Pitchvision Academy


With the IPL and English cricket seasons kicking off, you can find inspiration for your game with these articles.

There are ideas on defensive batting, goal setting, being an invisible hero and a cricket warrior. Read to find out more.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Goal Setting Improves Your Cricket: Here's How

You wouldn’t go on a journey to a new place without a map. So, don’t go on your cricket journey without goals.

Research has has shown over the years that a measurable improvement in team and individual performance comes from a result of good goal setting.

Of course, goal setting is not a new idea to cricket. In 1984 Richard Hadlee put goal setting down as one of the main reasons the Kiwi hero scored 1179 runs and took 117 wickets in an English summer.

There’s nothing stopping you following his example, or the example of thousands of other successful cricketers who set goals.

What is often ill-considered is how you set goals for maximum runs and wickets.

You can’t just shout about how you are going to score at least a thousand runs this year and hope weather, bowling and luck go your way.

Fortunately, being smart about goals takes less time than it will to read the rest of this article.

Here’s what to do.

Be specific but realistic

Like I mentioned before, setting a number target is tempting because it’s easy. It sounds good and puts a hard pass or fail marker down. Score a thousand runs and hit your target!

While a number is specific, it’s rarely realistic.

What if you get a duck, have a game rained off, have a low run chase where you get a lovely 20 not out, then play a stupid shot? You’re on 20 runs after four games and a thousand seems a long way off.

On the other hand, what if you have a dream start? You score 700 runs in the first half of the season and a thousand seems easy. Some people might take their foot off the gas a bit and cruise.

Instead of these pitfalls, make a point of having a target that you have a chance of meeting if you push yourself.

If you’re a batsman, consider performance goals like runs scored batting first (or contribution to a chase), or compare yourself to teammates or other players in your league (make more runs than any other non-professional for example).

Bowlers can do similar; be the most economical or highest wicket taker in the league, or your team. Count chances created rather than wickets taken. Look at influential spells that change games.

Whatever your skill, you can also set targets outside of the game,

  • Training sessions attended
  • New skills developed
  • Improvements in strength, mobility, speed or endurance
  • Development of a game plan

Measure what you can

Measurement is an important part of goal setting. That’s why a plain number target is so tempting. You can see how you are doing and get motivated as you drive towards your goal.

Except for two things,

  1. Not every goal can be measured effectively
  2. If you are miles off your goal, you can be demotivated

If you can find a way to measure, it’s best to do it. However, don’t sweat things too much if your goal is hard to measure but you are seeing results on the field.

If you have developed a new slower ball and you try it in a game and it gets a wicket - and builds your confidence - then an exact measurement is not a vital aspect.

Also, if you have misjudged your target and your measurement shows how much you are failing, you will stop striving for success. So, take care when measuring.

Nevertheless, where it is simple to measure, it’s a good idea as you can see your progress rather than feel it (which we are not very good at as humans). You can measure things like runs and wickets, weight lifted in the gym and number of training sessions attended.

If you get clever you can also measure more tricky things; body weight, chances taken or even sleep quality are all possible goals to consider.

Reflect and review

Finally, tied to your goals is a regular review.

When you look at the goal, you can decide if it was as specific and realistic as you thought. If it wasn’t, you’re allowed to change it to make it so. This is not giving up, it’s simply adjusting your goal based on reality.

This regular reflection on your goal stops you losing motivation if external factors have stopped you from getting on target.

Say you have a 50 wicket target for the season and you fall well behind because of bad weather and your team-mates snagging all the poles by being in supreme form. There is no harm in deciding that 50 is no longer realistic and adjusting to something that is still a challenge but not impossible.

Of course, you need to be honest. If you have just played poorly you need to decide if a 50 wicket target was ever realistic, and if it wasn’t, perhaps you need a better target: like hitting your lengths more often in practice, monitored on PitchVision.

Goal setting for cricket

In summary, goal setting is not new, but it is effective when done well.

  • Be specific about your goal, but be realistic about what you can control.
  • Don’t restrict our goal to just runs and wickets. There are lots of goals that will help.
  • Measure your goals where possible, but be careful of demotivation.
  • Avoid demotivation by regularly reviewing and adjusting your goals.

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Who Is the Invisible Genius of Your Cricket Team?

It’s holiday time in the Garaway household. We are now on our annual “coaching holiday”.

I indulge myself in reading books on my kindle whilst listening to the sea lap up against the shore in St Lucia.

Tough life!

The book that I am flying through presently is the latest offering from Matthew Syed.

The Greatest” continues Matthews quest to understand what makes certain people achieve incredible levels of success in sport, business, the arts and life in general whilst the rest of us paddle against the tide.

Matthew’s books are easy to follow, provocative, incredibly well researched and for me ask many questions of my present coaching practice which in turn helps me to become a better coach in the future.

“Bounce”, “Black box thinking” and “The Greatest” are all certainly well worth a read whether you are a player, parent or a coach.

In one section Syed writes about the relatively untapped notion of “invisible genius”.

Generally in sport, the most valued performers are the fastest, the iconic player, the goal scorer, the winger who dots the ball down for a try, the high scoring forward in basketball or the quarterback in American Football.

These are the players who are awarded Best Player trophies, receive the majority of headlines or are the names that people sing about in the stands. They do the things that are easy to measure, simple to to quantify and which clearly demonstrate their value to the team.

