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Most of the time substance is better than style in cricket. Yet, how you look is a vital part of being a cricketer. Don't believe me? Take a look at the first article below for the proof (and tips on how to deal with it).

Plus, there are batting drills for playing spin, loopholes to becoming a cricketer and setup guides for PitchVision. It's another awesome newsletter!

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Look the Part: How Your Image Makes You a Better Cricketer

Here's an inconvenient truth: Your image is important to your cricket.

Naturally, results always come first. It doesn't matter what you look like if you are scoring hundreds then bowling out the opposition top six before catching the rest at slip. But if want a chance, you absolutely have to "look and act the part".

What does looking the part mean?

It's many things. For example, think about the player who turns up early to training looking smart and eager. She puts the team before herself, but when she works she works hard. She can play in a way that looks "right" to coach, captain and selector. Often that's an elegant bowling action or a silky cover drive.

The details will vary. The reality is clear; you must look the part.

Making a choice

At this point, a lot of people will say, "but, I am my own person. I do what I need to do to be successful. I don't need to pander to anyone. I have my principles."

I agree. Principle are good. So is individuality. If you are being successful while still sticking to your principles then you don't need any help.

What if you are not getting the chance you deserve though?

We know - in this situation - how important it is to manage your image. You have a conflict between looking right and doing right. When this occurs you have two options,

  1. Change your principles enough to change your image.
  2. Don't change and accept that you will get fewer chances.

Is this fair? No. Does it happen every single day? Yes.

So, you need to decide how you deal with it.

Stick to your principles

Let's take an example of sticking to your principles. Imagine you are a spin bowler.

You know that to do well you need to bowl, a lot. That's all you want to do because you see how much it improves your skills. When anyone suggests fitness work, or even a bit of fielding, your heart sinks. You know it's pointless and won't do anything for you. It might even be bad for you.

You odon't like pre-game warm ups and anyway, you feel like you do better just arriving on time and having a moment to yourself before going onto the field. You see all that running about as pointless.

You never give anyone throwdowns in case you injure your shoulder. It's sore enough from all that bowling.

So, you stick to your principles. You politely decline these things and go back to bowling while the rest of the team work together on things you see as a waste of time.

You don't just make this one session, you continue to do it. And it works as you take wickets.

Then you hit a slump in form. You continue to train your way to get out of the hump but it goes on long enough for the selectors to start talking about your place in the team.

What do they say?

I've been a selector and captain many times. And I will tell you. They say things like "He's a good bowler but he is a liability in the field." they add that "he doesn't put much in for the team, he's always working on his bowling but even that is not working at the moment".

You get dropped.

Is this reasonable? I'd say it is.

If you double down on your work and start taking wickets again, the selectors will think about your place. It's still reasonable to assume they will be slower to give you another chance because they know you are not in the image they want. You'll have to be twice as good as someone with a better image to get the same chance because of the hunch that your "face doesn't fit".

If you continue on that path, you must accept these things. They are reasonable responses to your actions, even if it seems unfair from your perspective. You simply have to get on with is, knowing you will be treated differently and hoping your plan is effective.

Make a change

Your other option is to change things.

In the same scenario, imagine you bowl less and do more fitness work. You also throw yourself into improving your fielding. You're still not great but you are certainly not a liability.

You improve your technique in ways that the coach and captain approves. You also are supportive of your team-mates, happy to give throwdowns, clean up, help out and find ways to be useful (even when you don't want to).

Then you hit your slump.

Maybe it's even because you are bowling less. Or maybe it would have happened anyway. Either way, you are not performing.

This time, selectors are on your side. They say things like, "He is off form at the moment, but he'll be back, he's a key part of the team". "We just need a wicket suited to his game, until then we can carry him a bit, after all he carries so much for us."

But nevertheless, you stay off form and eventually get dropped anyway.

You know what happens next?

Everyone is looking for every excuse to get you back in the side. You only take two wickets but then you are brought back up anyway because they think it's a turner for the next game. Really, they just think you look like a cricketer.

All because you have made a change in your image to make yourself look the part.

The only choices

When it comes to what other people think and how other people treat you, you really only ever have two choices; accept it or change your actions.

You could complain about being treated unfairly, change teams or entrench your position further with strong arguments. In the end though, you either accept or change. The rest is a fruitless waste of energy.

