pitch it up, hit the stumps, set a ring field". Perhaps it's "set a platform in the first 15, rotate the strike in the middle and hit out in the last 10". Those are good tactics.

Where all tactics go wrong are in the execution. If you don't do your job well, all tactics fail.

What that means is you need to review your tactics in the light of how well you put them into action, and not whether you won or lost.

4. "Cricketers don't need to be strong"

This myth so often comes from "touch" batsmen who are looking for reasons to bat more and not bother with the gym. However, it can also emerge as "I don't want to get bulky" from any player.

First, you won't get bulky. Not if you train for cricket-specific power rather than bodybuilding.

Second, everyone is better when they are stronger: Spinners, touch batsmen, power hitters, fast bowlers. Everyone. There is no evidence that timing is upset, but there is tons of evidence that you have more stamina, fewer injuries, better concentration, bigger hitting range with the bat and more speed or rip with the ball. It's a total no-brainer.

5. "You should never tinker with bowling technique"

"Tinkering" is a loaded word. Have you noticed it's only used when a technical change has a negative effect on a player?

In fact, to build skill, you need to experiment, adjust and experiment again. That is the exact definition of tinkering. Yes, this process is messy with lots of dead ends and mistakes. We like to think that we all have a natural action that just needs to be left alone. But if you never tried anything new, you would never improve.

Instead of fearing change, pick the right time to tinker, and tinker like crazy. Each mistake is one less towards getting it right for you.

6. "You need overs under your belt to bowl well"

Harbhajan Singh once took 4-32 in a cup final without doing a jot of practice. He had taken the previous four months off on holiday.

Are you sure you need overs under your belt?

Of course, Harbhajan is capable of picking up a cricket ball and putting it where he wants without thinking about it. It's all muscle memory and - like riding a bike - once it is ingrained you don't forget. Plus, he is all about self-confidence. He knows he is capable of doing his job even after a long break. He doesn't care about form.

If you are less sure of your action, or you feel a little low on confidence, you might need some more overs under your belt than others. BUt never think that just bowling extra overs will make you better. It won't on it's own. You need to practice with purpose.

Ad for you batsmen, the same applies: Balls faced in nets is an unreliable indicator of success in the middle.

7. "We did poorly because went quiet in the field"

How often, when things are going badly in the field, do you hear someone say "we are a bit flat" or "we have gone quiet"?

But wait.

You can't make a hollering when you are getting smashed about. You "go quiet". It doesn't mean that you have given up on winning. It means you are focusing on something more important than making pointless noise. You are trying to put your skills into action. Sometimes you need a bit of focus to do that.

A bowler might feel encouraged by hand clapping. She will feel even better if you take catches, throw yourself into dives and back up like crazys. In other words, it's far more important to be well drilled, calculating and efficient than it is to be loud.

The latter springs from the former.

So, yes; dragons are scary.

But armed with the truth, we can kill every one. We just need to work together to make it happen.

Spread the word!

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How Direct Competition Makes Selection Simple

England travel to the UAE in a few weeks to take on Pakistan in an environment that has been very good to Misbhar-ul-Haq's Test team. The conditions will force England to have to pick a 2nd spinner to support Moeen Ali. This is likely to be the multi-talented Adil Rashid.

Some would see the selection of Adil as direct competition to Moeen. Some will say that Ali has been England's only spin option for just over a year and a half and now he has a direct threat.

However, I don't see it like that at all. To me, this is both Moeen's and England's biggest opportunity to take the World of Test Cricket by storm.

To me he is a fantastic batter who can bowl well as opposed to a front line Test spinner who can counter-attack with the bat from number eight. Ultimately, England could be accused of wasting his talent batting so low when their top and middle order have not always been firing.

The inclusion of a second spinner provides England with an opportunity to leave one of the inconsistent batters out and to push Moeen up the order. Then slot the capable Rashid in at number eight.

