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We have all played in low scoring matches. There is a certain satisfaction to completing a win in such circumstances. However, it takes confidence and nerves of steel. That's why we examine how to maintain both this week.

John Hurley is back with another video drill for the bowlers to perform and new contributor Mark Atkinson cuts his teeth with a guide to beating uncertainty at the start of your innings. We also examine the art of coaching spinners, something most coaches can improve upon.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

How win low scoring cricket matches

Low scoring games are an intense mental challenge for players. It's the side who can hold their nerve that come out victors.

How do you contribute to that?

It's about a combination of attitude, tactics and effort.

Let me give you an example to illustrate. My club side played it perfectly in the first game of the league campaign. It was a 50 over game on a difficult early season wicket: wet (but drying in the sunshine) and slow with an outfield to match.

Take your opportunities with the bat

In tough conditions 2 an over seemed about right for the first part of the innings and with wickets falling we scored at that rate until the last 7 or 8 overs. However, the good bowling of our opposition fell away towards the end of the innings allowing us to make over 120 in our 50 overs. This represented 20-30 more runs than the opposition were expecting to get.

The key was that we did not panic. We knew there were few runs to be had and we grabbed the momentum at the end of the innings instead of getting bowled out.

Win more balls than you lose

In the field we knew we had to bowl well. John Wright, the Gloucestershire coach, says that the key to this is to focus on winning more balls than you lose. In our situation that meant bowling dot balls and building pressure.

We did this by bowling at the stumps, using the movement the pitch was giving us and setting squeeze fields.

This tactics needs good bowling and even better fielding to pull off, especially with such a low total to defend. Gloucestershire were the masters of it during Wright's first tenure as coach in the late 90's and early 2000's. We did both by keeping the 'win more balls than you lose' mantra in our minds. Thinking this way allowed us to stay focused on the next ball and not lose concentration.

Bounce back from mistakes

We started bowling well and they were already behind the rate and had lost early wickets. However we knew that all it would take is one good 50 to win it. At one point a couple of players began to build a stand. We were still bowling well but a couple of catches went down.

I have played in teams in the past where a dropped catch means the game is lost. Heads go down and people give up. Today was different; we simply steeled ourselves to try even harder the next ball.

Keep your nerve

As the game gets tenser it's possible to get physically tense too. This is where mistakes creep in. However in our case the bowlers kept bowling the ball at off stump and the batsmen steadily committed suicide trying to get the ball away when there was nowhere to go. We bowled them out for less than 70: A score that has taken them over 40 overs to achieve.

It was a team performance where everyone chipped in and made a contribution with bat, ball or in the field. It was also exactly what was required to win the game.

Have you ever played in a low scoring game where you came out on top? What was your team's attitude and tactics like in the situation? Leave a comment and let us know.


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How to improve your bowling control without becoming robotic


This free video guides you through a simple drill to help you improve your bowling control without becoming robotic. Filmed at Activate Cricket Centre in Sydney, you can do the drill on your own or with a coach giving feedback as you perform it.

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Do you make these mistakes when coaching spinners?

Would your club side be better with a couple of excellent spin bowlers? How about your Test team?

They are mysterious, a joy to watch and frustrating to play against. But spinners need careful attention if they are to be developed properly. It's easy for coaches and captains to crush the enthusiasm and confidence of a young player simply by misunderstanding how to handle them.

So before you head out to coach your next spin session, consider these 4 mistakes and keep yourself away from them.

1. Not teaching the skills

A lot of coaches don't go beyond the very basics of bowling spin. Perhaps a quick introduction to off spin and a hope that no-one asks about leg breaks.

A good coach will, at the very least, teach the ability to spin the ball both ways to all young players: Even those who bowl seam up or hate bowling. It can't hurt to have more than one string to your bow and you might uncover a talent.

Early in this process you will look for those who bowl with a spin type action naturally: Some young players will bowl from the back of the hand without encouragement. You will notice others with a smooth run up and pivot uncoached. These are the players to encourage further, but all should at least understand the feel of making the ball turn.

2. Putting potential spinners off

It is often the case that coaches will push a player towards bowling seam up at medium pace rather than spinning the ball. This makes sense in South Africa, New Zealand and England where the pitches, conditions and limited over format of games mean there is a short term gain to this approach.

While there is not much you can do about conditions that don't help spin, you can still do your best to bring spinners through. A young player who is given the confidence to turn the ball as much as possible can become a rare gem: a decent spinner.

When given the choice never put off a player who enjoys spinning the ball: Even if they are a decent seamer too.

3. Not monitoring progress

One of the most powerful tools a coach has is to show players how they are improving. You can show changes in accuracy and turn quite simply. Yet how many coaches test this?

Every now and then, test all your players for accuracy and amount of turn in the nets. This could be as simple as laying down a target on the ground in the nets and another behind the stumps. The more they hit the target the more accurate they are becoming.

You can also use the PitchVision system to track progress in turn, pace, accuracy and flight over time. Imagine how enthusiastic you can help a player become as they see your advice in better results.

4. Not working on the right mindset

At my club we have a young leg spinner who has given up despite an obvious talent. He has taken up some rather average medium pace bowling claiming he doesn't have the mentality of a spinner.

Spinners do need to have a strong mental game as they need to plan more for their wickets (spin strike rates are usually higher than seam). They also have the increased chance of being hit around which can crush confidence.

That means a good coach should start early with spinners helping them to master their art as quickly as possible. Often a coach can focus too much on the technical aspects of a spinners game and forget what is going on in his or her head. If you have a young spinner learning the game, take time to talk them through situations such as:

  • How to experiment with line and length to a player to find their weak areas.
  • Setting a field.
  • Bowling on unhelpful wickets.
  • Dealing with captains who can't handle spinners.
  • What to do if someone goes on the attack.
  • Using variations tactically (especially amount of spin, position on the crease and flight).

As coach you can also teach your spinners how to use positive imagery, set realistic goals and keep confidence high with simple mental training tricks.

The spinner will come across all these problems and more during a career. If their coach has helped them think it through beforehand they are less likely to be crushed under the pressure of the situation.

There you have it. 4 mistakes to avoid as a coach and you will drastically improve your chances of developed decent spinners in a world where spin is a dying skill. Only you can save it, one player at a time.

Image credit: scaglifr

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How to beat uncertainty at the start of your innings

Today's article is a guest post by former first class cricketer turned coach Mark Atkinson. Mark runs Elite Cricket Coaching in New South Wales.

The most difficult part of an innings is arguably the first 40 minutes.

Cricket Show 27: How to get lean for cricket (an interview with Leigh Peele)

This week's show is a special interview with the fat loss troubleshooter Leigh Peele.


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: 45
Date: 2009-05-08