Pitchvision Academy


This week we start with a great new video on how to make sure batsmen and bowlers get equal time at nets. Plus, Mark Garaway tells an amazing story of success. Can you use the example too?

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Have Batting Practice During Bowling Drills

Can you help batsmen during a bowling drill?

You can! Watch the video below to see how:

If you can't see the video, click here.

In this video we use PitchVision's unique and simple analysis tool to work with bowlers during a "live" session then help batsmen with technical issues. Not bad compared to a bowling machine huh?

Get more details on the PitchVision system in both permanent and portable versions here

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Chumps to Champs in 12 Months

2015 gave me the most amazing coaching experience of my career.

It was a huge privilege to work with a top group of blokes who taught me heaps about desire, commitment and team-work. All the more incredible given that the average age of the team was 14.

In December 2014 I inherited a team who had lost 70% of their games in the previous season. Feedback from that year centred on a lack of leadership, the selfishness of one or two key players and the general lack of cricketing ability.

12 months on and largely the same of players lifted the England Schools Cricket Association National T20 Cup.

So how did this group of players do it?


They weren't that bad in the first place

It was obvious in the first few sessions that there was some talent in the group; they just didn’t recognise or believe it. We needed to instil confidence by getting the players to recognise their little successes in practice and more importantly, in their behaviours around the environment.

For example, picking up the balls at the end of the session or offering to give a team mate some catching practice were things that we praised more than a fantastic cover drive. When those types of behaviours became the norm, we moved on to praising the next group of behaviours that we wanted to develop.

Raise the bar of expectation

I told them at the outset that I wanted a team of world class

  • Catchers
  • Non-Strikers (or “back-er-uppers” as I call them)
  • Run Stealers
  • Run Savers
  • Partnership builders
  • Divers in the field and between the wickets
  • Balcony watchers
  • Specialist fielders in specific positions
  • Blokes (to be a Top Team Mate)
  • Reviewers (using the “STOP, START, CONTINUE” process)

The coaches were initially relentless in their pursuit of these basic actions. But soon the players started to run these areas for us. They became very good at each one.

Increase internal competition

Communication with feeder team coaches was crucial. The U15A and B team players were aware of these conversations taking place. It meant that every run and wicket acted as valid currency towards selection.

We replicated this with the U14 coaching staff. We never promoted someone just to make the numbers up. They would bat and bowl in the same position as they did in the U14s or the U15B side. An example of this was that both the National Cup winning opening batters performed the same role in the U14A team.

One Captain, 11 Leaders

An easy thing to say: Very difficult to do.

Tom Bevan captained the side brilliantly throughout the year. Tom always leads from the front. Ned Dunning was a magnificent vice-captain.

Ned was also my “environment barometer”. Ned knew how people are feeling and would always have a quiet word if he thought that we needed to change tact or approach.

Toby Dennis emailed me in the holidays to say that he had organised a practice for the boys who had not played a lot since the end of term. He asked me to come along and coach at the session.

Sam Young, our deep cover fielder, takes a panoramic view of the game from his perch. When a fielder’s angle is off, when we have a poorly set field or if there are not enough people in the circle then Sam will make a change. Tom Bevan encourages Sam to do this.

Charlie Hannan greets his team mates with a strong handshake and a broad smile at every match, practice or review session. You can’t help but feel positive when Charlie is around. He sets the tone, he sets the environment.

Every player added leadership in their own way.

Master the basics

“If we do our normal things well then it’s going to take an exceptional individual performance to beat us” became their mantra.

There were some really good individuals against us along the way but the team knew that an opposition bowler could only deliver 24 balls and that the gun opposition batter would give a chance at some stage. They also knew that every man was good enough to capitalise on any opportunity that was given.

I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing teams who had players within them who have won National Trophies, World Cups and Ashes Series.

But the 2015 Millfield U15As are the best team have worked with to date.

By a country mile.

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How to Captain: Placing the Fielders

This is part three of a series on how to captain in the field. To go to part one click here. To go back to the introduction click here.

Along with bowling changes, field placing is the other obvious part of captaincy in the field.

The simple way to look at it is to put the fielders where you think the ball is most likely to go (not always just where it has gone).

How do you do that without resorting to the stock fields that everyone uses?

Before we get into that, a word about orthodox fields: They are orthodox because they have been proven to work over the test of time. Slips remain in place because batsmen through the ages continue to edge the ball wide of the wicketkeeper. Mid on and mid off exist because even the most extreme Twenty20 specialists play shots with a straight bat sometimes.

That said it's important not to mindlessly follow what you consider the norm. Just because every captain in your club starts the game with a couple of slips, a gulley and a saving one field it does not mean you should.

For the basic theory of field placing take a look at my article here.

Once you have that in your mind, let's go back to the basic aim of field placing: Putting your players where you think the ball will go.

