Pitchvision Academy


There's a new pile of tips, tricks, tactics and drills this week. Sam Lavery tells us about the "safe zone" in nets, Mark Garaway has a two ball drill for playing spin and Waqas Zafar looks into the tactics of bowling different lengths.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Prepare for the Unexpected Ball with a Safe Zone

Establishing a “safe zone” is a fresh look at to avoiding the ultimate batting disaster: getting out to an awful delivery.

There’s danger in the unexpected.


Who works on the ball that noone ever expects? Whether it’s the waist high full toss two feet outside off stump, or the long hop that practically yorks you on its second bounce.

Be it in training or a cup final, I’ve seen many a player bat exquisitely against a quality new ball attack, only for the ball slip out of the occasional bowler’s hand resulting in a full toss on the hip, that promptly finds a fielder’s hands.

Some wag will always shout “cricket was the winner” as you trudge off.

Safe zone batting

To combat this I have introduced a “safe zone” over the past 18 months at The Portsmouth Grammar School. It’s not a focal point for a session, but when the freak ball arrives it allows the batter to play with clarity rather than panic.

The way it works is simple: Whether you draw it on a board, or you mention it at the start of your session, a specific area is nominated where batters can safely attack should the unexpected arrive.

It’s important that this isn’t a focal point for to aim towards all the time. Your session will have an objective and this zone shouldn’t take away from that focal point. More so, it offers an area of the pitch that the ball can be dispatched to with assured safely, should the unexpected arrive.

Batters start to retain this idea of safe space in the back of their mind. So that when the opportunity arises, the loosest of all deliveries is efficiently put away with clarity, rather than causing a comical dismissal.

In the age of T20 cricket with fielders spreading far and wide, many coaches are adept at generating good pitch maps for players to use. And when that’s the case there’s less demand for a safe zone. But with the ever increasing range of deliveries that bowlers are practicing, inevitably the odd loose ball will slip out. Preparation is key.

Try introducing a safe zone.

You might not need it all the time, but having it there could help one of your batters turn a match winning opportunity into a comprehensive victory.

Sam Lavery is Cricket Professional at Portsmouth Grammar School and host of the PitchVision Cricket Show.

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FP Academy Host World Record Cricket Net Attempt

The Scene: The FP Elite Cricket Academy, Cape Town, South Africa

The Challenge: An official Guinness Book of World Records Challenge to break the official world record for the longest ever net session – with every ball to be recorded and tallied on PitchVision ball tracking technology – and all for the benefit of charity.

The event - officially sanctioned by Guinness - will see FPECA players bat for 55 hours straight, smashing the current record of 49 hours. Both male and female net records are up for grabs – with cricketers attempting to break both records at the same time. Importantly, the event will raise funds for two causes close to Director Sean Phillips heart: Autism and helping under-privileged children participate in cricket.

PitchVision are hand at the event to track every delivery bowled on the PV/ONE ball tracking system. With over 170 bowlers and a bowling machine there is a lot of deliveries to track. PitchVision will also be streaming the net session online as it happens through pitchvision.com so you can follow the action wherever you are.

The event starts on 7th October and runs through to the 9th. It will be held at the FP Elite Cricket Academy facility in Somerset West, Cape Town, South Africa.

Catch all the action on PitchVision there are two dedicated PVTV channels to stream every ball, and a highlights channel to feature the best of the batting, bloopers and interviews from the event.

Got a significant cricket event coming up? Why not broadcast it on PVTV?. Contact info@pitchvision.com for details

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Use the Two Ball Drop Drill to Improve Footwork Against Spinners

49 Millfield cricketers are heading to Mumbai this December to play 18 fixtures on spinning surfaces against lots of spin bowlers.


The pitches are going to spin more appreciably than the ones we are used to in the UK. For some players, this will be their first experience of sub-continent conditions, so what are we teaching the players them to prepare for the “spinning experience” of their life?

The starting point to me is having a view of what “world class” looks like.

How do the best players of spin operate?

What is their overall philosophy?

  1. The best players of spin either get to the pitch of the ball with good forward foot movement or get away from the bounce of the ball with good backward movement.
  2. More limited players of spin bowling - particularly on wickets that turn - are those who die in “the hole” or “crease” as its more commonly known.
  3. Attacking from the crease in turning conditions is fraught with danger. This is not my blind opinion; this has been backed up through extensive research.

Analysis of the most successful players of spin in the sub-continent supports all of the above statements.

Analysis of players such as Younis Khan, Rahul Dravid, and Virat Kohli is a great starting point when it comes to developing anyone’s game against spin.

From this research, we have drawn up a list of areas and concepts to cover in the coming weeks:

  • Use of feet forward
  • Use of feet backwards
  • When caught on the crease, defend by letting the ball hit the bat; not the bat hitting the ball.
  • Sweep options on turning surfaces
  • When it spins big, learn to attack more, not less.
  • Make the “box” (target area) for the bowler to land the ball as small as possible.

So let’s look at how we can develop players so that they have confidence and competence to use their feet in a forward motion against spin bowlers.

Moving down the pitch to spin

There are lots of moving down the wicket drills that I use but the simplest one (simple is often the best) is hitting a dropped ball from a feeder who is simulating the ball bouncing on a length.

The feeder drops the ball, the batter moves quickly to the ball and either hits it along the ground or over the top.

Why do we start with the simple dropped ball drill?

Too often I see batters only practicing hitting over the top against bowlers or throws.

This is effectively the equivalent of a car going from stationary to 50mph using only fourth gear: It’s an inefficient and poor option.

The one-ball dropping feed drill is first gear to get the player used to the movement pattern associated with coming down the pitch.

Layering progression

If the feeder holds out two balls (one in each hand) at shoulders width apart then they can choose which one to drop.

One of the balls will drop slightly closer to the batter and the other one slightly further from the batter when they are dropped.

This encourages the batter to develop two different types of foot movement and gives them confidence of moving out to the length ball (which often goes over the top) and the slightly over-pitched ball, which wouldn’t be controllable from the crease.

The two ball drop feed drill then introduces the following things that then help us:

  • Introduces decision making
  • Opening up adaptable movement patterns to cover subtle differences in traversing distance to get to the pitch of the ball.
  • Develops the precision in execution of the shot through repetition: developing the capacity to either stroke the ball over the top of the inner ring or boundary, and to have the option of beating the bowler on either side to pick up singles, doubles and fours.

It’s a simple drill that works.

The feeder’s role is so simple which means that young players can run this drill without a coach being involved.

Give it a go.

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Cricket Show S7 Episode 36: A World Record Attempt

David Hinchliffe, Sam Lavery and Mark Garaway talk playing and coaching cricket. There is plenty packed in to the show this week too. Ashwin gets to 200 wickets faster than almost anyone. There is a world record net attempt. A batsman wants faster hands to hit big and a bowler wants faster feet to sort out a run up.

Not bad for half an hour!

Listen in to hear the stories.

Case Study: Using Analysis to Help a Fast Bowler Take Wickets

Analyst Waqas Zafar returns to assess a bowler based on bowling lengths.

Using PitchVision, a club bowler bowled 360 balls in the nets. 


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: 431
Date: 2016-09-30