Pitchvision Academy


This newsletter gives you great tips on batting first, Twenty20 practice and keeping drills.

Plus, there is the podcast for you auditory learners and a nice way to get your voice heard.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Make Batting First Easier with Stretch Goals

“What’s a good score on this pitch?”

That question is a tough one to call because you don’t want to restrict yourself batting first, but you also don’t want to overstretch going for a huge total and end up sub-par.

I know Mark Garaway - a man with international coaching chops - would say 600–2 is a good score, so try and get as many as you can no matter what.

That’s a great piece of advice because it overcomes the flaw of restricting yourself to a satisfactory score that will be fine most of the time, when you could have got many more.

I would like to add some more to it.

Why not set three goals?

That way you can achieve a winnable score and still have space to kick on rather than play within yourself.

So, grab your scorebooks from the last few years and let’s work some things out.

Goal One: Minimum viable score

The first thing to consider is what is the lowest score you can get batting first and still win most of the time? This MVS is your first batting goal.

I’ve played in games where 85 is a winning score, but I wouldn’t consider it an MVS. In the league I coach, 131 would see you win just over 50% of games.

Ground, conditions and opposition will adjust this score in specific games, but as a ball park figure, it’s good to know that achieving your MVS gives you a better chance of winning than losing.

That way, even if we collapse after a good start and are bowled out for 140, we know the odds are in our favour if we bowl well. Do the maths for your team.

Goal Two: Par score

Imagine you are going well and the MVS is secured. Your next target is par score.

The par is the average score that gets you a win almost certainly.

While there will be times when this number fails you - it is an average after all - most of the time it won’t fail, so it’s the second step.

With my team, that score is 173. Scoring this batting first at home gives us an 85% chance of winning.

So now we know anything between 131–173 is a decent score, it gives us confidence to go out and have something to bowl at. The same will apply to you with your own numbers.

You’ll still need to adjust up or down on conditions on the day of course. A flat wicket with cloudless sky generally pushes the par score up. A wet wicket on a grey day, or dusty turner with uneven bounce might drop the par down. So use your judgement as best you can away from the ball park figures.

A side note on par scores is the “30 over par”. Here - in 50 over matches - you can see what is a decent score after 30 overs so you can decide if going for a stretch goal (below) is on or not. For my team that number is 102–4. So, if we are in a position like that, we can look at the next goal; the stretch.

Goal Three: Stretch score

Now, say you get off to a great start on a good wicket. Why would you settle for a measly 173?

So don’t. Set your stretch goal.

The highest score my team got batting first last year was 239 and we lost! We also conceded 300 bowling first. Our best winning score batting first was 227.

What does this tell us?

That if things start well, you can consider a stretch total.

For my team, the average stretch total batting first is 204. But with totals ranging from 176 to 239, there’s no number high enough to guarantee victory. So take the shackles off and go for broke.

Once you get past the par score, start thinking massive totals instead.

It’s here you can throw away the numbers and start throwing the bat instead. Follow the sage Garaway advice of getting as many as you can. Theres no limit if you get in a position to play with freedom, have plenty of batting and the confidence of you game. I’ve seen club games in my league when teams got over 500!

Get as many as you can in the time available under the conditions.

The power of stretch goals

You might rightly ask, why bother with MVS and par scores if you are just going to try and get as many as you can anyway?

It’s all down to psychology.

If you know what a viable score is, you can walk out with your head high and ready to attack even when things go wrong with the bat. If you know what a par winning score is, you know you have to work hard to win but the odds are in your favour.

You will have achieved a goal even in batting failure.

And if you do find yourself in a dominant position with the bat, you also won’t be restricted by the false limit of saying “200 is a good score on this pitch”.

How do you set targets batting first?

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Here’s a PV/ONE Routine for Twenty20 Batting Practice

In Twenty20, you have to get a move on. Traditional practice won’t cut it. So use this routine instead.


With regular, focused practice like this, you will find your Twenty20 game improve dramatically in a short time. Instead of walking out with fear and no game plan, you will find yourself better at strike rotation, scoring under pressure and going big.

So, strap on the pad and get a bowling machine or throwdowns with a PV/ONE system to hand. You’ll need it for the fast improvements you want.

Hone the basics

Even in T20, the basics apply. So start your practice session with the basics:

These basics are not glamorous and will get you no roars of approval for your genius play. They will allow you to build your game into something you can rely on.


Use PV/ONE’s video analysis tools to check your setup, balance and alignment. You can review your videos during the session, or afterwards. This idea of reflection is one of the most powerful tools you can use in your quest for success. More on that later.

Go round the ground

When you are satisfied you are connecting in a good way, you can move on to picking up runs. Dots are cricket suicide in Twenty20, so you need a way to score.

So, with a reliable feed (bowling machine is best), start to hit the ball to different areas. Go round the ground, starting at mid off and hitting balls into “gaps” round the ground through extra cover, cover, point, third man, fine leg, square leg, midwicket and mid on.

To do this, you need to adjust your body position to line up to deflect the ball into the right space

See how many balls it takes you to go round the clock.

Look at the video afterwards of the shots you did well alongside the shots you struggled to score. Ask yourself what adjustments you can make and try again.

Hit hard

No it’s time for the real fun: whacking it.

In this part of the session, try to hit boundaries over the top. Usually this is once bounce fours because aiming for one bounce means you don’t try to hit too hard and lose technique.

Modern hitting techniques have taken a lot from baseball, so have a go at some power hitting methods over both the leg and off side. There’s a lot more technique to it than closing your eyes and swinging.