The English press are speculating that Ali should open the batting with Captain Cook but I would resist that option as I don't see it being a long term option.

Alex Hales should be given a chance to open up with the bat with Ali at five. Ali is a developing player against spin and an excellent player of fast bowling when it isn't directed at his head. I know that he is working hard on this aspect of his game.

The UAE wickets will suit him as the bounce is not excessive. However, opening the batting in South Africa would expose him to a new ball and two fantastic bowlers - Steyn and Morkel - on bouncier wickets than in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

I know what you are going to say, why would he have to open in South Africa as England will only need one spinner over there?

Well let me show you my line up for the whole Test winter (injuries apart).

  1. Cook
  2. Hales
  3. Bell
  4. Root
  5. Ali
  6. Stokes
  7. Buttler
  8. Rashid
  9. Broad
  10. Anderson
  11. Finn or Wood

This means that England have four out and out seam bowlers. All of which have all excelled in the 2015 Ashes series. England can then have the leg spinner which they have been searching for over the past thirty years.

And most importantly, your second spinner or sixth bowling option has already got a Test match five wicket haul under his belt! How many teams can boast that amount of bowling depth.

Having 6 proper bowling options means that Cook can manage his seamers carefully and very specifically. Jimmy Anderson can extend his career as he will not have to bowl the donkey overs when the ball is dead: You now have 2 wicket taking spinners and an 140+ all rounder in Stokes to do that.

Moeen's batting prowess - and the presence of the more than capable Rashid batting at 8 - gives England batting depth.

Six attacking bowling options and an explosive keeper means that the balance of that XI can be taken to any Test match ground in the world. It would be capable of scoring 400+ in the 1st innings and offer more than enough threat to pick up 20 wickets.

Direct competition can work to both Moeens and England's gain!

Could a direct competitor to a valued player open up selection flexibility or player redeployment in your team?

Could you improve your teams balance and flexibility by unlocking the "real" potential of someone who is doing a role for the team like Moeen has in the past 15 months

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Cricket Show S6 Episode 34: A Lone Sheep

There is a special guest appearance on the show with Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe joined by an indifferent sheep. Somewhere along the line, the talk turns to cricket topics too.

The show starts with some follow up thoughts on a recent article debating the importance of data analysis in cricket coaching. Is it all taking us away from the joy of the game, or is there merit in the numbers?

Plus there are the usual listener's questions - with a prize on offer - about high knees in a fast bowler, and what happens when you bowl so many googlies you lose your leg break.

Listen in to enjoy and learn.


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 326.

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Six Shortcuts for Becoming an Excellent Batsman in Record Time

You’re impatient. You want success and you want it fast.

But batting is frustrating: You lack opportunities to practice and play in ways that help you improve. Even when you do get your chance you get a great ball first up and have to wait a week for another bat.

So here are six ways you can make to most of the chances you have and get ahead of the crowd to become a top-quality batsman in as short a time as possible.

1. Keep it Simple

Batting styles differ wildly, but one thing remains simple and true: Classy bastmen are world-class in the basics.

  • They have a setup that keeps their head still, eyes level and move to the ball in good alignment.
  • They are ready and focused on the ball as it is released.
  • They have confidence in their game-plan.

So the first thing you need to look at is your setup, backswing and initial movement. Most people think they have it licked.

Most people are wrong.

Spend time in the nets and be totally sure about it. Get someone to watch it or video yourself.

Where is you backlift going?

Are your eyes level?

Is your trigger move keeping you aligned?

To help, here is a worksheet to download and take to nets. Use deliberate practice and that sheet to start making a super quick difference.

A Simple Tip for Improving Leg Side Takes for Wicketkeepers

Inspired by Mark Garaway's standing up drills, I did some work with some wicketkeepers on standing up to seamers.

We duly set up a drill with a bowling machine to work on leg side takes.

The machine was previously set up for right arm over, pitching on off stump, so rather than adjust the machine we:


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: 375
Date: 2015-09-04