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Viv Richards was one of the finest batsmen of his generation. This week we focus on two Englishmen trying to follow in his footsteps with the bat. Gary Palmer examines the technique of Kevin Pietersen and we look at how you can avoid the mistakes Samit Patel made recently.

We also have a video on how to develop power without having access to a gym, more umpiring questions and the latest Cricket Show for your aural enjoyment.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

The batting coach: Kevin Pietersen vs. Viv Richards

Gary Palmer, the PitchVision Academy batting coach, continues his series on the techniques of some of the England team.  He has some ideas for positive changes that will benefit Kevin Pietersen's performance. If you would like coaching from Gary, check out CCM Academy.

Kevin Pietersen is already a very successful International batsman. What technical changes would he need to become to step up a further level and gain the reputation that Sir Vivian Richards has?

The Great West Indian batsman had the perfect technique and was probably the most destructive batsman the world has ever seen. He was well balanced, well aligned and on completion of shot his finished positions were excellent. When he wanted to improvise there was nobody better at doing this than Sir Vivian Richards.

He attached his individual flare on to a sound basic technique. Even when he hit a straight ball through mid –wicket; he did it by swinging the bat in a straight line towards the ball with a high leading elbow. All he did was to close the face on impact with the ball which is a low risk shot.

Viv had the perfect defence and was the master of milking the bowling with minimum risk of getting out. Viv always looked comfortable and in total control when he was batting.

Viv batted at no 3 and played in an era abundant with world-class fast bowlers and had the ultimate technique to deal with them. The better the bowler the better the batting technique needs to become to combat the bowler. Viv had that technique and minimised the bowler’s options of getting him out or tying him down.

He made batting look easy because he was biomechanically sound.

How does this compare to Kevin Pietersen?
Richards vs. Pietersen

Kevin has a good eye. He is very good at improvising, has plenty of self-belief and he is not afraid to take on challenging run chase situations or take risks. These are similarities he has with Viv Richards.

Unlike Sir Viv, his Initial trigger move causes him to be closed off as illustrated here:

This causes his backswing to go back over leg stump and from that position it difficult to hit the ball towards mid off and straight extra cover without compromising a straight bat path to the ball and target area. From the initial position he gets in to after his trigger he is well aligned to hit through the covers but to hit through mid on he has to hit across the line of the ball giving the bowler a chance of getting him out.

His preferred scoring areas are generally squarer rather than straighter in the v. These are higher risk options because he is playing across the line with half a bat. When he does hit the ball through mid on he hits it from on or outside off-stump by it hitting across his front pad and the line of the ball, this makes him vulnerable of being LBW or bowled. As you can see here:

This also inhibits his scoring areas when he is trying to milk the bowling especially against spin bowling.

He is out of alignment and so the law of averages are not in his favour. All his options are high risk ones.

On flat pitches against lesser bowlers he will get away with it. Against world class bowling in more difficult conditions it is difficult and risky because the bat does not swing in a straight line from backswing to target area for long enough.

How Pietersen can improve his consistency

Kevin would be able to occupy the crease longer and work the ball around better if his bat swings in a straight line to the target area and he is perfectly aligned and balanced.

1.  Work on his trigger move

Kevin moves to early and is static before the ball is bowled. Instead he could go back and across which will automatically open him up slightly. This will give him access to hit in the v and delay planting his front foot until he has slighted the line of the ball. This movement will give him more rhythm and will get him back up in to the shot well balanced and aligned rather than tipping across to the off side. The movement looks like this:

2. Correct his alignment

The alignment of his feet and shoulders need to be in line so the bat can swing in a straight line to the ball with the full face for the maximum amount of time thus lengthening his hitting zone. This would also put him in a great position to improvise from. You can see a more open alignment with this on drive:

3. Open his stance     

If Kevin stood with his shoulders slightly more open his head would up the wicket and directly above his body. This will help him with the alignment of his feet and pick the bat up over off stump more consistently. These points will allow him to hit better on drives, straight and off drives because he would be swinging the bat in a straight line to the target area without hitting around his front pad. He will also find hitting on the up much easier when driving in the v:

4. Complete his shots

Finishing his drives with exaggerated high hand and leading elbow and fully completing the correct shapes will add to his consistency of shot by lengthening his hitting zone and also he could steer the ball into gaps with more precision.