In my time with England, we had Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen who took the role of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the England cricket Team of that era.

They pair won the awards, stole the headlines and were incredible cricketers in their own right. Without them, England would not have won the 2005 Ashes, that is for sure.

Syed recognises that in Lionel Messi, Barcelona have an incredible talent who is featured in every preview on TV and discussed in bars all over the world ahead of each La Liga fixture.

They also have Andres Iniesta patrolling the midfield, creating space for himself and others, spotting angles of attack that simply pass others by and creating opportunities for the likes of Messi to bag a mountain of goals each year.

Occasionally, Iniesta grabs the headlines as he did by scoring the World Cup winning goal in 2010 for Spain against Holland but in the main, much of Iniesta’s work is as invisible to my eyes as it is to many football followers around the world.

His peers describe him as the best player in the world, even better than Messi, yet he rarely receives a nomination for the FIFA Balon d’Or award each year.

Back to England in 2005

We had a couple of Iniestas in the 2005 Ashes winning team.

Ashley Giles displayed invisible genius in so many ways. This lead to him being the target of criticism from journalists in the lead up to most England Test matches and spectators wondering what kind of hold he had on Duncan Fletcher when it came to selection.

Ashley didn’t have a hold on Fletch at all, his peers recognised that Giles was the glue that sat behind the firepower of England’s fantastic fast bowling group of Harmison, Flintoff, Jones and Hoggard. Ash would bowl tightly from one end whilst Micheal Vaughan rotated his four-pronged spearhead from the other end.

It was a formula that took England from Test Match dummies to Ashes Winners within 2 years.

That was one element of invisible genius which went unnoticed by many yet was hugely appreciated by his fellow bowlers. Ash also played so many key innings for England, he was everyone’s favourite batting partner as he mixed determination, bravery and fun together in a very special way.

On most occasions, he played selflessly for his more fluent partner at the other end with the most famous example of that coming in the partnership with KP at the Oval in that infamous series.

But he also took on the senior player role in other key innings at crucial times of matches.

Who got England back on track and then hit the winning runs in the 4th Test of that series at Trent Bridge? Giles was that man and it was incredibly reassuring to see Ashley walking to the middle when a major collapse looked likely to deny England the victory they had worked so hard for in the previous 3 innings of the game. He only got 7 not out that day but they were the most important 7 runs in England cricket history.

Marcus Trescothick was another invisible genius.

His ball shining abilities and determination to understand as much as he could about keeping the ball in shape for longer was as important to the likes of Hoggard and Flintoff as Ashley Giles’ supporting overs.

Hoggard and Jones benefitted hugely from the work that Tres put into the ball. As well as Jones bowled in the 3rd & 4th Tests of that series he was only able to have as big an impact as he did as a result of the ball being in prime condition each time he started his spell.

Trescothick was the ball shiner and when he played we knew that our bowlers would be in the game for longer periods of time as attacking forces.

Our invisible genius quest

So what are the invisible genius bits of cricket that we need to start recognising and rewarding?

  • Ball shining so well that your bowlers are in the game longer.
  • Running 40 yards to back up the bowlers end only for the ball to be thrown to the keeper.
  • Creating “stolen run” opportunities for your batting partner through your awareness and quick thinking.
  • For getting to the bowlers end stumps and acting as a “bowlers end keeper” even though the ball isn’t thrown to your end.
  • Bowling up hill and up wind to allow your main strike bowler to have the ideal conditions for him to effect the game.
  • For learning about how your team mates tick so that you can prepare them with specific and relevant words to help them to perform more optimally when they enter the playing arena.
  • For being the guy who runs 20 metres to support someone who has just rushed a pick up on a elementary run out opportunity.

There maybe more that I could learn about. If you have on then please share!

It’s great to have Flintoff’s, Messi’s, Ronaldo’s and Pietersens in your teams as they produce spell binding and “obvious” genius to help create match winning opportunities for their teams.

But it’s now also the time to support, encourage and develop some of the “invisible genius” elements within our players that are equally important to the overall success of any team.

  1. Which players are the Iniesta, Trescothick and Giles of your cricket team?
  2. What “invisible genius” criteria can you recognise and promote in your day to day coaching practice in order to to support and inspire these crucial types of cricketer?

Lastly, start reading Matthew Syed books. They are all truly brilliant.

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Cricket Show S8 Episode 11: Balanced and Open Face Batting

Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe help players improve their cricket.

The show team answer questions about balance while batting and opening the face of the bat when driving.

Listen for the details.


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:

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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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Lost Your Cricket Match? Act Like a Warrior in Defeat

Losing a cricket match is hard to take. You feel sick, angry and disappointed.

Play the Forward Defence to Improve Batting Strike Rate

We are all well drilled in playing the forward defence, playing it to prevent the bowler from taking a wicket. In fact, it's a lot more useful than that.

Playing defensively spans everything from "none shall pass" drop to the feet, through to a defensive push that is designed to score runs. It's a shot with nuance that requires skill and practice to get right. ANd if you do it will increase your strike rate!

So, it's time to give the forward defence the time and respect it deserves and learn to play with both soft and hard hards to make more of those balls you can't smash.


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: 457
Date: 2017-04-07