Where is the ball likely to go?

This starts with the batter. Each player is different. Variations in grip, stance, backswing and technique lead to the ball going in different places. It even happens at international level where sides employ full time analysts to pour over every glitch in a player's technique.

It's unlikely you will have an analyst to turn to, but you can still work players out from the moment you first see them. Here are some examples of tactics that have worked for me:

  • Tempting an aggressive batsmen to hit a spinner over the top by keep mid on and mid off up.
  • Two gulley fielders, a square point and a square third man to a player who plays shots with an open face
  • A shorter mid off or midwicket for players who play too square for the leading edge
  • Short extra cover and midwicket instead of slips on slow pitches where edges are not carrying. This puts extra pressure on the batsman too, especially if the keeper is standing up.
  • A deeper gulley in Twenty20 cricket for the off side 'slash', almost saving one.
  • A very straight mid on and mid off, and a straight deep mid off for the straight driver.

I'm sure you can come up with a few you have seen yourself. Each individual tactic has one of two methods: To cut off a scoring shot or be there when a mistake is made.

These two aims often work in harmony.

A batsman who has had their favourite couple of shots shut off from them will have to play shots they are not as comfortable with and make a mistake. This combination will lead to wickets.

This is where sometimes defence can be a form of attack. The modern term in limited over cricket is 'putting the squeeze on'. Where a fielding side aim to block off every run with tight fielding in the ring and few gaps where players can pick up one's and two's. Climbing run rates almost always lead to errors

As captain your aim should be to work out how to do this quickly.

You may already know a batsman's technique and can change the field right away, or they may be new to you and you might spend a few overs chasing the ball a little bit until you work them out.

If you are trying to take wickets, it's better to attack a little too much with your field than play too safe. This is not just for the sake of taking wickets, if you trust your bowlers by setting more attacking fields you are building their confidence.

For example, one commonly underused position is short leg. It's rare to see one and when you do they come out quickly (certainly in England). A good short leg can do more than take catches though. It puts the batsman under pressure and creates doubt, which can also lead to mistakes.

Beware of fielders who we call 'Wycombes': players who wander away from where you put them (in homage to the Wycombe Wanderers football club). Young players and those who daydream are notorious for this, so always do a quick check of every player before every ball.

Also beware of bowlers hang ups. For example, some will not feel right without a mid off, even if you want another slip (or third man). They may end up subconsciously bowling shorter to prevent the drive, which would defeat the object anyway. Bear these things in mind if a bowler expresses a concern about a field placing.

That said it's important not to set a field to bad bowling. Don't put a man out at deep square leg just because your star seam bowler has a series of rank long hops. Change the bowling instead.

Understanding angles

After understanding where the batsman wants to hit the ball, you also need to know about the angles the bowler uses and how that effects where the ball might end up.

Your field placing should reflect where the ball is more likely to go based on the angles in play:

  • Right arm in swing and off spin move the ball into the body of the right hander so the ball can be hit on the leg side more easily (and vice versa for left arm to left hand).
  • Out swing, leg breaks and left arm spin all move away from the right hander. This means the ball is more likely to be hit on the off side (and vice versa for off spin to left handers).
  • With a right arm bowler over the wicket slanting the ball across a left handed batsman, the hit will be more likely to go square off the face of the bat.
  • With left arm bowlers over the wicket to right hand batsman, the hit will also be likely to go square. Good left arm seam bowlers (and left arm spinners with good arm balls) can also swing the ball back into the right hander to make the hit go straighter.
  • Leg spinners variations need to be taken into account. Good leg spinners may have a googly (that turns in to the right hander) or several other variations. Each one changes the angle the ball might be hit.
  • Line is also a factor. A left armer bowling a defensive leg stump line will be very difficult to hit on the off side. A bowler aiming at a second or third off stump will not get much hit square or behind square on the leg side.

The basic rule is that the shot usually follows the angle of the ball and your field should reflect that.

In all honesty, an orthodox field will mostly do the job you need. However if you understand why you are putting a player somewhere you are bound to be more confident if you move that player. Your plan may not come off but at least you did it because of a plan and not because you didn't know what else to do.

This is the true art of placing your field, knowing in your own mind why you are doing things.


Want to be a better captain? Learn from the best with the interactive online course Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley.


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Wrist Spin Variations

This is a guest article from Harry Shapiro

Because of the nature of the delivery there are several variations that the wrist spinner can use by changing the position of his wrist.

Cricket Show S6 Episode 36: Arm Speed for Spinners

Mark Garaway and David Hinchliffe talk about playing and coaching cricket from beginners to world-class levels, with everything between.

In this special shorter show, there is a listener's question that gets a detailed discussion and analysis. This time there is discussion on the importance of arm speed on getting spin on the ball. A great one for all you spinners.

Listen in, subscribe and enjoy!


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: 377
Date: 2015-09-18