Pitchvision Academy


This newsletter has been stuffed full of tips, tricks and ideas for cricket.

You can turn net form into middle form with a simple game, upgrade your tactics to beat a player's strength and change your bowling technique (even though it's harder than you think).

Have a great weekend.

David Hinchliffe

How to Turn Good Net Form into Runs: Comparing Batting in Nets with Games

One of the age-old battles in cricket is in the nets.

The bowler claims one thing (caught!), the batsman claims another (one bounce four!). No one ever knows for sure unless the bowler hits the stumps. It's all good banter, but it does bring up one question; how can you improve your game if you don't know what happened?

Let's look at the problem and come up with some answers.


Proof nets don't reflect game performances

First, let's prove standard net practice is different from games.

The way we did this was to use PitchVision to track a club cricket team through pre-season nets and into a summer season. In the winter, we tracked how batsmen thought they would do. In the summer, we tracked how they actually did. Here is what we found (click for full size):

In the off season, the club had weekly indoor net sessions. Seven batsmen were asked to bat as normal in the nets and played a game that allowed them to judge runs scored and wickets fallen. During the winter, batsmen faced, on average 734 balls each. Here are the individual stats for each player:

As you can see, every batsmen did well. The "average" player scored 490 runs at an average of 36.33 and strike rate of 69.28. As they play 50 over cricket, this is good for a top order batsman. The best average was 57.33. The best strike rate was 92.86.

Now to compare these assumed runs with actual figures (for the same batsmen, click for full size):

As you can see, in comparison the real life runs in 16 matches give worse results.

The average batsman now faces 278 balls, scoring 166 runs at an average of 17.29. The strike rate averages out at 64.53, which is much more accurate.

The best average from this group is 27.64 and the best strike rate is 91.95.

What does this tell us?

My analysis of this is that club batsmen are good at judging how quickly they score, but very poor at judging when they are out other than very obvious ways (caught and bowled, bowled and plumb LBW). So, nets are certainly different and need to be treated with caution.

Can nets still help your cricket?

Based on this conclusion we can work out the best ways to use nets, and the ways to avoid. That way, nets can still be very useful.

The main recommendation is to add as much real-life context to batting sessions as possible.

That means playing games rather than having a hit.

You could play the game linked above for judging runs, or one of many others we have talked out here on PitchVision. You can even make up your own to meet your needs.

Decide what you want to get from the session and go in with a clear intention.

Even this simple change of focus, will help you transfer your form in nets, to runs in the middle.

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How to Outthink a Batsman's Strength and Turn it to a Weakness

I watched a fascinating period of play in the 3rd England vs Pakistan Test Match from Headingley. James Vince was being forensically investigated by the excellent Panistani left arm seamers.


James Vince has a stellar cover drive, his signature shot, and this has catapulted him from county cricket into the Test team this summer. The Pakistanis had elected to bowl after winning the toss, had a new-ish ball and fed the ball into Vinces' strongest area.

Vince left 4 consecutive 5th stump 1/2 volleys before being teased into a drive and slicing an airbourne shot wide of gully. It could have easily gone straight to the waiting catcher. It was a great bit of cricket thinking using a tactic that is too rarely used in modern day cricket.

Bowling to a batters strength.

So can bowling to someone's strength work for you too?


If you consider subtle elements such as overhead, pitch and ball conditions, the batters form and ego, and ground size. Here are some historical examples of Batters Strengths becoming coming their weakness.

The leg side trap

David Gower was a majestic batter, so classy.

He had this flick off his pads and hip that was sublime. He scored thousands of runs for Leicestershire, Hampshire and England.

The Australians of 1990-91 turned the strength into Gower's nemesis by asking Merv Hughes to bowl outside of Gower's pads with the intention of inducing an edge down leg side to Ian Healy, the keeper, or to flip the ball to the waiting Dean Jones at deep square leg

'Big Merv' would bowl conventionally for a few balls then slip in the outside leg stump half-volley. Gower's eyes would light up and he was dismissed four times in the series with this mode of dismissal.

Smart planning.

Great execution.

The World's most powerful cut

Robin Smith's cut shot was feared all round the world. He absolutely smashed it! Robin went to number one Test batsman with a game built around his tremendous antidote to the late 1980's and early 90's West Indies pace battery.

Towards the middle of his career, Smith would look to go to his fabled cut shot more and more, especially in times of need.

Smart captains and bowlers picked up on this and instructed their bowlers to bowl dry at Robin, keeping his strike rate down before going wide on the crease and angling the ball back into his cut shot.

Effectively, bowlers would tie him down and then deliver a wide of the crease long hop.

Robin would see the ball short and wide and the jackpot signs started to go off. By the time the ball reached the contact zone, the angle of delivery meant that it was closer than he first thought.

Often, Smith would get tucked up and feather a catch behind or mistime his cut to gully or point.

Sometimes your strength can over-dominate your shot selection as a batter: This is a prime opportunity for a bowler to take advantage.

The happy hooker

There are lots of batters - at all levels - who see it short and instinctively hook the ball away. This is great and I was very much in this camp as a batter many moons ago.

Where I and many others have come unstuck is when a captain bowls to that strength.

With two men out behind square on a long boundary that can't be reached (or into a strong wind that holds the ball up for the waiting catcher) your fate is sealed.

Know your opposition

By keeping a simple log of your opposition batters dismissals and tendencies you can build up a dossier which can inform future tactics against them.

  • Grab a drink in the changing room after the game (very important).
  • Limit your discussion to 1 minute on each player
  • Someone writes down information on their phone and the record created is there to retrieve and send out to players ahead of the next fixture against that particular team.
  • By the end of season two, you should have at least four entries on each player in your league.
  • Tactics can be developed remotely via text using this info.
  • Think about how boundary lengths, pitch history both home and away, wind strength can all build into your tactics.

My final piece of advice is if you are going to use a "Strengths into weaknesses" tactic then please get it in early.

The Vince passage of play yesterday came at the very start of his innings.

Don't let the player settle as his ability to perceive threat and adapt will improve as the his innings develops.

The early bird catches the worm after all!

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Cricket Show S7 Episode 28: Games vs. Drills

Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe are joined by Khyati Gulani to talk about cricket. The discussion ranges from teamwork tips through to the difference between practice games and drills. Which ones will make you better at cricket? Listen to find out.

Then, listener's questions are answered on how to get into a limited overs side and going from nets to games with ease.


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: - email - twitter - Facebook - Google+

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.


Discuss this article with other subscribers

Bowling Faster: Why Correcting Technique is Harder Than it Looks

You want to bowl fast, so you change your action to correct flaws and you get more pace. Easy, right?


Three Simple Ways to Slog

Picture the scene: You are playing a Twenty20 match and it’s the last few overs. The field is set back and the bowler is trying to bowl yorkers. You need to score at nine an over to win.

It’s time to slog.


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: 423
Date: 2016-08-05