It's not up to me to tell you which strategy is best for you. You may be a wonderful team player who can't perform, or a self-centered, technically ugly player who effortlessly does the job. Chances are you are somewhere between these extremes, but you always have to make that choice, like it or not.

So, make your choice and get back to working on your game.

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Batting Drill: Clearer Decision Making Against Spin

I ran a batting session the other day. We focused on how to use multiple shot options against spinners.

We had a net and a bucket of cricket balls. We also used cones for marking areas or fielders and a whiteboard for scoring progress. Tom was the batter. Garas was the coach!


The first emphasis was to "just play".

I threw some off spin deliveries to the players both of which were right handed.

I had an offside field that looked like this:

  • Slip
  • Point
  • Extra cover
  • Mid off (saving one)

My legside field was set like this:

  • Deep backward square
  • Midwicket
  • Man on the drive at straight midwicket
  • Deep midwicket (Deep cow)
  • Mid-on (saving one)

My aim as a bowler was to hit middle and off stump with a ball that spins a little. If it didn’t spin my slip fielder would be in the game.

After four overs, Tom had scored 26 runs for 4 wickets.

In that time Tom had attempted the following options:

  1. square sweep
  2. backfoot drive
  3. hit me over mid-on once
  4. driven me to cover 3 times
  5. hit the ball repeatedly into my highly defended mid-wicket area for dots
  6. Caught twice trying to hit me over mid-off
  7. Defended 8 balls in total. All off the front foot

I asked the question “do most batters have too many options against spin?”.

Tom disagreed with my statement. That is allowed!

Constraints in place

After this initial period, I asked if he minded me setting up a "constraints led practice" so we could compare his experience from his previous attempt with a second set of 24 balls.

Tom agreed so I set the same field and aimed to bowl in the same way. This time there were the following conditions to the practice.

  • You are not allowed to defend from the creaseline
  • You have to either:
    • Play a sweep option (Hard, slog with care, fine sweep)
    • Play off the back foot (with the intention of getting as deep in the crease as possible)
  • That I could not change the field placement at any stage

After 24 balls, Tom was:

  1. 31 for 0
  2. Had scored easy singles off the back foot through cover and behind square on the legside
  3. Had fine swept me for 2 fours (remember, I can’t move my field)
  4. Had hit me for 2 fours off the back foot to the left hand of extra cover from the top of off stump
  5. Swept 2 hard hit sweeps in front of square. We said that both shots we “2’s”
  6. 1 quick single (hit and go) to mid-on
  7. There were 7 dot balls. Mostly back foot drives which hit cover or the well-guarded mid-wicket area.
  8. He did not play a defensive shot in the entire 24 balls

Tom reported that he had "simplified" his game and yet, achieved significantly better results.

He concluded that he could score freely with very little risk by focussing on two basic options. These options covered deliveries landing back of a length to a very low full toss (attempted arm ball yorker).

The constraints within the drill had also motivated him to use his feet better. Especially when moving back.

Of course, I am not advocating that Tom should only play in this way against spin. We chatted about how certain bowlers, field settings, boundary length and pitch conditions may lend themselves a more expansive game.

Yet it is always worth considering which options are the foundation of your scoring game against spin and which are the “expansion packs” reserved for specific occasions.

Constraint focussed drills can work for batters against spin and pace, utilising whichever shot options you like. They also work for bowlers too.

Have a think about the ways that constraint led practice can facilitate accelerated learning in your cricketers.

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Cricket Show S6 Episode 46: Williamson vs. Taylor

Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe discuss the differences between Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, and how that can help you improve your batting.

There is also cricket chat on becoming an overnight success compared to slow, painful progress and ways to get more drift as a spinner.

Download and listen now.


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Can You Exploit this Loophole to Get a World-Class Cricket Education?

What do you if you are desperate to get into professional cricket but also need an education?

That's the dilemma of millions of young cricketers around the world, especially if you are from India, where the pressure from parents to get a trade as an engineer or business manager are as strong as the passion for the game. It's a regular question sent in here to PitchVision Academy; how do I choose?

What if you didn't have to choose at at all?

How to Set Up a New Venue in PitchVision

This is a quick guide to setting up PitchVision at a new venue. The first time you use PitchVision at a new place, you need to tell it where it is. This vital step is simple and easy.


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: 387
Date: 2015-11-27