Kevin is a talented batsman choosing to bat in a complicated fashion.

Just imagine how much better he could be if he adopted a more simple and easier way of going about it. Batting at 3 could challenge him and make him raise his game by fine-tuning his technique. This is something he could do that may bring him closer to being as good as Sir Vivian Richards.

Image credit: HMN_1977

If you want to learn everything there is to know about technique, check out Gary Palmer's interactive coaching courses. Gary is a coach with over 20 years experience teaching players to become first class cricketers. For the first time he has put his drills online, only at PitchVision Academy.


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Don't do a Samit: How to avoid getting dropped

You have to feel a bit for Samit Patel. He was dropped from the England squad because of "a failure to reach an acceptable level of fitness". International cricket has realised the game requires athletes who are cricketers, not just cricketers.

It's not just the international game though. The fitter you are the better you can perform at any level: lower injury risk, more speed, more power, and better fielding skills.

What has changed?

Up until a few years ago a bit of extra weight would not have been a problem. Its runs and wickets that count they said. Even now the club game is littered with chunky cricketers who churn out the results on Saturday afternoons week after week.

The growth of Twenty20 has begun to focus the mind on physical performance. When every ball becomes an event and every run can make the difference between a win and a loss your fitness takes on a lot more importance. A diving stop that saves a boundary requires fitness. A stolen quick single requires fitness.

Despite some notable exceptions, fitter players are now more likely to be selected than less fit ones. This even happens at club and grade cricket. In tight selection decisions more athletic players have the edge.

You can measure fitness

We can also learn another lesson from Samit's omission. Cricket is often a subjective game. It's hard to compare one player with another even when looking at averages. However, your fitness level is objective. You can only bench press as much as you can bench press. You can only run as fast as you can run.

Samit was tested and was found wanting in an objective measure. The more unfit you are, the more you risk losing an opportunity like Samit did to play at a higher level.

How to avoid Samit's mistakes

Cricket fitness is easy to achieve. Putting in some effort is not only good for your on field performance; it will help reduce your chances of getting dropped and increase your chances of moving up the standards.

As Samit has shown us, it's no longer enough to play cricket to get cricket fit. Here are some extra things you (and Samit) can do to get fitter, stronger, faster and healthier:

If you look for it you can find plenty of examples of successful overweight cricketers. If you perform on the pitch while being a bit chunky at your level you will probably get away with it. However, if you have ambitions to move up why would you take the risk?

Image credit: castle79

If you want a more guide to reducing injury risk and increasing cricket specific fitness, check out county strength coach Rob Ahmun's guide on PitchVision Academy.

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Here's a quick way to develop power and speed for cricket

I have had a few questions recently regarding easy ways to develop power in both the upper body and hips: key areas for all cricketers. So here is the circuit i am currently using. It also develops strength in the core.

The aim is to develop speed rather than get you sweating or have you moving a lot of weight so the focus is on a few quality, high speed reps rather than doing it over and over again. To progress throw the ball harder against the wall rather than increasing the number of sets or reps.

This circuit is done with a medicine ball, ideally the rebounding type. Perform it three times with one minute rest between circuits. The circuit is:

  • Med ball slams
  • Med ball side throws (10 each side)
  • Med ball chest pass
  • Squat jump
Safety notes
  • Always warm up before beginning exercise (and if you are in doubt about your ability to perform any exercise routine consult your doctor first).
  • If you are just starting out begin with a 1 or 2kg medicine ball and go up to 3kg maximum.
  • Start by performing the medicine ball moves from a kneeling position then progress to half kneeling (one knee up, one down) then standing.

You can buy a rebounding type med ball online from places like Newitts.



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Umpires Corner: Disputed run outs and is the wicket broken?

This edition of Umpires Corner in association with the International Institute of Cricket Umpiring and Scoring covers some more tricky questions of the Laws.

Many times on the pitch (and after the game) we have come to discuss whether a controversial situation should be allowed or not.

There are precious few players with a deep enough understanding of the laws for our arguments to be resolved, but many times it's the players who also act as umpires.

Cricket Show 22: Batting and bowling tips

Kevin and David take a look at batting and bowling this week as we answer your cricket coaching questions on the following topics:


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: 39
Date: 2009-03-27