You can also get shorter balls and work on pulling the bouncer and long hop for easy runs.

Once again, you can review your performance. Use both personal feedback (the intention 12 game for example) and watching your method on PitchVision videos. Ask a coach or trusted advisor how they think you can improve your results with technical changes.

Monitor your progress

Throughout your session you have been trying your hardest to succeed, but will have failed a few time too.

Both of these things are good.

Success is good because it shows you what you are doing right. Failure is good because it allows you to know what doesn't work.

So, after the session, go through your PV/ONE videos and review them. What did you do that worked? What did you do that needs adjustment? How will you change things at the next session?

Having a skilled coach to help with this is useful, but you can easily do it yourself. Replay the video slowed down to see everything. Draw lines and angles on PitchVision’s snapshot feature. Filter different speeds, lines and lengths to see what differences there are.

Then head to your next session loaded with new things to try and basics to hone.

With a feedback loop this powerful, you’ll be amazed how fast you see improvements.

Simple, yet not easy. Hard work but surprisingly satisfying.

To boost your game with PV/ONE, contact us:

  • Kapil Bhatia on +91 9321 243797 or kapil.bhatia@pitchvision.com
  • Shantanu Sah +91 99535 55778 or shantanu.sah@pitchvision.com
  • Neil Fairbairn on +44 (0) 7813 649054 or neil.fairbairn@pitchvision.com
  • Craig van Dyk on +27 (83) 5568019 or craig.vandyk@pitchvision.com

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The Crazy Catch Deflection Drill for Keepers

I’m a huge fan of rebound nets for self reliant individual or paired practice when working with keepers and fielders. The Crazy Catch helps sharpen reactions, builds technique and can be used to unlock movement patterns.


The “sane” side of the net is a basic rebounder. The ball comes back in a consistent fashion to the participant. The “insane” side is a double strung rebound net that delivers the ball back randomly. It’s fantastic for testing even the best catchers in the world.

We have “Keepers Club” at Millfield every Tuesday morning before school day begins. It’s a great time for me selfishly as I’m surrounded by pupils who want to sharpen their keeping skills.

This morning we were joined by Ellie, it was her first time at Keepers Club. Ellie is part of our Girls touring squad heading to Mumbai in a few weeks time. Ellie has seen that there is an opportunity for her to keep wicket on the tour and wants to learn some basic skills before getting on the plane in December.

I spent 10 minutes teaching Ellie about the posture which we use as a starting point for Keepers, namely the “Z” position. Ellie is also a gymnast, has a good level of physical competency and found it relatively easy to connect with Keeping specific postures.

I set her up to work out of the “Z” position into a catching position using a Crazy Catch. She worked independently for 10 minutes and must have taken over 100 catches in that time.

I then asked Jamie to come over and show Ellie some of the rebound net drills he uses to simulate standing up to the stumps. Jamie is a County age group keeper-batter. He has been keeping wicket for just over four years.

Ellie stood to the side of Jamie and threw into the “sane” side of the Crazy Catch rebound net. The great thing about the “sane” side of the rebound net is that it gives a consistent reaction meaning you can groove a movement or Catch type and build up significant repetition numbers. This was perfect for a keeper such as Ellie who is starting out on her journey as a keeper.

The ball springs back off of the net and either misses leg stump or clips the stumps, simulating an edge or deflection off of a thigh pad. It’s great practice.

If the ball misses the leg stump then the keeper needs to find a way of moving that allows them to take the ball comfortably and then return the ball to the stumps for a potential stumping.

Notice how Jamie returns the ball in a rhythmic fashion back to the stumps. His body is relaxed as he takes the ball.

It was a great bit of role modelling that an inexperienced keeper could learn from. Ellie learn more from watching Jamie do this drill than I could teach her in 1000 words. That’s the beauty of role modelling and pair-based work.

Ellie then did the same drill with Jamie throwing into the rebound net. The only change I make was to turn the stumps round slightly to reduce the number of deflections and to give her the sense of moving to take a leg side ball. This is a movement pattern that Ellie wouldn’t have done before given that this was her first ever Keeping session.

So whilst her movement pattern is slightly different to Jamie’s (a longer single stride instead of a double movement), it was brilliant to see how quickly Ellie learnt and adapted to the drill.

What a great start for Ellie’s keeping career!

So how can we adapt and scale this drill to open it up to keepers of any experience level or ability?:

  • Move the Crazy Catch closer or further away dependent on the ability or experience of the keeper. The closer the Crazy Catch the quicker your reactions need to be to move and then catch the incoming ball.
  • Adjust the speed of the throw.
  • Shift the vertical angle of the Crazy Catch, this changes the way the ball reacts off of the net.
  • Experiment with slight turns in angle of the Crazy Catch in relation to the thrower. Notice that we had a couple of different angles during Jamie’s montage which meant that the ball ended up either in line with the stumps or missing leg stump.
  • Change the type of ball. We used a 4oz bowling machine ball today but we can use tennis balls, Incrediballs or normal cricket balls.
  • Turn the Crazy Catch around and have a go on the more random “insane” side. Nothing is normal here, the ball could deflect up/down/left or right. Once you feel comfortable with the “sane” rebounds then it’s time to go “insane!”

Rebound Nets are brilliant for so many catching and keeping drills. Use these different scaling options to sharpen kickstart your keeping career. Just like Ellie.

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Cricket Show S7 Episode 42: Ask Introverts, Listen to Extroverts

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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: 437
Date: 2016-11-11