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This week we cover cricket coaching from ancient to modern. The MCC Coaching book gets a redux while we look forward to the IPL and World Twenty20.

John Hurley is back with another video, this time on a foot work batting drill. We also look at how to improve your chances against opposition who look stronger than you. Don't forget you can get involved with your own T20 tips this week. Check out the article at the bottom of the newsletter.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

Warning: The MCC coaching book is not as outdated as you think

In recent years a new criticism of a player has entered the vocabulary of cricket: That of 'slavishly following the coaching manual'.

You may even know someone of the type.

They have a perfect off drive that goes straight to mid off every time: A great shot for none. They are typified by slow scoring and a lack of power in their shots. They may even be described as a player from another age.

The assumption is players are limited by their techniques. By honing their shots to mirror the classic 1952 coaching manual pictures they end up looking pretty and not being able to get the ball off the square. They can't hit the ball into the gaps and are easily tied down by accurate bowling.

Is this true?
Whither the coaching manual?

These days it's all about scoring areas, not shots. The top players are able to work the same ball into different parts of the field depending on the game situation and the field that is set. That's modern batting.

There is no mention of individual style, trigger moves or reverse swing in the book. It has become dusty as it sits on the shelf unread and unloved.

But have we gone too far?

I have started to think recently that this perception of technique has strayed too far away from the reality. I think there is more to the coaching book than history.

Returning to the textbook

Since the MCC coaching book was first written there has been a lot of research into biomechanically ideal techniques. The latest computer modelling very often comes up with identical findings to the old school coaching techniques. Playing straight in the 1950s, it seems, is still as sensible in the 21st century.

It's a similar story with bowling. We may now have added front on actions but the basic 4 points of grip, smooth run up, rhythmical delivery and fluent follow through are still as vital today as they ever were.

These techniques were first written down because they worked. They are still being taught today by top coaches because they still work now and sport science has proven it.

Good players always build individual fair on top of proven technique, not instead of it. A firm grasp of technique in any discipline builds confidence in your game.

Adapting to modern cricket

That's not to say we can just copy the old book. Things have changed and we need to adapt.

For example, we mentioned playing straight before. You would assume that Twenty20 and death batting in limited over games would encourage the opposite: Switch hits, sweeps, reverse sweeps and slog sweeps.

In fact, most of the best Twenty20 batters are ones who can play with the straightest of bats. They are able to hit anywhere through an arc between cover and square leg in the ait or along the ground simply by playing drives and flicks off the legs with technical perfection.

Where does that leave the modern player?

It will depend on where you are technically at the moment. However, a good rule of thumb is this: Learn sound technique first then adapt later. If you try and develop the 'sexy' stuff first you risk missing out an important part of your game.

How close is your technique to technical perfection?


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2 Ways to beat a better team

Have you ever been on the losing side, thrashed by a wide margin?

You don't have to have played cricket for long to experience that moment: The slow realisation that your opponents are clearly better than you and there is nothing you can do to prevent inevitable defeat.

Or is there?

For a slow game, cricket can turn remarkably quickly from one side to another. Especially if you are in the field. The history of the sport is littered with remarkable performances snatching victory when only moments from defeat. Botham, Willis, Brearley and the 1981 Ashes anyone?

So how do you 'do a 1981'?

1. Ask yourself: 'How good are they'?

Some teams arrive with terrifying reputations. Many times a defeat can be put down not to the performance of the winning team but the fear of their opposition. They may be a strong side, but anyone can suffer a batting collapse. They may have a series of lightning fast bowlers at their disposal but anyone can bowl poorly while the batsmen have all the luck.

My point is; don't let an opposition side beat you by reputation alone. They may be better than you in theory but you can still have the attitude that if David can beat Goliath you can have a darn good go at this lot. They may crack under pressure like anyone else.

2. Plan your tactics

Speaking of pressure, it's important your tactics reflect the best way to put the pressure on. For example, against a strong batting line up it's best to put them in on winning the toss. You are more likely to bowl them out for a below par score than you are defending your own low target.

If they rely on a star player to win them games you can take advantage too. See off their best bowler and attack their second string bowling. Keep the star batter off strike by subtlety manipulating the field.

In most cases you will have an idea about the strength of the opposition. Study last year's score book and read the newspaper reports to help you get a idea of which tactics will work against a stronger opposition.

You may find all your positive attitude and detailed planning is still not enough. If they truely are the better side the odds are in their favour and they will probably still win.

However, you don't have to like it. Be gracious in defeat and start making plans for the next time you meet up. Perhaps you need to find better players or be even more devious with your tactics. Whatever the reason for your defeat, analyse it, learn from it and become a better team because of it.

Image credit: buddha's breakfast


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A batting drill to improve your footwork

Are you looking to improve your footwork and get your shoulder in the right position?

This drill, filmed at Activate Cricket Centre in Sydney, we see how you can work wonders with a friend, a batting tee, some cones and a couple of balls.

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Cricket Show 23: The perfect backlift

Spring is in the air for David while Kevin battens down the hatches for the close season. It's another week of questions as we discuss:

Ask the Readers: How do you play Twenty20

This year seems to be the year of Twenty20 cricket.

The IPL has been in the news headlines and the World Twenty20 in England is set to be the highlight of the ICC major tournaments program. For me, part of the reason the game has become so popular is that is started in England where cricketers play 20 over evening cricket. It was a format that was recognisable and short enough to be exciting.


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: 40
Date: 2009-04-03