Pitchvision Academy


Plenty of batting tips this week as we look at a drill that can give instant results with a bit of brain work, and a bit of "Garas Gold" batting drill that makes you bat like the legend Lara!

Plus, we talk about the good old days on the podcast and look into the modern idea of fluid batting orders.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Get Instant Batting Technique Improvements by Following This Method

Last night I had a session with a batsman that revealed something exciting about modern technical batting coaching and got an instant result.


As you know, I talk often about how “one size fits all” is false and the textbook method restricts batsman rather than helping them.

This is true, but it leads to a batting dilemma. How do you know when you are doing it right if you don’t have a template to follow?

Getting back to your best

In the one to one session I had last night, the batsman came to me concerned about his technique. As a player with a fine pedigree, I knew he would have the basics firmly in place, but he wanted to return to his best before the season began.

I threw balls with the Sidearm cricket ball thrower at various lengths and studied his method.

We chatted between deliveries about back swing, follow-through, and where he got his timing from.

He’s a classical style batsman with a wonderful drive (front and back foot) that spans extra cover to midwicket. He has great top hand control, and uses his top hand timing to generate power in his shots. Here's an example from the PitchVision video footage:


Tools you would expect a top-class batsman to possess.

So where was the doubt coming from?

Sherlock does cricket

He mentioned in passing that he felt far less confident playing square drives and cuts. He felt there was less power and this was restricting his play.

I mentioned perhaps, as he is so skilled with top hand “touch” play, that he treats wider balls outside off as drives, but play them a little later (under the belly button rather than under the eyes).

This way, I figured, he would be playing to his strengths and hitting the ball harder even though he is using less bottom hand.

Of course, this was a hunch.

Yet, it also worked straight away.

He was freed from the restriction of trying to do things in the orthodox way and played several powerful square drives, letting his body lean into the shot and his top hand power the ball with great timing: his strengths.

He said at one point “ I feel as if that shot was 20 years in the making!”

Here's that shot, played to a ball that was not a drive length and wide, but was hit from the front foot and played late, with a great outcome:

He got so confident with the shot he was playing it to short balls:

The lesson here is not how great a coach I am - although if you think that, I won’t stop you - it is that by recognising the clues your body gives you, you can experiment with different ways of trying to get the same outcome.

Even if it is not the “proper” way you have been taught.

Why this technique won’t work

Some people might think that if square driving and cutting on the front foot is effective for this player, it must be good for them.

You can’t assume that.

It might be true. But it also might be that you are strong with your bottom hand and this method will be frustrating to you.

So, ignore the technical tip.

Instead, take the idea that everyone has a way of playing that works for them. It’s your job to find it (or help them find it if you are a coach).

Ask yourself where your strengths are. Think about what feels right and what you do when you play well. Now look to adapt that method to areas where you are weaker.

In this case, the batsman felt great playing later and using his left hand as the dominant hand. With instant results. You can get the same effect is you apply the method rather than copy the technique.

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Bat Like Legend Lara with the Four Area Drill

I once asked Michael Vaughan who was opposition batter who posed the most challenge to him as a captain? The resounding answer that came back was Brian Lara.


Vaughany said that Lara had the both the wrists and the brain to manipulate the same ball into a variety of areas and sometimes simply hit the ball to the same spot that Michael had just moved a guy from!

What a skill to have; the ability to hit a similar ball to a number of different pockets on the ground, some for singles, some for twos and others for four.

So how do we go about developing this into players who may not have the incredible rotational wrist skill of a Brian Charles Lara?

Build awareness.

Initially, I asked the players to research to see if they could come up with a few players who made their names by manipulating the ball into space within the 50 over game in particular.

The iPads came out and soon the blue glow of YouTube was seen across the Wilson Pavilion. Here is the list that they came up with in just under 20 mins:

  1. BC Lara (naturally)
  2. Michael Bevan
  3. Dean Jones
  4. Marcus Tresothick
  5. Shiv Chanderpaul
  6. AB de Villiers

Not a bad list of players to be fair and the Millfield cricketers then watched how each player managed to hit the same ball to different parts of the ground.

Once they had built their understanding, then the group were ready to take to the nets.

The 4 area manipulation drill

We identified 4 target areas on a white board and numbered them 1 to 4.

  1. The Third Man area – fine of gully and beating the keeper. The group felt that Marcus Trescothick was the best exponent of getting a length ball into this pocket of the ground in a safe and consistent fashion.
  2. Square Leg to Straight Mid-Wicket - The group felt that Lara, Michael Bevan and Shiv Chanderpaul were all brilliant at getting a length ball into this pocket of the ground in a safe and consistent fashion.
  3. Point to Straight Extra Cover - The Group felt that AB, Michael Bevan and Shiv Chanderpaul were all brilliant at getting a length ball into this pocket of the ground in a safe and consistent fashion.
  4. Straight past or over the bowler - The Group felt that AB, Tres and Dean Jones were all brilliant at getting a length ball into this pocket of the ground in a safe and consistent fashion.

We then then set the bowling machine to deliver the ball at a reasonable rate (65–70 mph) into length using a range of ageing bowling machine balls that subtly shifts length and line.

The feeder raises their left hand to reveal one, two, three or four digits (linked to the 4 target areas).

Then a second or two later the right hand places the ball into the machine.

The batter organises themselves to best hit the ball or deflect the ball into the designated pocket or target zone.


Whilst the identified world class batters could hit all four areas at will most of the time, they all did it with slightly different methods.

Some would have a greater emphasis on their wrists; others would use their body position and alignment to strike through the ball.

It was evident in our practice that some of our players preferred one way over the other.

We encouraged the players to have a go at both approaches to find out which one works best for them. It’s good for them to have a go at both approaches as they may need to shift tact at some stage of an innings, against a certain delivery or to access a very narrow gap.

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How to Use Old Doormats to Improve Your Batting Against Spinners

 Use this drill to combine low tech mats and smart nets to improve your batting against spin. Footwork is essential, this drill forces fast feet.

Contact PitchVision for more details on making your nets into smart nets.


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Cricket Tactics You Should be Using: Fluid Batting Order

 How do you feel about your place in the batting order?

Cricket Show S8 Episode 9: Back in My Day

Sam Lavery, Mark Garaway and David Hinchliffe have a round robin discussion about cricket.

The team chat through some things they would like to see come back to cricket that was good "back in my day". It's putting a positive spin on a generally negative viewpoint.

After this, the mailbag is opened and questions are discussed about back of the hand slower balls and converting nice twenties into huge scores.

Listen to hear it all.


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: 454
Date: 2017-03-17