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It's a tough job selecting a cricket team. Relieve your stress by reading the main article this week and following the advice.

Plus, we talk end of season reviews, better seam bowling and inspirational coaches.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Selecting a Cricket Team is Hard and Thankless: Here is How to Get it Right (Mostly)

Being a selector is difficult whether you are picking the India team or your local club cricket XI. Is there a way to make it easier?



And No.

You will never get it right every time, but you can have a deep understanding of where things could go wrong, and where things have gone right in the past. This will give your the best chance of choosing the right team for your level of cricket.

Let's look at some of the unique challenges of selecting at club, school and academy level.

What's your template?

The absolute basic first question is to know what you need to get through the game.

In the case of my limited overs club side, league rules state you can bowl 10 overs. So, we know we need five cricketers who can bowl. Add in a wicketkeeper and you can see six places filled already. The rest of the places are batters.

However, the template from here can vary wildly depending on conditions, history and who you have available. In my team's example again we have;

  • Three specialist batsmen capable of scoring fifty or more
  • Three batting all-rounders who can score fifties but also bowl five or more overs
  • One wicketkeeper-batsman
  • Three bowling all-rounders who can reliably give 10 overs and also score thirty or more
  • One specialist bowler

This team has three spinners and four seamers. I would recommend at least five bowlers with two spinners for most flexibility.

Generally two spinners is a good idea, especially if your games are possible to be drawn. But even in limited overs cricket, the good spinner is hard to get away and ends up doing well. plus, There is always the risk that a spinner can be punished against a set batsman and having a spin twin can help ease the burden.

The all-rounder effect

You will have noticed a big group of all-rounders in the team above. This is a common problem in non-professional cricket. Often the top six batters have three or four first choice bowlers. The knock on effect is that lesser-skilled but more specialist bowlers do not get enough overs or batsmen are forced down the order.

How do you deal with this issue?

First, do your best to avoid it by picking a balanced team. However, sometimes you can't avoid it and find yourself with - for example - a batsman who has to bat eight. In this case you have two options,

  1. Speak with the player, make sure they are prepared to do it and try to share the "TFC" position around a few guys rather than have one do it all season.
  2. Give them a chance up the order. If they are a good young opener then open with them. Maybe they get out first ball every week or - more likely - they will adapt and survive and grow into the job.

he worst thing you can do is let a player fester and barely get a game. Yes, some players are happy to be part of the team beyond their own game. Realistically, most will get fed up and feel ill-treated. You could even end up losing them to another team when all it really needs is a bit of communication and planning ahead.

Borderline policy

If you have selected a team before you will know most of the team are nailed on pretty fast. The first eight or nine names on the sheet barely get a mention. The fun - and stress - is in the borderlines.

It's these places that tells you a lot about the makeup of a selection committee and even a whole club.

  • Do you pick the talented but not-quite ready youngster or do you go with the slightly-past-it old stager?
  • Do you make a one-off change based on conditions or stick with a well-gelled unit?
  • Do you drop the formless star player or give them other go based on past performance?
  • How much do you reward a player who is more committed to training over another who trains less often?

These decisions are best based on general policy applied to specific cases. That way, if the discussion gets to an impasse you can say "well, we all agreed our policy was to go with youth when it was a close call, so let's get the youngster in."

Another unique borderline case in amateur cricket is the player who can't play every week. Players who often drop out or can only play a handful of games can be disruptive to the team. So, as a long term policy, decide if those runs and wickets are worth the hassle. You can always change your mind if you realise you made the wrong call.

Bad decisions

Despite your best intentions you will make bad selections. People will feel hard done by. There will be muttering about unfairness. This is inevitable.

The good news is you can do something about it.

Start with a clear selection policy that everyone knows about. Write it down if it helps. Make rules, but take care over them. If you say "don't train, don't play" then you better stick with it, even for the bloke who smashes hundreds but can't get to training due to work. That's tough unless you have a very understanding group of players!

For every other situation, the best route is to be open about your decisions and happy to explain them to anyone.

You might find you have awkward conversations with players who have been dropped or not picked. The alternative is worse: Saying nothing runs the risk of alienating players, creating cliqués and losing people.

If you don't realise a selection decision might cause an unhappy player, you can hear complaints on the grapevine (in my experience, it's rare for someone who is disgruntled just to ask about the decision face to face). In this case, actively make the move to speak with the unhappy party as soon as possible. They may never agree with you decision but at least they will appreciate you trying to smooth the waters.

What are your experiences as either a selector on someone on the outside of selection looking in and wondering what the devil is going on?

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Answer These Five Questions When the Cricket Season Ends to Turbo Boost Your Next Season

The end of the cricket season is the perfect time to reflect.


You might be relieved or sad (or both) that it’s over, but whatever you feel, take a moment while things are fresh in your mind to review your season. It’s a fantastic way to start next year with a bang.

Here are the key questions to ask yourself before you bed down for the winter.

How was my technique?

Over a season, techniques can change. Bad habits can creep in, or you work around things that are not ideal. You can also lock in your technique further when it’s going well.

Take some time to review your technique and decide if it served you well this year.

For example, say you have a technical flaw that leads you to “close off” when you drive. Did this stunt your ability to score, or did you work within it well?

Technical perfection is impossible. However, if you know your own technique well, you can decide if you need to start on the road to making changes over the winter, or learn tactics that hide the errors and build your strengths.

Don’t stop at batting or bowling technique. You can also review how you run, catch, throw and dive in the field. Most people can improve at least one of these aspects over an off season, which one can you do?

Did I fill my role?

Every cricketer has a job to do. Ask yourself if you did it.

Perhaps you are the opening batsman, told to thrive against the new ball and put a high value on your wicket. Nobody minds if you are 30 not out after 20 overs because they know you have built a platform for the side. Did this happen regularly or did you find yourself getting out trying to up the scoring rate because you felt the pressure?

Every role has a story to tell that goes beyond the averages: Things like holding up an end with the ball, surviving a tough spell of bowling and making sure no one takes a quick single to you never appear in the numbers, but make a difference to matches.

So, think back to your role. Think about the times when you had the chance to put it into action and decide if you did it well this year.

If you were not sure of your job, you know you need to find it out as soon as you can.

If you did things well, pat yourself on the back. It’s time to think how you can do it even better.

If you were found wanting, it’s time to ask if the role was wrong for your style of play, or you just needed to find some form. Either way, you have a path forward.

How was my self-belief?

How you believe in yourself is crucial to your game. It drives how much you train, what actions you take in the middle and how you do under pressure.

So, ask yourself, did you believe in your ability, even in the bad times?

Those with lower levels of belief tend to,

  • Feel a lot of anxiety before batting or bowling.
  • Train less and with less intensity or focus.
  • Perform inconsistently, and usually poorly in critical moments.

Of course, no one is entirely free of doubt or inconsistency. That’s called being a human being. The key point is how these thoughts influence your actions. If you are doing less work and making more mistakes because you are tense and nervous about it, you are sabotaging your chance of success.

Use your actions as a guide to your confidence.

If - in hindsight - you thought they were lacking then decide to take steps to improve this area.

On the other hand, if you can say you built confidence through your actions this year, you can think how to further develop your toughness under pressure.

Was I part of the team?

Every cricket team is a group of contrasting characters thrown together under a common goal. Your part in that team has very little to do with your performance on the field. So, the next question makes you think about how well you did as a team-player.

Were you quick to recognise the success of others in their roles? Did you set the example by how hard you train and how much help you give others? Are you supportive of guys in the middle once you are out? Are you as passionate about being a non-striker running for your teammate as you are running for yourself?

These are all signs of your character as a teammate rather than batsman or bowler.

Not everyone is an extroverted socialiser who brings the side together with charisma and wit. Yet even the most reserved, self-centered person can be a crucial part of the team.

What do I do next?

Once you have assessed your year, you can decide how to move forward.

This is important because a lot of players assume they can just turn up to winter nets and let someone else - usually a coach - guide them. Even the best coaches can’t guide you fully because you are on your own journey. So, you need to be the one who drives your progress.

You can still use the coach of course. Get them to help you by providing a sounding board to your aims and accountability to the barriers that you might encounter. This process leads to conversations about strategies to prevent history repeating itself. 

Sit down with the coach and dig down into details beyond your big aims.

For example, if you are a batsman who wants to better hit the gaps,  tell the coach who will follow up with questions like "which gaps?", "which type of bowling?", and "what shots will help with this?"

When you get into detail, you build a checklist that you can tick off as you move your skills along.

Know what your strengths are and be ready to build them into super strengths. Know your weaknesses and be ready to either work hard on them or hide them.

Find out your role, and think how you can build your tactics and technique around it.

Consider your self-belief and look to change your actions to create a positive feedback loop that you can take into next season. For example, if you are lacking confidence against spin, you can take a winter learning to sweep and use your feet with robust confidence build on real actions.

A little work at the end will reap huge rewards when the cricket starts again.

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Cricket Show S7 Episode 33: Improve My Catching

Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe talk making runs and taking wickets. The cricket show covers the importance of winning, and the changing skills and standards of wicketkeeping.

Then the team move on to the mailbag and answer questions about taking more catches and helping a dad develop a love for cricket in his 10 year old daughters.

The range of the game is here!


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:

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Just click the "play" button at the top of the show notes.

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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.


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Swing Bowling Tip: Improving Seam Position

This is an exclusive excerpt from Nathan Bracken's Swing Bowling Masterclass.

To me, getting the seam position right was very important. If you have control of the seam, you have a much greater control of how much you can swing the ball.

Emulate These Inspirational People to be a Better Coach

Three coaching colleagues Millfield have inspired me hugely over the past 8 weeks or so.


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: 428
Date: 2016-09-09